Quick Question....Going Downhill ...

Topic 17128 | Page 1

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's Comment
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Ok...quick question...we're in Virginia, going through the Smokeys..lots of ups and downs,obviously...my question is, is it normal to smell the brakes right after going downhill? He (my trainer) is using Jake and service brakes to slow us down...not the transmission...even on a 7% downgrade. Normal? We are loaded...should I be nervous?? lol

Gladhand's Comment
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You shouldnt need to use the brakes period when going down hill, especially if the weather is good. If not than you would be using the transmission as much as possible coupled with light jake and light braking. Sounds like your trainer is taking the hills too fast. I can take Donner pass without using my service brakes, so he is definitely taking the hills too fast. It would surprise me if he has never smoked out his brakes.

Old School's Comment
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Hey Robby, I think there's a lot more information we would need to answer this one properly. First I think that much of what Gladhand said may not be applicable in your situation. Donner's, while challenging, is completely different than the sudden changes in grades that you are experiencing in that area of Virginia. I think you will definitely be needing to use your brakes sometimes. But also just the way you described what your trainer is doing is a little confusing because when you say...

He (my trainer) is using Jake and service brakes to slow us down...not the transmission...even on a 7% downgrade.

That can be confusing because the Jakes work in conjunction with the transmission. What I mean by that is that the Jakes are really only effective at holding you back while the engine is turning at higher RPM's. So, to be getting any efficient results from the Jakes you have got to have that engine turning at the higher end of the RPM levels. And the only way to accomplish that is to be using the transmission in a gear that is low enough to accomplish that. If your trainer is not doing that, well he may be using his jakes, but they are not slowing him down much at all. Perhaps that is why you are smelling the brakes.

I wouldn't be surprised in those mountains if you are going to need to use your brakes some, but I don't think if you are doing it properly that you should be getting much odor from them. Remember, lower gears will help those Jakes work properly and effectively. You can't stay in tenth gear while rolling down hill and throw on your jakes and expect them to slow you down. They simply can't do their job properly like that. You've got to use all three of those controls together. The combination of the lower gear along with the effectiveness of the Jake brake at those higher RPM levels should keep you from going too fast, but at times if you get to rolling too fast then you want to gently slow yourself down with the service brakes by holding the pedal down for twenty seconds or so, just enough to slow you down to about five to eight miles per hour below the speed that you are comfortable with, and then let off so that as your speed increases a little your brakes can cool a little. Then as you begin to roll faster than you want to be you just rinse and repeat the use of your brake pedal until you've reached the bottom of the hill. If you've chosen the proper gear then this whole process will keep you at a safe descent and will not overheat your brakes.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Scott M's Comment
member avatar
The combination of the lower gear along with the effectiveness of the Jake brake at those higher RPM levels should keep you from going too fast, but at times if you get to rolling too fast then you want to gently slow yourself down with the service brakes by holding the pedal down for twenty seconds or so, just enough to slow you down to about five to eight miles per hour below the speed that you are comfortable with, and then let off so that as your speed increases a little your brakes can cool a little.

That's a big help OS. I will go to a lower gear. I am wearing out the brakes too much.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
member avatar

And the gear is determined not only by the grade % but by the weight being hauled. Totally full I take Monteagle in TN in 7th gear and ride the Jake down. Never had to touch the brake pedal doing this. Empty I have done it in 9th.

More experienced drivers and some idiots will fly by me.,..but who cares. I'll never need an emergency escape ramp nor will my brakes/tires catch fire.

Regardless.of what they tell you in class, you can downshift while going downhill....but ...if you go up the hill in 7th gear, stay in 7th going down.

Always do what is sage for YOU.

Keep in mind though...the smells on the road can often be the other trucks around you. I smelled something for about two miles.,..pulled over in rest area and checked....I was fine. Get a mile down the road and a truck was burning.

C T.'s Comment
member avatar

Rainy, I do Monteagle every week unfortunately for home time lol. I'm always heavy. My Jakes are very weak I believe. Have to use the breaks several times to get down. I usually do the 1st half at 35mph then the last few turns I'm at 45 or 50 as long as it's clear ahead anyway. I've gone around a few trucks but I never smoke my breaks

Farmerbob1's Comment
member avatar

Not much to add to what's been said before, but I do want to plug continuous low pressure braking as an option.

Stab braking is when you slow the truck down to several miles per hour below your target speed, then release the brakes to let them cool as the truck accelerates again.

Another option, especially in combination with jakes is to barely feather the brakes. Less than 10 lbs pressure. This creates a fair amount of braking power, but minimal heating.

The amount of heat generated in your brakes is directly proportional to how much work they do.

The amount of heat dissipated away from your brakes depends on the air temperature and moisture that the braking system is exposed to.

You can balance heat in and heat out by feathering the brakes when you are either running in a very low gear, or a higher gear with a jake.

I've been driving solo cross country since March, through plenty of mountains on both coasts, and haven't been able to smell my brakes yet, and I feather my brakes for the entire length of almost every downgrade that a jake alone won't hold me to the posted limit. (I did use too much pressure on my first mountain ever, with my first trainer, so I do know what it smells like!)

's Comment
member avatar

So did anyone mention using the cruise control? What about that?

Farmerbob1's Comment
member avatar

So did anyone mention using the cruise control? What about that?

In good road conditions, and clear weather, I will use cruise control on hills. But touching the brakes turns off the cruise on my current truck and both of my past trucks, so on any significant downslope, cruise is a non-issue.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

When I am driving in a particularly hilly stretch of road, I deactivate cruise regardless of whether descending or ascending a grade.

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