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Coming down the hill

edited by Tom Jones

The following suggestions for descending steep mountain grades in a motorhome were provided by forum members and staff.

When driving in the mountains a rule of thumb is to use the same gear going down that you had to use climbing the mountain. Sometimes you might have to gear down even more. Be sure your speed is reasonable as you start down.

With a gasoline engine, start down in first gear. If you keep things around 3000-4000 RPM on the tachometer, the engine will make a lot of noise, but all will be just fine and you will not use the brakes as much. If things flatten out you can shift up to 2nd, and then 3rd.

A diesel engine has little or no braking, so many diesel coaches have either an engine compression brake (sometimes called a 'Jake brake') or an exhaust brake (sometimes called a 'Pac brake) to help slow the coach.

If you have to use the brakes, use smooth, constant braking down to the desired speed and then get off brakes to allow them to cool down until next application. Don't repeatedly pump the brakes or ride them constantly because this will cause them to overheat and can result in 'brake fade', a condition where you have no brakes.
Contributors to this article were Jeff Cousins, Jim Dick, Karl Kolbus and Carl Lundquist.