Im a MANUAL freak, don't think I would own a truck without a manual but that's just a preference. Far as durability the new auto are amazing and when you a shifting on a hill "manual vs Auto" the auto is nice cause your don't loose your momentum!! Yu keep a auto serviced and don't dog it and don't program it you will be just fine pulling with it. Years ago Dealers all said no go with manual when towing, well years ago people new how to drive a manual and now most people don't and they also build way better auto tranys!!
1) an automatic, by design (planetary gearsets), is a stronger and more durable transmission than a manual transmission (unless it's a MH truck transmission, but they have 2 or 3 countershafts, not 1 like a LD truck). The weak links are the lock-up clutch in the converter, and the fact that they are electronically controlled (more parts to act up/break)
2) most OEMs rate the towing capacity higher for an auto-equipped truck (and the only OEM still making a manual available is Dodge). Why do you think they do that?
3) an auto will tow smoother than a maual, as already said (they can shift under power, a manual cannot)
4) for the average driver, an auto returns better MPG (new automatics, not the TH350 in your 1980 Chevy!)
5) heat kills transmissions - so make sure if you tow alot to install a secondary (auxiliary) trans cooler on the automatic. Manuals do not have a cooler (on LD trucks anyway)
Personally, I prefer a stick. Unforunately, that means either an older truck or a new RAM, since Ford and GM (and Nissan and Toyota in their fullsize trucks) don't have manuals available anymore. If you are skilled with a manual, it might be the way to go if that is your preference. Otherwise, an auto is probably the best bet. Another consideration is: what if you had an injury that prevented you from being able to use the clutch or move a shifter all the time? No impact if you have an auto. I bring it up b/c it happened to me - I broke my leg, so a stick would have meant no driving for a while.
I'm 18 and on our farm all of our trucks are manuals. Never had a problem pulling our trailers. My dad is the only one with an automatic and he has had it rebuilt once already and now he doesn't tow much with it anymore.
I like a manual period. That's all I have ever driven from pickups to straight trucks to semis. I like being able to throw it in 1st and crawl down a bumpy gravel road with a load which is hard to do in an auto without always being on the throttle or brakes. I will say Ram's new 6 speed auto is a big improvement over the 4 speed. If I ever found a good deal on a 6.7, the transmission wouldn't be a deal breaker.
I got 10 years out of my stock 48re Auto. I tow my boat all over with it and its 10480Lb with the trailer. Everything in this neck of the woods it up or down hills, big hills. I rebuilt the tranny because I wanted to not because it blew. I would do another auto next time to. Im sure my new tranny will go forever now. tripple disk, new valve body, now fluid management, deep pan. the works except for billet input shaft. The builder said my stock one looked brand new. Manuals suck if your driving them all over town and as a daily driver in traffic. ( In my opinion)
Avg tow is 34k gross with stick. Tried an auto killed it. People say build auto, that's about 3k. Good clutch is 850. Pretty simple math. Also if you cant shift it smooth enough to where you cant feel the gear change then you need to go back to an auto.
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