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Old 02-23-2021, 01:01 PM   #1
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Tow-haul, Cruise Control, Brake Gain, Oh My!

A couple of years ago, I traded my 2006 F-150 for a new 2018 F-150 with all the latest towing bells and whistles. The technology bump was amazing, along with the increased torque, horsepower, and a 10-speed transmission. The new technology I'm enjoying includes: Tow-Haul drive mode, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Keeping, Blind-spot monitor, integrated brake controller, and Ford's back-up assist. All these features were non-existent in my '06 truck.

I've noticed that when ACC is on, the truck seems to use the brakes to control downhill speed. Is it also using the trailer brakes? The integrated brake controller doesn't indicate that the trailer brakes are being applied as my old aftermarket controller did.

Someone told me that I need to dial back my brake controller's gain to prevent the trailer brakes from being applied. This "advice" however, goes against what I have been doing since I started Airstreaming in 2006. I've always set the brake gain so that the wheels just start to lock up when applied at 20mph.

I don't make a habit of leaving the cruise control on when ascending or descending. I've always used my engine and transmission to get a controlled, steady traverse of any mountain pass. I've only noticed this coming down from some bridges and overpasses here in Florida.

I'm heading into some higher mountains this year and wanted to hear what others do in the mountains with the technology I'm now learning.

Thanks,

Randy
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Old 02-23-2021, 01:11 PM   #2
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I had a 2917 F-150 that we used to pull our trailers. Now we have a new 2020 F-150. We hooked up the trailer and in Tow-Haul we adjusted the trailer/truck braking as you did. In Tow-haul when going down a hill, I just tap on the brakes and gear down as many times as it takes to slow down where I feel safe. As far as I know, the brakes are never completely applied on the truck or trailer. I just tap. I really like the system. Don’t know muck about mountain driving and our trailers are a lot lighter in weight. Good luck and younger plenty of feedback.
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Old 02-23-2021, 01:11 PM   #3
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ACC with brake assist

Sounds like your tech package includes brake assist, and it is entirely appropriate to use the ACC for managing descent, and it would use brake application in the rare event needed. When we were towing with our 2016 F150 with ACC, but before the brake assist was fully worked out (IMHO), I was still able to drive up and down significant grades safely using my thumb. Where I got into "trouble" - meaning an unexpected result - was when i was set up on ACC and tapped the brake - effectively shutting off the ACC-controlled engine braking.

In our 2018 F150 with ACC and functional brake assist, seems like the flatbed trailer electric brakes did apply once or twice when I thumbed down the speed of descent on a long grade. Did not try the 2018 F150 with the AS. YMMV; don't try this at home.
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Old 02-23-2021, 01:17 PM   #4
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Have you noticed that the transmission automatically downshifts when slowing when tow haul mode is on? That should reduce some of the downhill brake applications.

I do not turn off adaptive cruise unless it is not needed. I believe it is a safer and less taxing experience to have it on. I do not know if it applies trailer brakes for sure, but I cannot think of a reason it wouldn't be designed that way. Seems like it would be a dangerous omission.
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Old 02-24-2021, 09:34 AM   #5
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In 90% of downhill situations I leave ACC on and let it do it's thing. However on very steep long downhills esp. with curves I disable ACC, reduce speed before beginning descent and using my vision monitor what's ahead (because I can see much further than ACC), then I actively take over speed control using downshifts and brakes.
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Old 02-24-2021, 09:35 AM   #6
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Dunno about the F-150, but when my Explorer is in ACC and it applies the brakes on a downhill, it activates the vehicle brakes, but not the trailer brakes.

This is because the trailer brakes are activated by the brake light switch on the brake pedal. Since ACC does not depress the brake pedal, the brake light switch does not get turned on, therefore the trailer brakes don't get activated.

This is a bit worrisome because if my Explorer ever activated the automatic braking Collision Avoidance, I think that it will activate the vehicle brakes, but not the trailer brakes. This could end badly. Frightening.
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Old 02-24-2021, 09:38 AM   #7
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From your friends at Land Yacht Harbor

Randy - there are some folks on this forum that would encourage you not to leave the state of Florida and head to the Top of Georgia AS Park without a Super Duty Diesel with that monster 27 foot AS you tow!

Only thing I would add to your use of the transmission is to dial down the gears when towing. I did not have access to the top three gears in my former 2009 F150, 6 speed, 4.6L, 4x2. We have a 6 speed transmission that has served us wonderfully over the 21,000 miles we have driven it. We turn off 6th gear in FL to avoid the downshift to go over the overpasses and then the upshift to return to 6th gear going down the overpass. This process works great when driving from middle Georgia up to the TOP in N. GA. We turn off 6th gear until we are about 30 miles from God’s Country, and then turn off 5th gear and avoid almost all downshifts & upshifts all the way to the TOP!

Not sure you need Tow/Haul mode in your short drive to R3 Rally in Tallahassee in April?

