Downhill Braking

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Long downhill driving is extremely demanding on the brakes. The drivers need to aware of this and should not underestimate this. If you are on a slope of 6% over 6 miles the change in elevation will be 199 feet. A free fall from that elevation (1900 feet) will generate a velocity of 235 mph. That is the velocity your truck will have if you do not use brakes. This means breaking while negotiating this slope is slowing down from 235 mph. You will need to do a lot of stopping. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that you use the right braking technique and your brakes be in proper condition too.

Not so long ago it was suggested that a continuous application of brakes should be followed rather than intermittent application. But now most experts believe that intermittent braking on a downgrade is the proper way to brake. On a downgrade each application of brake should reduce the speed of a fully loaded truck by about 5 to 6 mph.

Theoretically, the same amount of heat will get generated whether you jam the brakes by continuous application or apply them intermittently. But in practice unless the brakes are in perfect condition, the balance is correct and load is evenly spread, the continuous application of brakes is likely to result in uneven drum and lining temperatures that will cause problems with braking. Steady, low pressure application of brakes may not cause all the brakes to apply at the same time. This can cause some brakes to more work than others. Brake problems can get aggravated by this technique.

For best results you need all the brakes to work at the same time. The pressure applied on the brakes should be high enough to ensure all the brakes apply and all linings make solid contact with the drums.

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