The advancement in technology in the field of semi-trucks has made many innovations in the systems. The automatic transmission in automobiles is considered better compared to a manual transmission.
What Percentage of Semi-Trucks Are Automatic? Almost 90% of new models of semi-trucks are automatic. They are more safe, provide more power, and are fuel efficient. But they are expensive, provide less control, and are costly to maintain. They can last for up to 15 years with proper maintenance.
They have different types of transmissions manual, automated, and automatic. All of them have their own merits and demerits. But automatic vehicles are gaining more attention in this era due to their advanced technology.
How does the automatic transmission work in semi-trucks?
Unlike manual, automatic transmission does not require any input from the driver to change the gears. This type of transmission has a specialized computerized system to shift gears.
The driver does not have to press the clutch pedal. This system uses hydraulic pressure to change the speeds. An internal sensor senses when to change the gear in the gearbox.
This system uses a fluid coupling to select suitable gear sets. The torque converter or fluid coupling connects the engine to the transmission.
It uses oil pressure to deliver power to the gear sets. It does not require three pedals to function; it uses only two pedals. The automatic transmission has two different categories.
- Planetary automatic transmission
- Dual-clutch transmission
Percentage of automatic transmission in semi-trucks
Semi-trucks with manual transmissions have become a technology of the past. Most new trucks in the United States and other countries are shifting to automatic transmission.
More than 90% of the new semi-trailers in the USA are automatic. Volvo has been producing these trucks since 2007, and it has shifted more than 50% of manual to automatic.
The number has increased rapidly as more manufacturers are trying to produce automatic trucks. More than 80% of Freightliner semi-trucks have automatic transmissions.
The companies are also striving to include automated manual transmissions in their technologies. Peterbilt Trucking Company is also producing various models of automatic trucks.
Why do semi-truck manufacturers prefer automatic transmission?
The automatic transmission is superior to the manual transmission in many ways. All these benefits have gained the attraction of truck manufacturers. Here is a brief description of all these advantages.
Reduce driver fatigue
This feature has reduced the stress and burden on drivers. In manual vehicles changing gears frequently can cause many problems for the drivers.
The Drivers can get various tendon and ligament issues over prolonged driving of a manual automobile. Fatigued and stressed drivers are not able to drive safely on long roads.
They get distracted easily due to the stress of changing gears on uneven roads. This transmission lets them stay focused on the roads and helps them drive safely. It helps in increasing the duration of their driving career.
The manufacturers also prefer it due to a shortage of skilled drivers. It is easy to learn and convenient to drive for beginners.
It has made driver recruitment an easy process for the trucking company. They do not have to spend a lot on the training of the new drivers.
The automatic semi-trucks are also better in terms of strength and power. They have better control of the gear ratios and swiftly shift the gears on time.
They can draw more power from the engine to turn the wheels. It uses planetary gears that help spread the torque to greater areas. The vehicle can get more acceleration and speed at the specified RPM of the engine.
The presence of a torque converter also contributes to producing more torque in the system. The automatic transmission has bought a tremendous increase in the efficiency and performance of semi-trailers.
A specialized system of coding helps the engine and transmission to work in coherence with each other. They deliver information to deliver the best performance of the vehicle. The manual mode is prone to mistakes and negligence by the drivers.
Better fuel economy
Previously manual transmission has been considered superior in saving fuel by reducing fuel consumption. But recent advances in automatic transmission have made these vehicles fuel efficient. They are also designed to save fuel and money for trucking companies.
These systems have efficient gear ratios and smoothly shift the speeds to change direction. They also accelerate and speed up the truck within the specified RPM of the engine. That features help in saving fuel and make the vehicle efficient.
A study shows that automatic semi-trailers have become more than 10% fuel efficient. While in a manual system, accelerating not only means that you have a gaining speed. It also comes with the drawback of more fuel consumption.
Drawbacks of the automatic transmission in semi-trucks
Despite providing all the benefits, these systems also have some drawbacks. Here is a detailed description of all of them.
One reason why truckers still prefer manual transmission is the cost of the truck. Semi-trucks with automatic transmissions are far more expensive than manual transmissions. On average, an automatic semi-truck cost ranges from $12000 to $150000.
The higher cost is due to its manufacturing cost and complex electronic system. Their price is two times more than the manual trucks. This transmission has more parts than the manual system. It requires more building materials and professional assistance to construct them.
While manual vehicles are simple and require less material and time for construction. That’s why they are cheaper and more reliable for many truckers.
Higher maintenance cost
Due to the complex computerized system, these transmissions are more expensive to repair and maintain. Fixing a simple fault in automatic trucks can cost many dollars. The building materials and spare parts are costly and hard to find.
The professional consultant fee is also much higher for these vehicles. The parts of this system are more prone to damage and require regular maintenance.
It is cheaper to replace automatic transmission as compared to fixing a big issue in the system. While a manual transmission in a semi-truck is more durable and does not require frequent repairing and remodeling.
The driver feels less control of the gear shift in the automatic vehicles. The gears shift automatically, which can also make the driver lazy and distracted. They can lose control and can get themselves into trouble.
This transmission also does not handle bad weather conditions like snow, rain, or other worst condition. In such a situation, a manual system provides more control to the driver to tackle the difficult situation.
They can use different gears to safely slow down the truck to drive on an icy road. This way, they can prevent wear and tear in the vehicle system. This system does not provide the drivers with such liberty to control the working.
How long does an automatic semi-truck last?
On average, an automatic semi-truck can last up to 800000 to 900000 miles. In terms of years, it can last for around 15 years with proper maintenance. Some models can even go further, providing the best care and maintenance.
Different parts and systems of the automatic trailer have different life spans; for example, the transmission lasts up to 200000 miles.
The systems of these trucks are reliable and durable. But you have to take great care because they are also susceptible to damage due to minor mistakes. Get all the systems serviced and checked by a professional to increase the lifespan of the semi-trailer.