I have a car question - brakes vs. transmission

Discussion in 'All Other Discussions' started by annsni, Jan 21, 2012.

  1. annsni

    annsni
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    So, we live in a neighborhood where we enter it by going down a very large hill. I drive a minivan that weighs quite a bit - about 2.5 tons. When my husband drives down the hill in his stick shift Maxima, it doesn't pick up much speed because the engine limits it but in the minivan, it easily can hit 60 by the bottom of the hill unless I ride the brake. So this new van that I just got has the automatic that you can tap the shifter and it downshifts so you can use it almost like a stick shift and hubby was saying to use that rather than the brake to slow down coming down the hill. But I was wondering if that would be worse - using the transmission rather than the brakes. I think brakes are cheaper to replace. :)

    So which should I use? Oh - it's a 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan. :)
     
  2. Bro. Curtis

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    In my 1989 Ford Ranger, I often use the engine to slow me down, especially on these icy hills we have here. They have made huge advances in braking systems since then, the anti-locks & all, but I like to travel down an icy grade in 4-wheel drive, in 2nd gear. Using my brakes would stop the front wheels, and I would lose control of the truck.

    Hope that helps.
     
  3. Earth Wind and Fire

    Earth Wind and Fire
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    Id rethink that with a Ford Ranger brother.....Trans made in France dont last long.....been there with an 89.....lost the tranni same way.
     
  4. Bro. Curtis

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    LOL. Yeah, I've only had it 22 years. I should take it easy.

    Still on my original tranny, I've lost count of the brake jobs that have been done.
     
  5. InTheLight

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    As the previous owner of a 1995 Dodge Dakota, a 1997 Dodge Grand Caravan and current owner of a 2010 Chrysler Town and Country I can tell you one thing for sure--Chrysler products have soft brake rotors. This means that while most other vehicles can go 40,000 miles or so without needing a brake job, the Chrysler products are lucky to go 25,000. With that in mind, using the brakes when going down your hill, you might get 20,000 miles before needing new brakes. It's about a $350 job.

    I agree with your husband, I'd use the transmission. You do have a 10 year, 100,000 mile factory warranty on the transmission, correct? Weigh the difference--use the transmission and have covered warranty work for 100,000 miles or do 4 brake jobs at $350 each in 100,000 miles.


    That shifter is a neat little device, slapping it to the side to change gears. Just be sure you get it back into drive when you reach the bottom of the hill.

    BTW, your minivan does not weigh 2.5 tons--that would be 5,000 lbs. It probably weighs more like 3,500 lbs.
     
    #5 InTheLight, Jan 21, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 21, 2012
  6. Benjamin

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    I'd probably down-shift, but not too low. The transmission is normally feeling pressure whether it is speeding the van up or slowing it down and I don't think using it to break causes more wear. The exception might be IF when breaking with the transmission the engine is winding much faster and harder (having much more presssure against it) than it would normally be like when you are accelerating.
     
  7. mont974x4

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    An old truck driving trick is to use the same gear to go down that you would need to go up.

    While Dodge is notorious for having bad transmissions in the past they may have gotten their act together. If so, I'd suggest it was the influence of Mercedes awhile back.

    Anyway, I wouldn't worry to much about it. These days having an engine brake system or similar setup is becoming more and more popular.
     
  8. glfredrick

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    I'd use the transmission and be prepared with the brakes.

    Plan ahead for repair bills. You will see them.
     
  9. annsni

    annsni
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    THANK YOU!!! He used to always tell me that I was hard on the brakes but I wasn't!! I just went through brakes quickly on all my minivans (1996, 1999, 2002) and I didn't know why!!


    Yep - Fortunately, it's just one more block to my house so even if I forgot, it's not too bad but I'd hear it winding up and I'd instinctively go to shift since I also drive the stick as well.

    I looked it up and I WAS mistaken but our difference is split. It's 4,500 lbs. curb weight but then again with the amount of stuff I tend to keep in my car, I'll bet it weighs a bit more than that. ;) Hey, I'm a mom and it IS a minivan! :smilewinkgrin:
     
  10. annsni

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    Well, I'm hoping for not too many repair bills. My old van did great. Other than brakes (I went through a few), I think I only had to do two recalls and then we JUST replaced the rear air conditioning/heat fan (there is a separate zone in the back of the van) two months ago. What was good was that we got $165 more for the car because of that in the sale to the insurance company. But it really was a good car and held up well for 10 years old. But I don't drive it hard and take good care of it. We have an excellent trustworthy mechanic which I think makes a big difference too. :)
     
  11. Gina B

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    I don't know if that was MEANT to be funny, but I about snorted tea out my nose!

    The first step to recovery and a better relationship with your vehicle is to admit you're using hard brakes. With your husband at your side and a pair of soft-soled shoes, this addiction CAN be overcome. :smilewinkgrin:
     
  12. annsni

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    ROTFL - No seriously, I can go through three sets of brakes for every one set of his. I was telling him it was because I was driving up and down the hills more than him in a heavier car and so I was going through them faster. Each of my vans have been the same way but when I had my Accords, I didn't do that at all. :) I'm LUCKY if I get 20,000 on a set of pads on these vans!
     
  13. Winman

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    It is perfectly alright to downshift into lower gears, that's what they are there for. I also live in a town with many steep hills where your car can coast up to 60 MPH or more. I drive a 4 speed, I will first shift down to 3rd, then to 2nd gear to limit my car's speed. With winter being here, you have to downshift soon before your speed builds up. If you allow your car to get going fast and then downshift, it can cause you to skid. So, I will usually downshift to 3rd before I even start down the hill, and as soon as I reach maybe 25 MPH will downshift to 2nd. I rarely ever downshift to 1st, but it can be done if conditions are icy or slippery.

    Hasn't hurt my Honda, it's got 260 thousand miles on it and runs like a charm!
     
  14. mandym

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    You need to always advance the hill slowly and use a combination of the tranny and the brakes. That way they are supporting each other without bearing all the load on just one component. It spreads the wear out evenly distributed between the two components.
     
  15. annsni

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    I do this in the stick but not with the automatic unless it's icy but now maybe I'll start doing it with the automatic as well!
     
  16. glfredrick

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    I would, but realize that most automatics do not have the same "holding power" in a lower gear that manual transmissions do. Unless the torque converter is locked up (which generally only happens in the top gear after 45 or so MPH) an automatic transmission will mostly just free spin. There will be some deceleration power, but not like a stick where the speed of the engine can control the speed of the vehicle.

    My family and I do radical off-road driving all over America. We ALWAYS use gearing to deal with steep hills -- ALWAYS. We would die if we did not. In fact, we specifically gear our built rigs to "crawl" up and down chunks of rock. Nothing like going down a hill steep enough to lift the back tires off the surface of the trail and motor down on front wheels alone with engine and gearing alone doing the slowing. Hit the brakes too hard in that scenario and one ends up on their lid with the contents of the vehicle joining you as you go upside down.

    Why, on the highway, folks think otherwise is beyond me. That's what gears are for!

    [​IMG]
     
  17. Bro. Curtis

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    I like it !!!!
     
  18. annsni

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    **Closing my eyes, deep breathing, grabbing the door handle, praying**
     
  19. glfredrick

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    And, if you are like most people that take a first time ride, wetting one's pants... :laugh:

    I use my off-road stuff as a ministry to unreached people groups who are out in the woods over the weekends instead of in church. My web site is in my signature, ucora.org.

    http://www.bpnews.net/printerfriendly.asp?ID=21292
     
  20. FriendofSpurgeon

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    Given the costs associated with auto repairs, you may want to consider moving away from that hill --- just a thought.
     

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