Braking on hills

My co-worker and I have a disagreement regarding why we go through so many sets of brakes on the Ford Expedition we have to drive. We know that there is a bit more weight than we should have in the truck, however, when going down steep grades he uses the brake pedal instead of downshifting the engine. He says that it will hurt the engine to slow the truck down like that. I on the other hand have always downshifted on steep grades and haven’t gone through a set of brakes on my car or any other. Which one of us is right?

You are right. Downshifting reduces vehicle speed, saves wear on the brakes, and does NO damage to the engine. None. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

I’ll bet the owner’s manual even recommends downshifting on steep grades. Mine does.

You know you have more weight than you should have in your Ford Expedition? Just exactly how much weight DO you have in it?

If you’re overloading this vehicle I’d recommend continuing to use the brakes. They’re a lot cheaper than drivetrain components.

Have you considered adding a trailer with its own built in brake system?

First I’d want to hear excatly how overloaded the truck is…

The drivetrain surely goes through more stress going up the hill than down it. If the brakes overheat and fail, you will regret this approach…

Your point is well made. I retract my suggestion. But still suggest considering a trailer.

Driving south out, down out of Flagstaff, I smelled a van about 1 mile ahead with bruning brakes.

When I caught up to him, it was a U-Haul with front discs glowing bright orange in the daytime! I have no idea how he didn’t lose his brakes entirely.

First off, don’t overload. If you insist on overloading, you owe it to everyone else on the road to baby those brakes as much as possible so you still have rerserve braking capacity when the unexpected happens!

(As bad as that was, the scariest thing I saw was on I80, where they had the orange barrels out and the right lane closed. Semi w/ burning brakes can’t stop, “bails out” into the right lane and passes about 6 cars…then the guy gets out and feels all the hubs, trying to see “which brakes still work!”

Shudder to think what would have happened if it was Jersey barriers instead of barrels.)

This downshifting and hill issue gets bounced around quite a bit. This is not a technique for 1/2 mile long hils,we are talking substancial long…mountain grades.

One technique a trucker taught me is to never let your truck get moving downhill faster than you went uphill,that is control your speed,dont even let it get up to a point that using your brakes alone will cause overheating.

Some vehicles are prone to using pads quickly as the brakes are designed undersized. Mid-90’s 1/2 GM full size pickups are a good example.

We know that there is a bit more weight than we should have in the truck

That is what I would worry about first. Second it sounds like your co-worker is looking for a brake failure on a down hill stretch not using engine braking one an overloaded truck.

Please don’t follow me down a hill.

Under normal conditions without long steep grades, I say to use the brakes. I say that brakes are cheaper than transmissions. I downshift my truck and car in the Summer. When there could be ice or snow, I downshift the truck and use the brakes on the car. Speed limit on those hills is 25. Long highway grades should be downshifted with the Expedition.

Personally I think brakes are significantly cheaper to replace/repair brakes than automatic transmissions.

Interesting factoid: I went to the Ford website and nowhere in anything does it tell me what the payload is. Not in the website, not in the brochure. No dryweight, no GVW, no nothing.

Apparently these things have become so focused on the mall-moms that payload isn’t considered and important feature to specify.

Thanks for the input! I just read all the comments to him and his response is that he’s “saving” the engine brake in case the brakes to fail.

We also have about 1500# over the GVW in the vehicle. I find that hard to believe, but I haven’t weighed the truck lately. Pulling a trailer isn’t really an option as what we’re usually doing is winter research which has us out on icy roadways to begin with.

Again, I appreciate the responses!

After all the comments read to your co-worker, and his response, I would suggest, for your own safety, NEVER riding with him. Some people are so opinionated and stubborn as to be close to being “certifiable”. Ask a psychologist what this really means.

We live near the mountains, and going uphill or downhill on steep inclines we use a lower gear to get extra braking on the downshill (and SAVE THE BRAKES), as well as having more power and engine cooling on the uphill. Both are RECOMMENDED IN THE OWNER’S MANUAL!!!

In addition, what business does a “researcher” have breaking the law and overloading his vehicle?

In addition to gearing down on hills to be easier on the brakes …here’s another one that 99% of you drivers don’t do.

There’s an -overdrive off- button on Fords and similar on other brands.
Use it around town when top speed rarely is more that 45 or so.
Why ?
Merely letting off the gas pedal will result in slowing down, more so than in overdrive, making for a smoother deceleration and brake savings.

The Expedition the OP is driving also has the OD lockout button. VERY useful on long hills. It makes all the difference in the world…