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What's the difference between non synchro, synchromesh and auto gearboxes in trucks?

Once you decide you are going to go for your truck licence, you will need to decide what type of licence you require. There are three licence options as listed below…

Constant mesh, Road-Ranger, Unrestricted and Crash Box Gearboxes

All of the above are names which describe the non synchromesh gearbox, the most common being the Road Ranger. When driving a non synchromesh gearbox, in order to change gears the engine revs need to match the road speed for the gear change to happen successfully. This process is called doubling the clutch or double clutching. On the simplest level, the steps are as follows:

1. Depress the clutch and disengage the current gear

2. Let out the clutch to re-engage the neutral gear and then match the revs to the gear that you want to engage 3. Depress the clutch and engage the next gear

Synchromesh Gearboxes

A synchromesh gearbox does not require the driver to double clutch as the gearbox has synchro rings which match the road speed and the engine revs which allows the gear to be selected. Many of the trucks doing local deliveries tend to use this type of gearbox as it is easier for the driver to operate and allows companies more choice when selecting drivers.

Automatic Gearboxes

More trucks are being manufactured and purchased with automatic transmissions due technological improvements over the last decade. Automatic truck gearboxes are slightly different to car automatic gearboxes in that they are, essentially, an automated manual transmission. This means that there is an automated shifter changing gears for the driver in the manual gearbox.


Ultimately it's up to you which licence you choose to go for. If you choose to go for an unrestricted licence it will undoubtedly open the most doors for you, however learning to drive a non synchromesh gearbox requires more training and can be frustrating for some new learners. If you have a particular industry in mind where you would like to work and would like to know what sort of trucks are used in that industry, Purple Truck Driving School have years of experience and industry contacts that can help you make the most informed choice when deciding which licence is right for you.

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