View Full Version : Steep Grades Driving

03-17-2013, 04:57 PM
As of late I have been bothered by the prospect of driving down 6%+ grades that are somewhat common out west with such a large coach. What's funny is I don't even own a coach yet and this anxiety is getting the best of me. The thought of getting up the grade doesn't bother me too much, I know enough that you pull into the right lane and climb the grade...but what happens when I get to the down side... How do others approach grades? What happens once I am committed to the downhill grade? Hope I found the correct gear ? I'd like to hear from seasoned veterans who can lend some advice for a newbie getting into the lifestyle.


03-17-2013, 06:18 PM
Hello Luke,

You're worrying unnecessarily. A common practice is to go down the grade in the same gear you used to climb the grade. The western mountains aren't nearly as scary as people make them out to be. Just be cautious and you'll be fine.


03-17-2013, 07:24 PM
Good advice by NewellCrazy on going down the hill in the same gear you climbed it....one additional thing....if you have a Jake Brake, or some sort of engine, or transmission retarder engage it while in that low gear. I leave my Jake Brake on all the time when out on the highway, so I don't have to worry about engaging it when I head down the hill....of course, how long the 6% downhill grade is will depend on how you approach the downhill. If it's only a mile, or two you don't have to worry as much about gaining speed, but if it is 5+ miles then you really have to stay on top of your downhill speed. Stay off the brakes as much as possible....let the Jake do it's job and only use the brakes sparingly to "scrub" speed off as necessary.

03-17-2013, 09:18 PM
Don't ride your brakes, use your jake brake, don't let others intimidate you into going faster then you are comfortable. Should you find you going too fast coming down, get on your brakes, slow down until you can downshift into the next lower gear that allows you to come down at a safe speed without having to use your brakes much. I don't necessarily agree with going down the hill in the same gear you went up, many times the grades are different in steepness and curves, although it gives you an approximate starting gear. You might want to get a copy of the Mountain West directory, it provides info on roads and mountain grades out west. (there is also an east directory). Mostly a matter of getting comfortable and not getting in a hurry. My biggest issue is trying not to get distracted by the views.

Newell Boss
03-17-2013, 09:40 PM
Remember the signs that warn drivers about curves ahead and reduced speed, they are for you. Highway ramps that say 35mph, cars are exiting at 60mph. Maybe there is a reverse camber on the bend? That won't affect a car like trucks, busses and rv's. Take your time and don't rush it and keep your foot off your brakes and utilize your jake brake as others have mentioned.

Chester B. Stone, Jr.
03-17-2013, 10:19 PM
You may want to consider that the Jake brake words best at the higher engine speed. I watch my tach, not the speedometer, and periodically use the brakes to keep the engine from over reeving. The Jake almost always holds the coach except when my heavy tow vehicle is attached, then some, but not much, breaking. Hope this helps.

03-18-2013, 04:55 AM
Be sure to start down hill in a low enough or lower gear. Remember it's always easier to shift up one gear than shift down one gear when going down hill!

Gone Busing
03-18-2013, 05:58 AM
Apply stab-braking for 5 mph decreases while using one lower gear with exhaust brake on during downgrade runs.

03-18-2013, 02:35 PM
Up the hill...gear down-----Down the hill...gear down & Jacobs Brake!

03-18-2013, 02:48 PM

All the advice is perfect. We live in Colorado and we were constantly climbing or descending. I was white knuckled the first few times. However, whenever I would see the 6% grade sign, I would immediately power down, put on my flashers and let the machine do its job. Rarely had to use the brakes and knew that because of how cautious I was being, that I always had the brakes to use, if necessary. We were 44,000 lbs plus the tow car. It can gain momentum in a hurry, but as stated by many above, if in the correct gear to begin with at the crest, utilizing the Jake Brake, it was a piece of cake.

You will have a wonderful time, no worries.


03-24-2013, 04:22 PM
Thought it would be only appropriate that I say thank you guys for posting such detailed responses to my question.


Chester B. Stone, Jr.
03-24-2013, 06:44 PM
I am dubious that gearing down for the sake of gearing down does anything to slow you down. Diesels do not have a vacuum, as opposed to a gasoline engine, the only reason to gear down is the keep the RPMs up so the Jake can do its job. If the Jake is doing its job in 6th gear by holding the coach from gaining speed, all the better.

03-25-2013, 02:32 PM
I'm curious about the 2 stroke versus 4 stroke engines in terms of braking effect versus engine speed. My 6V92 with Jake on provides very little braking unless the RPMs are quite high. What is the effect with those of you with Series 60 engines?

03-25-2013, 02:45 PM
I'm curious about the 2 stroke versus 4 stroke engines in terms of braking effect versus engine speed. My 6V92 with Jake on provides very little braking unless the RPMs are quite high. What is the effect with those of you with Series 60 engines?

There's a thread on the forum somewhere talking about wiring. You probably only have the Jake working on one bank which would be the low setting. You might want to wire it so both banks work which would be the high setting.

03-25-2013, 09:34 PM
After driving my '93 with 8v92 for 4 years and putting about 500 miles so far on the '98 with s60 let me tell you there is a HUGE difference between the two. With the s60 and jake on high I barely use my brakes to come to a stop from 60. On low setting it is still better than the 8v was. Rpm's don't seem to matter. When I switch on the jake it is set so that the transmission starts downshifting (when rpms permit) to 2nd. Love it!