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Old 07-20-2010, 07:02 AM   #43
The handy accountant
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1976 27' Overlander
Scarborough , Ontario
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In 5,700 km of driving in July, I didn't use cruise control once. There were stretches of road where I probably could have (like parts of flat Florida, or that weird area of Ohio where you could see for 5 miles in all directions), but I did not feel comfortable doing so, because of how quickly the transmission would shift down when confronted with a grade. I spent 99% of the time with the tow/haul button on and the transmission in 4th gear (except for immediately after stopping for gas. When you re-start the Jeep after shutting down, the tow/haul button doesn't stay on, and sometimes I forgot to re-set it for a few minutes), and only manually over-rode the transmission on steep downhills, to put it in 3rd or 2nd.

On long gradual uphills, the transmission would lug along at about 1,300 rpm, and I got in the habit of goosing the gas a bit, to get it to downshift so it would rev at around 2,500 rpm. We averaged between 11 and 13 mpg (U.S. gallons).

With a more powerful engine, I'd probably be ok with cruise control. Will modern cruise controls use engine braking to slow you down on downhills?

Kevin and Leah
Accountants who tow sans regret
"I nostri cuori e le menti appartengono al flusso d'aria"
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Old 07-20-2010, 07:06 AM   #44
Tom, the Uber Disney Fan
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2006 30' Safari
Orlando , Florida
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I always use cruise control and tow/haul mode when conditions permit (as previously described by others). With the weight of the trailer being approximately 55-60% of towing capacity I have plenty of power in reserve. I also use the exhaust brake when descending steep grades.

2006 30' Safari - "Changes in Latitudes"
2008 F-250 Lariat Power Stroke Diesel Crew Cab SWB
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Old 07-20-2010, 07:12 AM   #45
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1999 23' Safari
Perrysburg , Ann Arbor
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An interesting set of responses - I think folks have strong ideas about this and have generally covered the problem. Overall, it seems to me that there are two principal issues: workload and control.

On the workload front, anything that can have me doing a better scan both inside and outside for gauge readings and traffic conflicts (rather than wanting to look just at the speedo), is a good thing. It frees my brain and eyes more to spend time looking for road debris, deer, converging machinery, transmission temp., etc. And that's good. So I use mine virtually all the time - even in pretty heavy traffic, so long as the traffic's generally going faster than I am - such that I'm not overtaking others regularly. (In heavy but smoothly flowing traffic, I sometimes still use it and just keep a foot poised right over the brake pedal - I don't have to brake very often, because THEY are always passing ME!)

Then there's the control issue ... I don't use mine on twisties or really bad weather - it only took one (well, o.k., two) near-miss loss of control situations to convince me that I really was smarter than that computer in marginal conditions. I can see ahead; it can't. I know what on the road surface I'm approaching might cause hydroplaning or other traction loss; it doesn't. So, in bad situations, I just leave it off, "toe drive" and slow down ... or park for a while. I try to plan way ahead and coast down, not using the brakes any more than necessary (I have two cars with over 150,000 miles each, and neither has yet had brake pads replaced!).

There are other peripheral issues such as transmission hunt and fuel economy. And obviously, if you're towing with a smaller torque engine, etc., you have to take that factor into account and manage your transmission. And when towing, it seems to me that fuel economy is mostly a question of drag (which translates to speed) and elminating speed variations that use up a lot of fuel when accelerating back up to speed.

Myself, I've got it easy: I tow a small trailer with a diesel / Allison, and I have the CC on whenever I think it's safe to do so, try to keep my "head outside" in the traffic and road conditions, and turn it off and slow down when things get sketchy.
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Old 07-20-2010, 07:21 AM   #46
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When on a highway in a non-urban setting, I always use the cruise.
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Old 07-20-2010, 09:10 AM   #47
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2007 23' Safari SE
Camarillo , California
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Same as pretty much everybody else. I use cruise when flat and level and dry pavement. I like this because it gives me more time to pay more attention when my wife is talking.
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Old 07-20-2010, 09:30 AM   #48
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Austin (Hays County) , Texas
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With the diesel, I am able to use cruise about 95% of the time. Exceptions are abrupt hilly terrain, city traffic, and marginal road conditions, including heavy rain.

