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Old 05-14-2023, 06:27 PM   #1
DCB
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Driving on Steep Grades

I live on the Midwestern plains, so I donít have much experience with mountain driving ó even less while towing a trailer. I know not to ride the brakes on downhill grades. Thatís about it. What are the proper techniques to managing RPMs, using exhaust brakes, etc. in mountain driving? Feel free to point me to previous threads, if this has been covered. Also, Iíd appreciate any helpful videos or websites.
 
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Old 05-14-2023, 06:44 PM   #2
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What truck do you have?
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Old 05-14-2023, 06:59 PM   #3
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We live in the Blueridge Mountains. They are just as hard to drive as the big western mountains. We have steep curves with little distance between them. My advice is go slow anticipate the next curve. Don’t over heat your brakes.
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Old 05-14-2023, 07:05 PM   #4
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The fundamentals are all the same regardless of your truck assuming you have a diesel.

Go down at the same speed you came up.
Use Tow Haul and your exhaust brake
Go down to a gear where you are comfortable with the speed
Let the exhaust brake/Tow Haul and gears maintain your speed and *NOT* the brakes.

Here is a Thread from a while ago but it is still relevant.
https://www.montanaowners.com/forums...ad.php?t=40394
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Old 05-14-2023, 07:05 PM   #5
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Typically, go off the top of hill with exhaust brake set, below the speed limit. As approaching the speed limit, press hard on the brakes hard drop it back 5-10 mph - release brakes and repeat. Hopefully it's a newer truck and a diesel.
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Old 05-14-2023, 07:10 PM   #6
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You are going to pick up some speed going down hill. Start slow at the top of the hill - if you start at 45 you may get to 60-65 and keep good control. If you start at 65 you can quickly get faster than you want to be.

Always use your exhaust brake and depending on your model of truck you may need to manually downshift. Stay off the brakes when you don't need them as heat can build up fast.
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Old 05-14-2023, 08:14 PM   #7
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Thanks for your responses. I have a 2020 Chevy Silverado 3500HD diesel dually, pulling a 40í Montana High Country. I do have the exhaust brake and tow/haul mode on at all times when Iím towing.

I have had no trouble taking any incline Iíve been on so far ó in New Mexico, Arizona or East Tennessee. Havenít downshifted on those inclines that I recall, and it seems like the truck handled them with ease. If I felt like the truck was straining, I believe I would have slowed down and downshifted.

I have NOT, typically, slowed my speed at the top before descending; I realize now thatís part of the strategy. As I pick up speed, it bothers me to see the RPMs climb as the engine tries to slow my speed. It seems obvious that if I start the decline at a slower speed, the RPMs wonít climb so high. Or maybe I shouldnít worry about it. Is there a point at which I should worry about RPMs?

Thanks, again.
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Old 05-14-2023, 09:23 PM   #8
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On a long downgrade, the computer will set the exhaust brake and if needed it will down shift as needed. This will automatically happen with the truck in cruise, but if not in cruise, hitting the brake hard will cause it to downshift.
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Old 05-14-2023, 09:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DCB View Post
....Is there a point at which I should worry about RPMs?
A V8 such as Chevy has a higher RPM limit than the inline 6 of a Ram. The higher the RPM; the more inherent braking power it exerts. The on board computer won't let the engine exceed the RPM limit. Never the less, I would try to test it. I usually find 3000 to 3500 RPM is the most effective point for my V8 truck. Sometimes it is 3rd gear at 3000 RPM (around 45 MPH) or 4th gear (around 60 MPH) depending on the road. Your Chevy might have different "comfort" spots. This allows me to cruise down the hill without having to use my brakes.

I drive 6 and 7% grades frequently but apply the same techniques on the "super" grades of CO. I am less concerned with the speed limit compared to keeping the whole rig under control without dependence on the brakes.
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Old 05-15-2023, 02:43 AM   #10
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The exhaust brake relieved about 6 white knuckles for me (3 on each hand).
I used it a few times years ago pulling a previous fifth wheel with my 03 Checy 2500, but I used it a lot with my 14 Chevy 3500 SRW when we first bought this Monte. It got even better with my current dually truck.
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Old 05-15-2023, 04:10 AM   #11
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This a subject near and dear to my heart, so hope to make good sense here to get thoughts across.
The old rule of thumb on not going down hilll in a
higher hear than pulling uphill still stands pat. With the raw power of the current generation of today's diesel engines, there is no need to flog the engine and wind up going uphill way faster than needed. Doing so can inspire overconfidence. Take it easy and your engine and transmission will live lots longer. It doesn't matter one bit if you are only doing 35 or 40 MPH topping the hill. Faster traffic can either wait or go around. Don't ride the brakes and let your exhaust brake do it's job. If you're engine starts to over-rev, pump your brakes purposely. Watch loaded semi trucks and follow their lead. Good luck and safe travels.
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