Manual or automatic?


New member
Hi everyone!

I love Rubicon, don't own one, yet.
Question is: which transmission is better to do off road, manual or automatic?
How does it do when comparing rock climbing vs. mudding?
What is the difference?
Thank you for your help.


Manuals are fun, but I'd say auto is easier to control on the trail...

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I personally like manuals, my only complaint about a auto off road is, I have been in spots where the auto didn't have the power to pull me further. I have been told it was the converter that stopped me, still didn't leave me feeling good. I think its a personal preference thing.

Like asking Ford or Chevy :shock:

I prefer the manual for the trail riding I do. The trails here in the Midwest are tight, and I prefer to clutch and roll on tight 3+ point turns. Those with Autos have to stop, shift, stop, shift, stop, shift, etc.... I also like the broad selection of gears for a particular hill or obstacle.

Most automatics are more susceptible to water contamination and damage. Manuals are generally pretty bulletproof.
I like auto, but I have never driven a manual offroad. I could just drop the auto in 2nd and creep along without accidentally killing the engine while attempting to climb a challenging obstacle. I agree with Bounty Hunter that autos are more susceptible to damage. My 42RLE in the 06 LJ had to be swapped out after 51,000 miles... Many hours of those miles were spent in mud, creeks, clay, and sand. Maybe you could go out with a friend's manual and another's automatic and see which you like.
I've driven both offroad and like the auto better. It can be tough trying to shift to second on a hill climb.

Having said that, many TJ autos tend to overheat offroad (mine included). You have to be more aware of heat in auto, do fluid changes, etc, while as Bounty said, the manuals are bulletproof.

My vote goes to the Auto. I think you get much better control off road with it.
I've always liked manual trans. As mentioned before, its bullet proof and simple to repair if something goes bad internally. Less maintenance than and automatic. Shift on demand and engine brake option is good too.

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I can't drive stick anymore (broke my right shoulder and tore the ligaments in my left leg) but I drove stick from knee high to a grasshopper and I still preferred auto for serious hillclimbing.

Definitely automatic. Though I can drive a stick shift, I prefer an A/T when off-roading.
I've got used to having a M/T car, but automatic is way easier to use when going for an off-road adventure.