Camping and RV Forums  General Forums  General  Safe ways to descend steep grades
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New Post 9/30/2010 2:56 PM
  Timothy Fitzgerald
50 posts




Safe ways to descend steep grades 
According to a blogger, "Make your engine and transmission work to hold you back. That way, you save your brakes for when you really need them.

The time to set up your downhill decent strategy is at the top of the hill -- well before you've picked up so much speed that you're in trouble.

You only have one set of brakes. If they get too hot, they may fade away and your RV will become a runaway train -- a situation rapidly headed for disaster.

Experience will teach you how many gears down you need to drop from top gear in order to descend a hill without constant use of the brakes. If you're new to steep descents, it's best to err on the safe side by going down a hill in too low a gear. You may be slow, but at least you'll be safe. It's very hard to go back and have a do over, if you picked too high a gear at the top of the hill.

Many diesel engines are equipped with a retarder that will help hold you back. It functions by blocking off some of the exhaust gases from your engine. This helps to keep the engine from revving too high when the weight of your RV is trying to push you down the hill.

If you find yourself going downhill faster than the engine and transmission can hold you back, your braking should be done in short bursts. It's far better to brake hard for a shorter distance than to ride the brakes for a long period of time.

The longer you apply the brakes, the hotter they will become. At some point, they may just fade away -- leaving you helpless and unable to slow your RV to a safe speed. Overheating your brakes can also do permanent damage to your RV's brake components. Rotors, drums, and shoes can all be quickly destroyed by riding your brakes too long down a long hill.
 
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