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Old 07-19-2010, 06:54 PM   #1
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Towing In The Mountains with a 2006 3500 Chev. Express van

We are taking our first trip out west and will be driving in the mountains. Are there things that I should/should not do. We have a 28 ft. 2000 Excella that we tow with a 2006 3500 Chev. Express van. My main concern is going down steep grades. I'm hoping that the 6.0 liter engine will be good enough to handle most of the hills. Any advise will be appreciated.
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Old 07-19-2010, 07:01 PM   #2
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The rule of thumb for going down a long grade is always use what ever gear you went up the hill in. That is not the same as the truck was in D. That is pay attention to how far the transmission downshifted while going up the hill and then set the shift selector in that gear to go down the hill.

Also try to hold the speed to that which you did coming up the hill with a combination of the gear selection and brakes. A light steady pressure on the brakes will create less heat that frequent hard applications.

If your trans has Tow Haul Mode. Use it going down hills as it will automatically downshift the trans as soon as you touch the brakes.
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Old 07-19-2010, 07:21 PM   #3
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How hot it hot ?

My 2007, ĺ ton HD Chevy Suburban has a digital temperature indicator. In the hills it once got up to 216 degrees while towing on a long upgrade.
At what temperature should I turn out, turn off and cool off?

Want to know when I'm hot and when I'm not.
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Old 07-19-2010, 07:55 PM   #4
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We just drove a 30' MH (Ford V10, 4.10 gears, 3-speed plus overdrive transmission) towing a car on a trailer from Georgia to California using rural roads west of St. Louis. 19.5k lbs total. Lots of hills along the way.

We did quite a few 2nd gear runs uphill between 40 and 45 mph. Just find an RPM that the engine can hold. We encountered 2 hills that required 1st gear to keep moving at any speed, both of them above 8k feet.

Decending steep grades of 8% was actually not too bad using the automatic transmission in a lower gear. I found the transmission (in 2nd gear) could hold the speeds to 40 mph without braking on 6% grades. If I needed to drive slower, 1st gear could hold the speeds to 25 mph on 6% grades. Turn on your hazards if you're descending that slowly.

Any descent where the transmission couldn't hold the speed I wanted, I bumped the brakes gently to provide assistance.

Do a brake inspection and replace pads and rotors if getting close to minimum specs before heading out, especially the front brakes.

Make sure your entire cooling system is working properly. You should have an aux transmission cooler with your vehicle. If not, don't leave home without one installed. Good ones that are rated for 26k lbs gross weight vehicles are available for around $100.

Enjoy your trip.
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Old 07-19-2010, 08:33 PM   #5
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The rule of thumb for going down a long grade is always use what ever gear you went up the hill in. That is not the same as the truck was in D. ..automatically downshift the trans as soon as you touch the brakes.
That seems to be a pretty good idea for gas burners...if someone has a diesel, ya probably wanna pick a lower gear.
We tow up most hills in "OD" with the torque converter locked (usually passing 18 wheelers) but 'down' the hill we have been as low as 2nd and stabbin the brakes to bleed off speed.
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Old 07-19-2010, 09:29 PM   #6
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That seems to be a pretty good idea for gas burners...if someone has a diesel, ya probably wanna pick a lower gear.
We tow up most hills in "OD" with the torque converter locked (usually passing 18 wheelers) but 'down' the hill we have been as low as 2nd and stabbin the brakes to bleed off speed.
I have got to ask what you are driving that will hold the converter locked going up hill?

I had a highly modified 6.5 diesel with a Manually Locked Converter pulling my 34ft and yes it would pull lesser hills with the converter locked any hill that I had to downshift to go down I had to release the converter to go up
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Old 07-19-2010, 09:45 PM   #7
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I have got to ask what you are driving that will hold the converter locked going up hill?...
dang'd ole cummins 5.9 has a public performance issue...it just refuses to wind up...prefers to belch black smoke and pass 18 wheelers on a grade...and pass them DOWN hill 'till he's pulled back to a lower gear...
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Old 07-20-2010, 07:06 PM   #8
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Smile

Thanks for the feedback. Sure am glad I asked the question.
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