You have been adjusting your IBC correctly.

Payload - you did not address this topic, but it can effect your overall tow experience = one more “dig” at my friend - what is your payload on that half ton pickup of yours? There are those on the Forum that would pull your 27’ with an SUV.

See you at Lowe’s in the near future!
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Old 02-24-2021, 10:43 AM   #8
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Well, that seems to be yet another difference between your Ford and my 2021 Chevy Tahoe. In my Chevy, your can't engage Adaptive Cruise Control when you are towing. Didn't learn this until I picked up our new AS FC in October and headed home and could not engage cruise control. Found out I have to disable Adaptive to use cruise control. Could this be an answer to previous post about trailer brakes not engaging in Adaptive because TV brake pedal hasn't been engaged? Chevy does automatically downshift to assist braking while towing. Not sure I would want to use Adaptive CC while towing if the trailer brakes were not activated but the TV brakes were.
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Old 02-26-2021, 09:30 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Runamuk13 View Post
Dunno about the F-150, but when my Explorer is in ACC and it applies the brakes on a downhill, it activates the vehicle brakes, but not the trailer brakes.

This is because the trailer brakes are activated by the brake light switch on the brake pedal. Since ACC does not depress the brake pedal, the brake light switch does not get turned on, therefore the trailer brakes don't get activated.

This is a bit worrisome because if my Explorer ever activated the automatic braking Collision Avoidance, I think that it will activate the vehicle brakes, but not the trailer brakes. This could end badly. Frightening.
My truck's brake lights come on when the ACC applies the brakes. So, I would assume the trailer brake lights come on as well. Still don't know if the trailer brakes are being applied, but it would seem like they are if everything is lighting up.

Randy
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Old 02-26-2021, 09:45 AM   #10
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Thanks to everyone for the replies above. Lots of useful information—much appreciated. I'm glad everyone agreed on how to adjust the truck's Integrated Brake Controller. That's how I have been doing it since 2006.

It seems like the consensus is to leave the ACC on when climbing and descending mountain grades. I usually do a 45 – 50 mph climb and descent on the Interstate Highway grades, so as pjshier says above, just use your thumb to adjust the speed to what is comfortable. I have been canceling the ACC and manually downshifting the engine to get the speed and control I wanted, much like Ken G said above, which I will still do when the grade gets scary.

More comments, advice, and opinions are always welcome.

Randy
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Old 02-26-2021, 10:31 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by superChop View Post
Randy - there are some folks on this forum that would encourage you not to leave the state of Florida and head to the Top of Georgia AS Park without a Super Duty Diesel with that monster 27 foot AS you tow!

Only thing I would add to your use of the transmission is to dial down the gears when towing. I did not have access to the top three gears in my former 2009 F150, 6 speed, 4.6L, 4x2. We have a 6 speed transmission that has served us wonderfully over the 21,000 miles we have driven it. We turn off 6th gear in FL to avoid the downshift to go over the overpasses and then the upshift to return to 6th gear going down the overpass. This process works great when driving from middle Georgia up to the TOP in N. GA. We turn off 6th gear until we are about 30 miles from God’s Country, and then turn off 5th gear and avoid almost all downshifts & upshifts all the way to the TOP!

Not sure you need Tow/Haul mode in your short drive to R3 Rally in Tallahassee in April?

You have been adjusting your IBC correctly.

Payload - you did not address this topic, but it can effect your overall tow experience = one more “dig” at my friend - what is your payload on that half ton pickup of yours? There are those on the Forum that would pull your 27’ with an SUV.

See you at Lowe’s in the near future!
Thanks for the input, but no need for a Super Duty to tow my Airstream. My truck has a 1,750 payload sticker on it and a GCWR of 15,200 lbs. Loaded for extended travel the scales tell me I'm 300 lbs under my truck's GVWR, 1,200 lbs under the trailer's GVWR, and 2,000 lbs under the GCWR, comfortably within all the limits. There is no way I would pull this with an SUV, and if we went bigger (no plans to do so) I would step up to an F-250.

Randy
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Old 03-07-2021, 12:24 PM   #12
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FORD F150 Tow mode

