How to Learn to Downshift a Tractor Trailer

by Contributor

Of all the skills that new truck driving students learn, downshifting gives them the most problems. It is essential to learn this technique because unlike driving a car, downshifting in a truck aids in braking. In some parts of the country grades are so steep that without proper downshifting, disaster is certain. Fear not, because downshifting is easy and with a little practice becomes second nature.

Accelerate up through the gears in your tractor trailer. A good training method is getting on and off the highway. This will give you ample time to accelerate all the way up your transmission and then a slow ascending way to downshift into your lower gears.

Depending on your transmission, you may have to adjust the way you go from gear to gear. Different transmissions have different patterns, but the procedure is the same regardless of the type of shift pattern.

Depress the clutch. Make sure that the range lever is in the up position.

Pull the shifter into the neutral position with the clutch depressed. Lift your foot off the clutch.

Depress the clutch pedal a second time. With it depressed, slide the shifter into the lower gear position. Lift up the clutch pedal.

Continue this down though the gears as needed. When you reach the last gear in the up range, flick the lever down prior to depressing the clutch. It is that easy.

Tip

  • check Master double clutching before trying to "float" the clutch. If you miss a gear don't panic. Try the next lower gear. Don't be afraid to use the brake if you can't get into gear.

Warning

  • close Driving a tractor trailer requires a license. Students should only attempt to downshift and drive while being accompanied by a trainer.

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