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Old 12-13-2010, 03:04 PM   #1
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Exhaust Brake Usage

Hey All,

I just moved up from a E450 based class C to a 35' DP (2010 Itasca Meridian V Class 34Y). I certainly can feel what the exhaust brake does.

My question is; Are there times when I definitely don't want to have the exhaust brake on?

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Old 12-13-2010, 03:23 PM   #2
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Good question and I think you will get different answers but here what I have learned over the years. First, I leave mine on all the time when the roads are dry. Second, I use it very selectively when the roads are damp not pouring rain. In pouring rain I turn it off and use the regular breaks. Last, always leave it off in snow or especially on ice. Let's see what others say.

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Old 12-13-2010, 03:41 PM   #3
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I only use my Exhaust Brake when going down long steep grades, and also when in stop and go traffic.
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Old 12-13-2010, 03:49 PM   #4
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Use my exhaust brake all the time. Its not unsafe to use on wet roads.. in my opinion.... others may disagree so its good to hear many opinions.
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Old 12-13-2010, 04:07 PM   #5
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Unless there is a sign at the town limits that prohibits its use, mine is on at all times. I do not drive in the snow but it would be a good idea to not use it on snow and ice.
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Old 12-13-2010, 04:11 PM   #6
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Pending if your coach has a two or three stage setting. If it is snowing / ice you would want to keep it on the lowest (less braking) setting. This would normally only apply when in a stop & go traffic situation. Having it set on the highest setting while traveling at highway speeds is not going to cause a drive wheel to lock up.
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Old 12-13-2010, 04:34 PM   #7
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I only use it on long down grades or on shorter steeper grades in the dry. If you read about them in the manual, you are not to use them in wet or icy road conditions. I know some will say it's ok when wet, but in many areas, especially right after the start of rain the roads will be as slick as ice due to oil and dust accumulations. The last thing you want to happen is for the back end to break loose.
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Old 12-13-2010, 04:41 PM   #8
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Mine is only on when on down grades or when I need to come down from freeway speeds to a stop. I like to be able to coast.

Many will probably chime in that some brakes can be programmed to operate in different ways to fit your personal driving style and those are worth learning about.

BTW, congrats on your new rig!

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Old 12-13-2010, 05:13 PM   #9
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I have mine programmed to 'Latch' mode. I keep it 'on' all the time.

So here's how it works:

With the exhaust brake switch 'on': When cruise control is in the 'on' position the exhaust brake will not come on unless I either 1) tap the brake pedal, or 2) switch the cruise control 'off'. I almost always manage the exhaust brake with the cruise control switch. It has become second nature to me in most all driving situations. If I need to slow down quicker, push the brake pedal, and the exhaust brake comes on as well. With the cruise control 'off' the exhaust brake will not engage either by brake petal or otherwise.

Secondly, I have reprogrammed my transmission to only downshift to 4th gear, as I have found that 2nd gear programming (which is preset from the factory) is too aggressive when the exhaust brake is applied.

Thirdly, if I am in slippery conditions (I don't consider rain too slippery) I will turn off the exhaust brake by the main switch.

Fourthly (is there such a word as fourthly?) towns which prohibit 'Jake Brakes' on the signs you see are specific to just that: Jake Brakes. I don't believe any of our motorhomes have Jake Brakes which make that nasty sound when slowing down. We have mostly engine brakes, and compression brakes (which may have more than 1 preset).

I really love the intelligence of the Allison transmission and the programming set points which I have chosen, which I believe enhances drivability (and stopping capability) of my coach.
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Old 12-13-2010, 05:30 PM   #10
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offthewall, Do everything that Pusherman says. He is right on the money.
NOTE; I am not responsible for typos, poor grammer or misspelled word !
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Old 12-13-2010, 05:45 PM   #11
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I leave it on about 98% of the time. Seem to only turn it off when it gets irritating with the lurch in stop and go traffic.
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Old 12-13-2010, 06:13 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Pusherman View Post
With the cruise control 'off' the exhaust brake will not engage either by brake petal or otherwise.
Correction: With the exhaust brake 'on' and the cruise control 'off' the exhaust brake will come on in Latch mode when you let off the accelerator. This is how I control it while driving. I keep the cruise 'on' until I want to slow down, and switch crusie 'off' to slow the unit with the exhaust brake before using the service brakes. To coast without having the exhaust brake come on, simply keep cruise 'on' until you want the exhaust brake to come on, and switch cruise 'off'.

To keep the exhaust/compression brake from coming on at all, be sure to switch the main control 'off'.
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Old 12-13-2010, 06:41 PM   #13
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OK. Many interesting comments.

I have a question. Rather than taking a poll of who uses the exhaust brake and when, how about asking (I am asking...) why do you leave it on all the time? It seems to me it is needed most when going down steep grades to keep from burning up the service brakes or in out of the ordinary situations of having to stop quicker than normal. But I am a relative rookie to all of this so what do I know.

I have used mine for steep grades and for the unexpected added braking required in a few situations. I do not leave the switch on all the time.

Maybe I should. I am just interested in hearing why you do leave it on most or all of the time.

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Old 12-13-2010, 07:34 PM   #14
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I use mine as a primary braking unit. I do most of all my braking with my exhaust brake. Then once I'm back down to about 20 MPH use the standard service brakes on the truck...

Maybe that's why I'll do my first brake pad service at 200K miles... No kidding I've got 180K miles on the factory brake pads. All I do is drive the mountain roads of Idaho hauling utility trailers and now my new TT...

Yes I do monthly brake pad inspections and still got 40% of my pads left yet...

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