Automatic or Manual Transmission for Expedition Use?

Jnich77

Director of Adventure Management Operations
Drive a stick long enough and eventually you'll have a clutch issue. It's inconvenient but not impossible to drive without a clutch. Commuting in any city without a clutch isn't an option of course but getting yourself off a track can be done fine.

Here's how I look at it: I've had to work on every stick shift transmission that I have owned. I've never had an automatic require anything other than fluid and filter changes.
 

alanymarce

Active member
Yeah...starting and stopping while in gear is a little problematic...lol.
When I was taught to drive in dunes, stopping in gear and starting on the starter motor was key to success on slip faces.
My bad. I analyzed that incorrectly and read the screen name wrong. I can't put the blame on smartphone autocorrect this time. When I saw the "y" my brain saw "analyzed".

Reminds me of this:
"Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe."
Not a problem - I assumed an error - having made one or two myself... : )
 

alanymarce

Active member
Drive a stick long enough and eventually you'll have a clutch issue. It's inconvenient but not impossible to drive without a clutch. Commuting in any city without a clutch isn't an option of course but getting yourself off a track can be done fine.
I've probably done half of my driving in manual vehicles (over half a century) - I've had a few occasions in which I've experienced clutch slippage, although never to the point of being unable to drive, on vehicles which clearly needed maintenance. Otherwise never had a problem. The oldest manual vehicle I've driven was a LC40 with something over 500,000 Km on it (and a non-functioning odometer, which had failed some time prior to the period for which the owner had used it, which was over 5 years). It required some care to get started (although it always started) but the clutch worked perfectly.
 

Joe917

Explorer
Our only mission critical failure on the Heffalump was a broken clutch linkage that connects to the fork. I don't recall if it was Chile or Peru, but it was pretty remote. I went for a gear change and the clutch pedal fet like it was welded in place. We were on a downhill so I put it in neutral and stopped and shut down. The problem was not visible so we bump started and limped into the next village. I saw a heavy truck on the side of the road and stopped behind him. In my halting spanish I asked if there was a mechanic in the village. The dreaded south american response " no ai"(sp?), not here. Turns out the heavy truck had broken down, the mechanic turned up 4 hours later, found the problem and brought the correct part back the next day. Planning is great, luck is better!
We carry a spare clutch cable, the most likely point of failure, you can't bring an entire spare vehicle. Even with an inoperable clutch you can still drive a standard.
 

LandCruiserPhil

Expedition Leader
I have driven and owned both they are great drive trains. The auto with a 1HDT is my all time favorite 80 series drive train. The manual will give you better control of your EGT's in the mountains and can be push started if needed. With that said with a good history and low miles Im taking the auto but like others said no RHD in SA.
 

Florida Native

Active member
Drive a stick long enough and eventually you'll have a clutch issue. It's inconvenient but not impossible to drive without a clutch. Commuting in any city without a clutch isn't an option of course but getting yourself off a track can be done fine.
BTDT (commuting without clutch). Not fun but it is possible.

-Mike
 

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billiebob

Well-known member
A few million miles in semis with 18speeds, never a problem.
Several Jeeps and Fords with clutches, never a transmission issue altho a few got rebuilt engines.
Fewer than 10 vehicles with automatics and 3 of them cratered. 2, on the highway a thousand miles from home.

My wife only drives automatics but she never ventures far from home and she has never owned a vehicle more than 5 years old.
Overlanding in a foreign country, with a choice, I'd never pick an automatic. Shifting gears "might get old" .... lol, never for me. I like picking the gear I want.

I've never needed to replace a clutch. 400K kms on my TJR, second engine, original clutch. 200K kms a year on a variety of semis with 18 speeds, never "needed" a clutch on the road. There are several advantages to a clutch like bump starting. Parking on a steep slope in 4LO in gear with the engine shut off beats the heck out of trusting "park".... or the parking brake.

And then there is the expense of rebuilding that automatic. When my 5.9 Grand cratered 1000kms from home, it cast $3500 to get it fixed..... in Calgary, a major center in Canada. No idea what that might cost in South America. And when an automatic craters.... I'm not sure you get very much warning. It just goes. I have never been stranded with a manual even when Ford forgot to put oil in the tranny during the 12,000 mile checkup. 1000 miles later without oil, it locked in gear, thankfully second gear, and we drove 100 miles on forestry roads to High Level.

Automatics when they die they stop. Manuals when they die they often keep moving.


