Fleet Trucks: Find the Perfect Combination of Engine and Transmission

fleet truck engine

A fleet truck can easily become overworked if it does not have the right engine and transmission combo, which can lead to high maintenance costs. It is also very easy to under work a truck because of a bad combination between the two, which means that more money than needed has been spent on the truck based on its usage.

The engine and transmission combo is a vital powertrain component that ensures that a truck does its job properly. There is no one-size-fits-all scenario with choosing the perfect powertrain and this is why selecting the right combination is important. Here are some tips which can help fleet managers figure out what they need for their fleet.

Understanding the Use of the Fleet Truck

The first thing you need to do in order to find the perfect engine and transmission combo is understand the specific application for the fleet truck in question. There are so many things you need to think about when you are considering the truck’s application.

The intended road surface it will operate on, the maximum starting grade of the truck and the maximum operating weight of the vehicle can help you decide on the perfect engine and transmission combo to get the work done. There are certain types of transmissions, which have limitations regarding the gross combined weight rating.

Road conditions where the truck is expected to operate and the maximum grade can determine what kind of gearing and torque will be required for the truck to get moving. Variables that tell you how the truck will be used are crucial when you consider the combination in your truck’s powertrain.

Engine Displacement

The requirement of the engine displacement can vary, based on the vocation of a particular fleet truck. A vehicle hauling heavy loads would be better off with a smaller engine displacement in order to save weight, for instance.

Fleet managers must work closely with dealers to get the perfect engine size and figure out the perfect engine and transmission combo, based on the vocations and duty cycles of their trucks.

Driving Stick or Auto

Selecting the perfect transmission type is vital when there is a specific kind of fleet operation that the truck is being spec’ed out for.

Several things like the particular vocation of the truck, the experience level of the driver and the power and torque of the engine go into deciding whether the transmission should be manual or automatic. Drivers at all experience levels have recently been opting for automatic transmissions because of the convenience that it offers. It allows them more opportunity to keep their eyes on the road without any distractions that they might face from manual transmissions.

As the industry moves forward, the focus has shifted towards automatic transmission vehicles in fleets. This means that the perfect engine and transmission combo should be geared more towards the automatic transmissions as well.

Rear Axle Ratio

Fleet managers also need to consider the rear axle ratio when they are selecting the right engine and transmission combo.

The rear axle ratios with lower numerical values are chosen with direct drive transmissions, while the overdrive transmissions are running higher numerical values. The overall effect of the powertrain on the top gear time and cruise speed need to be reviewed thoroughly. This helps in meeting the needs of the fleet, while spec’ing the truck.

Performance and Economy

One additional factor that comes into deciding on the perfect engine and transmission combo is the priority between the performance and economy of the fleet truck.

Fleet managers love more economy and drivers feel the same way about the performance of the truck. Getting a good performance out of the truck means better driver satisfaction and possibly better retention. Having a good economy means that the overall cost of operations is lower. Finding the right balance between what the drivers would prefer and what the cost-effectiveness needs are for a company is a big factor when determining the perfect engine and transmission combo.

Operator Skills

Driver satisfaction is a big factor that affects the choice of engine and transmission combo. It is not just about the performance and economy ration, however. The combination needs to be as suitable as possible for the driver to be able to control the vehicle easily. You need to make sure that the driver is able to handle the vehicle comfortably, without getting stressed out.

The skills of drivers can vary, depending on the kind of fleet and the nature of business. In a lot of cases, once the drivers have received training, they move on to take on other roles. This means that training has been wasted. Then there are some cases where skills are not very sophisticated and they require automatic transmission vehicles.

In fact, most of the drivers now are less likely to drive manual transmission vehicles. There are a lot of operators in the market that do not even know how to drive a manual truck. When deciding on the engine and transmission combo, it is important for fleet managers to understand the drivers they will get in the future and the drivers that they have right now.

Recently, manual vehicles are being phased out. Automatic transmission is being preferred more and more now. It is an eventuality that manual transmission vehicles will soon be out of the picture entirely.

Resale Value

The changing trend in the market with automatic transmission being preferred has made a significant impact on the used vehicles market. In fact, a lot of the vehicles that have automatic transmission are being sold before even reaching the dealership. The specs of a fleet truck have a big say in their resale value.

Finding the perfect engine and transmission combo has also got to be seen from the resale point of view. Fleets looking to keep their trucks operational for longer periods of time should consider diesel engines, which provide better fuel economy. The increased durability of diesel engines also means a better resale value.

That said, fleets that often change their trucks would be better off with gasoline engine trucks. They offer a lower upfront cost as compared to diesel trucks.

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