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Interested in hang gliding? Currently learning to hang glide? Post your questions here.
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User avatar
By raquo
#398114
Hey everyone,

My trusty 2000 Pathfinder might be an ideal truck for me, but it's getting too old. I'm looking to buy a new Subaru Forester, but I'm really concerned about its lack of low range (lower than "first gear"). With my pathfinder I always use low range to go downhill because otherwise engine braking is not strong enough even in first gear and it speeds up too much, so I have to apply brakes every ~10 seconds for 10 minutes, which seems excessive to me.

If you drive a Forester, could you please comment on its ability to go downhill with engine braking, without applying breaks excessively? I'm looking at the model with CVT transmission and paddle shifters.

The hang gliding roads around here are compacted earth / gravel forest service roads with a pretty stable 10-13% incline all the way (typically 2000 ft elevation gain until launch). You would not want to travel faster than 30 km/h on those roads.

Other than this low range issue I'm pretty confident in Forester's offroad abilities. Our roads are not too bad, they're just inclined quite a bit. Buying a Forester will save me at least $10K vs other options that have low range like a 4Runner / Tacoma / Cherokee.

I've read many forum threads both on this forum and on Subaru forums but didn't really find any information on this. I'm asking here because our use case of prolonged downhill ride is somewhat specific to hang gliding. Thank you for any advice.
Last edited by raquo on Wed May 03, 2017 6:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
By KTMPilot
#398115
I have a '13 outback 2.5 with the paddle shifters. Shift tranny into the manual mode setting and use 1st gear for engine braking during steep hill descent.
User avatar
By raquo
#398116
Yep, that's the idea, but does it engine break enough going down a 10% incline?
User avatar
By AlaskanNewb
#398120
you have 4 breaks and 1 clutch.
By once&future
#398121
We have both an old Forester and a 4Runner. While the low range in the 4runner and the diff lock make it a lot more capable climbing steep and irregular terrain and the ground clearance is significantly better, on most dirt road type stuff and steep descents the Forester does OK. That said I use the brakes for braking. I haven't really tried, but I expect that with the Subaru in 1st gear on a 13% downhill and not using the brakes it would speed up to a lot more than 30 km/hr (18 mph) and run the motor up to some pretty high rpm.
User avatar
By raquo
#398122
> you have 4 breaks and 1 clutch.

Riding the breaks all the way downhill will overheat them and they will eventually fail. With my pathfinder when I go down in low gear my RPMs are only around 3000, that shouldn't be stressing the transmission too much I think.

But that is indeed what I'm trying to figure out – can the Forester drive down a long steep hill without wearing down either brakes or the transmission.
User avatar
By Jason
#398123
they should have hill descent control- although thats nothing but a computer and brakes
User avatar
By raquo
#398124
Hill Descent Control is only for 12 mph and lower which is a bit too slow. There's also x-mode that works up to 18mph but like you've said, all it does is apply either breaks or engine breaking which I can do myself with a break pedal and paddle shifters.
User avatar
By BubbleBoy
#398125
AlaskanNewb wrote:you have 4 breaks and 1 clutch.
Using the engine for a brake going downhill doesn't slip the clutch a bit.

JB
User avatar
By Jason
#398126
raquo wrote:Hill Descent Control is only for 12 mph and lower which is a bit too slow. There's also x-mode that works up to 18mph but like you've said, all it does is apply either breaks or engine breaking which I can do myself with a break pedal and paddle shifters.
my old man just got a new forester (2017) with xmode and the CVT.

he seems to be ok with it. runs it up and down the hill at Ed Levin and it does OK


whether it works for you really depends on where you are.
User avatar
By RobertKesselring
#398127
Just slow down a bit more.

Slower speed = longer to get down the hill = more time for the brakes to dissipate heat = lower brake temperatures.

If it takes you 10 extra minutes to get down the hill, how much time is that really going to cost you? A few hours a year?

