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Brakes – Is Downshifting on Hills Harmful to Non-trucks?

January 12th, 2018 | by Ankit
Brakes – Is Downshifting on Hills Harmful to Non-trucks?

While driving on the hills and slopes, many accidents happen due to the failing of brakes and many times the car gets off the road or track or lose control from the brake. It occurs due to the many pressure applied on the brakes at the same time such as gravity resulting in increasing of speed, friction which also produces heat and therefore failing the brakes. A fail brake may result in a car crash, accidents or falling in depth, causing the loss of precious lives. That is why in this article we will cover why it is harmful to the cars and trucks while driving down hills and how it affects the brakes, what is downshifting and how can downshifting helps in reducing the risks of brakes failing and accidents. Also, we will cover how the drivers can downshift while driving down hills and uses the brakes efficiently without overheating as well as control the speed which increases due to the gravity.

Why it is harmful to car brakes when driving down hills?

The primary reason for downshifting on hills is to protect the brakes because when the brakes are applied, it makes friction and as a result of this resistance the vehicle slows down. But the other product of the friction of the heat and when there is too much heat on the brake, it will affect and damage it. Sometimes the more extended friction and temperature can fail brakes.

When the brakes fluid is overheated due to the friction and heats the brake fluid starts to boil and results in failure of brakes. The brake pedal fades due to the boiling brake fluids and results in the complete collapse of the brakes while downhill is driving.

The speed while driving downhill is gradually increased due to the effects of gravity on your car or vehicle that is why when trucks are driving downhill they need the brakes to slow down the speed of the vehicle. Since heaving braking is done, it can also cause the fading of brakes which results in overheating of brakes and less friction between the brake discs and pads. The fade brakes reduce the effectiveness and functionality of the brakes in the large vehicles as well as trucks which are dangerous too.

Now since there is too much risk and danger involve in driving downhill, you can do it without using your brakes. It is called downshifting in which the driver uses the lower gear, and slow the vehicles. It is very common for heavy-duty vehicles and trucks and they are using downshifting over many years.

How can downshifting be used by the trucks?

For those car owners who own the car having manual five-speed transmission can use the 3rd gear for downshifting when you are willing to descend the hill on the speed limit of 40mph. It can help you to maintain your speed, and you may require accelerating the speed few times. In case your car is going down at much faster rate then you will need to push the brake pedal every 5 seconds which will slow down the speed without overheating the brakes of your car.

In case you are downshifting in a lower gear, there is much more chance for your brakes to cool down without overheating and before you use them again. Also, make sure not to hold on the brake pedal for a more extended period as it can cause the heating and damaging the brakes at the same time. That is why remove your foot from brakes now and then and only push it when you need to control the speed in a time interval of few seconds which will allow the brake to cool down and helps your brakes to avoid any overheating while driving down the hill.

The downshifting also helps in reducing the friction from the brakes and allowing the time for brakes and brake fluids to cool down in that time interval. In downshifting the brakes are only used when there is need of controlling the speed.

When your car reaches the bottom, you can switch back your vehicle to the standard computer controlled shifting which is design for efficient fuel consumption and dynamic driving on regular roads.

There are some cars which come with the sports modes such as BMW, Acura MDX, etc. that allows you to have enhanced control over the vehicle transmission while you drive down the hill. These cars are best for riding down hills and slope and provide you efficient driving in long and sloppy routes.

Is downshifting on hills harmful to non-truck brakes?

For the nontruck vehicles such as cars, the downshifting is quite safe when it comes to the brakes. The brakes might have a risk of overheating in downshifting when the pedal is frequently press. That is why for complete results the driver must drive the car carefully and apply the brakes when it is needed primarily for controlling the speed which can increase due to the gravity while sliding down hills. That is why it is recommended to give rest to your brake every 5 seconds or more which is an ideal time for your brakes to cool down and prevents any friction with the brake disc and brake pads.

Author Bio: This post was written by Maria Zahid of

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