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Engine braking (downshifting) with a automatic transmission? #16245454 07/12/21
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Birdwatcher Offline OP
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Been driving going on 50 years, all of my vehicles were manual transmission until last year when I bought a Nissan Frontier pickup. Engine braking (going down a hill in a lower gear instead of riding the brakes) ain’t much of an issue in mostly flat Texas.

Last month I was driving around Pennsylvania, Upstate NY and Vermont, lots of steep grades. Way back in the 60’s my English grandpa taught me you drive down a hill in the same gear you’d drive up it.

Engine braking with an automatic transmission, good or bad?


Last edited by Birdwatcher; 07/12/21.

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Re: Engine braking with a automatic transmission? [Re: Birdwatcher] #16245464 07/12/21
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I thought you referring to the engine break like what’s on F 550s and such. Those work great.

Re: Engine braking with a automatic transmission? [Re: Birdwatcher] #16245471 07/12/21
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We have a Toyota Highlander with the V6, 8 gears. I have to shift down to 4th to get any noticeable braking on a steep hill. I don't think these newer transmissions with all the gears allow for it like the old 3 spd autos did. But I'm spoiled. My pickup is a Dodge diesel with a 6 spd manual and an exhaust brake. That will slow you down.


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Re: Engine braking with a automatic transmission? [Re: Birdwatcher] #16245480 07/12/21
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While I'm no expert, I think engine braking is a whole 'nother beast from downshifting.

Re: Engine braking with a automatic transmission? [Re: Birdwatcher] #16245483 07/12/21
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Automatic computerized sensor controlled hill descent 'braking' is a feature available and / or standard on some vehicles nowadays.

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Re: Engine braking with a automatic transmission? [Re: Birdwatcher] #16245491 07/12/21
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Originally Posted by Birdwatcher
Been driving going on 50 years, all of my vehicles were manual transmission until last year when I bought a Nissan Frontier pickup. Engine braking (going down a hill in a lower gear instead of riding the brakes) ain’t much of an issue in mostly flat Texas.

Last month I was driving around Pennsylvania, Upstate NY and Vermont, lots of steep grades. Way back in the 60’s my English grandpa taught me you drive down a hill in the same gear you’d drive up it.

Engine braking with an automatic transmission, good or bad?

Love it... When pulling our camper (up to 19K GVW) and going from Rapid City S. on Truck 16 there's some pretty steep and long grades.. The engine brake works so well that I rarely have to even touch the brakes when going down..


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Re: Engine braking with a automatic transmission? [Re: Birdwatcher] #16245501 07/12/21
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Quote
Way back in the 60’s my English grandpa taught me you drive down a hill in the same gear you’d drive up it.
That was true of older large trucks. In more recent years, though, engines are more powerful and you can climb in higher gears than the older ones. If you try going down in too high of a gear, you're going to have trouble. Those runaway truck escape ramps are there for those who try it. That rule no longer applies.


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Re: Engine braking with a automatic transmission? [Re: Birdwatcher] #16245572 07/12/21
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My 4Runner does it.

Re: Engine braking with a automatic transmission? [Re: Whttail_in_MT] #16245592 07/12/21
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Originally Posted by Whttail_in_MT
While I'm no expert, I think engine braking is a whole 'nother beast from downshifting.


Apparently you know more than me, I have adjusted the title accordingly.


"...if the gentlemen of Virginia shall send us a dozen of their sons, we would take great care in their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them." Canasatego 1744
Re: Engine braking with a automatic transmission? [Re: Birdwatcher] #16245605 07/12/21
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What would you rather replace - brake pads or transmission parts?


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Re: Engine braking with a automatic transmission? [Re: Birdwatcher] #16245607 07/12/21
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I'm not sure if its good or bad, I know I do it a lot. It works well for me.

Re: Engine braking with a automatic transmission? [Re: Birdwatcher] #16245613 07/12/21
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There are a few ways this happens,

Compression braking in a gas rig uses the engine to slow the vehicle, not very effective in a diesel UNLESS the diesel has some type of gate to create vacuum or backpressure. 12v cummins.....no luck, 7.3 up fords....luck.