Is saving a few hours a year worth the extra $10 grand for a vehicle with low range?
User avatar
By Jason
#398128
BubbleBoy wrote:
AlaskanNewb wrote:you have 4 breaks and 1 clutch.
Using the engine for a brake going downhill doesn't slip the clutch a bit.

JB
and thats the beauty of engine braking.

doesn't hurt the clutch,
doesn't heat the breaks
often cools engine temperatures even, after all all your doing is pumping air thru the engine
User avatar
By Karl_A
#398130
I think of going down hill in terms of turning potential energy into heat, and the engine has a much more capable cooling system to get rid of that heat than the brakes.
User avatar
By BubbleBoy
#398131
^^^ THIS!

(and that superior system is being severely underutilized while going downhill)

JB
User avatar
By magicpotato
#398132
I know Subaru offers something called X-Mode, that is basically a low range and hill descent control, on their 2016 and newer models. Might be worth looking into.
User avatar
By Jason
#398134
magicpotato wrote:I know Subaru offers something called X-Mode, that is basically a low range and hill descent control, on their 2016 and newer models. Might be worth looking into.
Xmode is not the same as a low range





and Karl-that explanation above is brilliantly simple
By once&future
#398136
When you convert potential energy to heat going downhill you do it through friction and wearing one part against another. Would you rather wear brake pads or engine components?

In fairness, the additional wear on engine/transmission components is usually minor and it most often makes sense to use both engine braking and wheel brakes on steep descents, but to say that engine braking alone is superior simply because of greater engine cooling efficiency is misleading.
User avatar
By TomGalvin
#398139
I just traded in a 2014 after 140K miles for the 2017. You will use the brakes. It will not go everywhere the pathfinder will. I am getting a beater truck this year to be my HG vehicle and leave my Subaru as my work vehicle.
User avatar
By Jason
#398142
once&future wrote:When you convert potential energy to heat going downhill you do it through friction and wearing one part against another. Would you rather wear brake pads or engine components?

In fairness, the additional wear on engine/transmission components is usually minor and it most often makes sense to use both engine braking and wheel brakes on steep descents, but to say that engine braking alone is superior simply because of greater engine cooling efficiency is misleading.
i think thats misleading

going down a steep hill in say my xterra, i put it into 4-lo put it into first and left it run, and apply the brakes accordingly

i might be doing 2000 RPM, 3000 if im REALLY revving. basically RPMS that are completely normal during acceleration or freeway cruising.

what is happening though, is the engine is doing work, it sucks in air, compresses it (heats it), and then exhausts it. the added stress on the system (if any) is really quite minimal

for the same reason coming down from the Eisenhower tunnel rather than run in 6th and hit the brakes, if i run in 5th, i don't have to use them at all. The engine is very good at dissipating heat, brakes really are not, and you can often smell a bad odor of brakes by the time you get to denver from people riding their brakes from 12,000 feet all the way to denver. It will glaze the pads, warp the rotors and do all sorts of unnecessary things.

i've never seen an engine smoke from too much braking, i've seen quite a few pads start smoking, some even in flames......

further, i've actually seen my engine temperatures drop dramatically when engine braking. most noticeable was in my old rodeo on a cold day. I got to the top of Eisenhower and put it into 3rd on the descent to Dillon. Going uphill my engine was running great, it was about 20 degrees outside, and I was nice and warm inside the heater was doing its thing. but once i took my foot off the gas, and let the engine suck in that 20 degree air and do all the work of keeping the speed under control, the temp gauge dropped, and the heater started blowing cold air. of course as soon as I started going uphill, the engine warmed up again, and it got back to a comfortable temp in the cabin.
User avatar
By Wonder Boy
#398150
KTMPilot wrote:I have a '13 outback 2.5 with the paddle shifters. Shift tranny into the manual mode setting and use 1st gear for engine braking during steep hill descent.
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