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Old 02-16-2013, 07:21 PM   #1
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Exhaust Brake or no Exhaust Brake

I recently purchased a 39 foot DP; the dealer I purchased it from said that If he were me he would keep the exhaust brake on at all times. After reading the Owners Manual nowhere does it mention keeping the brake on at all times only when needed at highway speeds. Also someone told me that keeping the brake on at all times may cause Turbo problems down the road. What is the truth?
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Old 02-16-2013, 07:45 PM   #2
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I will tell you that I have a 2008 Fleetwood 40X Discovery with the exhaust brake. I leave it on all the time and find it very useful. It amazes me how nice it makes my driving experience. I have a friend that is a Turbo builder for Kenworth and he says it causes no damage what so ever. I will be interested to see what others think.
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Old 02-16-2013, 07:53 PM   #3
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Interesting question. I would think that leaving it on all the time would decrease fuel mileage. I like the idea of adding a switch that transfers the activation of the PacBrake with a short touch of the brake pedal without engaging chassis brakes. I do not have the switch (yet) and sometimes coasting is sufficient and more economical. So I turn the dash switch for the Pacbrake off when I want the ability to coast.
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Old 02-16-2013, 07:56 PM   #4
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I agree with everything that Craig N Deb posted. My PRXB PacBrake is on 24/7/365. I don't have to think about whether it is on or not. I NEVER turn it off.

However, my ECMs have been Flashed with the Latching Program which allows me to leave the Exhaust Brake Switch on while using the Cruise Control. Some coaches are not able to do that which means that to use the cruise control, you have to turn the Exhaust Brake switch off.

There is a device you can purchase called the Brake Switch which will allow you leave the Exhaust Brake switch on full-time and still use the cruise control.

Some people will say that when the Exhaust Brake Switch is on 24/7 they are not able to coast down the highway which is a bunch of BUNK <edit - sorry>. Those are folks that haven't figured out how to manage their accelerator pedal. I have no problem coasting when needed without turning the Exhaust Brake Switch off.

I have driven with the Exhaust Brake Switch on for over 30,000 miles and three years of being on the road. I will not drive any other way.

Just my opinion.

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Old 02-16-2013, 08:03 PM   #5
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Mine stays on all the time too for a couple of reasons.

The more I use the exhaust brake to slow down the less I use the service brakes. Results in less wear and tear on the service brakes.

There is a marked delay between the time a driver sees a hazard and the time he reacts to it. Moving your foot from the accelerator to the foot valve takes time. With the exhaust brake already engaged the engine will immediately begin slowing the coach as soon as your foot leaves the accelerator.

The way our coach is setup the exhaust brake works in conjunction with the cruise control. With both the CC and EB engaged on mildly hilly terrain they work together to keep my speed in check. If the coach tries to exceed 5 mph more than the CC is set at the EB takes control and hauls it back in.

I've never heard of an exhaust brake having an adverse effect on a turbo either.
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Old 02-16-2013, 08:09 PM   #6
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I am gonna disagree with the above post by Dr4Film. On the rig I just bought I took a trip down south and ran I-5 with the exhaust brake and the cruise control is on. I did however turn off the exhaust brake on occasion because I want more control over my rig. Sometimes I want to come off the gas and not have the exhaust brake engage. I just think that the switch will make it easier to manage not just the accelerator but the rig as a complete unit. I think the BS statement above is a little over the top, don't you think?
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Old 02-16-2013, 08:29 PM   #7
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I turned on the exhaust brake on our 2008 Fleetwood Discovery 40x when coming into a weigh station (all vehicles over 5 ton required to stop at this one) and upon leaving I accelerated to 65 mph with the brake switch on and the check engine light came on. Now every time I am going more than 10 mph and turn on the exhaust brake the check engine light comes on. I thought it was because I was traveling too fast with the brake on but I guess not.
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Old 02-16-2013, 08:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrgreen View Post

I turned on the exhaust brake on our 2008 Fleetwood Discovery 40x when coming into a weigh station (all vehicles over 5 ton required to stop at this one) and upon leaving I accelerated to 65 mph with the brake switch on and the check engine light came on. Now every time I am going more than 10 mph and turn on the exhaust brake the check engine light comes on. I thought it was because I was traveling too fast with the brake on but I guess not.
What state and location is this weigh station at that required a non-commercial vehicle to stop?

There is another reason why you check engine light comes on. I would have someone look to figure out why.

