Auto. VS. Manual Off-road. -
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post #1 of 60 Old 02-16-2002, 09:44 PM Thread Starter
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Auto. VS. Manual Off-road.

I am going to buy a TJ in the next few weeks. I have been looking around a lot and pricing a lot of jeeps. The only thing I can't decide is Auto or Manual. I have always had an auto in my off-roading vehicles. A lot of people say Manual is better off road, and I am also drawn towards them due to price. So which one does everyone think is better off-road. Please back up your opinions with why you prefer one or the other.

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post #2 of 60 Old 02-16-2002, 10:51 PM
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I personally have mixed feelings about the two. A manual is better because you have lower gearing in 1st which means more for climbing. It also has engine braking that sucks in an auto. The auto is easier to work because you only need two feet to work the brakes and engine. Working the clutch, brake, and gas in certain situations is very difficult and takes some getting used to. The newer autos have torque converters that help make up for the higher gearing(Not sure about TJ). The manual allows you to keep a constant high rpm where most autos will shift even when placed in a low gear. And the autos need a tranny cooler for heavy offroading.
I have always like the manual best but there are times when I can't help but dream for the auto. A few minutes later I am reminded of why I chose the stick. I hope this helps. Happy Jeepin'.

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post #3 of 60 Old 02-17-2002, 02:26 AM
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I normally agree with what you say but this is not the case(for the most part). Maybe I'm just misunderstanding you. I've yet to see a torque converter that "gives you a lower ratio". They actually allow the engine to run about 800 rpms more than normal to compensate for load and thus produces more torque. However, it doesn't produce a lower ratio(or more torque) than the manual. It also doesn't change the fact that you would need to change gear ratio for larger tires. It "does" help start you rolling with the bigger tires though, but topend will still be a problem. Like I said, I probably misunderstood you, but that could be very misleading to some people and cause them to make a decision they later regret. Also, for mud I prefer a manual. Any good offroader knows his ride and how it works best. Therefore, with a stick you can use a higher gear to let the tires grip in slick spots. Remember, in mud it is bad to overpower it and an unexpected downshift can get you burried before you realize it happened. No offense and thank you for helping myself and others with almost always complete information.

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post #4 of 60 Old 02-17-2002, 05:49 AM
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FWIW most autos will hold low gear if you move the gear selector, as long as you aren't over-revving the motor. I know for a fact that some of the Chrysler vehicles I've driven with autos if you pick 1st (or low) and stomp the gas, it'll hold first until redline, then shift to second, third, etc. But if you're trying to hold like 3500rpms, it'll stay.
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post #5 of 60 Old 02-17-2002, 09:32 AM
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Just one more thought here, even though the rest of this topic has been explained better than most - you guys really know you stuff!

Usually, when an auto tranny goes, that it - you're boned. Also, if you do something that causes you to lose all of the ATF (I admit it would likely take a heack of shot to the tranny for this), you have lost, what is in effect, the "gears" of the tranny. Autos are very complicated to fix, and probably can't be fixed on the trail if broke (I'm sure some hero has done it, but it seems rare).

Manuals on the other hand usually go slowly, with lots of warning, and even with catastrophic failure, one or two gears are usually left working. In a pinch, going slow, you could put anything in a manual tranny to lube it (although I'd stay away from gasoline).

Much of this depends on what type of whheeling and wrenching you do, but I wanted to include this aspect of the debate in the thread.

PS: I consider driving an auto a foul and miserable thing, and I only do it when I have no choice.

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post #6 of 60 Old 02-24-2002, 12:48 PM
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Coming from someone who has had both an auto and a manual in the same jeep, I say go auto. I drove my yj with a puegot 5 spd for 2.5 years, wheeling in rocks, and lots of them. It was a pain to deal with all three pedals. Granted, I did have a bit lower first gear, but the ease of two foot wheeling with the auto made up for that. I love my auto thats in my jeep now, and I don't think I will ever have anything else in my wheelin rigs...

89 yj with tires and stuff like that.....

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post #7 of 60 Old 02-24-2002, 10:03 PM
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I have raced Mazdas for 23 years and enjoy manual shifting.......but off road the auto is my choice. The multiplication factor is about x 2. If you need a better crawl ratio you can add gears or a KluneV or a Tera Low in your transfer case. It is just easier to concetrate on your line when you are not worrying about your gear selection.

