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Old 05-11-2014, 03:04 PM   #1
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Brake controller tips?

Hi - we drive an Infiniti QX80 (tow rating of 8500 pounds) and trail the Sunset Trail 290QB. We have the Prodigy P2 controller. This is the first time we've towed a trailer - previously we'd rented an RV for spring break trips w/the kids.

We've driven 3-4k miles so far with this setup, and the experience has been pretty straightforward. I was pleasantly surprised that towing the trailer was easier than driving an RV. The Infiniti drives very smoothly, and has handled just about everything we've thrown at it.

That said, on our last trip we were leaving Death Valley on the west route (CA 190), and hit a 9% grade downhill. I did not ride the brakes, just periodically used them to slow us down - still, it got pretty harrowing in parts.

I suspect that I could've relied on the P2 more - but it didn't occur to me until after we made it through the pass and got to easier driving. Am I right? Would I have made my life easier if I'd dialed up the P2 to a higher number, forcing the trailer's brakes to do more of the work as we went downhill?

Any tips/tricks for using the brake controller better in steep downgrades are much appreciated!
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Old 05-11-2014, 05:43 PM   #2
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Try slowing down when you top the grade and maybe down shift to let your engine help with some of the braking.
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Old 05-11-2014, 06:33 PM   #3
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My thoughts exactly. If there is a truck pullout at the top of the grade I have been known to stop there a minute before going. Use your engine as much as possible. General rule of thumb, go down the mountain in the gear (or lower) than you went up the mountain in. Also tap your brakes hard for a quick check to drop 10 mph or so then let go, don't do a long slow hold you slow with the brakes. I actually got rid of my armada because it couldn't hold the tt back going down a steep grade. These steep grades are where you learn towing is more than can my truck pull the tt but can it stop it? I would leave your p2 dialed in correctly, you don't want to overheat your tt brakes or flat spot your tires.
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Old 05-11-2014, 08:05 PM   #4
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Like Anaro said. Better to downshift. Definitely no over drive. Better to brake and slow down 10 mph or so, then coast and brake again. I have seen several brake fires on the big rigs that ride the brakes down the mountain.
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Old 05-12-2014, 05:25 AM   #5
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I agree with Lloyd, always shift to a lower gear and begin the decent at a lower speed. Easier to control speed and easier on brakes and occupants. Letting the trailer brakes do more of the braking is a good idea from a rig control perspective, but you can also overheat the brakes/bearings and have bigger problems later, so just going slower is a much better solution.
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Old 05-12-2014, 12:31 PM   #6
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It's like so many other things we talk about with braking, a good balance. You surely don't want to reduce the braking power of the trailer as it needs to pull a bit to keep it straight when braking.
Too much brake and I can imagine the heat build up with the magnet and the drum brakes applied all the way down the hill.
9% is a pretty aggressive grade and as others stated the engine has to help.
I would pump the brakes as needed without too much pedal to avoid heat build up.
Or... Buy a diesel with a jake brake.
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