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Old 03-22-2016, 01:52 PM   #1
FrankAN's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Ottawa, Ontario
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Downshifting a gas coach

Still relatively new at driving our class a gas coach. We are planning a trip through Pennsylvania and ending up in Asheville, NC. Been doing a lot of reading about driving up and down big slopes in a big motor home. They all say to make sure you shift the gears and not to ride your brakes. I understand that, but how do you down shift an automatic that only has D, 2 and 1? Do I just shift into 2 and then 1? I know this must sound a little " green" or novice, but rather be safe than sorry.
Thanks in advance for any suggestions, advice.

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Old 03-22-2016, 02:18 PM   #2
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You don't have to downshift if you use Tow/Haul mode. When using Tow/Haul you will notice that the engine assists braking and it will help control your speed down a hill.

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Old 03-22-2016, 02:44 PM   #3
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Yes, downshift from D to 2 and to 1 as needed. HOWEVER, be aware that when you downshift, its like a manual transmission and you could over rev the engine.

On uphill, I usually downshift when the transmission is constantly doing upshift/downshift (Its probably more wear and tear on my nerves than wear and tear on the tranny) i.e. I'll downshift to 2nd, and hold the speed at 40-45 mph

On Downhill, if I find that I'm building up speed and need to hit the brakes a lot, I'll slow down, i.e. 40-45, then drop it down into second and let the engine do the braking.

Usually, I do what the 18 wheeler do as far as speed up or down hills. If they are climbing at 35 mph with the four ways flashing, I fall in line and do the same thing. Same downhill.
1999 Fleetwood Southwind 35S (Ford F53 6.8L V10) - Toad 2003 Saturn Vue.

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Old 03-22-2016, 04:07 PM   #4
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I have a 32' FW Storm and have gone north from NJ to Canada and South to FL and Asheville and west to San Fran and back thru the Rockies and Cascades and Waiter21 is correct. Go from D to 2 and that usually will handle it. Watch the rpm's and you should be fine at about 45-50 MPH. The rule of thumb is you go down as fast as you go up. By downshifting as you crest the hill you will be fine. I always got behind the trucks in the far right lane and just took my time. I'm in no hurry. Have a great trip
Dennis & Mary Ann(Directress of Navigation & Planning), 2013 Storm 32BH
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Old 03-22-2016, 04:36 PM   #5
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Down shift at the top of the hill. Don't let the coach get away from you. If you have to brake, intermittent firm braking with time between event to allow the brakes to cool is better than constant soft braking.

Concerning engine RPM, I can only comment based on owning a Ford. The engine can handle high RPM so let it wind out if necessary. Don't be afraid of 5000 RPM but don't let if go much higher. Best to try and keep the RPMs in the 3500 to 4000 range if possible. Down shift, firm braking as necessary.

I40 west into Ashland has a long steep climb starting at around mile marker 72 climbing up to mile marker 67. Haven't been up if yet just down. Coach held steady at 55 MPH on the decent and never touched the brakes but I started out at the top already in a lower gear as I passed the mandatory truck safety stop.
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Old 03-22-2016, 06:36 PM   #6
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I 2nd the tow haul option. Use it, it works well

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