DaveinOlyWA wrote:downshifting is a lot more popular than you think
Tell it to my wife and the bulk of female population out there, and probably 75% of male population too.
Yeah, I was amazed that a friend of mine who owns a 4Runner needed to be told to take the car out of OD and/or put it in 2 or 1 while making long, steep descents. As we were descending from Tioga Pass (9,941 ft.) through Yosemite via Old Priest Grade (17%) down to 1,000 ft. at the time, compression braking seemed an important bit of knowledge to pass on!
The first time I rode (not drove) down it (Labor Day weekend 1975), someone had missed a turn and was 100+ feet down in the canyon off the side of the road: http://www.uniondemocrat.com/localnews/4523876-151/closures-planned-for-notoriously-steep-old-priest-grade
Guess I was lucky to learn on a stick (and have a dad who drove trucks for a living). As he used to say, "if you break your transmission, you pull over and maybe it costs you a couple thou for a new one. If your brakes overheat and fail, you may not be around to buy replacements." The number of people who ride their brakes all the way down steep hills, with the attendant burning, continues to amaze me. With my last two cars with power disc brakes along with compression braking I've never had a problem stopping at the bottom of Old Priest, but in the '65 Impala (non-power drums all around) even with compression braking and as infrequent brake use as I could manage I'd have my back braced against the seat and putting my entire weight on the brake pedal to try and stop before I drifted past the stop sign at the bottom and out into traffic on 120. I always made it, but it was close a couple of times. I don't know if they still do this, but the family who lived at the bottom used to keep a hose in their driveway for people to use if their brakes were smoking or on fire, along with a guestbook to sign to show they'd used it. But Hwy 108 on the east side of Sonora Pass has an even steeper section, albeit shorter. It's either 25 or 26% (it's signed) with a couple of hairpin turns.