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Old 03-30-2015, 11:11 AM   #1
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Effective Use of Lower Gears While Climbing

We have a gas motorhome.

While driving to Salt Lake City yesterday, we fared well on all but one of the climbs. On that one, it occurred to me that I should have used a lower gear (after D, we have 3, 2, and 1 on the column).

Then it occurred to me that I've never driven an automatic transmission and dropped to a lower gear while climbing!!

What's the proper technique? Do I just put it in the gear while still driving? Should I go all the way to 1 from the get-go....or start with 3?

Thanks for your guidance.
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Old 03-30-2015, 11:16 AM   #2
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If you have the throttle on the floor, it will downshift automatically.
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Old 03-30-2015, 11:28 AM   #3
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The beauty of an automatic trans is that it will select the correct gear for operation under normal driving conditions. If you are climbing a hill the trans will gear down when needed by its self, leave it in " D " and keep your foot pressing throttle peddle.Don't start pulling shifter back into other gears until you have more experience driving a automatic. Then you can start using 3,2,1 for helping slow down on hill decent and pulling away in mud or snow.Read your chassis manual for more info.
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Old 03-30-2015, 11:38 AM   #4
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In D, the top gear is almost always an overdrive gear. Stay away from an overdrive gear.

You don't say what your TV is, so.....

Here's what I do. I have a Nissan Armada 5.6l with the 5sp auto and tow package. I tow in tow mode (button on the dash) and put it on 4. Very often, 4 is too tall a gear on the highway, and I switch to 3. In three, the engine is making a ton of noise, 3000rpm or so, but don't worry. Engines are designed to run at these rpms for LONG time periods. By putting it in 3, I'm avoiding lugging (my 5.6l is not a diesel, and thus <2000 rpm is not very effective), and I'm keeping the torque converter locked up (saving energy and keeping the tranny cool).

YMMV
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Old 03-30-2015, 11:41 AM   #5
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If I feel the trasmission hunt, shift back and forth a lot, between D and 3, I just go for 3. Like strong winds or a grade with rolling flats ect...If I feel the grade is steep enough where it will eventually pull me down to 45 mph, I will just lift and go to 2. Then I can just give the throttle I want without being pedal to the metal all the time. The higher engine speeds give better cooling for engine and tranny. 45 is the limit on 2 and 25mph on 1 generally, for climbing or engine braking.
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Old 03-30-2015, 11:42 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by EricInColorado View Post
In D, the top gear is almost always an overdrive gear. Stay away from an overdrive gear.

You don't say what your TV is, so.....

Here's what I do. I have a Nissan Armada 5.6l with the 5sp auto and tow package. I tow in tow mode (button on the dash) and put it on 4. Very often, 4 is too tall a gear on the highway, and I switch to 3. In three, the engine is making a ton of noise, 3000rpm or so, but don't worry. Engines are designed to run at these rpms for LONG time periods. By putting it in 3, I'm avoiding lugging (my 5.6l is not a diesel, and thus <2000 rpm is not very effective), and I'm keeping the torque converter locked up (saving energy and keeping the tranny cool).

YMMV
He's driving a motorhome not towing
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Old 03-30-2015, 11:50 AM   #7
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He's driving a motorhome not towing
I which case, stay in D. the motorhome knows what to do.
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Old 03-30-2015, 11:58 AM   #8
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Whoooops.....please ignore my post. I should read more carefully.
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Old 03-30-2015, 01:21 PM   #9
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I which case, stay in D. the motorhome knows what to do.
Not sure that I agree with that. Much better to manually downshift prior to slowing down to much going uphill than adding continual more pressure on the gas pedal to get the auto. to downshift for you.
Going downhill you need to put it into tow/haul or manually downshift to save your brakes.
These are somewhat more advanced driving skills than what you need for a car.
Google the subject and I'm sure you will get some good information.
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Old 03-30-2015, 01:24 PM   #10
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With experience, you will "feel" when the transmission needs to go down a gear. Many of us anticipate this when approaching a hill, and downshift from D to 3 at the bottom of the hill. If you are going slow and climbing, you will likely be in 2 or even 1.

Also, don't forget to build up some speed when going down one hill and approaching the next hill. Your momentum will help you up the hill.
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