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Old 06-13-2016, 05:03 PM   #1
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Towing down a steep grade without burning up the brakes

I have a 2015 Tundra pulling a 2015 27FB FC & we are considering making a trip through the Rockies. I have never pulled up & down a big incline/decline yet. How do I best tackle this with auto transmission gears + brakes so I don't end up in one of those run away ramps?

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Glenn
Spring, Tx
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Old 06-13-2016, 05:13 PM   #2
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Just Slow down use tow haul mode and down shift as needed to keep your rpms up. Dont be afraid to go slow amd dont ride the brakes.
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Old 06-13-2016, 05:37 PM   #3
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As mentioned above travel at a comfortable and safe speed.Use the transmission as your brake down shifting to reduce speed.Stay in the slow lane.Your engine will make some noise but do not panic as long as you do not go into the redline on your tach you will be fine.Keep a eye on the traffic behind you as Semi's have been known to loose their brakes on steep grades.50-55mph should be your target speed in most cases.Use just your trailer brakes if needed by squeezing the two levers together on your brake controller a brief couple of intermittent light squeezes will slow you down on steep grades.Just keep calm and you will do fine.
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Old 06-13-2016, 05:38 PM   #4
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I live here in Colorado - pull through the mountains all the time - just came through Eisenhower tunnel to Denver a couple days ago - 12 miles or so total at 5-6% downhill grade... no big deal.

Just use 2nd & 3rd gear to keep your speed under 60mph on the straight aways and under 50/45 or less if the road / highway curves a bunch. Brake intermittently when needed. On long relatively straight stretches I like to brake firmly to take 5-10pmh off my speed... then use the gears... slowly coast back up to speed... then brake again, etc..

You'll be fine enjoy the views of beautiful CO!
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Old 06-13-2016, 05:54 PM   #5
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Everything folks have said before about down-shifting (even with an automatic transmission) is right on target. However, I'd add that the right time to start downshifting and getting ready for the fun is when you see that first hill warning sign that says something like "7% grade ahead."

Honestly, our most hair-raising experience so far (including crossing the Rockies) was in California, on Route 62 heading downhill from Yucca Valley to I-10. We didn't downshift quite as soon as we should have, so it got more exciting than we wanted it to be. No bad outcome or anything, just a little scary until we got downshifted and were running at a more comfortable speed. As long as you downshift early and let the transmission do it's work for you, you won't need the brakes too much. Keep those brakes nice & cool so they are ready for you if you need them.

So, don't let it get away from you. If the curve speed limit warning sign says "35MPH," we slow down to 35 MPH, no question about it. We'd rather be going too sloooow, feeling like Jed Clampett driving his truck in Beverly Hills, than like Speed Racer blasting down the mountain and looking for a gravel truck ramp to save us from ourselves.
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Old 06-13-2016, 06:06 PM   #6
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All the advice given here is good. My best advice is not to let the speed get away from you in the first place. It's not always easy to slow down from 65 to 55 or even less unless you have a big diesel truck with an engine brake so just keep it as slow as you feel is comfortable from the very beginning. Do not expect to be able to slow down from your initial speed by very much (so pick a conservative speed at the beginning of the hill) and you will be fine. Remember, thousands of other RV's have already made it down that hill!
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Old 06-13-2016, 06:21 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by AnnArborBob View Post
All the advice given here is good. My best advice is not to let the speed get away from you in the first place. It's not always easy to slow down from 65 to 55 or even less unless you have a big diesel truck with an engine brake so just keep it as slow as you feel is comfortable from the very beginning. Do not expect to be able to slow down from your initial speed by very much (so pick a conservative speed at the beginning of the hill) and you will be fine. Remember, thousands of other RV's have already made it down that hill!
Do not expect to be able to slow down from your initial speed....

TRUE! As what everyone said above. If you are even starting to get nervous - using your trailer's brake controller for a few quick squeezes is a very good tactic. AND so is testing it before you need it. Having your muscle memory know where it is rather than having to look away from the road to find it is a "must have" skill in an emergency - so use it briefly at the start of each day's tow (you might discover your umbilical isn't in tightly too!). If you're really nervous - turn on your flashers - better to have a testosterone poisoned truck driver KNOW you're a born coward than to have him/her crowding your bumper trying to get you to speed up. ALWAYS let an aggressive driver pass you if there is any way to do so!

