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4276 Elton St, Baldwin Park, CA 91706 | 909-201-7600 or 626-852-2000 ( Se Habla Español ) 

How To Shift An 18 Speed Transmission

Truck Driver Academy / Blog  / How To Shift An 18 Speed Transmission

How To Shift An 18 Speed Transmission

The reason many truckers like to drive 18-speed transmissions is that they have been proven to be stronger and easier to maneuver.  When you are driving a heavy semi-truck, this can make all the difference. Of course, when you start practicing driving an18 wheeler, you have to set aside quite a bit of time to master it. Once you get the hang of it, it’s smooth sailing.

Another reason that truckers prefer driving an 18-wheeler is because of its versatility. Whatever you may encounter on those steep, windy, and occasionally rainy roads of the United States, your 18-speed transmission will have gear for it. However, even though there are 18 different gears, you really will only be using about 9 of them in your day to day routes. 

How To Shift An 18-Speed

With an 18-speed, the shape of the shifts is going to be that of the letter H. So right when you start learning how to drive an 18-speed, the first thing to do should be familiarizing yourself with that H pattern. You won’t necessarily have to memorize the pattern, as the majority of shifts have a diagram of the gears on it, but over time, it will become ingrained in your mind.

Here’s what you need to know about the steps of how to drive an 18-speed:

  • Start your car, as usual, making sure the parking brake is on.
  • Press down on the clutch pedal and start the engine.
  • Then, press down on the clutch pedal again and use the splitter selector to shift into the first gear, taking care to move it to ‘low’ first.
  • As soon as you get your foot on the brake pedal, you can release the parking brake, release the clutch, and slowly begin to hit the gas.
  • In order to switch gears, press the range-change button (which is typically located near the gear shift) while simultaneously pressing the clutch. 
  • Keep shifting the gears until you reach the ideal speed for the driving conditions.

Additionally, here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind:

  • Every time you shift gears, be sure to press down on the clutch pedal. Pressing it twice will make the transition smoother.
  • In order to be able to shift into eleventh gear, the gear range has to be changed.

Tips For Driving An 18-Wheeler

Make sure you are not shifting too fast or aggressively. A semi-truck is an expensive piece of machinery and it would not do well to mess it up by getting impatient or even just being too forceful. Also, never force a gear.

It is important to remember that, even though this might sound quite complicated, it actually is fairly straightforward. Like all things in life, with some hard work, time, and dedication, you can master it in no time. Knowing how to drive an 18-wheeler is a powerful skill for truckers and it is more than worth your time to build that skill. 

At Truck Driver Academy, we give our students all the skills they could ever need to succeed in this industry, and that includes knowing how to shift an 18-speed. When you are ready to start your new career as a commercial truck driver, you know who to call: Truck Driver Academy. We look forward to hearing from you!