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Another Auto vs Manual Transmission Question

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I have been a lurker on this forum since I begin saving for a new truck. I hope my question hasn't been previously answered as I have read a lot of Auto vs Manual Transmission posts. Anyway, here goes:

I have absolutely no diesel truck experience. My past trucks have included a 77 GMC pulling a travel trailer, a 72 and 74 GMC hauling a camper and an 88 GMC (Gas Engine) pulling a fifth wheel. The '74 & '88 had automatics. The '72 & '77 manuals. I am currently driving the 1977. My past experience is that the automatics were great on the open road or unloaded but terrible when the trying to haul the RV on logging roads or backing into primitive camping spaces. It seems that the old autos would allow the truck to stop moving if idling and going slow when a small limb, rock, root or rut was encountered. Stepping on the throttle resulted in the truck and RV jumping over the obstacle.

I have a couple of friends in the service department at the local Dodge dealer and they recommend I reconsider an automatic when I buy a new Dodge diesel as they say the autos are much improved. My question is: Can you leave your foot off the throttle with the new automatics and have them ease over small obstacles while moving a load similar to what a manual transmission will do in 1st gear or reverse if you keep your foot off the clutch?
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I have owned both. The auto is very nice because you are able to drive hands free. On the other hand the manual is nice because you can control shifts. I personally like the manual. However the new six speed you can shift manually through all six speeds. The problem with obstacles shouldn't be a problem anymore due to the power and torque at low RPM you'll have with the diesel especially if you choose the Cummins. :thumbsup::thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
When my local dealer gets a few more trucks on the lot, maybe I will be able to test each over a curb or something similar in the lot.
 

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My question is: Can you leave your foot off the throttle with the new automatics and have them ease over small obstacles while moving a load similar to what a manual transmission will do in 1st gear or reverse if you keep your foot off the clutch?
Mine does fine over small obstacles and with low range, it will idle over larger ones. I love my 68RFE, and I've driven all the sticks from quadraplexes and Road Rangers on down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Mine does fine over small obstacles and with low range, it will idle over larger ones.
Thank You Coolbreeze,

You have answered my biggest concern. I have test driven 2009's with Manuals several times. Looks like I better widen my horizons before I spend all that money! The friends at the local dealer are the service manager and the transmission guy. As for durability, the only problems they have seen with the new autos are from the guys who install and service wind turbines in some really rough terrain. One of the autos made it to the dealer after being busted on rocks miles away. Several new 2010's in stock now so I may just check out an Auto tomorrow.
 

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I like my manual however I have installed a new South Bend Clutch and it made a world of difference. My truck is pushing 500 HP now and I had problems with 5th and 6th gear slipping. Not anymore, I see that is a common upgrade for the manual when you start modifying stock engines. But I've also read that 3rd gear is marginal when hauling a heavy load in the automatics. I've read that a 3rd gear delete is available in some tuners for the automatic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Last Sunday, I used my '77 GMC to winch two trucks out of the mud. One was a Dodge Cummins Manual Transmission and once the front wheels were on the edge of the road, it pulled itself upon to the road with the rear still in the mud. The driver didn't give it any throttle. The second was a Toyota Tundra Automatic Transmission. By the time I had the front wheels onto the edge of the road, the rear wheels were also staying on top of the mud due to its lighter weight. After unhooking the winch, the driver had to give the Toyota some throttle to make it climb up onto the road and this made the tires spin slightly. It made it on its own but almost got stuck again from the application of throttle. So today (Tuesday) I test drove a 2010 Dodge Cummins Automatic. It was great until I took it into a gravel parking lot separated from a slightly higher road by a low sidewalk. In 4LO, the truck idled up the small incline until the front wheels hit the 4" high sidewalk. The truck then stopped moving. Back at the dealer, I backed the truck into its parking spot against a curb in 2HI. It stopped when the rear wheels hit the curb. I am convinced the manual transmission truck I pulled out of the mud would have kept moving over a sidewalk or curb. While the Toyota can't represent a Cummins, it did demonstrate what happens when an vehicle stops moving and too much throttle is applied. One last note, the older Dodge and my '77 GMC sure are a lot easier to get into 4LO than the dash shifted 2010 Dodge! What a process just to shift the transfer case! In the end, Auto vs Manual is really about personal preference but at least I now know where I fall. Thanks to all who replied to my original question. DamMan
 
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