Floating Gears

If you are a professional trucker, you might have already heard people throw around the term “floating gears” a lot. Some might even call it “double clutching” or “granny shifting” at times. It is a method of shifting gears while keeping the truck in good shape. It is a popular technique used by professional drivers worldwide.  

However, it’s understandable if you are new to trucking or want to learn a new skill to make your trucking. Floating gears may seem too complicated at first, but it’s not once you get used to it. Truckers who get the hang of floating gears can do it more naturally.

What are Floating Gears?

Floating gears can be a little challenging for some new truckers because it requires feeling the change in gears. Most trucking schools do not recommend floating gears while out on the field, but there is an easier way to learn it and do it more consistently.

The simplest way of understanding it is manually matching your RPMs to your truck’s speed. Once the speed and RPM match, you can set the shifter into gear. 

Learning the right moment for the switch will take some time, but you can eventually do it flawlessly with some practice.

The change in gas application is the main complication for new truckers when float shifting. For example, truckers should accelerate to a certain RPM and then take their foot off the gas when they upshift. 

Removing your foot from the gas eases the shifter, making it easier to change gear. You can change the gear quickly and put your foot back down. 

Truckers will not understand this method immediately, but it is still a good option for truckers who want to make their journeys easier. The biggest challenge with float shifting is its unsynchronized transmission, making it challenging for the drivers to make the shift. 

How to do Floating Gears: Shifting Truck Gears without using the Clutch

Floating gears is a convenient trucking method but requires taking care of your surroundings to avoid any mistakes. Truckers who have to force their shifter into gear are probably doing something wrong. Therefore, truckers can use the following steps to shift easily.

Floating the gears is a trucker’s term for shifting the gear without engaging the clutch. Therefore, the truckers have to start by hitting the same engine RPM and road speed required for a gear they want to go in.

SEE ALSO: Double Clutching – A Comprehensive Guide

Most truckers will see their RPM drop by 200-300 every time they change gears. However, the RPM drop doesn’t mean the truckers have to wait for it to decrease before they can shift their gears.

Truckers can eventually perform floating gears with practice. However, mistakes in the floating gears can damage your gearbox and increase the case of mechanical failure in the long run.

Professional truckers should know that the gears on the truck are usually 300 RPM apart. Therefore, they must consider this RPM difference when shifting to the next gear. For example, an engine turning at 1400 RPM needs you to drop the RPM to 1100 before shifting.

However, truckers who want to downshift into a lower gear need to increase the RMP by 300. Truckers can do this easily by tapping the gas pedal before shifting. However, this rule may change depending on where you’re trucking. 

For instance, the shift timing changes for truckers moving uphill or downhill. The road speed of the trucks can increase or decrease during this part, and truckers have to match the RPM change accordingly. The difference is because of gravity, so there’s not much a trucker can do apart from adjusting their RPM with throttle changes.

Why do Truckers Float Shift?

Shifting the gears in the truck is possible with or without the clutch. The main question is, why do truckers have to float shift?

Some drivers believe that floating the gears can improve the clutch’s life. Frequent shifting can wear the clutch box faster and cause mechanical problems at unexpected intervals. However, there is a split among truckers on the effectiveness of the floating gears technique. 

These truckers believe that the clutch life extension doesn’t matter, or even if the clutch box life extends, it is not very expensive to repair. Most clutch box wear occurs when the truck starts moving on the road. 

Therefore, they believe float shifting doesn’t make a substantial difference but can be risky for newer truckers. They also believe using the clutch while shifting eases the gearbox springs, saving them from unnecessary stress and wear.

Truckers should know that none of these cases apply to conventional vehicles like cars because they have synchronizers in the transmission. 

The synchronizers allow changing gears with a broad rpm range. However, the synchronizers are not in heavy-duty trucks like freight vehicles. 

Floating Gears vs. Double Clutching 

Truckers that do not prefer floating gears rely on double clutching to shift their trucks. Most people think floating gears and double clutching are the same, but there’s a major difference between the two. Thus, let’s quickly check on floating gears vs. double clutching.

Floating Gears: What is it?

Floating gears is a gear shifting technique that doesn’t use the clutch, to extend the life of the clutch mechanism. Floating gears is a typical anecdote among truckers who prefer it, as truckers can travel hundreds of miles on the road without using their clutch. 

Floating gears usually requires better timing and skill, but they can be a better option once truckers learn it. Remember that poorly floating gears can damage the gearbox, making it counterproductive. 

What is Double Clutching?

Double clutching is the conventional and textbook way of shifting gears in a truck with manual transmission. People who support double clutching argue that it’s the only safe way, as double clutching reduces stress on the gearbox springs and avoids screeching. 

Most professional trucking companies recommend double clutching to truckers because its an easier shifting method. It’s ideal for most new truckers and allows them to complete their trucking journeys with ease.  

Even transmission manufacturers claim truckers should follow the double clutching technique to prolong their truck’s life. However, you can always learn more about double clutching.

How to Float Gears on a Semi Truck?

You can already understand that floating gears is a common practice among truckers, while some might find it a little more complicated. However, there are some additional tips truckers need to consider while floating gears on a semi-truck.

Watch your Surroundings

Floating gears can be risky for new semi-truck drivers because of the transmission change. Therefore, these truckers should focus on their surrounding a bit more. First-time gear floaters should do it on a safe road and avoid doing it on a highway. 

The surroundings and conditions include multiple things such as:

  • People: Truckers should first attempt the float gears when the street is empty to avoid unwanted incidents.
  • Cars: Determine your distance from other cars to avoid long-term damage.
  • Your confidence: Don’t try to float gear shift if you aren’t ready. Make sure you understand what you are doing before you try it.

Accelerate to the Shift Point

Truckers need to accelerate their vehicles to the optimal RPM to make shifting much easier. So, hit the throttle to increase the RPM and make the shifting gear softer. Apply very little pressure to the shift stick; it shouldn’t be tough to accelerate. 

However, it’s best not to apply too much pressure on the gear. You are doing something wrong if the shift stick doesn’t move naturally. 

Release the Gas

Once the stick moves, release your foot from the gas to ease the shifting gear as you would do it by pressing the clutch. The RPM needle should go down, allowing truckers to shift their vehicle quickly and easily. However, truckers need to drop the RPM instead of increasing it while downshifting to a lower gear.

How to Shift Gears in a Semi Truck

Learning how to shift gears in a semi-truck is essential because it works slightly differently than a conventional truck. While it is a little more difficult, you can follow these steps to make it easier.

  1. Truckers in semi truckers should hold the shifting knob and shift it to lo 
  2. Hold the clutch pedal and Select “lo” by moving the shifter left and back.
  3. Let out the clutch to make the truck move
  4. Move the shifter to “hi,” letting the clutch out slowly when in “lo hi.” 
  5. Switch the splitter back to “lo” and reach to the right to 1 by letting the clutch go.
  6. Repeat the following pattern for shifting your semi: 
  1. 1 hi
  2. 2 lo
  3. 2 hi
  4. 3 lo
  5. 3 hi
  6. 4 lo
  7. 4 hi.
  8. Ensure double-clutching through this process to make it easier.

Bottom Line

According to most truckers, floating gears is a faster and better way to shift gears without using the clutch. The method avoids wearing down the truck clutch box, ensuring it stays running longer. 

It may take a few tries to learn it properly, but it is worth the effort because you will start doing it naturally in no time. If you are still looking for a recommendation for trucking or floating gears, feel free to connect with us at Nova Lines today!