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Old 07-13-2016, 08:56 AM   #1
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Auto Trans & towing...

[rant alert]
What's so great about having an automatic transmission when towing?

Firstly, I've got about 40 years and over 500,000 miles of driving experience with a decided preference for manual transmissions, near zero boost power steering and huge distrust of airbags, ABS and traction control...

I already have a 1 ton truck that is equipped with a dump body and snowplow. Plowing with the automatic is a pain-in-the-posterior since I have to shift between R and 2. While having to re-disable O/D from time-to time because the button is at the end of the shift handle.

I am currently shopping for a new tow vehicle and would like to buy a 1/2 ton truck.

But it seems no manufacturer is selling anything bigger than an econobox with a manual transmission! Unless you start talking about 3/4 ton and larger trucks.

I've been towing with SWMBO's 1/4 ton (auto transmission) for 7 years now. The hunting when going uphill or in heavy traffic drives me nuts! Plus worrying over overheating the fluid. Did that last 3-4 shift feel odd? Why is the converter clutch closed yet?

-----

So, if I give in and buy a nice new truck; what are the virtues of this giving in and compromising to an automatic transmission over the ease of maintenance, reliability and control of a manual?

[end rant]
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Old 07-13-2016, 09:28 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike837go View Post
[rant alert]
What's so great about having an automatic transmission when towing?

Firstly, I've got about 40 years and over 500,000 miles of driving experience with a decided preference for manual transmissions, near zero boost power steering and huge distrust of airbags, ABS and traction control...

I already have a 1 ton truck that is equipped with a dump body and snowplow. Plowing with the automatic is a pain-in-the-posterior since I have to shift between R and 2. While having to re-disable O/D from time-to time because the button is at the end of the shift handle.

I am currently shopping for a new tow vehicle and would like to buy a 1/2 ton truck.

But it seems no manufacturer is selling anything bigger than an econobox with a manual transmission! Unless you start talking about 3/4 ton and larger trucks.

I've been towing with SWMBO's 1/4 ton (auto transmission) for 7 years now. The hunting when going uphill or in heavy traffic drives me nuts! Plus worrying over overheating the fluid. Did that last 3-4 shift feel odd? Why is the converter clutch closed yet?

-----

So, if I give in and buy a nice new truck; what are the virtues of this giving in and compromising to an automatic transmission over the ease of maintenance, reliability and control of a manual?

[end rant]
OK glad you got that off your chest. Now step forward to the current and accept that 99.9% of us are towing with an auto tranny including me [2500 durimax]. Collectively we have something approaching a trillion miles under our belts. Ok I made that mileage up, but we have driven a bunch of miles with our automatic trannys. You will not be plowing with your tow vehicle so the r into 2nd isn't really a concern. You won't find a better tranny than the Allison that GM puts in their Duramax trucks.
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Old 07-13-2016, 09:57 AM   #3
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Something you may want to look into is a automatic that includes the "manual mode". I have this feature on my new pickup and love it. It was especially useful traveling over mountain passes. Honestly, I don't think I would buy another pickup I plan to tow with without this feature.

Good luck in your search!
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Old 07-13-2016, 10:02 AM   #4
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Mike837go,
I am with you. I have spent many many years on the road. Towed big and little things (I could only guess at the miles). I have built serious off road vehicles (rock crawlers and such). Yet, in my time I have had two automatic transmission trucks. I prefer a manual transmission when it comes to towing and off-roading. A lot less worry, a lot less maintenance. Sure, we may slow down more on a steep grade, but we still get there and we save a lot in gas while doing it. Don't get me wrong, I had a serious problem once with a manual while in the backcountry, but unlike an automatic transmission, I was able to get the vehicle locked into a gear and limp my way out. If I had an auto transmission on that trip, I would have had to pay through the nose for a specialized tow rig.
On my current rig, the only services I have had on my manual trans was a throw out bearing at 183,000 miles (I went ahead and replaced the whole clutch assembly at this point, but it was the first one), and fluid change at 100k and 200k.
Keep looking for what you what, be patient, they are still made. You will find what you are looking for.
Consider this, America has a love for auto transmissions, it is getting so that a manual transmission acts as a psuedo anti theft device. Meanwhile, in Europe the manual transmissions are still more of the norm.
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Old 07-13-2016, 10:24 AM   #5
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Just my opinion but I would say that anyone that tows a TT with a 6000 lb max rating with a TV that has a 6500 lb max towing capacity is entitled to rant and rave about " The hunting when going uphill or in heavy traffic drives me nuts" Now maybe if he had a better TV and wasn't running about 92% of the weight ratio between TT and TV he wouldn't be complaining as much about the hunting.
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Old 07-13-2016, 10:39 AM   #6
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Automatic transmissions actually have higher effective gear ratios, even if you are running a wide ratio five speed and brownie or a 10-15 speed Road Ranger. They are a different breed of cat to drive, though. I used to prefer manual trannies as well but today's slush pumps will beat out a manual, including even on the big rigs, even when the manual is being driven by a pro.


