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Old 07-12-2004, 08:36 AM   #1
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Steep Grades

I would appreciate any advice on handling steep grades without having to ride the brakes. Just came back from my first hilly adventure and was concerned about the amount of brake riding it took to get down those hills! Planning a mountainous trip this fall and don't want to worry about brake ware the whole time.

Thanks!
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Old 07-12-2004, 08:58 AM   #2
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Down shift and let the engine compression help with braking. You will still increase speed on steep grades, but use the brakes in spurts, slow down and then release them. It there is a rest area or scenic turnout take a break and let everything cool. Wear won't be as much of a problem as heat. The brakes can get hot enough to boil the fluid, then no brakes.

John
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Old 07-12-2004, 11:03 AM   #3
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Take your time! I once boiled the fluidi n a Class A motorhome coming down a mountain pass that I had no business being on in the first place. Managed to stop at a turnout and let it site for an hour before I could use it again.
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Old 07-12-2004, 11:12 AM   #4
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The general rule of thumb is to go down the grade in the same gear it would take to go up it.

There is no substitute for caution. Don't ride the brakes. If you can't keep the speed down without a lot of brake use, then slow down and gear down. Be paranoid about over use of brakes so that you don't wait too long to decide its time to slow down and gear down. If you are going slow enough in a low enough gear you should only have to tap the brakes on occasion and never have to ride them to control speed.
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Old 07-12-2004, 04:57 PM   #5
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In addtion to all of the above.

I heard that when you do need to break, you should slow down to around 10-15mph lower than the posted speed, then let it creep up to 10 mph above the posted speed before you break again.

But never go faster than is safe or comfortable.
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Old 07-12-2004, 05:11 PM   #6
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My brother lives in Colorado and he told me that flatlanders don't know how
to go down " hills". He told me to slow down to a stop, and then resume.
Same as above he said don't ride the brakes. But he also said that he would rather wear out brakes than an engine. He is smarter than I look.
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Old 07-12-2004, 05:22 PM   #7
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I put a exhaust brake on my E350 ford 7.3 Liter diesel. It was a Pac Brake and it is one of the best investments I have made. It has saved my A** on many steep grades. Check exhaust brakes out, there are several styles and manufacturers. Also they are not difficult to install yourself.
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Old 07-12-2004, 07:45 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mandolindave
My brother lives in Colorado and he told me that flatlanders don't know how
to go down " hills". He told me to slow down to a stop, and then resume.
Same as above he said don't ride the brakes. But he also said that he would rather wear out brakes than an engine. He is smarter than I look.
Does he also run an RV body shop, by any chance? Imagine coming to a complete stop on a freeway going downhill, 18 wheelers in your lane coming from behind.....
Second thought, perhaps he owns the town morgue....
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Old 07-12-2004, 11:34 PM   #9
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In addition to the above posts, you should consider changing your brake fluid. The following is the minimum standards for brake fluids:

DOT 3 dry boiling point: 401 deg F
DOT 3 wet boiling point: 284
DOT 4 dry boiling point: 446
DOT 4 wet boiling point: 311

One good brand is "ATE Super Blue Racing" rated at Dry: 536 Wet: 392

You should be changing your brake fluid every 2 years anyway.
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Old 07-21-2004, 03:26 PM   #10
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I would assume that your Envoy is an automatic with a gasoline engine. Use a lower gear and don't ride the brakes. When your speed increases to an uncomfortable level apply your brakes steady to slow you down below what your comfortable speed is knowing that it will increase once again. Exhaust brakes on diesels is the only way to go in MHO.
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Old 07-21-2004, 04:24 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by dmac
In addition to the above posts, you should consider changing your brake fluid. The following is the minimum standards for brake fluids:

DOT 3 dry boiling point: 401 deg F
DOT 3 wet boiling point: 284
DOT 4 dry boiling point: 446
DOT 4 wet boiling point: 311

One good brand is "ATE Super Blue Racing" rated at Dry: 536 Wet: 392

You should be changing your brake fluid every 2 years anyway.

BINGO!

Most over looked service itiem out there and closely followed by changing coolant.

Brasstown Bald just about got me on a somewhat new to me vehicle. I was not riding the brakes and was geared down and still boiled the brakes.
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Old 07-21-2004, 05:33 PM   #12
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Thanks for all the advice. Will definately check into changing/upgrading the brake fluid. Need to check the specs for what is in there now. As for down shifting, are we talking 3rd gear? I assume 2nd is too low? I've always just used "drive" since I have never towed anything prior to the Bambi.....
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Old 07-21-2004, 05:46 PM   #13
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Your trailer brakes and controller are working correctly? Need to use the trailer brakes.
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Old 07-21-2004, 07:19 PM   #14
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Steep Grades

Greetings Paul!

Quote:
Originally Posted by luckydc
Thanks for all the advice. Will definately check into changing/upgrading the brake fluid. Need to check the specs for what is in there now. As for down shifting, are we talking 3rd gear? I assume 2nd is too low? I've always just used "drive" since I have never towed anything prior to the Bambi.....
The gear selected depends a great deal on several factors including the vehicle involved, the load being towed, and the grade being encountered. Your owner's manual should give guidance about operation on grades including speed and RPM ranges when the various gears can be selected. When towing my Overlander in the Rocky Mountains ('99 Suburban in my signature), I frequently use second and in rare instances first. Last year, when towing the Minuet in Eastern Colorado ('99 Suburban in my signature), I didn't need to drop below second for any of the grades encountered. Just don't be alarmed by the "roar" of the engine especially on downgrades when you downshift - - just be sure that you aren't exceeding the RPM limit for that particular gear as stated in the owners' manual.

Good luck with your perparations for mountainous driving! - - At least we don't have quite as many obstacles today as Staci and Micky had in The Long, Long, Trailer back in the 1950s.

Kevin

P.S. You may also want to look into adding extra transmission cooling if you haven't already done so. I suspect that you may be fairly close to your GCVWR on your tow vehcile, and this type of driving can signficantly add to the cooling load - - the transmission oil cooler on my Suburban has an auxiliary electric cooling fan that is temperature controlled (the only time that I have noticed it in operation is when towing in mountainous terrain).
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