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Old 04-16-2013, 08:54 PM   #1
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Cruise Control or NO?

When I bought my first RV. It was a 1/2 T compatible 5er towed by a 2009 F150. The dealer adviced me to not use the OverDrive. I tried it and found it not advisable. Had to prove it for myself.

Now I am towing with a RAM 2500 6.7L, does the same advice hold true?
And if I am now towing a 10,500 # 5er, still advise no cruise control?

Or do I just use it in the flat lands but go to foot control in the hilly zones?

Just wondering about other experiences and best advice.

Thanks
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Old 04-16-2013, 09:04 PM   #2
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Nothing wrong with using cruise control on the flatlands; I set mine on 65 MPH on the Interstates and let 'er rip. You'll get better mileage in the hills with cruise control off simply because you can see the hills coming and build your momentum on the downhill side before you hit them; cruise control will use a lot more accelerator pedal than you would simply because it's trying to hold a constant speed.

I assume you're using Tow/Haul and the exhaust brake as well.

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Old 04-17-2013, 09:37 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by touringmn View Post
The dealer adviced me to not use the OverDrive. ..And if I am now towing a 10,500 # 5er, still advise no cruise control?
Overdrive.

Way back when, overdrive was a weak gear, so you didn't want to use it when towing or hauling heavy. But that changed years ago when overdrive transmissions were strengthened. On Fords, the 4R100 automatic introduced for the '99 model year had an overdrive gear that was "just another gear" according to the Ford engineers. So the basic rule was to put the tranny in Drive and let the computer decide which gear was best for towing or hauling the load. Then later Ford added the tow/haul mode to the 2003 5R110 "TorqueShift" transmission, and there was even less reason to try to outsmart the computer.

I towed an 8,000-pound fifth wheel RV trailer over 100,000 miles all around the USA for more than 10 years with a '99.5 F-250 diesel with 4R100 automatic transmission. The only times I downshifted out of overdrive was when I saw a grade coming up that experience told me would cause a downshift. I usually downshifted myself because I could do it smoother than the computer. But otherwise I allowed the computer to decide which gear was best.

Last year we towed a 5,000-pound TT with an F-150 EcoBoost engine and automatic tranny with tow/haul mode over 4,000 miles from Texas to Tennessee to Michigan and back home. Same rule - let the computer decide which gear is best except when I know a steep grade will cause a downshift.

Cruise Control

Cruise control will deactivate when climbing a steep grade if your drivetrain is not powerful enough to maintain the set speed. We use control almost all the time when on the road, but turn it off if experience tells me that the tranny is about to downshift because of a steep grade ahead. My Ford diesel was powerful enough that the cruise control would not disengage, but when towing at 62 MPH if I left it in cruise control and overdrive, the downshift would be too harsh for my sensitive hinny. So the routine was to first kill the cruise, then back off the go pedal, then manually downshift out of OD for a nice, smooth downshift, then reset the cruise at about 55 MPH to climb the grade. Worked great.

(The diesel drivetrain was powerful enough to tow the trailer up a normal 6% t0 7% or even 8% interstate highway mountain pass at the normal cruising speed of 62 MPH, but the exhaust gas temp (EGT) would get too close to the redline if I didn't slow down to about 55 MPH).

With the F-150 and TT, I just automatically follow the same routine I did with the more-powerful diesel tow vehicle. I don't even remember downshifting for the hills in eastern Tennessee and Kentucky between Knoxville and Cincinatti, but I suspect I handled them my routine way so they were not memorable.
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Old 04-17-2013, 09:48 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by SmokeyWren View Post
Cruise Control

Cruise control will deactivate when climbing a steep grade if your drivetrain is not powerful enough to maintain the set speed.
Perhaps that's a big problem with the way Ford has it set up, but it's really not applicable to the 6.7L Cummins with the 68RFE automatic. With 4.10 gearing, my truck normally runs around 1700 to 1750 RPM @ 65 MPH in 6th gear when towing our 16K GVWR 5th wheel. If we encounter a grade too steep to hold 65 MPH in 6th with the cruise control engaged, the speed will tail off to around 61 MPH at which time the transmission will downshift to 5th and pull the speed right back up to 65 MPH. I've never encountered a hill steep enough to require a downshift below 5th or where the cruise control kicked out.

Having said that, I still prefer to turn off the autopilot if the hills are steep enough to routinely require downshifts.

