What You Need to Know About Driving Your RV on Steep Downhill Grades

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Part of RV ownership is understanding how to properly drive your rig, whether it’s a Class A motor coach or a truck camper. One of the trickiest things for new RV drivers to learn is how to navigate steep declines. While practice will make perfect, studying some tips and tricks in advance of tackling downhill grades will help you safely navigate your RV to the bottom.

Here are just a few things to remember before driving down steep hills:

  • Slow down – Simple, right? Well, before you begin driving downhill, slow your rig down. This will help you use more of your engine for breaking and avoid putting too much stress on your brakes.
  • Downshift the engine – Downshifting your RV’s engine will typically occur when you press on the brakes to slow down, but some RV engines may downshift automatically once on a decline. Downshifting increases the speed of the engine and helps to reduce the need for using your brakes entirely to slow the vehicle.
  • Use your brakes sparingly – It may sound counterintuitive, but it’s best to use your brakes sparingly as you descend a steep hill. In addition to slowing down in advance and downshifting the engine, you should only press on your brakes for about 15-20 seconds at a time and make sure to space out brake compressions as you go. This will keep your brakes from overheating and becoming too soft to perform properly.
  • Plan your route in advance – If you know the route you want to take through a mountain pass, you can plan to stop intermittently to let your brakes cool. For example, you may not want to attempt to climb over two mountain passes one right after the other without stopping somewhere in between for a few hours to cool your brakes.

Above all, take your time and be patient! Safe driving on steep grades is not only important for you and your loved ones in your rig but is also important for the safety of other drivers on the road with you.

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