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I live in Colorado~Rocky Mountains. Just picked up my new Pilot last week. Sales guy said not to use D1/D2/D3, 'just forget it's even there, it'll burn out your transmission if used too much'. I live on a mountain ridge @ 9,000 feet and drive down to 6,000 feet daily to drive the kids to school, etc. I don't want to ride my brakes all the way downhill, however, that's what I am doing so I don't go 100 mph. Any suggestions?
Thanks!!
~Nance
 

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What was your previous vehicle????

And how many horizontal feet accompany that 3000 ft of vertical drop?

As you probably know, 5th is way overdriven, 4th isn't driver selectable(as is overdriven anyhow).

1st is simply to low for anything on a paved road.

That leaves 2nd & 3rd AND THE DON'T TOUCH IT option.

I would lean toward the DON'T TOUCH, unless your brakes are actually SMOKIN' at the end of your 'descent'. Pads are cheap, trannys are NOT...

If the brakes DO in fact heat up (which I suppose is possible depending on how many horizontal feet/miles make up that descent) then I'd use 3rd sparingly, though the engine braking is NOT impressive on the Pilot even in second...

DID YOU FORMERLY drive a manual? You may be one of the few folks that NEED one. Even the BEST automatic is only useful for 99% of folks, and a 3000ft DAILY descent seems pretty unusual, consider yourself a "1% 'er"...
 

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If I were faced with this, I would probably put on a transmission cooler and drive it down in 1st or 2nd. Where does Honda (not the Dealer) say not to use the lower gears? I too would be concerned with brake fade and brake wear not to mention the wear on you having to control it. It will depend as Renov8r said on the decent your faced with.
According to my GPS I'm 53' above sea level so it's not a real issue to me. The only place we have like that is the Mount Washington auto road it's 6,288' and certain vehicles are restricted (including Honda's) and some not allowed at all. http://www.mt-washington.com/autoroad/autovehiclelimits.html
Good luck.
 

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The Pilot is suppose to handle downshifting for you. I think Honda calls it grade logic control and you should be able to tell when it kicks in. The tachometer will show higher revolutions when it shifts into a lower gear for you. The idea is that when you are going down hill and use your brakes the transmission will automatically shift into a lower gear for you. I have noticed this feature and it seems to help some. I am not sure whether it is designed to downshift more than one gear. I have found that you have to press your brake pedal for a second or two to get it to downshift. Just touching your brakes does not seem to do it. I would agree that brakes are far cheaper to replace than transmissions so I typically use the brakes to slow down.
 

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Colorado Driving

I live in Parker, Colorado and do spend time driving into the mountains and I've noticed that the Grade Logic tranny actually works quite well.

I've found on several occassions, with the tranny in "D", that once I've found a speed that is okay to go down hills, that the GL in the tranny does a very respectable job of keeping my PILOT at that speed - give or take a couple of MPHs.

NanceU - you should experiment with your PILOT a little bit and see how the GL works. I know it took me a couple of weeks to get used to the tranny kicking down. I actually thought there was something wrong with my brakes because I'd be slowing down and then the GL would kick in. I thought I had all of a sudden become a bad driver.

Now that I'm used to the Grade Logic, I actually find myself not braking as much as I used to when I'm on descending hills.

GOOD LUCK!

PILOTinginCO
Sagebrush Pearl-EX
 

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The Mountains

Like Piloting, I too have had few problems driving down from the mountains - either on 285 or I-70. The Pilot seemed to take the downslope well.
 

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Engine Braking

Albeit the Eastern mountains can't compare to those beautiful Colorado slopes, I've been making liberal use of engine braking [D3 and 2nd (I agree 1st really isn't conducive for this unless you are going extremely slow on one heck of a slope)] since '83 in five different Hondas with no tranny problems and good brake longevity. Did it both uphill and downhill with '97 CRV which also had grade logic but the Pilot, unlike the CRV, rarely repeatedly "hunts" for right gear going uphill. With the Pilot I now confine it to downhill and only when grade logic is not quite enough on its own. Just make sure you don't redline the engine, but it's usually not an issue at normal driving speeds.