Rusty
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Old 04-17-2013, 10:00 AM   #5
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Keep in mind that there is an extra reaction time in a panic situation that it takes to disengage the cruise control. Maybe only part of a second, but it should still take longer to panic stop with the CC on than without.
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Old 04-17-2013, 10:06 AM   #6
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Huh??? Not to pick nits, but the CC disengages instantaneously when I hit the brake. Unlike the old relay-based systems, it doesn't take the ECM/PCM computer circuitry more than a few milliseconds to shut off the "go" signal when it senses voltage on the brake light wire. These are "drive by wire" trucks.

I could just as easily make the case that I could stop more quickly since I don't have to move my right foot from the accelerator to the brake pedal - my right foot is already free and ready to brake with the CC operating.

That notwithstanding, I don't think anyone is saying that it's good practice to use the CC in heavy traffic, slick conditions, etc. Rather, the point is, mechanically, there's no reason NOT to use the CC when towing with the Dodge/Cummins in question when conditions permit.

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Old 04-17-2013, 10:30 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by touringmn View Post
When I bought my first RV. It was a 1/2 T compatible 5er towed by a 2009 F150. The dealer adviced me to not use the OverDrive. I tried it and found it not advisable. Had to prove it for myself.

Now I am towing with a RAM 2500 6.7L, does the same advice hold true?
And if I am now towing a 10,500 # 5er, still advise no cruise control?

Or do I just use it in the flat lands but go to foot control in the hilly zones?

Just wondering about other experiences and best advice.

Thanks
Follow what Rusty has told you to do.

I too have the 6.7L Cummins with the 68RFE and 3:73 gears in a 2008 Mega Cab and have pulled out west and back east with this truck. I use the EB tow/haul and cruise control on flat land also with gently rolling hills. I will shift between 6th gear and 5 th gear to keep the RPM's up in the mountains when I am not using the cruise control to help keep the EGT’s under 1250F since I am deleted.

Jim W.

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Old 04-17-2013, 10:41 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by RustyJC View Post
Perhaps that's a big problem with the way Ford has it set up, but it's really not applicable to the 6.7L Cummins with the 68RFE automatic. With 4.10 gearing, my truck normally runs around 1700 to 1750 RPM @ 65 MPH in 6th gear when towing our 16K GVWR 5th wheel. If we encounter a grade too steep to hold 65 MPH in 6th with the cruise control engaged, the speed will tail off to around 61 MPH at which time the transmission will downshift to 5th and pull the speed right back up to 65 MPH. I've never encountered a hill steep enough to require a downshift below 5th or where the cruise control kicked out.

Having said that, I still prefer to turn off the autopilot if the hills are steep enough to routinely require downshifts.

Rusty
That really is not a problem with any of the newer diesels anymore. If you were pulling that kind of weight with a gasser, it may be expected. With the Ford 6.7L a 4:10 is not even availible. Only 3:31, 3:55, and 3:73. 4:30 is only for the F-450 with higher towing capacity. Not sure about the Dodge trans but the new 6R140 in the heavy trucks have 2 OD's. 5th and 6th are both overdriven. Usually the newer cruise control systems would not even allow 4 mph slow down before downshifting. Once a certain engine load is reached, the downshift will occur.

To the OP, use cruise control if you want. It will be fine with anything you throw at it. If for any reason you do loose speed or struggle up a certain hill, get some momentum with cruise off. You should be more than fine though.
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Old 04-17-2013, 10:50 AM   #9
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Not sure about the Dodge trans but the new 6R140 in the heavy trucks have 2 OD's. 5th and 6th are both overdriven.
Ditto the 68RFE - 4th is direct; 5th & 6th are overdrives.

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Usually the newer cruise control systems would not even allow 4 mph slow down before downshifting. Once a certain engine load is reached, the downshift will occur.
Depends on the manufacturer's design philosophy. Ram does it this way to prevent "hunting" - excessive downshifting on every small grade encountered. It works just fine to accomplish that purpose. The engineers let the Cummins grunt down around 1600 to 1700 RPM where it doesn't mind working. Downshifts to 5th that I described are very rare.

The OP has a Ram with a 6.7L Cummins and asked some questions specific to that truck and drivetrain. That's what my responses are directed toward.

