Automatic Transmission Tackles Tough Austin Roads

By Tom Berg, Truck Editor | August 1, 2018
Freightliner 122SD has a Detroit DD15 engine
Freightliner 122SD has a Detroit DD15 engine, Allison automatic transmission, and a custom aluminum bed that can carry up to 24.75 tons.

Peter Nuñez, founder of Nuñez Trucking in suburban Austin, Texas, bought a Freightliner dump truck last year, put his father in the driver’s seat, and listened to him heap praise on the truck.

“This truck is my dad’s baby,” said Nuñez. “He tells me how amazing it is that it runs the same loaded as when it’s empty. Thanks to the (Detroit) DD15 and Allison automatic transmission, it has amazing amounts of torque while hauling almost 25 tons.”

The truck is Freightliner’s upscale model, the 122SD (for severe duty).

“This was the first new truck I’ve ever bought, so I sat down with Kevin Beran at Freightliner of Austin and we went through that thing with a fine-tooth comb,” Nuñez said. “We built that truck to be long enough to carry the payload I wanted, but not too long that it wouldn’t work well in the applications I needed it for.”

His 10-unit fleet carries sand, gravel, and stone to support homebuilding and other construction in the surrounding area. In the region around Austin, residential job sites are in rough terrain with steep grades, he said, so a truck needs to be rugged and maneuverable, but comfort is also a plus.

“There is a lot of terrible twisting and turning, and we put these trucks through hell,” he said. “If it’s not spec’d out correctly, it’s not going to last. But there are no problems whatsoever with the Freightliner. We can expect that thing to crank up every single morning and not have issues throughout the day.”

Aside from its power, the 505-horsepower Detroit engine has been reliable, he says, and the Allison automatic is a work-saver.

“Not having to shift creates a much more pleasant ride for the driver,” said Nuñez. “It allows my dad to focus on what’s going on around him and keep both hands on the steering wheel, looking forward, instead of fiddling around with a stick shift. He says it’s one of the most comfortable trucks he’s ever driven.”

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