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Discussion Starter #1
My Promaster does not allow me to roll freely down a long grade for example or when I lay off the throttle There is always a mechanical drag slowing me down as if I downshifted or had a manual transmission (which I do not. Standard 6cyl gas 6 speed auto). I simply do not glide as an automatic should allow. I know this is the drivetrain because when I put the vehicle in neutral I can feel it slow down at a much lesser expected rate. We are not talking about wind or road resistance here at all. Another way to express this is that if I am going 50 mph and I pop it in neutral I might glide 1,000 feet. But if I go 50mph and lay off the throttle while keeping it in D I might roll 500 feet. I am wondering if the van is not really going into 6th gear? Or is there a faulty setting keeping the converter locked up at all times? I even lose MPH on some steep downgrades when backing off the throttle, where as I gain MPH on the same downhill roll when I pop her in N. I know this is not only odd to drive but killing my MPG. Any thoughts out there?
 

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It's engine braking on steep descents. Normal for this van. Others have complained about the feature. Maybe normal in the Alps, but weird in the US.

I have yet to experience it. It's flat where I live.
 

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DavidMFear. DO NOT PUT IT IN NEUTRAL! It is written (somewhere).
This is something you have to get use to. That is just the way they designed it.
You can add throttle when going down hill. They did this to ease up on the brakes.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks Dwight, Uncubed, I appreciate the info. It is very strange indeed and it does it on level ground or slight grades too. I lay off the gas on my way to a toll booth or red light and find myself falling behind and holding up traffic as others roll by LOL. Also the "DO NOT PUT IN NEUTRAL" comment is very solid. I tried that and got a clunking sound I never want to hear again!
 

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In addition to the automatic downshifting when going downhill to help with engine braking, there is also an automatic downshift from 6th to 5th if you are off the accelerator pedal coasting down through 70 km/h (45 mph).

You can actually inhibit this downshift by giving just a tiny bit of accelerator pedal as it is coasting down through that speed ... you have to get the timing right but it is actually not hard to do once you figure it out, and then it will stay in 6th until it drops near idle speed.

I know why they do this ... it saves wear on the brakes and it helps drivers avoid a "runaway" condition on downhills ... but I sure wish I could manually override it.
 

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I wonder if Ram engineers reprogrammed the transmission later in production. Because mine coasts free. Definitely not when coming to toll booths. The only hill I see around here is a bridge crossing. It coast free down the bridge.

What month was yours built? It's shown inside the drivers door.

BTW, there used to be lots of people here complaining about it, but now nobody until today. Makes me think they reprogrammed tranny.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I think Dwight is on to something as mine was built early, 11-13. I can see modern technology helping with turns and steep declines, but not so at the constant expense of MPG under less severe circumstances. I still have a couple of those pesky recall items from the early builds to have the dealer iron out. I think I will male a little noise about transmission programming when I am there. On the flip-side Cleveland got a good amount of snow last night and I have no complaints at all about the FWD, the trans, or the tires. It went through 3-4 inches with zero slippage.
 

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I was in cleveland on thursday, and i was mildly dissappointed with the winter traction.

Mine, a may 14 build, engine brakes as described, and its even more agressive in tow/haul mode, sometimes screaming down hills at 5000 rpm. They do this to save the brakes, but i wish it was defeatable because brakes are a lot cheaper than rings.

But as to fuel economy, i believe its actually better than shifting to neutral. In neutral, the engine has to idle and consumes fuel. Forced to spin by the wheels, during engine braking the computer can pull out all fuel and use none.
 

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If it makes you guys feel better, our 2012 Jeep Wrangler does the same thing on downhills. Our 2010 Wrangler did this too with a completely different engine/trans combo.
It's a Chrysler thing and it does not hurt your gas mileage at all. When in gear with no throttle it's shuts down 99.9% of the fuel supply. In neutral it keeps enough supply going to maintain idle which is more.
Remember today's engines, gas & diesel are 100% computer controlled, and all are tuned for maximum fuel mileage.
 

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....cut....

Mine, a may 14 build, engine brakes as described, and its even more agressive in tow/haul mode, sometimes screaming down hills at 5000 rpm. They do this to save the brakes, but i wish it was defeatable because brakes are a lot cheaper than rings.

....cut.......
Good observation. Perhaps the bigger difference between what drivers are experiencing may be due to use of Tow/Haul under different conditions. I don't know but it makes sense that Tow/Haul would enhance engine braking.
 