As far as the gear hunting goes, when it happens, just drop down a gear and stay there. It will prevent wear and tear, reduce heating, and will actually improve fuel mileage. I occasionally will disable overdrive on my '08 F150 Screw with the 5.4 V8 when I'm hauling a load up a steep grade to avoid gear hunting. I do the same far more frequently when going downhill on a steep grade so I can stay off my brakes.
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Old 07-13-2016, 10:47 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike837go View Post
[rant alert]
What's so great about having an automatic transmission when towing?

Firstly, I've got about 40 years and over 500,000 miles of driving experience with a decided preference for manual transmissions,
[end rant]
The problem is most people don't know how to properly shift when towing or they also burn up clutches. Since there is no longer a demand for a stick it's only going to be offered in the bigger trucks.
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Old 07-13-2016, 10:55 AM   #8
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I think we're comparing apples and oranges. Running a plow is a far different experience than towing a travel trailer. The hunting you're experiencing is more likely due to towing at close to you towing capacity. I don't recall what you have for a trailer.

My experience: 2003 Chevy Trailblazer (TC 4900#) and '03 Kiwi 17a hybrid (3500#) GVWR; hardly ever downshifted in 3rd gear except really high winds and on 6% grades. Traded trailer for current X20E, GVWR 4750#. Downshifted even on small hills. Upgraded truck to current Sierra (TC 7500# and 5.3 V8, 3:73 gears), hardly ever downshifts, no gear hunting, converter stays locked. Did great in Tennessee's mountains last Sept. Prior to the Trailblazer I towed the Kiwi with a '95 'Burb. OK, but a less than stellar towing experience.

As far as maintenance? All I've ever done is changed fluid at the recommend 50k intervals. Easy peasy.

Reliability? I sold my Trailblazer with 160k on it, transmission was as strong as ever. Biggest reason I sold it was it's age, it was going need things like exhaust and a few other things, and it was 10 years old. Trailblazer was a truck, but not built as good as the 1/2 tons. My Sierra has 120k on it. I have complete confidence in the drive train.

Personally, for daily driving and towing, I would never consider a manual. The advantages that manual transmissions had 30 years ago are non-existent today.
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Old 07-13-2016, 10:57 AM   #9
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Yeah they are not offered because the public does not want them and/or know how to drive them. My first truck was a 3 on the tree F100. How many drivers today could even get that truck to move......As for myself I would now never go back to manual. If the truck is capable the automatic will do the job well.
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Old 07-13-2016, 11:07 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsims View Post
Something you may want to look into is a automatic that includes the "manual mode". I have this feature on my new pickup and love it. It was especially useful traveling over mountain passes. Honestly, I don't think I would buy another pickup I plan to tow with without this feature.
Good luck in your search!
This search has been like Meat Loaf's "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad":

You'll never find your gold on a sandy beach
You'll never drill for oil on a city street
I know you're looking for a ruby
In a mountain of rocks
But there ain't no Coupe de Ville hiding
At the bottom of a Cracker Jack box

------------------------

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with automatic anything... It's just that I prefer (and will pay for) an appropriate mix of manual and automatic:
Cruise Control - Love it.
Power Windows - Great!
One-touch power windows - annoying overkill.
EFI - early teething problems, Since OBDII - great.
Drive by wire - Works great.
Air Bags - Saves lives every day. Wouldn't be needed if folks used the seat belts properly.
ABS - The difference between winding up in the ditch or spinning out and winding up in the ditch. SLOW DOWN when conditions call for it!
Hands free phone support as part of the radio- Great, love it.
Remote door lock/unlock with hatch/trunk release - Wonderful.
Remote start - nice idea, but an unmonitored idling engine can be dangerous.
Driver Information Center - Useless! Why show all that while trying to drive? Had it in luxury cars and even a VW. What a waste!
Centralized Locking - Unlock or lock all doors from either front seat.
Doors locks whenever the vehicle is moved- Annoying. Had it configured off in my 2013 Jetta. If the doors should be locked, lock 'em yourself.
Variable Intermittent Wipers - Great. Set 'em for what's falling.
Speed Sensitive Wipers - over engineered nonsense!
Automatic Transmission - the fire-and-forget of automobile operation.

There has also been a nice improvement in where the seatbelt latch is attached. Has anyone else noticed that the latch is now attached to the seat frame? That the latch is always in the same relative position, no matter where you move the front seats? Nice Touch.

---------------------

I'm not anti-tech. I just enjoy the whole driving experience. And if I HAVE to delegate one of my responsibilities of driving, I absolutely need to understand the real benefits of entrusting a machine.
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