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Old 02-16-2013, 08:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phinneyj View Post
Interesting question. I would think that leaving it on all the time would decrease fuel mileage. I like the idea of adding a switch that transfers the activation of the PacBrake with a short touch of the brake pedal without engaging chassis brakes. I do not have the switch (yet) and sometimes coasting is sufficient and more economical. So I turn the dash switch for the Pacbrake off when I want the ability to coast.
I don't think I've ever heard of either an exhaust brake or a compression brake increasing fuel mileage. Can you explain how that would work?

The idea of adding a switch that would transfer activation of the Exhaust Brake to the foot valve from the simple release of the accelerator pedal would defeat one of the advantages of the exhaust brake. That being immediate deceleration. I understand that moving your foot from the accelerator to the foot valve only takes a split second, but at 60 mph a tenth of a second is equal to almost 9 feet, or a half a car length. In a big coach that tenth of a second could be the difference between saving a life and a fatality. If you and your coach rear end a car the fatality will likely be the occupnat(s) of the car. On the other hand if you rear end a tractor-trailer all bets are off. Just think of the difference if you were able to stop 9 feet sooner.

With regard to coasting, I assume you are speaking of removing your foot from the accelerator during a downhill run while still in gear (because to do it in neutral would be illegal). Like Dr4Film already stated if you learn to manage your accelerator the exhaust brake will have no effect. In my previous post I stated how my Crusie Control and my Exhaust Brake are set up to work together. When I'm in cruise and start down a hill the EB will allow up to 5 mph beyond what the cruise is set at and then it will maintain that speed. You can do the same thing manually by managing your accelerator pedal.
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Old 02-16-2013, 10:21 PM   #10
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I too would like to know where the weight station is that requires privately owned MHs (noncommercial and not a delivery service) to stop.

As for the OP on this tread, there are going to be as many different replies as there are people with DPs. You will not hurt any thing by leaving your engine brake on, but a word of caution, if you drive on ICY roads turn it off because engine braking can cause drive axle skids when you come off the accelerator. Some people will also turn it off in heavy rain if hydroplaning is happening. Yes, the MH is heavy but hydroplaning still can happen, just ask a truck driver and yes I am a retired one.

What I do is turn the switch on in traffic and going down hill if my down hill speed exceeds the limit. I have found that I get the benefit of the hold back and maximize economy and have done this in the MH for the past 3 1/2 years and the 20 plus years I drove a big truck.

Go out and try both ways and find out what works best for you and the way you drive. Good luck and by all means use the engine brake it will save you money in brake replacement costs.

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Old 02-17-2013, 09:24 AM   #11
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Exhaust brake is absolutely invaluable on steep downhill grades, but a pain in the neck in just about any other situation.

Normal driving, if I lift my foot it means I want to coast a bit or just reduce my speed a little, NOT have the transmission downshift to second and the exhaust brake to deploy. Same in the city - want to pull up at the lights and just want to do it gently by lifting the foot and braking gently, not by having the transmission jerk down a few gears and make a big fuss for no benefit.

If I got around to getting the programming changed to the coast option (or whatever the correct term is) rather than the default 2nd, that might be different, but until then, my engine brake switch is normally in the off position.
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Old 02-17-2013, 11:22 AM   #12
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Maryland is one state (and the only one I'm aware of) that states "all vehicles over 5 tons" must stop at weigh stations. However, others report having been told by state personnel that they "don't really want motorhomes to stop" and won't chase you down if you don't. Having lived near one for many years, and driven by it many times, I can attest that they never bothered me.

As to exhaust brakes, remember that there are several different kinds, with presumably somewhat different operating parameters. Many newer Cummins engines have an exhaust brake integrated into the variable-geometry turbocharger (VGT). Whether that makes a difference in operation vs. other types (Pac Brake, etc.), I couldn't say. Personally, I have a Jacobs 2-stage engine brake, and couldn't be happier with it.
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Old 02-17-2013, 01:52 PM   #13
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On my coach I leave the PacBrake switch on all the time. As it came from the factory the exhaust brake would engage any time I took my foot off the throttle. I didn't like this so I installed the BrakeSwitch. Now I can take my foot off the throttle and the exhaust brake will not engage until I press the brake pedal. I love it!
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Old 02-17-2013, 03:35 PM   #14
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In our coach with the 450 ISL the brake is a retarding system. The coach is new and I admit I don't know all the answers. I believe it retards the transmission? Therefore I would not use it all times. One other thought the exhaust brake will effect the toad braking system and most likely cause very premature failure if you have a toad braking system. Just read several post and PDF's from road master noting this issue. We have the Invisibrake system. In many states you are lawfully required to have an auxiliary braking system while pulling. However we most certainly use it climbing and descending the mountains. Look forward to further post!
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