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Re: [RC] automatic vs. stick - heidi

Hi all,

      My '94 Dodge diesel has just turned 200,000 miles and hopefully in the
near future a new Dodge will be purchased.  We currently have two right
now and both are stick shifts.   I approached the idea of an automatic
for the new one to my husband and he had lots of reasons why NOT to get
an automatic.  So now that I have his opinion, I'd like others.  What
do you prefer and why?  I'm looking to get a 3/4 ton Dodge diesel, if
that matters.  Thanks,

As others have said, there is a lot of personal preference here, but I'll
go to my grave driving stick shifts for five reasons--1) hills, 2) ice, 3)
rough, rutty areas, 4) EXTREME towing situations, and 5) ease of planned
stops using downshifting.

With regard to hills, I can see the top of the thing, but my truck can't. 
If it is just a tiny way to the top and I want to ease it on over without
shifting, I don't want the thing slamming into a downshift 50 feet before
I hit the crest.  But more importantly, if the thing is steep and long, I
want to be able to keep it at higher RPMs at my own discretion without it
shifting UP on an easier stretch.  (Yeah, I know--you can put it into
first or second on the automatic--but then what's the point of having an

Ice is the next one--I want to be able to finesse the rig along at low
RPMs without ANY danger of it downshifting.  On these river roads in the
winter, that could well mean my life.

Rutty, bumpy areas (crossing fields into ride camps, places around my
house, etc.) are the next one--I want to be able to put it in low range
low gear if need be and creep along at 1 mph.

Extreme towing circumstances are the last reason--somewhat similar to the
above.  If I REALLY need the power, I can drop it into low range and tough
out a steep spot with a big load, or finesse a gooseneck load of hay over
a ditch, or whatever I need to do.  Just don't have that option with an

And number five--I can ease my way into a stop without using my brakes
except for a tiny whisper at the end.  You don't wreck your brakes, or
overuse your trailer brakes this way, and personally, I think it's easier
on the horses than the way many folks use brakes.

Somebody mentioned hauling 28 hours there and back this past weekend and
not being able to "hold up" with a stick shift--well, as another poster
mentioned, once you hit the highway, you aren't shifting all that often. 
I likewise just did 20+ hours "there and back" this past weekend, and
don't mind my stick shift at all.  I used to do "marathon" hauls from
central Oregon to Texas (2000 miles each way) regularly, and got them down
to around 40 hours each way with a good long sleep at the turnaround
point, and never had an issue with fatigue due to the stick shift.  But if
this is a real issue with you, then you are better off with an automatic.

I would also consider an automatic if I had to fight stop lights for most
of my driving--it may be hard on the tranny, but that's about the ONLY
time I get bored with my stick shift.


PS:  I should mention mileage here as well--a GOOD driver with a stick
shift can get better fuel mileage than you will get with an
automatic--which is the reason why you can hardly buy an automatic
anything in Europe, where fuel conservation is a far more major issue than
it is here.  But the flip side of that is that if you don't know how to
use a stick shift efficiently, you may actually get worse mileage.  So
whether you want to save fuel by getting a stick shift or not depends on
how much effort you want to put into how to use one well.

When you ask a Quarter horse for something he says - Sure -  and when you
ask an Arab for something he says  - Why? - 
~  Heidi Smith

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[RC] automatic vs. stick, Scott Johnson