My brakes are smoking when on steep grades.

Discussion in 'Questions From New Drivers' started by Grant3787, Feb 22, 2022.

  1. rbrtwbstr

    rbrtwbstr Road Train Member

    Jul 11, 2012
    in the bush somewhere
    Dad worked in a quarry on top of a mountain pretty much his whole life. Drove dump truck for 30+ years, coming down the mountain (10% grade) to a red light at the bottom. Never had a Jake brake until the mid 90's. 20mph and steady brake pressure was the way he did it.
    D.Tibbitt and Brandt Thank this.
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  3. traingrapes

    traingrapes Bobtail Member

    Apr 10, 2020
    I've never smoked my brakes and I drive an automated. You just setup for the correct speed and use the jake brakes. If you're speeding up, stab brake until you find where the truck can maintain a speed, or at least where you only have to stab the brakes once in awhile.
  4. Jenn72

    Jenn72 Medium Load Member

    Jun 7, 2019
    I have the 2020 Freightliner. The engine brake works with the cruise control. You set the cruise control to what speed you want. Lets say 30 mph. Then depending on how steep the grade is you move the lever (it has 3 different levels. 1 light, 2 medium, and 3 is for heavy). It will keep you at you your speed w/ a plus or minus a couple of mph. I always set mine a couple of mph under the downgrade speed limit. I can get down a mtn without touching my service brakes.

    The cruise/engine brake is safe to use it in the snow and rain. Freightliner has a video on how to use it. They actually demostrate it in snowing and rainy conditions going down a mountains.
    MadScientist Thanks this.
  5. Malt Ball Cult

    Malt Ball Cult Light Load Member

    Jul 24, 2021
    Controlled, Stab, Snub, Threshold braking

    It seems there's a lot of confusion about stab vs snub braking. It's covered in the CDL manual.

    From the thread linked above:

    "Controlled braking: Light (5-15psi), steady brake application combined with proper gear selection when descending a grade at your safe speed. This method was taught for years but is no longer recommended in the manuals. Done properly, it will not smoke your brakes.

    Snub braking: Firm (20-30psi), short (3-5 second) brake applications combined with proper gear selection when going down a grade. Slow to 5mph below your safe speed, release brake, and reapply once you reach your safe speed.

    Stab braking: Hard (90+ psi) brake application, release when wheels lock, reapply when they resume rolling, & repeat until stopped. This is for emergency stopping with old (pre ABS) equipmemt with inexperienced drivers. Still mentioned in many cdl manuals, but is poor technique compared to threshold. This IS NOT used to maintain speed downhill!

    Threshold braking: Firm (30+psi), steady brake application used for emergency braking. Lift slightly if brakes lock until the tires resume rolling (pre ABS) or maintain pressure at which point you feel/hear ABS begin engaging. The goal is to maintain brake pressure at the point just before the brakes lock up. This results in the shortest stopping distance in an emergency."
    MACK E-6 Thanks this.
  6. Oxbow

    Oxbow Road Train Member

    Nov 24, 2015
    I applaud your patience Hammer!
    sealevel and Hammer166 Thank this.
  7. Moose1958

    Moose1958 Road Train Member

    Dec 17, 2010
    Ainigriv Notpmah
    Maybe the OP is discussing a "smoke break", this is something you do when you get to the bottom!
    Trucker61016 Thanks this.
  8. Hammer166

    Hammer166 Crusty Information Officer

    Aug 18, 2007
    ~8600+' and loving it!
    I realized yesterday while making that fun drive from Denver to Omaha, that the difference between how he and I presented things was very indicative the relationship of safety in the real world, and as pushed by the safety bureaucracies.

    Other than the braking method, what he's saying isn't wrong, but it's very much lowest common denominator. It's the platitudes taught everywhere in the interest of reduced liability. Don't teach drivers how to read and understand the traction signals given to them, merely teach snow=treacherous. It's the same thinking that has resulted in wipers on = no cruise, when any one with common sense knows that's an overly cautious thing. It's the dumbing down of trucking rather than trying to lift the talent pool up.

    And I have long been one to present the more advanced ideas and risk presenting information that's over the head of a noob, rather than dumbing everything down to that level.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2022
  9. REO6205

    REO6205 Trucker Forum STAFF Staff Member

    Feb 15, 2014
    Every once in awhile you'll run across a rookie that actually wants to learn and will apply himself and pays attention to what he's told. They don't need anything dumbed down because they're motivated and they'll soak up knowledge like a sponge. There aren't many of them but they're sure a joy to have around for as long as you can keep them.
    Some of the best drivers we've had we built from scratch. They started out as laborers or shop hands or setting chokers in the woods and worked their way up a little at a time. Water truck at first, then 10 wheel dump, then maybe into an belly dump. After that they might work into a logging truck or a lumber rig and maybe wind up in one of the tankers. They already had a work ethic...they proved that to us when they were working as grunts... they just needed a path.
    That method won't work for everybody but it sure paid off for us.

    One thing for sure, we never had a driver that had the problems the OP in this thread had. We wouldn't have turned him loose until he got a little of the green rubbed off of him. His present employer set him up to fail by not not making sure he knew enough to keep himself safe. That seems to happen a lot. It shouldn't.
  10. Malt Ball Cult

    Malt Ball Cult Light Load Member

    Jul 24, 2021
    Another example of a driver with perhaps similar lack of training and preparedness was Rogel Aguilera-Maderos, the one who killed 4 coming off Eisenhower a while back.
    Trucker61016 Thanks this.
  11. Experienced Trucker

    Experienced Trucker Bobtail Member

    Apr 8, 2018
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