There are times I love the fact that I have a Triton V10 engine, just for the looks it gets me when the engine is screaming in the 3K - 5K range. I know it's normal - the engine is a screamer, but sometimes the looks I get are priceless.
A favorite thing I like to do (but do so very, very infequently) is to pass a slow poke RVer that is in front of me in the right lane. Left signal for lane change, WOT, V10 screaming with happiness , look at face of disbelief on other driver that my 2004 P.O.S. just smoked them. I dream that I could do it everyday, but the V10 is a gas vampire and I'd go broke at the pump.
2005 Cruise America 28R (Four Winds 28R) on a 2004 Ford E450 SD 6.8L V10 4R100
2009 smart fortwo Passion with Roadmaster "Falcon 2" towbar & tail light kit - pictures
Engine & tranny brake is the way to go. Riding your brakes may burn them out. Set to a low gear, loosen the grip on the steering wheel, and enjoy the nice drive down those steep hills/mountains.
4 whopping cylinders on Toyota RV's. Talk about great getting good MPG. Also I have a very light foot on the pedal. I followed some MPG advice on Livingpress.com and I now get 22 MPG! Not bad for a home on wheels.
I came down a 4 mile 6% grade on I-40 Friday in the Tiger, with a 35 mph speed limit for trucks. 3rd gear, 45-50 mph, no need for brakes. But smelled hot brakes passing several trucks. Have seen several brake fires on semis there before.
Then came down a 3+ mile 14% grade Saturday (NC 226), 15 mph truck limit. Low gear, 3500-4000 rpm, 20-25 mph, used very little brake. Pulled off once to let faster car traffic by. No issues. These warnings are at the top in a required truck pull-out:
It's all in the gears and your timing.
Jim, "Will an exhaust brake make my generator quieter?"
'06 Tiger CX 'C Minus' on a Silverado 2500HD 4x4, 8.1 & Allison (aka 'Loafer's Glory') www.tigervehicles.com
Adding that E350s and E450s made since around 2000 will have rear disk brakes which perform consistently better than the previous rear drum brakes. No adjustments required either as required for the drum brakes to work at peak performance.
In year 2008, Ford gave the E350 and E450 chassis slightly larger rotors and pads. So if you want the best brakes in an E-series, don't get any chassis older than a 2008. Basically, get a Ford with the industrial looking front grille I call the "dump truck" look, and you've got the best available Ford brakes. My signatures shows my 2007 E350 chassis with the older style grille so my rotors and pads are a bit smaller.
We tow a Jeep Liberty with it's own "smart" braking system. We have no issues heading down long steep grades. That was not the case when we used to tow a little 2-seat toyota MR2 without any type of secondary braking. I considered that to be "marginal".
I can't say anything about the GMC/Chevy or Sprinter, as I know nothing about them.
It does seem that motor home brakes in-general, don't last very long without mechanical intervention because the rigs sit around too much, out in the elements. Brake work is most often the result of lack of use rather than wear and tear. Since our rig is stored indoors in climate control, we avoid that trouble.
So far no worries in a Sprinter. The cruise control downshifts to try and maintain speed going downhill but of course kicks off as soon as brakes are applied so I bump it down a manually. The shifter is really nice in that regard compared to a column shifter.....a nudge to the left to downshift (one nudge = 1 gear, sequentially like a motorcycle) and a nudge to the right (often done with my knee) to go back up. Never had a sign of hot brakes but I always use conservative practices while braking and descending. I've had hot brakes and fade in an RV before and it was not pleasant.
X2 on the Ford brakes. The '08 upgrade happened across the whole service vehicle line, from the pickups to the vans. It blows me away that the 60-0 stopping distance for a 6000 pound truck is less than most compact cars, and that has shown the case in reality.
I'm sure there is a downside to all discs, but so far I've not seen much if any.
What I'm curious about is the gear shift in newer E-350/E-450 chassis models. The newer pickups (2011+) have the ability to upshift and downshift. The older ones, the highest you could go is third.
I learned about brake fade in my teenage years when watching a friend of my mom's drive his rig and keep the brakes on between Medford and Crater Lake. Needless to say, he was on the side of the road not after too long. From watching him, I always downshift. Some say that it is better to use brakes than a transmission since "brakes are cheaper to replace as a stopping device", but I don't know of any case where it would create additional wear, assuming proper cooling, and if the ATF fluid is in good order.