How to Shift a 9, 10, 13, 15 or 18-Speed Transmission | Truck Driving

Learn how to shift a 9, 10, 13, 15 or 18-speed transmission here! Watch the video. AIR BRAKE CHECKLIST: SUBSCRIBE TODAY! ► See TOPICS below!!

Driving a non-synchromesh transmission is the coordination of the clutch, the throttle, and the shifter.

In order to shift a non-synchromesh transmission, or some times referred to as a “crash box”, the drier must line up 3 things:

1) the road speed
2) the engine speed
3) the gear

If these 3 things do NOT line up, the transmission simply will not shift.
Introduction 0:03
Shifting Pattern 1:34
Range Selector 3:10
Splitter 4:40
13 Speed Transmission 5:03
18 Speed Transmission 6:27
15 Speed Transmission 7:12
Synchronizing the Transmission 8:44
5th Gear – The Happy Gear 10:12
Progressive Shifting 11:44
Clutch 14:26
Double Clutch 16:41
Seat Adjustment 18:04
Downshifting 18:48
Uphill | Downhill 22:44
Not a Spectator Sport 24:14
Conclusion 25:04
Most transmissions in tractor-trailers in this day-and-age are either a 13- or 18-speed transmission. And all transmissions are essentially a 5-speed “H” pattern.

And progressive shifting was designed to maximized fuel economy on large electronic diesel engines. Progressive shifting indicates that you should bring the revs up approximately 50 rpms and then shift to the next gear. However, when pulling heavy, or shifting uphill, the driver will have to bring the revs up higher to compensate for a drop in road speed.

Finally, the clutch on a non-synchromesh transmission looks like any other clutch, but must be used in a completely different manner than a manual transmission on a car or light truck. There are 4 points along the clutch’s travel path:

1) freeplay
2) friction point
3) dead space
4) clutch brake

The clutch brake on a big truck is only used to get the vehicle into a starting gear, whether that is first, reverse or whatever gear the driver start the vehicle in. And to coordinate the speed of the transmission with the the road speed, the driver has to double clutch. Simplistically speaking the driver clutches once to bring the gear selector into neutral and then again to put the transmission in gear.

One of the gears that we like the best is fifth gear. If you lose a gear and you’re trying to recover and find a gear – eighty-five percent of the time the transmission–a 13- or 18-speed transmission–will go into fifth gear. So fifth gear – up here with the range selector up, back to the first slot – fifth gear is your go-to gear. 85% percent of the time the truck will go back into fifth gear and you can carry on. Sometimes it may not be pretty, but you can get it back into fifth gear and go.

In conclusion, shifting theory. All transmissions are basic 5-speed patterns. What allows a 5-speed transmission to become a 10-speed transmission is the range selector. Down for low, up for high. The only time you use the range selector is between fourth and fifth. You’re going from 4th to 5th, pull it up, and shift to fifth.

If you’re going from fifth to fourth, push it down before you come out of fifth and it’ll shift as you go through neutral. And you’ll hear it after you get a bit of practice with it, you’ll be able to hear the transmission click from high range too low range as you’re moving through neutral.

The splitter gives you 13- or 18-speeds. If you get in a 15-speed it’s going to be a blue button. So it’s red, blue, or grey. Red is 13-speed, blue is 15, grey is 18-speed. The clutch is very different than most clutches that you’re going to find on a car or light truck. Top of it’s the freeplay, the friction point, the dead space and then the clutch brake.

And the engine speed is a misnomer – it’s not actually the engine speed that were worried about when we’re shifting the truck. It’s the transmission speed, but we don’t have any way to measure the speed of the transmission gears in a non-synchromesh transmission. So we use the engine’s tachometer.

The clutch pedal has to be out, especially when you’re down shifting and throttling up. Make sure the clutch is out when you’re throttling up. And again the last piece: and this goes for any manual transmission, not just a non-synchromesh – don’t ride the clutch. As soon as you finish shifting the gear, get your foot off that clutch.

Because there’s two plates in there and what happens is if you got your foot on the clutch at all, the two plates start to separate. When the two plates start to separate, they begin to spin against each other and it causes the clutch to wear out. So don’t ride the clutch in any manual transmission vehicle.

The last piece for non-synchromesh transmission: when you’re down shifting, slow down to gear down.

Good luck on your road test!



  1. What do mean I won' t learn to drive from watching your video, I figured I would just put my phone on the dash and play your video as I go. LOL just kidding. Great learning video though Thanks.

  2. Hmm, think ill go find an old junker truck to buy and make a daily now just for the hell of it. Just if forget the high and low. Simply throw it into high 5th and then high 6th

  3. Wonder if he ever drove a 4/4 or 5/4 two stick transmission? There is a point where you have to use both hands. You had to know what you were doing especially up hills and soft roads. 😂

  4. I have a question about the 15 speed Fuller Roadranger RTO 6613. I've never been around one of these transmissions before. What should happen if I try to go from LL5 to 6th gear by raising the splitter switch to high gear? I just bought a 1994 Gradall 660E with this transmission and when I'm shifting from 5th to 6th, it act like it is not in gear. (I'm thinking it may be still in the "basement gears" LL5 and it will not go to the high gears.)

  5. Excellent explanation. I have tried so many times to give this explanation to people and after 10 seconds they just stare at me. Do you have a video for a 5 and a 4? That would save me hours. Thanks for the great video. And you are way more handsome than Red from that 70's show.

  6. Holding the clutch pedal in at a red light will prematurely burn up the throw out bearing. The clutch pedal is not a foot rest, do not leave it there, up against the free play, that is a bad habit, that will cost money. Also the stick is not a hand rest to help you balance in the seat. That will also end up in premature failure of other trans parts.

  7. If you don't know what kind of trans you are driving, there is usually a sticker with a diagram of the shift pattern, on the sun visor. There are many brands and models of trans, not all patterns are the same.

  8. Good video, Back when we were just thrown in a truck and learned on the job.
    If you really want to mess with new drivers minds, show them a tri-plex or due-plex with overdrive.

    Like a 6×4 over or 6×5. Have seen the 13×4 with two speed rear end. Hell, some of the older trucks had air clutches and air starters. God help you if you lost your air pressure. You had to fill the tanks up just to start from another truck or bottle. R model Mack tri-plex with a 237 engine I learned how to shift on a 725-mile trip as the Boss said, I would know how to shift it when I got back.

    Drivers today have it made from when drivers like me started. No AC, No Bed, (Slep laid down in the seats or if you were lucky at one of the truck stops that had cots to sleep on.)No power steering, Length law was 55' and up the Mississippi River was the old weight limit of 73,280 pounds and everywhere else was 80,000 pounds or more. Oh, and the pay was 9-12 cents a mile or 15-20% gross depending on the company you worked for.
    Great video and I think it will help a lot of today's drivers learn a standard transmission.

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