Off roading.... if I know the transmission is well maintained regardless, manual or automatic, the automatic will rule. As long as service is readily available an automatic is mindless, effortless, fabulous off road, especially in 4LO. To do as well in a manual, you need for more skill, you really need to pay attention with a clutch. But weighing the odds...... on an expedition to a foreign country.... I'd only consider a manual tranny.

I'm thinking mechanics in third world countries are pretty adept at keeping manual trannies going no matter how remote you are. Not sure you will find the same skills for a modern computer controlled automatic.
 
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C p weinberger

Active member
Autos are becoming more repairable in the more remote areas but the manual still have more likelihood of being repaired in the bush. There are also other manual benefits..
Fewer electronics, how many issues related to Shifting are in this portal..
Downshifting in adverse conditions
Easier to control transmission heat issues
Yes, you can push start a manual, but I find the above more beneficial
Autos have their positives as well, as I get older the clutch work is becoming an issue for me and the auto will enable me to physically drive longer hrs with less stress.
Ronnie Dahl has great stuff but that is very Australian specific and while Australia is big it is like the states, one country with basically same rules and language everywhere. Roll up to a remote area in Chile or Mozambique and try to first explain what the hell a torque converter is let alone adjust a valve body or troubleshoot an electrical issue. They all known what a clutch is and I have watched mechanics hand rivet a clutch disc together from What was available.
 

SoyBoy

Member
TJoe917 - THX, THis vehicle hunt is a journey. I still may get a LHD.
alanY - I watched the Ronnie D video - good info
Rallyroo - Taht Cmbraigde Stduy is amazing.
Red 90 - I learned on a manual - & with the input so far I just may grow a pair and am slowly leaning towards a manual.
Jnich77 - there are two messages -#1 Automatics go fast without notice & #2 they go slow - I have never driven a vehicle hard enough or had one long enough for and auto to blow...
Joe917 - THX for that Chilean clutch anecdote.
Land C Phil - why no RHD in South A? So - If you were to go to SA - You would take an 80 LHD gas automatic?
billiebob - thanks for the thorough reply. I know I sound like a ********** complaining about shifting - but I'm not really! ! & to your point (and others) getting repairs done in the 3rd world needs to be more analog. That is why I am looking for a pre-2000 vehicle for starters (but that is another thread)
C p w - automatic heat issues in 4*4 keep coming up. A well as the point you made wrt language and the ability to describe your problem to the mechanic.

Thanks all for the input.

I'll be looking for a RHD manual.
 
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SoyBoy

Member
No flaming please from manual proponents.
As it happened the mint manual 81 that I was looking at fell through There is a stock mall crawling local 81 that just came up. It is a little rougher around the edges body wise - but it does not bother me and way less $.

It is an automatic. I spoke to two Certified Land Cruiser repair shops and both said the autos in the 81 are very very strong.
So an auto it is...
 

MOAK

Adventurer
I now have my first automatic ever. FZJ80 and surprisingly, I like it. I’ve driven Fords, Jeeps and Freightliners multiple millions of miles and never had any clutch or transmission failures. My FZJ 80 has 326,000 miles on it. If and when it is time for a rebuild, I’ll find a manual transmission to swap in behind the freshened motor. Manual transmission failures are most always due to operator failure. A prime example? The clutch should never be used for shifting gears. It should be used to assist in shifting gears while speed matching the RPMs. Ever wonder why the syncros go out?

The clutch in a big truck is only used for starting off and stopping, never for shifting.
 

lugueto

Adventurer
While I do appreciate driving manual vehicles, still own a couple and drive manual frequently and completely understand the few benefits manual transmissions offer, I have to say automatic.

A somewhat modern automatic has a few key pros over a manual:

Comfort, number one. Although that never bothered me personally, Its unquestionable.
They're no longer considered sluggish,on the contrary, they will usually make a vehicle feel quicker these days while possibly offering better gas mileage.
They're really reliable these days. While I wouldn't drive an 8 speed dual clutch trans to the end of the world, modern 5 and 6 speed transmissions are dead reliable and are very low maintenance.
 

SoyBoy

Member
While I do appreciate driving manual vehicles, still own a couple and drive manual frequently and completely understand the few benefits manual transmissions offer, I have to say automatic.

A somewhat modern automatic has a few key pros over a manual:

Comfort, number one. Although that never bothered me personally, Its unquestionable.
They're no longer considered sluggish,on the contrary, they will usually make a vehicle feel quicker these days while possibly offering better gas mileage.
They're really reliable these days. While I wouldn't drive an 8 speed dual clutch trans to the end of the world, modern 5 and 6 speed transmissions are dead reliable and are very low maintenance.
We are not a modern vehicle though- the 81 series Land Cruiser is an early 1990s design.
 
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