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Old 02-27-2012, 11:08 AM   #1
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Exhaust Brakes for Diesel Engines pulling a 5th wheel

Hello Forum,

Have any of you that need to encounter steep decent when pulling your rigs with diesel engines ever installed exhaust breaks to help with breaking down steep grades?

The reason I ask is we will be in the near future taking our rig several times a year down some steep passes, and I wanted to know if anyone in the forum ever installed exhaust breaks on their engines and if so what your experiences are. I think the cost for just the parts is going to be around $1200 upwards, and that does not include the labor to have it installed if I do not do it myself. It is probably a 4 hour job if not more, and if I take it to a reputable shop, I am sure I am looking at close to $1600 plus parts and labor.

I would imagine for those of you who do allot of level pulling, this question would not apply to you, so my question is focused more towards any members who frequently encounter steep grade descends that are using diesels to pull their rigs’.

Please let me know. Would love your comments and or advice?

Thanks
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Old 02-27-2012, 11:19 AM   #2
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Every diesel truck we've owned has had an exhaust brake, either as an aftermarket accessory or as an integral function of the variable geometry turbocharger (in the case of our current truck). Personally, an exhaust brake is an integral requirement for towing a 5th wheel with a diesel, just like a 5th wheel hitch. On our current truck, the exhaust brake was standard equipment, and its operation is integrated with that of the transmission and torque converter by the truck's ECM (engine control module) and PCM (powertrain control module) computers.

Having said that, some trucks cannot be retrofit with exhaust brakes without other modifications (for example, a method to lock the torque converter in an automatic transmission when the exhaust brake is in use). Some other truck manufacturers don't approve of the use of exhaust brakes on their vehicles.

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Old 02-27-2012, 11:21 AM   #3
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In about 2000 I had a 36 foot King of the Road fifth wheel. During the period of time I had that I used two different diesel pick ups. The first was a 3/4 ton Ford with a six speed standard transmission and the exhaust brake I installed worked great. I realized the fifth wheel was a little heavy for the 3/4 ton so bought a Dodge 3500 with an automatic transmission. The exhaust brake was not nearly as strong on the Dodge as it was on the Ford. I did add a torque converter lock up and that helped the exhaust brake on the Dodge significantly. I don't know if the newer automatics in pickups have the locking torque converter but if I were doing it again I'd only do it on a standard transmission.
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Old 02-27-2012, 11:44 AM   #4
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I have had my Pac-brake for as long as I have had the truck.Auto trans and works very well on passes here in Colorado.I would hate to go down a pass without a exhaust brake.Newer truck have some sort of braking built into the trans so you can see that the industry is responding to a need.
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Old 02-27-2012, 12:12 PM   #5
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first5thwheel...you don't say what make/model truck you have. As noted above, the new diesels all come with exhaust brakes, you might already have one.
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Old 02-27-2012, 12:17 PM   #6
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I will contact my manufacturer and see if my automatic has a built in integrated break. I have a 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 5.9 Diesel 4 speed automatic. So it may be Dodge has already configured this integrated breaking already. Do any of you know this and if not let me know if you know a good place to find out?

Thanks guys for your input. MUCH APPRECIATED
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Old 02-27-2012, 12:21 PM   #7
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No, the 2006 Dodge didn't have an integral exhaust brake. Dodge didn't begin fitting those until the 6.7L Cummins with the 68RFE 6-speed automatic transmission. The 6.7L Cummins uses the variable geometry turbocharger that allows for the exhaust braking function; the 5.9L Cummins did not.

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Old 02-27-2012, 12:57 PM   #8
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The 06 Cummins 5.9L engine can be retro fitted with an exhaust brake from several manufactures. Packbrake is one that several owners Ram truck owners have used. I have attached a link to several exhaust brakes for you to review.
Truck Exhaust Brakes

Here is another PDF booklet to review on your Dodge that should help you.

