Off-roading with a manual transmission?

Rockywoolf

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I always have preferred a manual for off roaring but as my grandpa and old time jeeper would say, “There both better.”





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ToothMechanic

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MT for sports cars, AT for anything else. Even the autos in some sports cars are getting to be fun.

Do you guys really enjoy clutching/shifting in stop and go traffic or through an intersection?
 

mgroeger

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I own both a manual and auto JL which means I am rich and you should listen to me. I have also been on the YouTube no less than 12 times which means I am famous and you should listen to me. I have even been seen in the background in a LiteBrite video... that's how famous I am. Now that we have my credentials well established I shall give you my opinion which is all you will need to make your decision.
I crack myself up.

OK, anyways... I have a manual Rubi and if you are going the manual route you def want the Rubi. The reason is the 4:1 LO on the t-case. It makes all the difference when you have a manual to the point that you pretty much don't shift. If I'm crawling an object (we run 7-8 rated trails at Sand Hollow) I will put it in 1st and simply let the clutch out. No need to feather the gas or any of that crap. Once the clutch is out it's functioning just like an auto and you crawl the obstacle. If I am pulling out on the trail I start in 2nd gear and away we go then quickly into 3rd and on to the next obstacle. You WILL NOT be running the trail in 1st gear in 4LO, the gears wind out very quick in 4LO and it's not rare for me to hit 4th gear.
Now my wife's Jeep is a Sahara sitting on D44s and built the same as my Jeep and it's an auto and even without that 4:1 t-case it is a beast on obstacles. She puts it into manual mode and drops it to 1st gear to crawl because the auto starts you off in 2nd. Once she is done with the obstacle it's back into regular auto mode and off she goes. I actually had a Rubi t-case sitting in the garage up until last week to go into her Jeep and decided not to so I sold it. The main reason is even in the automatic Jeeps when you are in 4LO you need to have the tranny in manual mode and be shifting through the gears (I'm referring to the Rubi t-case only). Keeping it in full automatic mode will wind/rev the engine way out before it shifts. Since she really can't drive stick I didn't want her to have to deal with all of that on the trails. Once she is done crawling an obstacle I want her to be able to simply put it back in auto mode and enjoy the ride.

I have a love hate with the manual. I love banging gears around town and don't really mind it on the trail but by the end of the day I'm kind of over it. The manual on the trail in 4LO can be jerky and that's just the nature of the beast. If wishes were fishes I might go auto but it's not like a slam dunk, there is something to be said for the manual especially in a Jeep. It's a more "organic" feel and one that let's you be more "in control".
 
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mgroeger

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Side Note:
I keep the Hill Assist OFF for daily driving and ON when I am off roading. DD with hill assist on is an unnatural feel to the clutch and Jeep in general IMO but off road it comes in very handy.
 

beast40

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MT is WAY more fun for off-roading. If you are in the hammers or racing I totally get needing an Auto but for the wheeling 99% of Jeeps will ever see MT is definitely the way to go.

The biggest mistake I made with my TJ was swapping in an Auto. Feathering the clutch, brake and hand throttle on a steep incline was half of the fun.
 

NCIC105

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So I've been thinking of getting an JLU Rubicon. Will be a daily driver for my mainly 2-lane commute and light to moderate off-roading. Might work my way up to Beasley Knob ORV trails (7-9 rating on Badge of Honor system). Would love to eventually go to Moab as a bucket list adventure.
I haven't had manual tranny in several years and like the idea of going back to one. How is off-roading in the manual with say a 2" lift and 35's compared to the automatic? Plan to keep this one forever so long-term durability/service life is a high priority.
Any input appreciated.
Unless your an experience off roader stay with the auto. Manuals are much harder to wheel.
 

Mr. Crawly

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I think manual transmissions on a JL should come factory with no higher than 4.88 gearing if you’re going with 35s in the near future
 

Billy goat

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I prefer a manual off-road. Sure the auto is "easier" but by no means is a manual hard to off-road. Its a modern vehicle with features such as "Hill start assist" "Off Road +" . If you like driving a manual get one.
 

JeepU4IA

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I've been driving manuals all my life in all kinds of cars and there was no question which tranny I'd get in the JL. I won't even try to explain the satisfaction I get from the precise control only a manual with a clutch provides. In fact, if the manual tranny wasn't offered I wouldn't buy a Wrangler at all. As much as I love my Jeep, I guess that makes me a manual driver first and a Jeeper second.
 

Toycrusher

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Unless your an experience off roader stay with the auto. Manuals are much harder to wheel.
I think manual transmissions on a JL should come factory with no higher than 4.88 gearing if you’re going with 35s in the near future
Gearing is key with a manual. The 4.10 Rubicon gears are a perfect match for my 37s. It would not be so easy on non-Rubi 3.45 gears.

That said, the type of wheeling you do makes a difference. There is no arguing the advantage of an auto on soft sand in a heavy truck. Our JLs are plenty light and if you air down your tires, they float well enough to make it manageable with a manual transmission.

Most any other terrain, a manual provides more control and is actually easier. In a technical climb, with an auto, you are jumping back and forth from gas to brake, you have to give it enough gas to lock up the converter, and often at that point you jump forward faster than intended. Then you let off and you might start rolling backwards. With a manual, pick your gear in 4 lo, let out the clutch, and focus on your line. Your tires will just keep clawing at a steady pace and you can comfortably work your way up the obstacle
 

Dr. RGB

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The only issue I have with automatic transmissions are when I follow them on the trails and they constantly ride their brakes. That is the only time I have to be using the clutch so I don't ram into the back of them. 4Lo with the manual allows you to just take your foot off the clutch and go.
 

beachbumm78

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You’ll find a variety of opinions here. I drive in both traffic and off road. I love my manual. My daily commute is 50-min each way. Like others mentioned driving In 4-lo off-road is a cake walk. It basically drives itself. I mainly use 4-hi and switch to lo for specific obstacles. Now, I don’t do serious rock crawling but mainly moderate off road trails. Here in AZ we have a wide variety. If I was into serious rock crawling I’d go auto. It is a learning experience off roading in a manual. Different gearing depending if in hi or lo. I enjoy it though.
Really depends on you though and what experience you’re looking for. I’d definitely recommend a Rubi if you’re going manual for sure.
 

coupedncal

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I’d definitely recommend a Rubi if you’re going manual for sure.
I was curious why was this the case? Why is it the 4.10 ratio is better than the 3.45 ratio in a manual? I am assuming this comment is specific to on-road driving.
 

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