I pull my 27FBT international with a 2019 f150 coyote v8 all around the west and Midwest. Just crossed the CA grapevine, leave it in tow mode, never use ACC when I'm towing, too many slower trucks and changing road conditions, always stay at the recommended corner speeds. In tow mode descending if i put it at 60mph it stays at 60mph, most of the time i have to speed up. The trailer brake gain is set at 5.5 and does an excellent job.
The new tow modes ate excellent and allow you to customize for each trailer, very pleased, very comfortable towing.
9.5 mpg, mostly in 9th gear on the flat.
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Old 03-07-2021, 04:07 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick tracy View Post
never use ACC when I'm towing, too many slower trucks and changing road conditions
I am really curious. I think adaptive cruise control is the best thing to come to long drives since cruise control. Why do you not use it? Is it not noticing that you slowed behind a slower truck?
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Old 03-11-2021, 01:59 PM   #14
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I have an 2019 F350 SuperDuty Limited dually/diesel with 14,000 GVWR pulling a 2019 30' Classic. I use ACC, Tow Haul, and Engine Brake all set to the on condition. The ACC is dependent on traffic conditions. My trailer brake setting wound up at 5, but it is probably different in your vehicle based on your testing. We usually cruise at the posted speed limit. The ACC is rock steady. Hills/descent are no problem, but wide curves with the wrong bank pitch do require manual intervention.
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Old 03-11-2021, 10:46 PM   #15
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Never use ACC

Quote:
Originally Posted by DCPAS View Post
I am really curious. I think adaptive cruise control is the best thing to come to long drives since cruise control. Why do you not use it? Is it not noticing that you slowed behind a slower truck?
Depends upon your road and traffic conditions, but i prefer to have instant control, bad/rough roads, in and out of truck lane, up and down mountains and curves. Rarely am i on a long straight multi-lane interstate.
Just came up 101 and Pacific Coast Highway from Malibu to Monterey, then into Oregon. CA has terrible roads and lines of trucks.
I rarely use it in my cars either, i guess i like driving not merely riding while the car does everything for me
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Old 03-12-2021, 09:03 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trikdacy View Post
I have an 2019 F350 SuperDuty Limited dually/diesel with 14,000 GVWR pulling a 2019 30' Classic. I use ACC, Tow Haul, and Engine Brake all set to the on condition. The ACC is dependent on traffic conditions. My trailer brake setting wound up at 5, but it is probably different in your vehicle based on your testing. We usually cruise at the posted speed limit. The ACC is rock steady. Hills/descent are no problem, but wide curves with the wrong bank pitch do require manual intervention.
Wow! a one-ton dually seems like overkill for an Airstream, but if I had a longer or heavier Airstream, I would definitely upgrade to at least a 3/4 ton. My brake setting is 7.5 and that stops us without locking up the trailer axles.

Thanks,

Randy
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Old 03-12-2021, 11:04 PM   #17
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LOVE the 1 ton Dually

Quote:
Originally Posted by trikdacy View Post
I have an 2019 F350 SuperDuty Limited dually/diesel with 14,000 GVWR pulling a 2019 30' Classic. I use ACC, Tow Haul, and Engine Brake all set to the on condition. The ACC is dependent on traffic conditions. My trailer brake setting wound up at 5, but it is probably different in your vehicle based on your testing. We usually cruise at the posted speed limit. The ACC is rock steady. Hills/descent are no problem, but wide curves with the wrong bank pitch do require manual intervention.

if I had a truck dedicated to towing my AS, would consider a LOWERED dually
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Old 03-13-2021, 09:30 AM   #18
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The OP was mentioning whether ACC braking activated the trailer brakes as well as the TV's brakes. RUNAMUK13 noted that it may not because the actual TV brake pedal is not involved. It appears that just about all the posters are towing with Ford products. I noted that my Chevy Tahoe will not allow me to activate ACC when towing, and the owner's manual states in multiple places that you should not use ACC when towing (but not that you are prevented from doing so.) I have concluded without being able to actually test this, that the trailer brakes in a GM product will not engage under automated "crash avoidance" systems and perhaps that is why GM is advising owners to not use them when towing. Any GM owners have evidence to the contrary? I don't want to tow and even in the smallest way, rely on an automated response that doesn't engage my trailer brakes. Also, my ACC does not allow for setting a much greater following distance to reflect increased stopping distance when towing. I like ACC but not in this particular scenario.
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Old 03-13-2021, 12:27 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpikePoet View Post
The OP was mentioning whether ACC braking activated the trailer brakes as well as the TV's brakes. RUNAMUK13 noted that it may not because the actual TV brake pedal is not involved. It appears that just about all the posters are towing with Ford products. I noted that my Chevy Tahoe will not allow me to activate ACC when towing, and the owner's manual states in multiple places that you should not use ACC when towing (but not that you are prevented from doing so.) I have concluded without being able to actually test this, that the trailer brakes in a GM product will not engage under automated "crash avoidance" systems and perhaps that is why GM is advising owners to not use them when towing. Any GM owners have evidence to the contrary? I don't want to tow and even in the smallest way, rely on an automated response that doesn't engage my trailer brakes. Also, my ACC does not allow for setting a much greater following distance to reflect increased stopping distance when towing. I like ACC but not in this particular scenario.
My Lincoln manual advises to turn on tow/haul mode when towing with adaptive cruise control because it increases the following distance. The increase in distance is noticeable and welcome. The only amusing part is, despite the advice to turn it on, that there is no way to turn on tow/haul mode; it's automatic. But it always comes on when towing the Airstream.
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