There is also a retarding feature in some auto transmissions that use the converter to eat up load. Early transmissions had troubles trying to redirect load through different bands....fords would chew reverse band by down shifting manually. Allison retarder was/is awesome.


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Re: Engine braking with a automatic transmission? [Re: Birdwatcher] #16245626 07/12/21
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My wife’s truck has a computerized jake brake on it for hills.

Re: Engine braking with a automatic transmission? [Re: Birdwatcher] #16245653 07/12/21
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In 1972 i had a 4 wd 3/4 ton Chevy suburban, and we bought a new 31’ Holiday Rambler travel trailer.
We made several 4 to 6 week trips west with it all thru both the US and Canada Rockies.
Down shifting on grades with the auto trans was just a natural thing for me to do.
I once had a trailer brake issue on the road while in Maine, and we lived in PA.
I just unplugged the trailer and drove it home by using my head on speed, keeping my distance from others, and using the trans and truck brakes.
Drove the Chevy over 200.000 before i traded it with no tranny issues.
I did have a large tranny cooler on it however strapped on front of the radiator.
Back then they used a clutch fan system, where the fan didnt engage till the engine temp called for it.
But i had mine set up so the fan ran all the time, and that helped alot on those long steep hills.
My current Chevy truck is a 2016 and that tranny will downshift on its own on grades.
But i still at times do it manually.

Re: Engine braking with a automatic transmission? [Re: high_country_] #16245661 07/12/21
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Originally Posted by high_country_
There are a few ways this happens,

Compression braking in a gas rig uses the engine to slow the vehicle, not very effective in a diesel UNLESS the diesel has some type of gate to create vacuum or backpressure. 12v cummins.....no luck, 7.3 up fords....luck.

There is also a retarding feature in some auto transmissions that use the converter to eat up load. Early transmissions had troubles trying to redirect load through different bands....fords would chew reverse band by down shifting manually. Allison retarder was/is awesome.
My '08 Dodge 6.7 Cummins has an exhaust brake, not compression. It's a little less effective but a lot quieter. Mechanics say to use it all the time, not just on hills. They say that during the braking cycle, it will keep the crud blown off the turbo and make the turbo last longer.


Sin wouldn't be so attractive if the wages were paid immediately.
,,...............
70. The age when your body gives your brain a list of things it isn't going to do anymore
Re: Engine braking with a automatic transmission? [Re: JoeBob] #16245708 07/12/21
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Originally Posted by JoeBob
My wife’s truck has a computerized jake brake on it for hills.

What brand vehicle?

Re: Engine braking with a automatic transmission? [Re: Birdwatcher] #16245719 07/12/21
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Originally Posted by Birdwatcher
Originally Posted by Whttail_in_MT
While I'm no expert, I think engine braking is a whole 'nother beast from downshifting.


Apparently you know more than me, I have adjusted the title accordingly.


Engine breaking is exceptional good with automatic transmissions today. I have an exhaust brake on my 2015 Ram with Cummins diesel engine. I engage the tow haul so the torque converter locks up and keep the smart brake engaged. Downshifting the transmission increases the engine braking ability





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Re: Engine braking with a automatic transmission? [Re: Birdwatcher] #16245749 07/12/21
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There are a LOT of long downhills here in Utah. I always bump the trans into manual and drop a gear or two going down. If I'm behind a "brake rider" who has the brakes on for miles, I can usually smell their white-hot brakes long before they get to the bottom. Can't help thinking their rotors have to warp from that.

My wife's Highlander Hybrid goes into Charge mode on downhills, of course, but she's a brake rider and I cannot get her to change. (Like most women, she understands the go and stop pedals, and that is all.)


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Re: Engine braking with a automatic transmission? [Re: Tyrone] #16245757 07/12/21
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Originally Posted by Tyrone
What would you rather replace - brake pads or transmission parts?


+1


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Re: Engine braking with a automatic transmission? [Re: Birdwatcher] #16245760 07/12/21
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There’s nothing wrong with using a lower gear on an automatic trans for descending on a steep grade.

Every vehicle in the west has to do it and you’ll damn sure need to do it if you drive a fully loaded 24’ U-Haul and car hauler over the passes in TN or KY.


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