Brakes. Driving correctly

74somerset

Member
May 11, 2022
23
I'm sitting a repair shop getting new break pads.
I'm wondering if my theory got me here.
Driving a 96 Ranger, manual transmission, and pulling a mid 70s Coleman Valley Forge.
No problems pulling it. Pretty light camper.
But some of these mountain passes, like Wolf Creek in Colorado, I would put it in neutral and coast on the down side using my brakes to slow down.
Would I have been better off leaving it in gear while I came down the other side? I kept it slow. Is it about the same either way? I didn't want to use down shifting to save wear and tear on the transmission.
Thanks for your insight.
Jimmy
 

74somerset

Member
May 11, 2022
23
I understand. I guess my theory was, if I have to brake anyway, it's easier on brakes in neutral than in gear.
 

bondebond

Super Active Member
Aug 14, 2008
2,330
Uh, much better to use the engine rotational resistance to add braking action on the downhill.

I can first-hand tell you what happens when you use too much of the brakes (bad scenario that went sideways). You lose ALL braking power once those pads heat up enough to start to liquify. I don't know that they liquify on the surface, but that's the effect that happens.

Use the low end gears (read, higher engine revolutions) to help slow you down. That keeps more heat out of the brake pads and leaves you some stopping power if you encounter the unexpected and need to do an abrupt halt.

That, and it extends the life of your braking system.
 

kitphantom

Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Dec 26, 2009
13,930
Albuquerque, NM
Downshift, brakes only as needed. I can't tell you how many times we smell brakes on our travels. I'm sure when I detect the odor, it is not a good thing, since I've lost the first odor of burning anything.
If necessary, pull off where there is a pull-out. For that matter, use pull-outs if you're collecting a number of followers up or down hill.
 

Anthony Hitchings

Super Active Member
Silver Supporting Member
Mar 2, 2019
3,945
Oakland, California
A modern TV has four wheel disc brakes - you ain't going to hurt them in a hurry - but there are absolutely some downgrades long enough and steep enough to get the pads very hot - I have seen it and smelt it happen on other vehicles. But hot disc brake pads wll still work ok, unlike brake shoes-drums.

OTOH- I just paid over $6k for a rebuilttransmission at 178k miles - and we us downhill transmission-engine braking.

BTW - if you cook your disc brakes - when you get to the bottom of the hill keep going so that the brake components cool off ASAP - do not park your car and let them and the car try to self-ignite something.
 

Sjm9911

Super Active Member
May 31, 2018
12,452
Nj
Your camper is probably around 1600 to 1800 lbs loaded, the ranger can handle that, but if it has the smaller tow capacity of 2000 lbs , you are at your max. Just go slower. The breaks also could have been previously warn. The camper weight dosent help that though.
 

Lug_Nut

Active Member
May 29, 2016
309
Mt. Wachusett area, MA
Once the clutch pedal is up with the manual shift transmission in gear, there is no added wear on the transmission. Engine compression will help limit speed gain on down hills and will reduce the amount of limitation the friction brakes have to apply to maintain that same limit were the brakes working alone.

Some things to keep in mind:
Engine braking effort is limited to only those wheels connected to the transmission. If you have 2 wheel drive you will be applying speed retardation effort to only those two wheels.
If you have electric trailer brakes the trailer brakes will not be energized without the tow vehicle's brake lights active. No brake pedal: no brake lights. No brake lights: no trailer brakes.
Brakes are less costly to replace than a clutch.

McSkippy, In post #9, where did you get TomBiasi's quote?
I want to check the citation that was used to make that statement. If true, one of my cars is illegal as it has free-wheel, no engine braking.
 

davido

Super Active Member
Jul 17, 2014
1,407
I understand. I guess my theory was, if I have to brake anyway, it's easier on brakes in neutral than in gear.
Not necessarily.

If you can sense any engine braking effect at all (the engine holding you back as you make your way down the hill), then you are doing your brakes a disservice by putting the car in neutral.

Additionally, if you're descending a hill where you're trying to hold your speed back, and you are not sensing the engine holding you back, you are doing your brakes a disservice.

So... if you need to control speed down a hill, switch off overdrive, and even possibly downshift into 2 (if you're going a speed in which it is safe to do so).

A 96 Ford Ranger probably has an E4OD transmission; four speed including overdrive. And there's probably a button on the shift lever to disengage overdrive. As you're descending hills, press that button to turn on the little light on the shift lever. This shuts out overdrive, and causes your engine to work to your advantage in slowing the vehicle, or reducing its acceleration.

So... yes, your technique may have prematurely led to brake wear, and at worst, could lead to burning your brakes up when you really need them. Always let the engine slow you if you can.
 

davido

Super Active Member
Jul 17, 2014
1,407
A modern TV has four wheel disc brakes - you ain't going to hurt them in a hurry - but there are absolutely some downgrades long enough and steep enough to get the pads very hot - I have seen it and smelt it happen on other vehicles. But hot disc brake pads wll still work ok, unlike brake shoes-drums.

OTOH- I just paid over $6k for a rebuilttransmission at 178k miles - and we us downhill transmission-engine braking.

BTW - if you cook your disc brakes - when you get to the bottom of the hill keep going so that the brake components cool off ASAP - do not park your car and let them and the car try to self-ignite something.
A 96 Ranger is not a modern TV. That vehicle will have disks in front and drums in the rear.
 




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