Rusty
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Old 04-17-2013, 01:24 PM   #10
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I would read the owners manual(s) for the truck. With my 2011 GM diesel and Allison transmission there is Tow Haul mode which keeps the trans out of 6th gear and changes the operation of the torque converter lockup. There is also grade control which only works in Auto and is disengaged in manual mode. The cruise control will automatically controll the engine braking as well as the transmission downshifting on a steep downgrade and when the engine revs up to brake it is not actually getting fuel into the cylinders. I can activate this also by tapping the brakes as this lets the "computer" know that I want less speed and it will change the operation of the engine and transmission.

I apply the exhaust brake only on steep downgrades as needed. The Tow Haul mode usually is all that is needed. The mode does a lot to minimize wear and tear on the transmission and will keep it running cooler when doing heavy towing.

I had to compile the information from the GM truck manual, the Allision transmission manual, and the Duramax engine manual to put together my own mini guide and to fully understand what to do, and more important what not to do. The setup was very different than that of any other truck I have driven.
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Old 04-17-2013, 01:34 PM   #11
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With my 2011 GM diesel and Allison transmission there is Tow Haul mode which keeps the trans out of 6th gear .....
Not applicable to the OP's situation. The Tow/Haul mode in the 6.7L/68RFE Dodge Ram does not lock the transmission out of 6th gear. Rather, it modifies the shift schedule for both upshifts and downshifts and optimizes torque converter lockup with the exhaust brake functionality to coordinate the aggressiveness of the downshift schedule, torque converter lockup and exhaust brake operation as a function of how aggressively the service brakes are applied.

SOP with the 6.7L Cummins is to use the exhaust brake whenever towing; many dealer techs and users recommend using it even when NOT towing as the movement of the sliding turbocharger nozzle ring to its minimum flow position when the throttle is released keeps carbon deposits from building up in lightly loaded, stop-and-go traffic environments, aside from extending the life of the service brakes.

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Old 04-17-2013, 01:42 PM   #12
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I would read the owners manual(s) for the truck. With my 2011 GM diesel and Allison transmission there is Tow Haul mode which keeps the trans out of 6th gear and changes the operation of the torque converter lockup. There is also grade control which only works in Auto and is disengaged in manual mode. The cruise control will automatically controll the engine braking as well as the transmission downshifting on a steep downgrade and when the engine revs up to brake it is not actually getting fuel into the cylinders. I can activate this also by tapping the brakes as this lets the "computer" know that I want less speed and it will change the operation of the engine and transmission.

I apply the exhaust brake only on steep downgrades as needed. The Tow Haul mode usually is all that is needed. The mode does a lot to minimize wear and tear on the transmission and will keep it running cooler when doing heavy towing.

I had to compile the information from the GM truck manual, the Allision transmission manual, and the Duramax engine manual to put together my own mini guide and to fully understand what to do, and more important what not to do. The setup was very different than that of any other truck I have driven.
GM must have changed something. T/H doesn't lock out any gears on my '01, '05, or '07 Allison automatics. Are you sure it locks it out or do you just never drive fast enough for it to get there when you tow. In T/H the speed at which an upshift occurs is raised.
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Old 04-17-2013, 01:56 PM   #13
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Having written a few too many accidents. You need to remember your foot should be smarter and a lot lighter than cruise in slippery snowy wet roads you could be going sideways wondering what the limited slip and atc were thinking to get you into that mess..
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Old 04-22-2013, 10:57 AM   #14
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I tow with an '11 2500 HO CTD and used to use the Cruise Control everywhere; in conjunction with the Tow/Haul and EB. Even in the mountains, the HO CTD with the 6 spd auto could maintain speed pretty darn well except on the worst grades where even "manual control" is a struggle.

Lately, though, I've found I use less and less. Cruise control is a "reactive" device; it only responds after it has encountered events that warrant a change. My eyes, however, can see the road and terrain ahead and I can take "pre-emptive" actions with the accelerator pedal that the CC can't. I can let the rig cost a little more and gain a few mph more than the CC would allow in anticipation of the upcoming hill... I can get off the accelerator as I crest a hill, coasting over the top as opposed to powering over the top and not getting off the "gas" until the CC feels the downhill and gets off the gas... I've found I can get 1 mpg, or usually better, by using "pre-emptive" driving techniques as opposed to the CC's reactive mode.

I'll still use it in the "flatlands", but, as soon as I start encountering the rolling terrain, I use my foot and eyes and squeeze out a bit more mileage per gallon of diesel
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