Manual vs. Automatic Transmissions in Big Trucks

Manual transmissions have been used in big rigs and heavy haulers long before the introduction of automatic transmissions. When automatic transmissions came out at first, they had a lot of problems. Drivers complained of uneven shifts and had trouble driving in different terrains.

With the advancements in automatic transmissions for big trucks, they’re becoming a preferred option for old and new truck drivers alike. Automatic transmissions have many advantages compared to manual. 

Here’s a look at the performance of both automatic and manual transmissions in big rigs.


Manual transmissions are a lot more difficult to drive than automatic. They require the driver to use two clutch pedals and shift gears manually. Experienced, older drivers tend to be stuck in their ways when it comes to manual transmissions. It’s what they were trained to drive with, and what they’re comfortable with. However, as the shortage for truckers grows, switching to an automatic transmission is a feasible option.


Automatic transmissions for big trucks have advanced since they were first introduced. They now have computer systems integrated within them to communicate with the engine. The computer evaluates the engine speed and torque, and the vehicle speed and angle before shifting gears.

Pro Tip: Since automatic transmissions are easier to operate, learning to drive a big rig equipped with an automatic transmission is a quicker process than driving a manual.

Rebuilt Allison Transmissions

Rebuilt Allison transmissions are automatic and specifically made for heavy operating equipment, oilfield services, and big rigs and haulers. They use advanced technology that never interrupts the torque and power to the steering wheel. Furthermore, the torque converter is the starting device. It’s no surprise that fleets are gravitating toward automatic transmissions.

So, Automatic or Manual?

The choice is really up to the specific trucker company and truck drivers. However, automatic transmissions are proving to be advantageous with their continuous power and better performance.

Would you like to join the manual vs. automatic transmission debate? Join us on Facebook to share your thoughts with our team.