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Old 06-12-2013, 06:49 PM   #1
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Good Sam Mountain Directory information

Hello All.

DW and I are starting out on a 6,000 mile month-long trip from Central PA to Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton parks. We have a new 2013 Jayco White Hawk 26SRK and tow it with a 2006 F150 5.4L with towing package. I have run all of the numbers and visited the CAT scales. We are good overall but with a small margin on some measures.

In preparation for this trip, we have taken a series of increasingly longer trips from our home. Last weekend was the longest, with a 3 hour drive each way. Everything went smoothly.

I do have a concern towing through steep mountains. In particular, I am concerned about high transmission temperatures. I have a Scan Gauge II installed, and it is reporting the transmission fluid temperature (TFT) via the built-in Ford sensor and communicated by the OBD II port. Towing on an 85 degree day on the flat at 60 MPH gives a reading of about 155-165 degrees. I monitored TFT on a long (7 mile) hill on I80 from Milesburg to Snow Show (in case you know the stretch) and it held at 178 degrees as a maximum. However, last weekend there is a shorter but much steeper hill in the "Seven Mountains" area on US 322 that is about 2 miles long. The truck worked hard at 45 MPH and peaked at 199 degrees at the top of the hill. In all cases, overdrive was off. I have had different answers as to what is a maximum transmission fluid temperature for a 2006 truck. Answers vary from the "anything above 175 degrees will lead to breakdown of the transmission fluid" to "Current truck/transmission/fluid combinations are fine for extended times at 220 degrees". This is also affected by where one measures the transmission fluid temperature. Which brings me to my question.

I used the Good Sam routing feature at their website and inserted the segments we will be driving out west. The Good Sam software identifies "steep grades" on a route. For example, the "Seven Mountains" section that I drove over the weekend is flagged by the Good Sam routing program as a "Mountain Directory Advisory". There are two segments that Good Sam has flagged for our trip out west. The first is traveling from West Yellowstone, MT to Moran, WY, where it gives a "Mountain Directory Advisory #WY4 14 miles in as one turns south on the Grand Loop.

The second is driving from Moran, WY to Colorado Springs, CO. 13 miles in on US 287, I get Mountain Directory Advisory #WY13. Later, 339 miles in while on I80 approaching Laramie, WY, I get Mountain Directory Advisory #WY18.

I cannot order the Good Sam Mountain Directory-West prior to departure and I am concerned that the hills/grades may be too much for us. I would be very grateful for comments from anyone who knows these particular sections of road or who is familiar or has access to the GS Mountain Directory.

Thanks for reading this long post.

Terry
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Old 06-14-2013, 08:32 PM   #2
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Ths is a very interesting post. I don't know anything about your proposed route. I would think that your TV would not have any problem towing your TT under most conditions. Are you confident that your temp guage is accurate? Have you checked the Ford truck forums for info about transmission fluid temps? What does your Ford dealer (assuming they are competent) have to say about this? I assume that part of your towing package is a transmission oil cooler. Is it working properly? Perhaps you could check out the operating specs of the transmission fluid you are using. The SAE will have info about the perameters that it should operate under. Hope this helps.
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Old 06-15-2013, 06:04 AM   #3
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Hi and thanks for the reply.

Yes, I am quite confident that the temp gauge is accurate---at least as much as can be reported by the factory sensors.

I have checked the Ford forums and there remains a difference of opinion as to what constitutes a transmission temperature that is too high. Folks often reference a heavily used table which shows that for every 20 degrees above 175, transmission fluid life is halved. This is the "old school" opinion. The more current thinking is that later model Ford trucks have been designed to run at higher temperatures. Another factor is where the sensor for the transmission fluid is placed.

I do have the extra transmission cooler that comes with the factory tow package and it is working fine.

My discussion at the service counter of the Ford dealer was interesting. I recently had the truck in the shop for PA state inspection. I asked the service manager about max transmission temperatures. He went back and asked a service technician, who said "250 degrees". I was skeptical. He went back and then got a different answer---"it should be about the same as your coolant temperature". That also is unsatisfying since the thermostat gets my water temperature up to 191 degrees very quickly and it remains there with only slight variation. I did notice that at the most extreme point on my tow up the steep grade, the transmission temperature was 199 and the coolant temperature was 197. Perhaps there is something to this.

In any case, I found an online version of the Good Sam Mountain Directory which had both the East and West versions for sale for $25. I bought it and installed the software. It turns out that the hill near my house is a 10 percent grade, which appears to be noticeably steeper than anything I will encounter on my routes out West. Also, some of the mountain directory advisories for my segments in MT/WY are for descending hills, so the issue switches to braking. I believe that I am good on that aspect.

Terry
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Old 06-15-2013, 07:13 AM   #4
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I have a scangauge II on my 2009 F150 with the 5.4 engine. I have a different transmission, but my temps just driving around, not towing are 185 degrees. While towing, they run about 195 degrees. The highest I have seen was 201 deg. while towing hard up a several mile 6% grade. Until this year, I towed the same trailer with a Ford Explorer, I had to watch the temps very closely, any amout of rolling hills or long gradual inclines would cause the temps to skyrocket, highest I saw was 230 deg. I have spent way too much time trying to figure out maximum transmission oil temps. I finally came to the conclusion to try to keep them under 200 deg, but short times in the low 200's is ok. Long times spent in the low-mid 200's would likely degrade the fluid faster, requiring more frequent transmission fluid changes.
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Old 06-15-2013, 07:29 AM   #5
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I've not used the Good Sam directory, but we have done a fair bit of mountain driving in NC, VA, VT, NH.
We have a 2008 F150 5.4 with the tow package and transmission cooler. I do not have any way to monitor the transmission temp and have never worried about it. Engine temp does not vary much from flat driving. We have around 10k miles towing the the 25Z with this TV.

Many of the main roads have been 7% grade and I know we have hit a few very windy secondary roads that have seemed steeper. I often downshift to keep from riding the brakes so much on the down hill. Suggest that you make sure the brakes are good and the controller adjusted properly. I think that is a bigger issue in the mountains.
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Old 06-16-2013, 08:42 AM   #6
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Good Sam Mountain Directory information

Thanks for the replies. The comments from other f150 owners are especially helpful.

Terry
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