I Have A Ton Of Questions About Winter Driving.

Topic 30679 | Page 1

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Davy A.'s Comment
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So, fortunately or unfortunately Ive found I have a lot of time to think about stuff (obsess on things). I havent driven in winter yet. But Ive read and been told we shouldnt use the Jake when its wet or snow, slippery. I mainly use the Jake for speed control on hills.

Our trucks are programmed to coast in neutral anytime even a slight down grade is detected, both on the pedal and cruise. There are only three ways to get it back in gear:

1. tap service brake or accelerator pedal - will go back into gear momentarily but will not hold it. 2. apply jake brake at any level - will downshift and hold gears, primary method I use. 3. put it in manual mode - will downshift if in RPM limits, has rev limiter lock out at 1200 rpm in each gear for upshifts, 1500-1700 for downshifts although erratic.

My thought process is that it would be safer to remove the coast/neutral setting and rev limiters during winter so that the tranny would function like an automatic in a car. But I seriously doubt that the shop will do that. Although I havent asked.

so my questions with that basis are:

1. Assuming its wet road surface and were safe at 50 to 60 mph but cautious, Do we slow down to a speed that will enable us to hold a gear low enough that we dont have to keep hitting the service brakes in order to go down hill safely? 2. Or are we supposed to stab brake that frequently? (it seems very counter intuitive to keep touching the brakes, especially in wet/snowy conditions, I always was taught to stay off the brakes unless a last resort and use gearing in a car at least) 3. Do we use manual mode to keep it locked in gear? If so, on the 12 speed, it seems I need to be in 9th or lower in order to prevent too much acceleration and too high of RPMs, which equates to 40 mph or less on moderate hills with 29k load. 4. Again, Im assuming or rather wishing that the gearing alone will hold the speed and RPMs like the jake will, but it doesnt appear to work like that? 5. On days and areas where its questionable (in the eyes of a new driver), snow on the ground, but roadway wet. mid 30s temp. traffic moving at average speed for dry conditions, Do I go with a slow enough speed to feel safe and use gearing only, or can I get away with stage 1 Jake at times to keep the speeds up a bit, but still have transmission control? 6. Am I just used to summertime speeds and need to get that out of my head? Do we just run slower in the winter?

Sorry for the questions, I was going to pester my old trainer, but I already pestered him today for a good long while. And yes, This is what I was like in training lol, tons of questions all day long. I feel bad for the guy.

Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

Davy, I like your style! Just keep posting your questions because there are a number of us rookies/newbies here that are learning right alongside of you when the experienced drivers respond. I have a few winter driving experiences to share, but that's for another post when I get time.

Big Scott (CFI's biggest 's Comment
member avatar

When roads are bad SLOW down. Greater following distance, and on snow or ice don't use your breaks. Yes you can slow down with them, but emergency stop, you will slide. Have warm clothes, waterproof shoes or boots, a small shovel, hat and good gloves.

When the weather is to bad and you don't feel safe, shut down. No load is worth a life.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

Instead of tossing the different theories around in your head, think of it in simpler terms.

Jakes are not advised in wet or slippery conditions. Why is that?

It's because the slowing or braking effect of the jake brakes is applied to only one drive axle, making that axle the weak point in the system. If that single axle is trying to stop the whole truck/trailer combo, you can easily lose traction in slippery conditions, creating a tractor jackknife.

Likewise, the same principle applies to downshifting. Using downshifting for braking can have the same effect. The back pressure created by dropping a gear puts all the braking effect to that single drive axle. Being in a lower gear to help maintain a safe speed after you've already slowed is far safer.

The safest way to handle downgrades in any season is to slow to a safe speed before you begin your descent, and use controlled braking along with a lower gear to maintain that safe speed down the hill. Controlled braking applies brakes to all of the tires at the same time, which is the best way to maintain traction in slippery conditions.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Chief Brody's Comment
member avatar

The jake brake has its limitations as far as its ability to stop a heavy load on an incline. I've learned that once I reach a speed there's no level of Jake brake that will slow the truck down. So to be able to use the jake brake effectively without any breaking you have to be below that threshold speed.