My Allison transmission has a manual mode that allows the driver to force downshifts and prevent upshifts. If the hills are reasonably gradual, I pull the shift lever down into manual. As I hear and see on the tach that the engine is picking up load, I thumb the down button once to force a shift down from 6th to 5th. This prevents a possible double shift down due to the CC not catching the situation soon enough. As I near the top of the hill, I thumb the up button to allow the Allison to shift back to 6th when it decides to do so. The Allison will not shift up until it would have done so in automatic mode. I find this improves my fuel mileage.
John W. Irwin
2005 Classic 28 "Sabre-Dog III"
2013 Silverado 2500HD Duramax/Allison LTZ
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Old 10-14-2010, 10:25 AM   #49
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Dearborn , Michigan
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cruise is great, since my 496ci equiped 'burb tends to, very quietly, sneak up past 80mph
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Old 10-14-2010, 11:40 AM   #50
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Grand Junction , Colorado
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'joe, no question that our truck does pretty much the same. Nothing like a straight, level highway to encourage the truck to want to air itself out. It also likes to go really fast up mountain passes, probably because it doesn't pay for the gas.

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Old 10-14-2010, 11:45 AM   #51
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of course your truck doesn't pay for the gas... barry does
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Old 10-14-2010, 12:40 PM   #52
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Cruise Control Used 95% of the Time

I use the cruise control of my 2001 BMW X5 4.4i (300 hp, 350 #’ of torque), with 5 speed automatic “Steptronic” transmission in “manual” (M) mode 95% of the time. The “Steptronic” transmission has 5 speeds, each of which, in M mode can be selected and held. Additionally, the torque converter will lock-up (direct drive), and STAY LOCKED-UP above 60 mph indicated (about 57 mph actual) even with the throttle to the floor.

The following is the way I drive pulling my 31 foot ASCL with Hensley hitch.

Scenario 1 – Interstate on-ramp from a dead stop:
  • Start in M 1, always with light throttle until about 5 to 10 mph to allow for hydrodynamic lubrication (like a skier being pulled from a stop up on top of the water) of the drive train.
  • Back off of the throttle, shift to M 2, max the throttle to about 3,500 rpm.
  • Back off of the throttle, shift to M 3, max the throttle to about 3,000 rpm.
  • Back off of the throttle, shift to M 4, max the throttle to about 3,000 rpm which is just above 60 mph indicated.
  • Back off of the throttle, shift to M 5 (above 60 mph) with torque converter lock-up, max throttle to about 2,200 to 2,400 rpm and ENGAGE and SET CRUISE CONTROL.
The X5, with no wind, will pull above 60 mph (torque converter locked-up) between Houston and Dallas, TX. With a 15+ mph head wind some use of M 4 is necessary on some of the longer grades.

Scenario 2 – Hills & Mountains:
  • Cruising HILLS in M 5 at 2,300 rpm, starting up a moderate grade, speed deteriorates to 60 mph with max throttle, torque converter un-locks with a 700 engine rpm increase, disengage cruise control while holding the throttle to the floor, grade is crested and speed increases to above 60 mph, back off throttle to allow for torque converter lock-up, after lock-up ENGAGE CRUISE CONTROL.
  • Cruising MOUNTAINS in M 5 at 2,300 rpm, starting up a steep grade, speed deteriorates to 60 mph with max throttle, torque converter un-locks with a 700 engine rpm increase, disengage cruise control while holding the throttle to the floor, speed continues to deteriorate, shift to M 4, max throttle, torque converter still un-locked, speed continues to deteriorate, shift to M 3 torque converter still un-locked, speed increases to above 60 mph, lift throttle in M 3, torque converter locks-up, ENGAGE CRUISE CONTROL (will max throttle), speed increases to 65+ mph, CRUISE CONTROL lifts throttle, shift to M 4 and then immediately shift to M 5 (unless another grade approaches) while CRUISE CONTROL still engaged (with lifted throttle) and torque converter still locked-up.
Keeping the torque converter locked-up minimizes transmission fluid friction (heat build up), while lifting the throttle between shifts minimizes wear and friction (heat) of the clutch packs. Additionally, smooth throttle application, especially at start-up, minimizes “shock loading” of the drive train.

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