Turbo Diesel Buyers Guide

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Old 02-29-2012, 12:27 AM   #9
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I installed an exhaust brake on my old 92 Dodge auto. I hauled 20k over the grapevine all the time. Here are the problems you may have if you are going over the grapevine or sherman pass by Bishop. Your trans will heat. need a trans temp guage. When trans gets too hot, stop using the brake. Adjust the brake so it doesn't close all the way. Of coarse it doesn't work as good then. If cost is a problem. Iveco diesel trucks use a 3 1/2 in exhaust brake that is controled by a simple power take off cable. $400.00. DIY. My 2001 dodge has no exhaust brake. Put it in second gear hold it down to 30 mph and take your time. Going down into Valdeez AK 16 miles of 10% grade, I went to first gear. 20 mph top speed . Had to step on accelerator to keep speed up because truck had so much hold back. On your dodge the converter will slip some in second gear and cause trans to heat going up or down. First gear is a direct lock up. Figure the time it takes to navigate a 5 mile grade at 20mph versus 40 mph. The brake is not worth the cost.
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Old 02-29-2012, 08:31 AM   #10
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Had a 07 5.9 no brake, traded for an 07.5 6.7 with brake....and its fantastic.....
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Old 02-29-2012, 08:39 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldbeek View Post
I installed an exhaust brake on my old 92 Dodge auto. I hauled 20k over the grapevine all the time. Here are the problems you may have if you are going over the grapevine or sherman pass by Bishop. Your trans will heat. need a trans temp guage. When trans gets too hot, stop using the brake. Adjust the brake so it doesn't close all the way. Of coarse it doesn't work as good then. If cost is a problem. Iveco diesel trucks use a 3 1/2 in exhaust brake that is controled by a simple power take off cable. $400.00. DIY. My 2001 dodge has no exhaust brake. Put it in second gear hold it down to 30 mph and take your time. Going down into Valdeez AK 16 miles of 10% grade, I went to first gear. 20 mph top speed . Had to step on accelerator to keep speed up because truck had so much hold back. On your dodge the converter will slip some in second gear and cause trans to heat going up or down. First gear is a direct lock up. Figure the time it takes to navigate a 5 mile grade at 20mph versus 40 mph. The brake is not worth the cost.
1. If you had a locking torque converter (which the 92 Dodge didn't), you wouldn't have had any heat buildup problems when using an exhaust brake. Converter slippage generates heat, and unless locked up, the converter will slip when the exhaust brake is in use.

2. If you had a locking torque converter, you would have also found that the exhaust brake in your 92 Dodge would have been much more effective.

3. The 12 valve B-series Cummins installed in Dodge pickups was limited in the amount of exhaust braking it could provide unless the exhaust valve springs were changed out to a heavier spring design. Excessive exhaust back pressure in the exhaust manifold when the exhaust brake was in use could actually float the exhaust valves off of their seats unless the springs were upgraded.

Your lack of satisfactory results is more related to an improper application of an exhaust brake than any fundamental flaw with exhaust brakes in general.

Rusty
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Old 03-20-2012, 06:17 PM   #12
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I have a 99 Ford F250 desiel. I have the Banks exhaust brake and the another device that assists the transmission. Maybe it's what some of you call a locking torque converter. I bought mine from a friend. He says the device for the tranny just makes it shift harder to reduce "slipping". Anyway back to the exhaust brake. I love it. I was going down the grape vine in California and following a friend who was also pulling a 5th wheel. He was applying his brakes off and on all the way down. I had to apply them a few times, but that was it.
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Old 03-20-2012, 11:04 PM   #13
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Exhaust Brake

Your 06 with an automatic has programming to work with an exhaust brake. In fact it won't affect your warranty. Pacbrake has an excellent bolt-on unit as some have already mentioned, and it integrates with your computer. Expensive, yes - and I hear once you drive with one you won't want to be without one. I have not yet taken the plunge. I tow mainly in the mountains of northern NM / southern CO. I simply put it in 3rd and I do fine on most grades with minimal braking. An exhaust brake is without doubt an excellent safety feature - if you're willing to part with the $ 1400 or so to buy one.
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Old 03-21-2012, 07:32 AM   #14
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Thank you kschitoskey,

That is great to know that Pacbrake will integrate with my computer. Do I have to have a dealer make modifications to my computer system to correlate with the brake or will it be done on its own once installed?
I know what you mean about the expense. I just had a new 16 K PullRite Superglide installed on my short bed 06 and that set me back $2 Grand.... I am throwing new tires and rims on the rig as well in a few weeks so my "RV" fund is just about drained for a while. I will be pulling on mostly level grade until fall, so at that time I will seriously consider the break. Safety has no price and I agree with you that even though this is an expensive install it is well worth it!!!!!
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