You may want to get a professional opinion other than the salesman's. The Pilot owners' manual references D3 and 2nd for engine braking and even discusses "manual shifting" of the automatic transmission, if one is so inclined [no pun intended].
 

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NancyU,
I'm sure this is not what you want to hear, but I'm wondering if you investigated the new 4Runner, which touts its new "Downhill Vehicle Assist" feature?
Certainly not dissing Honda, but sounds like you have a unique arrangement there.
-Dave
 

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NanceU,
Disregard my prior post. The 4Runner Downhill Vehicle Assist feature keeps the speed below 5mph. That would make for a longgggggg commute.
 

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Driving Down A Mountain

I just returned from a little trip up to the top of Mt. Diablo, a peak that rises about 4000' from near sea level,; a rather steep uphill/downhill curvy road.
Goinfg down in "Drive", I had to use my brakes constantly, so I shifted down to D3, which provided perfect braking all the way down. I just got the car a couple of weeks ago, and only skimmed the manual. I do remember it saying that the tranny was smart, but it didn't seem to me to be smart enough. But, I surey do not wanna damage the tranny. Brakes are cheaper than transmissions fer shur. I think I better read that manual more thoroughly on the subject of downhill driving!
 

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Brake fade on long descents?

Hi everyone,

I'm not even the owner of a Pilot yet (my 2006 EX-L is on order and should arrive in a few weeks). But, I've been trying to learn as much as I can in advance.

One of my concerns is one long stretch that's pretty steep on the way to and from the Sierra's from the SF/Bay Area in CA. Those of you from this area probably know about Old Priest Grade outside Groveland. Going up shouldn't be an issue. But, this section causes brake issues for MANY cars (they have the newer section that's longer and easier on brakes for those that need it). In the past, I've gone down Old Priest Grade in my '84 RX-7 GSL-SE, and my '90 BMW 325iC without any issues. Great brakes on both of those cars. But, when I tried it in my girlfriends '97 VW Cabrio I had horrible brake fade by the time we hit the bottom. It's a good thing there was no cross traffic at the bottom because I couldn't come to a complete stop!

So, has anyone tried it in a Pilot? I've read here about Honda's Grade Logic but wonder if it's enough for this stretch of road. I'd hate to find out that I should have taken the New Priest Grade the hard way.

Any thoughts would be appreciated!

Thanks!
Larry.
 

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Re: Brake fade on long descents?

larrys said:
Hi everyone,

I'm not even the owner of a Pilot yet (my 2006 EX-L is on order and should arrive in a few weeks). But, I've been trying to learn as much as I can in advance.

One of my concerns is one long stretch that's pretty steep on the way to and from the Sierra's from the SF/Bay Area in CA. Those of you from this area probably know about Old Priest Grade outside Groveland. Going up shouldn't be an issue. But, this section causes brake issues for MANY cars (they have the newer section that's longer and easier on brakes for those that need it). In the past, I've gone down Old Priest Grade in my '84 RX-7 GSL-SE, and my '90 BMW 325iC without any issues. Great brakes on both of those cars. But, when I tried it in my girlfriends '97 VW Cabrio I had horrible brake fade by the time we hit the bottom. It's a good thing there was no cross traffic at the bottom because I couldn't come to a complete stop!

So, has anyone tried it in a Pilot? I've read here about Honda's Grade Logic but wonder if it's enough for this stretch of road. I'd hate to find out that I should have taken the New Priest Grade the hard way.

Any thoughts would be appreciated!

Thanks!
Larry.
I just did a quick Google search (Sorry, I should have done that first!) and found some quick stats on Old Priest Grade. It's about 1,500' of elevation gain over 2 miles. That's about a 14% grade with some sections actually approaching a 20% grade!

Thanks again!
Larry.
 

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My understanding is that it is not the steady use of D2 and D3 that causes heat and wear/tear on the tranny, it is the shifting. That's why you want to avoid lots of shifting whether going up or down. And if you can select D3 and just leave it there, providing the engine braking you need, I doubt this causes any extra load on the transmission.