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I wish they would leave it up to the driver. Most of us have figured out that if we're on the brakes a lot on a downhill that we need to shift down. My rav4 is actually pretty smart about it, it shifts down if you're on the brakes, if you're not it leaves you alone :)

So if you have a long downgrade, and you want to go faster than coasting in 5th allows, then you have to step on the gas, then will it shift back into 6th? Will it stay there, or go back to 5th, then you give it gas again... I'm sure it isn't a large amount of gas, but it adds up.
My experience with this is 1 test drive, 1 big hill, it wasn't in tow/haul mode. Didn't get it all sorted out how to possibly make this work. Actually I thought it was crap & I didn't want it. Now that I've had plenty of time waiting for the diesel, I get worried that maybe that will be crap too so I'll have to rethink PM gas, or ford, or sprinter.
 

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But as to fuel economy, i believe its actually better than shifting to neutral. In neutral, the engine has to idle and consumes fuel. Forced to spin by the wheels, during engine braking the computer can pull out all fuel and use none.
This is true, but if you want to go faster than 'in gear' allows, then neutral is more efficient. I was 1st exposed to 'mexican overdrive' by a hispanic guy in southern colorado driving an old pickup. The modern day hypermilers use this technique with automatics too & don't seem to be blowing them up. I don't think I would use this in an automatic that clunked when you put it back in gear. Probably not a good idea in a loaded van anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I don't ever want to cruise in neutral under any circumstances. I just to not want there to be engine/transmission braking preventing my ability to coast normally.I should not need to step on the gas in this van in situations where my traditional vans would have rolled easily without doing so. Like about half the time I am approaching a red light.
 

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I think you guys are making a mountain out of a mole hill. When setting out to get into a vehicle that is significantly different from any of the old trucks you have been driving, it will help to keep an open mind. I was used to my old Ford Econolines without engine breaking. It doesn't take long to get accustomed to the engine breaking. Hardly a deal breaker. Look at the bright side. Gasoline is now selling for over a buck a gallon less than diesel. So if you have to use a tiny little bit to go down hill, at least its costing you less.
 

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I think you guys are making a mountain out of a mole hill. When setting out to get into a vehicle that is significantly different from any of the old trucks you have been driving, it will help to keep an open mind. I was used to my old Ford Econolines without engine breaking. It doesn't take long to get accustomed to the engine breaking. Hardly a deal breaker. Look at the bright side. Gasoline is now selling for over a buck a gallon less than diesel. So if you have to use a tiny little bit to go down hill, at least its costing you less.
My Econoline, like every other automatic transmission vehicle I've driven, provides some engine braking under the right conditions. It may not be as aggressive as you guys are describing here because most didn't downshift on their own, but I don't recall any transmission feeling like it was not "engaged" when I laid off the throttle.

On an Econoline V10 RV with tow-haul I drove on a 5000 mile trip, the transmission would downshift with every tap of the brake. Initially I didn't like it but in the mountains I learned to appreciate it. Without engine braking the brakes would have overheated for sure unless I stopped occasionally to cool them off.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
This thread is covering a much broader set of circumstances than I was hoping for. I appreciate all the feedback but nobody seems to be exactly on the same page as I am. I really wonder if my trans is programmed wrong or behaving wrong and I hate to give away fuel for the next ten years until I really find my answer. So let me ask this a little differently...

I am not talking about hills, mountain, or declines of any sort.
I am not talking about putting the vehicle in neutral as a driving habit.
I am talking about having a substantial and constant drag everytime I take my foot off the gas regardless of incline, decline, or level road.
This is not air or rolling resistance, this is my driveline robbing me of the momentum that I pay for in fuel every single time I go from A-B. When my foot is off the throttle the thing slows down at a much faster rate in gear, than in neutral. I will toss out some numbers to illustrate what I am saying. Let's just say a typical van with an automatic rolls 1,000 feet from 40mph to 0 when one lays off the gas and pops it in neutral. That same van may roll at least 950 feet if one left it in "D" as the transmission all but disengages itself and a little fluid is still moved around. The difference between Drive and Neutral are minimal and air resistance and rolling resistance eventually bring the speed to zero. In the same scenario, my Promaster would glide 1,000 feet in neutral but in Drive it might only glide 400 feet. It is the same dragging sensation of having only 20 lbs of air in the tires or hauling a very heavy trailer. And there is no question that I am consuming extra fuel by having to stay into the gas until I am right up on a red light when in any other vehicle I have owned, larger or smaller, I would have layed off the gas 100 yards earlier. This is wasted fuel/momentum x 100,000+ stop signs, red lights, destinations, etc over the life of the vehicle!

Does anyone else feel like they are dragging a parachute when they lay off the gas?

Painfully boring post but important if the truck is wrong. Thanks.
 

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I have zero engine braking living in flat lands. So if you do, something is wrong. Go to dealer and test drive another. Ask dealer to drive yours.
 
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