Paula
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Old 06-13-2016, 06:35 PM   #8
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We have not really driven very much on those grades, I have dumb question, I drive a 2103 2500 Suburban with brake controller part of the dashboard, not an add on. Where do I squeeze or how do I squeeze the brakes to test? Do I use the plus minus push buttons by it? I have it set at 3.5, not even sure that is correct. I drive fully loaded TV, a normal loaded Bambi 19' 2006. Thanks for help.
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Old 06-13-2016, 08:20 PM   #9
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If you are new to towing or just don't have much experience, pick up a CDL study guide from your local DMV. There is a lot of very good info on driving techniques in all conditions.

Or click on this link to the Illinois guide. https://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/p.../dsd_cdl10.pdf

I would be very cautious using the trailer brakes to slow your vehicle down a mountain pass. Trailer brakes are not designed to slow both trailer and the tow vehicle. Say you start to use just the trailer brakes to slow down, it's now slowing you enough and your still gaining speed, so you grab a little more brake and it's still not enough. Now you decide to use the foot pedal to activate all the brakes. Your trailer brakes are already quite warm and now you just increased the chance to over heat them. That's all just my 2 cents though.
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Old 06-13-2016, 08:29 PM   #10
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With trailer hooked up increase gain until you can feel the trailer braking when brake pedal is depressed lightly while driving.You also should have two knobs that you can squeeze together with your thumb and forefinger to activate the trailer brakes and you use these when adjusting your gain.Dont be afraid to experiment with the gain to get it set just right.Your ideal gain setting is when the trailer brakes are activated just before your vehicle brakes engage.It is hard to get the trailer brakes to lock up so no worries when experimenting.My 2015 F350 is set at 7.5 but all vehicles are different.


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Old 06-13-2016, 08:32 PM   #11
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Towing down a steep grade without burning up the brakes

Quote:
Originally Posted by bel73 View Post
If you are new to towing or just don't have much experience, pick up a CDL study guide from your local DMV. There is a lot of very good info on driving techniques in all conditions.



Or click on this link to the Illinois guide. https://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/p.../dsd_cdl10.pdf



I would be very cautious using the trailer brakes to slow your vehicle down a mountain pass. Trailer brakes are not designed to slow both trailer and the tow vehicle. Say you start to use just the trailer brakes to slow down, it's now slowing you enough and your still gaining speed, so you grab a little more brake and it's still not enough. Now you decide to use the foot pedal to activate all the brakes. Your trailer brakes are already quite warm and now you just increased the chance to over heat them. That's all just my 2 cents though.
You are correct but a few brief intermittent pulses will not over heat the trailer brakes.That is why those activation knobs are there.The trailer will slow the combination down an save the tv brakes if used properly.

Common sense goes along way.



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Old 06-13-2016, 08:40 PM   #12
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Good advice in this thread.

I forgot who told me this, but Interstate Highways are designed for a 6% grade apparently.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inte...hway_standards

Point being, 'stay on interstates' might be advice worth following, since once you complete that initial descent without a change of underwear, you know it won't get any worse.

PS avoid crossing Death Valley in CA; we did this last month. We saw signs showing 9 1/2% grades. Yikes. It was No Fun.
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Old 06-13-2016, 08:57 PM   #13
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You are correct but a few brief intermittent pulses will not over heat the trailer brakes.That is why those activation knobs are there.Common sense goes along way.



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A few quick pulses might not over heat the brakes, I agree. It will warm them up more than the tow vehicle and when things go wrong the trailer brakes will die first.

The knob on the controller should really only be used to test and adjust the brakes. Again, just my 2.
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Old 06-13-2016, 09:30 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by wulfraat View Post
I live here in Colorado - pull through the mountains all the time - just came through Eisenhower tunnel to Denver a couple days ago - 12 miles or so total at 5-6% downhill grade... no big deal.

Just use 2nd & 3rd gear to keep your speed under 60mph on the straight aways and under 50/45 or less if the road / highway curves a bunch. Brake intermittently when needed. On long relatively straight stretches I like to brake firmly to take 5-10pmh off my speed... then use the gears... slowly coast back up to speed... then brake again, etc..

You'll be fine enjoy the views of beautiful CO!
I came through the "Ike" tunnels just last week on my was to Vegas. Kept my speed in check using the down hill assist & downshifting as needed. My 1500 RAM has an 8 speed tranny & I never had to get below 4th gear. I found that slowing it down at the top of the grade was the key to a safe decent.
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