In general, I try and balance braking and using the transmission to engine brake, generally trying to use the tranny to regulate overall speeds, but using the brakes in sections that are unusually steep or the throttle on sections that are flatter. How this fits in to the behaviour of the Pilot and grade logic, we'll see - I haven't had the car long enough to do many grades yet.

I sure wish the Pilot had a D4 selector. It is the one feature of the MDX that had me considering spending the extra money. I'm guessing it is some software and a button and I'm annoyed we don't have it.

Whizmo
 

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Brakes are much cheaper than trannies.

Once went down Mt Washington in NH without touching the brakes except when the wife wanted to get out (can't blame her can you :)
Second and third gear in low range.....
 

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Re: Re: Brake fade on long descents?

larrys said:


I just did a quick Google search (Sorry, I should have done that first!) and found some quick stats on Old Priest Grade. It's about 1,500' of elevation gain over 2 miles. That's about a 14% grade with some sections actually approaching a 20% grade!

Thanks again!
Larry.
I was up that way this summer, no issues at all with 3 and 2. I tend to let the tranny keep the speed and then only use the brakes when I need to stop or slow down more rapidly. I have done this same thing in all of my Hondas and my Benz, never had a tranny issue and the Benz had a few hundred thousand miles.

You could sure smell the brakes all the way down the hill though... some folks riding them all the way down, have to believe their rotors were glowing!
 

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I agree with the downshift crowd. I drive a fair amount of hills in the Blue Ridge mountains. You can really smell the brakes on those that don't downshift and ride their brakes down the long winding roads. Brakes may be cheaper to replace, but you'll be replacing them quite often if you ride them down hills. Plus you'd sure hate for them to fail at the bottom. On a short descent I rarely bother, unless it is snowy or icy and I really want to control my speed.
 

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rocky said:
Brakes are much cheaper than trannies.

Once went down Mt Washington in NH without touching the brakes except when the wife wanted to get out (can't blame her can you :)
Second and third gear in low range.....
this brought back memories...........did the same thing 25 years ago in my 70 toyota mark 2. Going back down, had to hold it in 2nd gear because it kept popping out and used the brakes to keep it below 6000 rpm.........great fun (scared the wife $hitless)............:D
 

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I also live in the mountains, and when we drive down, we use D3 for moderate grades, and D2 for steeper stretches. When I had my transmission rebuilt in my previous vehicle (97 Exploder), I asked the transmission guy about using lower gears going down hill, and he said it would hurt anything, and that he does the same thing.
When using lower gears, you are in much more control of your vehicle.
We definitely use lower gearing when towing our travel trailer down the mountain.
 

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Old Priest Grade/Sonora Pass

I've taken my Pilot down Old Priest Grade a couple of times. I put it in first gear and use the brakes hard when needed and stay off them in between to give them a chance to cool off. We had some interesting family trips up and down Old Priest Grade when there was no New Priest Grade driving 1960s station wagons towing camping trailers.

I had to use my brakes a few times to keep speed below 45 mph in 1st gear on Sonora Pass (CA 108) westbound in my Pilot. This was with four passengers and 200 or 300 lbs. luggage. To me, 1st gear is not always low enough for paved roads, let alone muddy dirt roads or steep downhills in snow or ice.

Grade logic seems to downshift when braking and keep transmission from upshifting when in Drive as long as you don't use the gas very much. When going down a steep hill, I think it's much better to downshift and use engine braking to control speed than to find out you have overused your brakes before the hill is over.
 

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NanceU said:
I live in Colorado~Rocky Mountains. Just picked up my new Pilot last week. Sales guy said not to use D1/D2/D3, 'just forget it's even there, it'll burn out your transmission if used too much'. I live on a mountain ridge @ 9,000 feet and drive down to 6,000 feet daily to drive the kids to school, etc. I don't want to ride my brakes all the way downhill, however, that's what I am doing so I don't go 100 mph. Any suggestions?
Thanks!!
~Nance
always downshift on steep grades.........it may shorten the life of the transmission in a few years but, if you loose your brakes your transmission will not stop you (with the kids, you have too much to loose).......:4:

And you can always trade it for a new one in three or four years.........:D
 
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