As Turtle mentioned the problem with the jake brake is that it will apply back pressure or brakeing effect just to the drive wheels which and cause those wheels to lock up. What I do when I'm using my Jake brake in gray conditions is that I apply the brakes so that I have brake applied all the wheels then put the jake brake on and wait for the jake brake to stabilize and then release the brake. This counteracts any brakeing applied to just the drive wheels.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Turtle's Comment
member avatar
This counteracts any brakeing applied to just the drive wheels.

But it only counteracts the braking effect while you are holding the brakes. As soon as you lift your foot off the brake pedal, the hazardous condition is still there.

The fact remains that the best practice and advice is still to never use jake brakes in slippery conditions. That's widely accepted across the industry.

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

Much of what you're going to learn about winter driving conditions will be a learning curve. You will learn by doing and gaining the experience, because no one suggestion will precisely cover all situations encountered. Slushy snow, sleet, wind, grades, weight in the box, RPMs, gear selection, curves....

It's all about safety and your comfort level. Today it may seem to be an impossible idea to think you would drive in a certain situation during the winter. Fast forward to a few months later and it will seem like any other day. Just as backing seemed nearly impossible a few months ago, you'll figure out what works best for you over time.

SNOW: Slowly Navigate Or Wait.

Stevo Reno's Comment
member avatar

Winter driving sucks period! lol Especially along the I-80 ughhhh. Stranded in Wyoming a few times, 3-5 days, 2020 winter, with 2nd Co. I drive nights, well I drove 160 miles thru Neb. blizzard at 15-25 mph since I couldn't find anywhere safe to park. Some spots I couldn't even see the lines, because of snow cover. I'd drive thru tire marks of who ever went before me.

Finally, I found Love's I could get a spot in.Talk about nerves on edge!! Had to chain ONCE this winter, entering Nor Cal heading to Oregon. CHP shut down road to check for chains, so we turned back down mountain 12 miles to chain area where was only raining a bit, chained 3 axles, and got back on track.....

I HATE SNOW lol being a So Cal native, it looks better on the mountain tops from afar !

Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

Davy, here are some lessons learned from my one winter of driving. (looks like i will be driving again soon for a company that dispatches to most cold weather states).

You have received great advice already from the experienced guys. PackRat summed it all up with SNOW (Slowly Navigate Or Wait). The braking information is priceless for winter driving.

During my first two weeks of solo driving, I was routed to the south and southeast. This was during the end of December through the first week in January. I thought I would drive in those locations all winter because I was a rookie and the company wanted to let me get my legs under me in good driving conditions. Wow, was i wrong. I spent the rest of the winter driving in all cold weather states. Being from Wisconsin, snow and ice didn't scare me but it made me nervous. Driving a truck and trailer in bad conditions is much more demanding than driving a car in the same conditions. So I quickly realized that I needed to only be concerned about safety and safe following distance. Some days I only made 300 miles, some days even less. When I stopped for my 10 hour break, I was exhausted. But I was satisfied that I drove safely.

Numerous times that winter when I was on the interstates there were drivers who blew by me at speeds I thought were foolish. Twice I passed those guys later on. One had done a perfectly executed jackknife in the median. The second one I passed was so horrific that I doubted the driver survived with his head still attached.

Fear can be your friend or your enemy. A reasonable amount of fear will help you drive prudently.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Davy A.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the feedback everyone. I taught skiing for 10 years full time. I commuted daily in the mountains, and in those days I didnt have enough money for good 4x4s, usually had a beater with heater, and bald tires. I always went slower than most people, (still do in my 4wd, just habit) and usually saw the race car drivers upside down sooner or later. I pick at stuff mentally until I get comfortable at it, so its part of my process I guess.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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