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Old 01-30-2013, 06:52 AM   #1
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Need some tips for Towing in mountains?

Hi all,

What are some tips for towing in the mountains? I have a 2012 SV305 Surveyor towing with a 2012 F150 echoboost, 3.73, max towing and payload package. Never towed in the mountains. I'm still new to towing.



2012 F150 ecoboost crew cab, 157WB, 3.73 rear axle,max tow & heavy duty payload
2012 Surveyor 305
2012 Nights Camped 50
2013 nights camped 27
2014 nights camped
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Old 01-30-2013, 07:49 AM   #2
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Go down the mountain no faster than you went up.

Don't ride the brakes on the way down, instead use the brakes to slow you to a certain MPH and then let off to allow them to cool off, rinse and repeat. Using a lower gear will also help keep the speed down.

If you have Tow/Haul option you can use it and it will help also.

Don't feel pressured to maintain the speed limit on big hills, drive at what your truck and your common sense says is safe.

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Old 01-30-2013, 07:57 AM   #3
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Be extremely cautious on the way down. Some years back I was following a semi down Monarch Pass. I was towing a Cardinal fifth wheel. The semi was going about 35mph. I tried putting my truck in low gear but that was to slow. So I used second. The problem with second it was to fast and I had to keep applying the brakes. I didn't think it was a problem until I smelled something hot. I knew I had to stop immediatly to let them cool. It took both feet on the brake pedal pushing as hard as I could push to get it stopped. The wheels on both the truck and camper were so hot they would cause spit to sizzle. It was a very frightening experience that I will not forget. I still go through the mountain passes but I will not follow someone so closely that I have make repeated brake applications.
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Old 01-30-2013, 08:35 AM   #4
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You have the ideal set-up for the mountains...manual/automatic trans in your truck. I recall that the ecoboost makes max torque at 2500 so you'd select the right gear to keep the rpm in that 2500 to 3000 rpm range for the speed your towing uphill. For down grades to help with engine braking, I'd select the gear that would keep the rpm in the 3000 - 3500 range. As others have said, don't ride the brakes on the way down.

BTW, you have the TV with the options that I'd be towing with if I hadn't bought the F250 V10. Aaahhh, it's probably the wrong color!


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Old 01-30-2013, 08:44 AM   #5
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An old truckers saying before the invention of Jake brakes......"go down the mountain in the same gear that you used coming up the mountain.

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Old 01-30-2013, 09:22 AM   #6
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I have done quite a bit of towing in the mtns (annual affair) with a TV that that has undersized brakes with a popup w/o trailer brakes (my setup changes this year). Getting up never is a problem. Getting down is the tricky part that demands concentration and patience.

I throw her in low gear on the way down and let my gearing take me down the mtn (rarely go above 25-30mph). Its far easier to get stopped at a speed of 25 mph rather than 50 when you are on a 7-10% grade. My friends behind me are not happy as a nice long line of vehicles builds up behind me. I pull off into overlooks and rest areas to let the pile up clear as often as I can.

Some of these mtn drives are long and the desire to bump the speed up for the last few miles can be a temptation. This is where patience comes in and especially when doing it the slow way as I do. I just drove thru some mtns in AZ, UT, and CO and I should have taken a picture of some road signs that make this point. One of them went something like this...

"Truckers Keep Speeds Down. You Are Not Off The Mountain Yet. Still 2 Miles To Go".
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Old 01-30-2013, 09:39 PM   #7
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the beauty of the turbo is that it is not nearly as affected by the altitiude. however it will be working harder to make up for it, so if you need to stop after a hard pull, make sure to let it idle a few minutes to cool/slow down before shutting it off. I am not familiar enough with the ecoboost to know if it "turbo" brakes like the diesels do. the smaller displacement may not engine brake as well going down hill, something to consider since it is a beastly little motor going uphill.
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Old 01-30-2013, 10:48 PM   #8
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Speed up the hill does not matter. I almost always slow down to enjoy the scenery. Some of the most beautiful sights from the road are seen on those long, tough steep climbs.
Use the tow/haul mode. When beginning a descent, apply the brakes once when you have achieved the speed you would like to maintain. The tranny will downshift as speed rises and or it will lock into a low gear. I've had my tranny shift into 2nd gear at speeds above 45 mph. It is surprising, but it was designed to do that. My red line is about 7 grand and feeling that shift and seeing the tach rise to 5 grand or higher can be unnerving.
The T/H mode will help you or take over for you. In a good way.
Spend some time reading the owners manual and spend a lot of time driving around on familiar roads.
I spent about 3 hours towing the TT around in a couple areas that I know very well before we loaded up and took a 4 hour trip to central Oregon.
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Old 01-31-2013, 12:07 AM   #9
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The first major uphill I encountered was Monarch Pass in CO and I thought our GMC 2500 (6L V8 gas) pulling a 15,000lb (10K dry) 5'er wasn't going to make it up. I was down to 1st gear, foot flat on the boards, and down to about 15mph and had visions of getting slower, stopping, and then rolling backwards - it was scary. As soon as we got to Gunnison I called the dealer who had just assured me that our truck was definitely good enough to pull that trailer (despite seemingly inadequate specs).

After a short discussion, he said I was waiting too long to change down a gear (3 spd auto + OD), often at less than 2000rpm. He said to keep the rpm over 3000 and not to worry if it occasionally went up to 4500-5000.

It made a huge difference and we've made numerous high altitude pass crossings with no problems since.

BTW, our last 2 trailers were 4200 and 7300lb (dry) and the same truck doesn't even know they are there when climbing.

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Old 01-31-2013, 10:00 AM   #10
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Be weather aware - rain at the base may mean snow at the pass. If you find you are going faster than comfortable in the gear chosen use snub braking (although described for air brakes the principals apply) to bring your speed down enough to switch to a lower gear. Know the signs of brake fade :Brake Fade – What are the symptoms and what you can do to stop it – StrikeEngine Other tips: Mountain Driving Tips For RVers: How To Drive Up Hills & Down Hills Without Burning Up Your Brakes - The Fun Times Guide to RVing

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