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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I was wondering what people prefer to use off road, an automatic or standard tracker? Not rock crawling, just trails or dirt roads like in the desert or climbing roads on mountains. I want to put the bigger tires and suspension on a tracker and what ever else I need to make it right. Just want to do it right the first time. Seems like most of the 4 wheel drives for sale are standards, is there that much difference on the trails?

Thanks
 

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I imagine it's pretty much a personal opinion. I don't do any rock crawling, where I imagine an auto tranny might be preferable as you can creep along without stalling the car. But in most other conditions, I feel you have more control over the engine with a manual tranny, if you are comfortable with it.
 

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Like Bex, I'd say it's personal preference - and the discussions for/against can become quite heated, which I would prefer to avoid.

Manuals are more fuel efficient and allow you more precise control of the vehicle's movement, however, you can get into situations (especially in the rocks), where you need three feet (or a hand throttle).

Automatics however have distinct advantages - you can downshift without losing momentum, for example heading up a hill, and disengaging the clutch in a water crossing can create major issues. The torque multiplication in the torque converter can effectively function to extend the transmission ratios, almost as if you had another gear, but it generates tremendous heat, which in itself is a problem, and that very same slip can work against you going downhill.

Both have their advantages, both have their disadvantages, both have their opponents, both have their proponents - pick one.
 

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I would think a manual transmission would be better for trailering. Easier on the transmission when you can control what gear you are in on a grade. And also to use the transmission to slow you down on a grade or coming up on a stop. At least that's how I use mine with my trailer.
 

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Can I assume that "trailering" means towing a trailer? The original poster never mentioned towing, but it can be done with an appropriately equipped automatic - I would suggest the addition of a transmission cooler if frequent towing is in the plan.

I neglected to mention I own two "compact SUVs", one is a 5 speed manual, the other is a 4 speed auto - I can select and hold any gear I choose (within reason) on either vehicle, going uphill or downhill, and the auto in low gear will slow you on a down grade.

When I say "within reason", if I attempt to down shift the auto to a lower gear at a speed that could cause damage, the transmission controller will prevent the downshift, something that would have to be done by the driver with the manual transmission, but something or someone needs to do it.

My first experience driving in the mountains was driving a rental with an automatic, the automatic & gear selection was the least of my problems - put the shifter in L and leave it there - I can remember picking my way through a mudslide to ensure there was "solid ground" under the mud before calling my wife to bring the car through - we had already come over the mountain and the last thing I wanted to do was turn around and go back up it.
 

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I do a lot of trail riding in my 4x4 automatic. Because I don't have any lift mods or anything, I keep it in "L" with the AT switched to power. Not shifting means I can pay closer attention to anything that may hit the diff/transmission.

It's an opinion like Bex said, I love driving my friend's Jeep with a manual, but the height on his rig allows for peace of mind.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you for all the replies! I won't be doing some of the real tough off road trails like some of you guys do, so I guess I'll turn one of my standard transmission trackers into more of an off road truck and leave the other one stock.

Both seem to have advantages and disadvantages, an automatic would be nice, maybe later on in the future. We have a small mountain right behind where we are staying now, I didn't need the 4 wheel drive at all to get to the top. I really thought I would have needed it, my concern was the loss of momentum while shifting like fordem talked about.

I tend to baby these trucks, I hope we can get to a small rally some day to see how more experienced drivers handle them. I think I need a little more off road time to get comfortable with it like Bex mentioned. I still think about a bad shift going up hill off road, I tend to look at the scenery to much.

Gord, when you're trailering what rpm's are you shifting at going uphill?

Thanks Austin, the auto might be easier for me, but I guess I'll start with the standard and see how it works out. Convincing my wife to get another one is getting harder, she thinks it's just another faze I'm going through. I told her it's not like other cars where you will lose money if you sell them. If you take care of them it seems like the prices seem to keep up pretty well.
 

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Auto all the way. Other than the TCC issues (easily fixed) they are rock solid. I have two, and as first I was pissed I couldn't find a 5speed, but I am happy I didn't now. If you see any loose dirt or snow, the auto is priceless.
 

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it's all personal opinion and the auto vs. standard fight has been around since the dawn of automatics....

Personally I prefer the standard, mine had an auto in it when I bought it and I hated it with a purple passion, don't think I'd had it for 6 months before I swapped it to a 5 spd. In doing so I dropped 800 rpm at the current speed limit (75) and gained 4 mpg. As far as off roading each have their perks but the manual can still get though anything that an auto can once you've mastered your truck, I have in the past seen issues with automatics in extreme situations go to crap in a hurry where a standard kept on chugging usually in deep water situations or heavy sludge where they just cant seem to get rid of the heat before burning up clutches and slipping bands. That being said if you're burning though clutches because your scared or babying you manual you might want to look into an automatic =P either way like I said no matter what you prefer or own it's all personal choice and a matter of knowing what you and your truck can/can't handle.
 

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I have in the past seen issues with automatics in extreme situations go to crap in a hurry where a standard kept on chugging usually in deep water situations or heavy sludge where they just cant seem to get rid of the heat before burning up clutches and slipping bands.
The first mods on my auto were a transmission temperature gauge, followed by an external cooler - well worth the cost...
 

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yeah no doubt fordem
 
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