Auto? Synchro? Non-Synchro? Before You Decide Here’s a Couple of Things You Need To Know!

Ok, so you want to get your truck licence. You’re looking to make a change and you’ve seen that there are quite a few jobs going in the transport industry. Or you may have already been offered a job on the proviso you get your truck licence. You’ve done a bit of research, asked some questions, and you need a Heavy Rigid licence. Sorted – well nearly.

There is another question that you will need to answer before you commence your training as the answer you give could come back to bite you on the…tail shaft…both during and after your training.

At the HR level you have the choice of undertaking your training in a vehicle with either a fully automated, synchromesh, or non-synchromesh gearbox.


Over the last couple of years automatic transmissions have become more popular. Armstrongs introduced an HR Auto into its fleet in recognition of this trend. It’s true that once all the effort and concentration required to change gears effectively and efficiently is removed, clients generally perform better as they are able to focus more on road positioning and vehicle control knowing that the right gear at the right time will be selected for them. The technical term is “it’s easier.”

But when it comes to the choice of what type of gearbox you should undertake your training in, you need to keep these things in mind:

  • The type of fleet that your potential employer is operating. Are all the vehicles automatics or synchros? Is there a mix?
  • What is the probability that you will be required to drive a synchromesh or non-synchromesh vehicle? A potential employer might have a fleet of ninety-nine automatics and one non-synchro. But if you are required to drive that non-synchro one day – and you can’t – then you’re not much use to that employer.
  • Where do you want to take your driving career? If you see yourself progressing through to the larger license categories then there is a fair chance that you will run up against prime movers with non-synchro gearboxes for a little while yet.

If you can’t find any information regarding the above, or don’t have any idea where or what you might end up driving then you need to know the following:

  • If you mistakenly think that fifteen years of driving automatic Commodores and Falcons counts as driving experience (that is, you haven’t driven a manual car at all or in a very long time) and you have your heart set on getting your heavy vehicle non-synchro licence, then the odds of passing on your first attempt (or tenth!) are very small. Seriously though, the non-synchro is not for those who are challenged on the co-ordination front! Have a look at the HR Non-Synchro course page for a very helpful Youtube clip of what you’ll be required to do.
  • Just to reiterate, think long and hard about whether you really need a non-synchro licence.
  • If on Day 2 of your non-synchro course you find yourself thinking “why did I let my mate talk me into the non-synchro?” Unfortunately Armstrongs can’t just take you out of that course and put you into an automatic course or synchro course. Sure, we’ll help you out in any way we can but you’re going to have to rebook and that’s going to mean additional costs.
  • Remember, getting your heavy vehicle licence is not a one-shot-only affair. If you get your heavy vehicle licence in an automatic or synchro, you can always come back anytime you want in order to get the ‘A’ or ‘B’ condition removed – this means you have the luxury of taking as long as you like to pass your non-synchro driving re-test without the stress of trying to learn to drive a big vehicle AND double-clutch WHILE everyone else on the road is seemingly trying to cut you off all the time!
  • If you are tested in a heavy vehicle using a synchromesh gearbox then a ‘B’ condition will appear on your heavy vehicle licence and you will be restricted to driving heavy vehicles with an automatic or synchro mesh gearbox. You cannot drive heavy vehicles with a non-synchro gearbox.
  • If you are the holder of a manual car licence, you can actually take your training and assessment using an automatic gearbox but you’ll still come out with a heavy vehicle licence which allows you to drive synchros also!
  •  But…if you have an automatic car licence and you are still on your P’s and you take your training and assessment in a heavy vehicle with an automatic gearbox you will be restricted to driving automatic heavy vehicles until the end of your probationary period. However, once you probationary period is over, your car licence will be converted to a manual licence and your heavy vehicle licence will be converted to a synchro.
  • If you get your heavy vehicle licence in a non-synchro then congrats. It’s not an easy thing to master and you earned it. Have fun driving any gearbox you want.

If you want to see a demonstration of each of the different gearbox configurations in action, check out the heavy rigid automatic, synchromesh, and non-synchromesh course pages on our website, or the Armstrongs Youtube channel, or give one of the team a call today 03 9464 6464.