I do agree that with a manual you have less chance of a complete breakdown and you can bump start a manual. On the other hand, the automatic can be maually shifted without having to do any fancy footwork.

There is no absolute answer to this question. I just feel more comfortable with the auto.

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post #8 of 60 Old 02-25-2002, 11:04 PM
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If your main problem is three pedals - two feet, you could always just make yourself a hand throttle (for about $20 or so I would assume - hand brakes / lines for bicycles seem to work out ok...), and then you could have all the advantages of the manual transmission without quite so much footwork.

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post #9 of 60 Old 02-28-2002, 05:39 PM
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To me, the biggest problem with an auto is that it's harder to maintain traction. Creeping up a hill with a manual you can better manage traction by modulating the throttle.

With an auto, the engine is spinning a lot faster than if they were mechanically coupled like a manual. When a wheel loses traction it will spin much faster and cause you to have to get out of the throttle a lot more than with a manual and you'll potentially lose a lot of momentum/speed.

I do find that with a manual there is greater need to the proper gear ratios and a poorly geared auto is probably more versatile than a poorly geared manual.
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post #10 of 60 Old 03-02-2002, 02:19 AM
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I agree with Age if you throw in a hand throttle in there it takes care of all this fancy foot work granted I have never wheeled an auto I plan never to just my personal choice I feel I have better overall control of my vehical with a stick and will never wheel in an auto. Yes I have a few problems with die outs on steep climbs at slow speeds not enough fuel to carb but I am looking into he hnd throttle myself for such problems.. But as has been stated to point so far it all comes down to what you want there are pros and cons to ech depending on the driver and your style of driving..So best of luck to your personal choice and happy wheeling

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post #11 of 60 Old 03-03-2002, 12:27 PM
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From what i remember, A torque converter never achieves a 1:1 ratio. The engine always turns more than the transmission (10 flywheel turns = 9 turns of the ttransmission). This may give the illusion of lower gearing. But it is really just power that is lost. This is one reason a standard shift will get slightly better fuel mileage. A lock-up (overdrive) converter will provide the same 1:1 ratio as a clutch at highway speeds, but not at lower RPM's. I'm not endorsing one over the other. Both have thier advantages and dis-advantages. Particular driving conditions and habits should dictate what you choose.
Happy Trails.....Dan
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post #12 of 60 Old 03-05-2002, 10:01 AM
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Originally posted by Ralph Curry:
Creeping up a hill with a manual you can better manage traction by modulating the throttle.
Yea, but on the other side of that coin, what about long steep hills where you need to mantain momentum? With a manual, you'll be required to change gears in the middle of the climb to keep up momentum... often resulting in a lose of momentum. But with an auto, smooth application of the throttle the whole way up can mantain momentum.

Whats my opinion on this whole topic?? I'm not sure, the jury is still out. But I think, stock for stock, I'd rather have an automatic for the torque converter, it would crawl much better without risk of burning the clutch.
However, stick a manual tranny in front of an atlas or dual cases and some low axles gears, I'd rather take that... but you're looking at some money for that setup.
Another thing about auto's, you won't see them with insanely low crawl ratios because you want be able to stop the thing! It will roll right threw the brakes. Of course, there are a few exceptions, and yes you could add a pinion brake to fix the problem... but if you wanna crawl super silly slow, manual is the only way to go.

And then you're other factors such as auto's are nicer in traffic and daily driver applications. Manuals are easier and cheaper to repair/maintain (I can replace my clutch but no way would i try to rebuild an automatic). And towing is pretty much a tie, you'd either want a manual w/ granny gear or auto w/ tranny cooler.


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post #13 of 60 Old 03-06-2002, 01:05 PM
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5spd in mine. Needs hand throttle! Only time i think of an auto is when i stall it and the @#$%^&* brakes dont hold. Time for a rear disc kit! Oh and bye the way, rear drums dont work in reverse! Factory brakes suck for off roading Good example of it is set ebrake and back up. Thats what to expect when stalling on a steep hill or canyon! Kinda entertaining sliding backwards!

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post #14 of 60 Old 03-06-2002, 11:55 PM
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If you know of someone with a 4by and manual, see if they will let you drive it for a little bit, and see what you like better.

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post #15 of 60 Old 03-08-2002, 10:53 PM
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Everyone previously has made pretty good arguments in favor of both manual and auto. However you stated that you like the price advantage of the manual over the auto. How important is the price of your vehicle to you? That could be the decidng factor.

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