Trailer towing with a manual tranny?

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
Who does it? I know it's an article of faith that trailer-pullers should be equipped with slushboxes, but I'm curious to know who out there still tows with a manual gearbox and how they like it.
 

tatuedrednek

Wanderer
IMHO a guy is way better off towing with a manual. Little more work, but you don't have to worry about overheating and possibly damaging the auto trans when pulling a long grade. I'm an auto technician, and I see plenty of auto trannys that got way too hot towing a trailer over some mountain pass some where because the owner left the thing in overdrive.
 

elmo_4_vt

Explorer
I'm a big fan of manuals too... I drive the auto in my truck almost like a manual when I'm pulling trailers on hills to keep the RPMs in a good range and get some engine breaking. That said, I'd rather have an auto for slow speed crawling off road, trailer or not, so it's definitely a judgement call. One thing autos have for them though, you can usually pick a gear with an auto, you can't auto shift with a manual.

-
 

toymaster

Explorer
Man your assumption offends me to the core (all in good jest). Manuals are for work i.e. pulling trailers. The recent proliferation of autos has turned me against the light duty truck market. I have chosen to spend money on my rigs instead of buying new.

A manual gives you total control, end of story. How many transfer trucks do you see autos???
The memories of my '98 cummins auto still haunt me, love the motor HATED the transmission.
 

Saiyan66

Adventurer
I much prefer to tow with a manual trans. It offers much more control over your load and as previously mentioned, there aren't usually any heat issues climbing grades. The disadvantage is that most light duty trucks nowadays (1/2 ton and under) don't usually have a granny 1st gear. That can make getting a heavy load moving a chore and requires more clutch slippage. When off road you can always use 4L and start in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. because of the extra gear reduction. What vehicle were you considering for towing your trailer?
 

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
I much prefer to tow with a manual trans. It offers much more control over your load and as previously mentioned, there aren't usually any heat issues climbing grades. The disadvantage is that most light duty trucks nowadays (1/2 ton and under) don't usually have a granny 1st gear. That can make getting a heavy load moving a chore and requires more clutch slippage. When off road you can always use 4L and start in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. because of the extra gear reduction. What vehicle were you considering for towing your trailer?

My trailer's fairly lightweight (haven't weighed it yet but I think it's probably <1500lb fully loaded) so we're not talking about a big huge trailer here.

And the MT vehicle that will potentially be pulling it would be an Xterra with the 6 speed manual. Much as I like the 4runner I'm getting tired of the underpowered engine and the crappy slushbox.
 

mrchips

Adventurer
I tow a Chaser with my LJ Rubicon stick and have done tough dirt trails and I much prefer stick to auto, plus having the 4.1 in hard stuff I can really do well with the trailer behind. Towing on freeway ok as if you have the right gearing you should not have any difficulty's. I always preferred stick to auto,,,,, more work but less expensive to repair and heat kills them.
 

Scott B.

SE Expedition Society
The truck I had before my Ranger(s) had a 5 speed - and towed my boat all around SoCal with it.

Generally speaking, a manual trans is stronger than an auto. The possible weak link is the clutch assembly.
 

RubiconGeoff

Adventurer
I tow my Lifetime Tent Trailer behind my manual-transmission-equipped Samurai, Tracker, SX4, and Wrangler. I don't know why anyone would bother with an automatic transmission. They're fine for drag racing, but for every other application, I don't see the point.
 

TacoDell

Adventurer
I roll a manual with my trailer... But wish it were an auto sometimes
'cause working the clutch is... well... a lot of work when wheeling difficult trails.

I'd think an auto could be made to work fine... if extra trans coolers are added.
I'd still recommend that the differential gears be upgraded if yer rolling over sized tires.

Converting my junk to an auto seems like too much work...
so instead... I intend to install a crawler box for the trail work.
On the tarmac... I never really had any issue hauling my trailer with a manual.
Tho' poor gearing with over sized tires would likely change my feelings of that.

Here's a few clips showing how much clutch work is required off road.
You can see that it takes more effort... and isn't as smooth as one would prefer.
Having a reduction/crawler unit on the rig... would smooth that out a bunch.
And would be easier on the hauler and trailer as well. (on the trail)

off road trailer towing (1)

off road trailer towing (2)

off road trailer towing (3)

off road trailer towing (4)
 

Borrego60

Rendezvous Conspiracy
Pull my Horizon with my Tundra and 33" tires does just fine. My brother tows his with his jeep inline 6 manual does just fine.
 

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
The trailer won't be going off road so that's not an issue. And I've been driving manual trannys since I got my DL in 1978 so that part doesn't bother me either. It's just that so often you hear the "Oh, if you pull a trailer you have to have an auto!" so many times I thought I'd just put it out here to get a reality check. :ylsmoke:
 

Pikeman

Adventurer
To answer your question, think of the heavy duty trucks... I have been a commercial Class A driver for 20 years now and all of the turcks I have driven are 9,10,13 or 18 speed manuals. The majority of us Commercial drivers still prefer the Manual transmissions. I can tell you that the military has been using Allison automatics for 30 years and they do fine in the large heavy duty environment. In the past ten years I have seen an increase in Automatics in the civilian trucking industry as well. The fact of the matter is less and less people are learning to drive with manual and it is becoming a lost art and the reason automatics are on the rise. I say you are perfectly fine towing with either a manual or automatic(if you remember to take it out of overdrive).
 

loup407

Adventurer
I've been pulling a Horizon with my FJC with a manual. I've owned a lot of cars, and only one was an auto; I hope that's the only auto I'll own. Off pavement and on; I've been really happy with the combination. I just turn off the scan-gauge when I'm going over Vail Pass so I can't see the 3 mpg I'm getting.
 

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