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Discussion Starter #1
Ok, I took my ridgeline offroad for the second time since my trip out to Glamis. This time I was in the trails just north of the 10 freeway in the Palm Springs/Rancho mirage area. This trail system is a series of mountainous trails that are comprised mostly of various sized rocks and heavy sand. Since I've learned to turn the VSA off the Ridgeline is much more competent on steep hillclimbs than originally suspected. The only issue is when the vehicleshifts into second gear there isn't enough torque to maintain forward momentum. If you leave the vehicle in first you can't carry enough speed to get up the hill. Mind you these are only the steepest climbs that are covered in thick sand.

Once I had scaled the mountain is was time to make my decent. This is where things got hairy. For most of the ride back the Ridgeline did fine except for the abundance of ABS noises. When I was almost 3/4 of the way down I decided to try and make a decent that I didn't try and go up but figured it wouldn't be an issue on the way down. Anyway, on the way down the ABS was constantly cycling and was not slowing the vehicle anymore. As a matter of fact I was now gaining large amounts of speed and the pedal was constantly depressed (on the brakes the entire way down in first gear). i can't begin to tell you how unnerving this made me feel as the decent wasn't straight and I was doing all I could to keep the nose of the vehicle in front of me! Picture going down a steep grade with a bunch of turns and losing the brakes. Now picture the decent being a rutted out sand trail with large rocks and turns and woop de doos that pop up on occasion. I thought for sure my trip was going to end very badly!

Finally I made it to the bottom and got out of the vehicle to inspect for damage. Only damage ended up being the front undertray getting ripped away from it's mounts but otherwise unscathed. Has anyone else run into this ABS problem and or come up with a work around. I know that if I would hase had manual brake I wouldn't have had this problem at all.
 

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I guess your ABS was working. It is normal for the chatter, at low speeds it may appear that you are not stopping but you could steer. Once the pedal reaches the floor you can pump it once to get pedal back in this type of situation. (you normnally would not pump on a regular panic type stop.) Gravity was pulling you down the hill at that steep of a grade. At that steep of a grade becareful not to flip over..... Thank God Fl is flat...:D We don't have that problem unless we shoot off an entrance ramp while getting on the Interstate.....:eek:
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Oddjob said:
I guess your ABS was working. It is normal for the chatter, at low speeds it may appear that you are not stopping but you could steer. Once the pedal reaches the floor you can pump it once to get pedal back in this type of situation. (you normnally would not pump on a regular panic type stop.) Gravity was pulling you down the hill at that steep of a grade. At that steep of a grade becareful not to flip over..... Thank God Fl is flat...:D We don't have that problem unless we shoot off an entrance ramp while getting on the Interstate.....:eek:
I am familiar with the way ABS works however in this situation I was no longer slowing, I was gaining speed as though I had no brakes at all. I did pump the pedal but this did nothing to resolve th situation. After reaching the bottom I did a series of panic stops on various terrain (gravel/street) and the vehicle stopped with ease. I am just wondering if cycling the ABS for this long was the cause of the problem because to me it's a tremendous safety issue. I am extremely lucky I didn't flip because I wasn't familiar with this particular decent and I was doing all I could to maneauver around obstacles while going about 30mph down a steep grade with no traction. I know for a fact that if I would have had manual brakes I would have at least been able to slow the vehicle or at least maintain my rate of decent instead of picking up speed.

It's funny how these so called safety features have kept me from being able properly climp a hill (VSA system) and make it treacherous to decend a steep hill (ABS). I'm sure if I lived where ther was ice and snow I waould love these features. They just don't work when in sandy terrain!
 

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I wonder if you had pushed down on the parking brake? If that would of slowed you? Of course at that speed (30 MPH) and monenum you might of got spun around?:eek:
 

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This doesn't sound like something that should be specific to the RL. If the ABS are continuously kicking in, doesn't that mean the system is finding a wheel is locked up? Afterall, that is what ABS is designed to do. Although it probably wouldn't be my first reaction, I think the right thing to do is get off the breaks then apply preasure slower, trying not to lock up the wheels. Probably easier said than done.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
alwysrit2 said:
This doesn't sound like something that should be specific to the RL. If the ABS are continuously kicking in, doesn't that mean the system is finding a wheel is locked up? Afterall, that is what ABS is designed to do. Although it probably wouldn't be my first reaction, I think the right thing to do is get off the breaks then apply preasure slower, trying not to lock up the wheels. Probably easier said than done.
It may not be something specific to the Ridgeline but I have never had the oportunity to make a decent under these same conditions since this was my first time in this area. I've made several similiar decents in my Tacoma but the trail was more hard packed so I didn't have this issue come up. with the trail being as steep and sandy as it was it is impossible not to lock the brakes no matter how easily you depress the pedal. The vehicles weight and lack of traction means the ABS system basically allows you to freewheel down the hill. When you think about how ABS works this makes sense but also means you wouldn't have any way to slow the vehicle under these conditions! I've never run into this before so you can imagine my panic when I was making such a decent down an unfamiliar trail with absolutley NO BRAKES! If there was a way to shut ABS off I could have locked all 4 wheels and used the friction from the tires to slow me down since the sand was so thick.
 

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I wonder if the sand was jamming up the brakes or otherwise interfering, making the ABS be not only enabled, but ineffective as well?

I would comment on how ABS *does* increase a vehicle's stopping distance *under certain conditions*, but I don't think I want to start that argument again. ;)

I wouldn't advise trying to use the parking brake in these conditions; it's not a handle-release like in a regular car, where you could actually use it as a secondary brake in emergency situations. In this case, you'd probably end up flipping over.

I wonder if you could slow yourself down by trying to go alongside or even back up the slope? I've never driven off-road, so I'm not sure what kinds of trails are out there.
 

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In my Subaru when going into heavily snowed, mountain roads, I remove the fuse for the ABS so the ABS is inoperative. I had expierienced similar things on snow roads that you describe. On the Subaru site they recommended this and it works fine....Plus you can go down a slippery road the "old fashion" way and use the hand (emergency) brake so only the rear brakes engage and you don't loose steering control.
 

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Parking brake would have been my choice, but as a cautionary tale of going down a mountain road that is slick/traction-less, this story serves the purpose well - slow, slower, slowest.
 

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People keep recommending the parking brake, but how would you use it in the RL? It seems like it's an all or nothing thing, and for myself at least, it would be very dangerous to lean forward & down as far as I have to in order to reach the handle to release it... whenever I've used a parking brake as an auxilliary/emergency brake (which granted is not very often), it's been with the use of the button to engage & disengage the lock on the brake as needed. The pedal-style brake in the RL is totally not like this. Can anyone convince me why it would *ever* be a good idea to use the parking brake in the RL as an auxilliary brake? I mean, aside from when you're planning on coming to a full stop and your regular brakes died on you -- then, yeah, obviously you gotta stop somehow. But when you're going down a hill, you're needing something that would help slow you down, not bring you to a complete stop, hence the RL's parking brake would not be an option, no? :confused:
 

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I agree 100% fkymuck. Foot pedal parking brakes are extremely difficult to try to modulate.

Trivia question: Does anyone remember why the terminology got changed from "emergency" brake to "parking" brake?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
BillB said:
Parking brake would have been my choice, but as a cautionary tale of going down a mountain road that is slick/traction-less, this story serves the purpose well - slow, slower, slowest.
Ummm, the initial decent was started dead slow as I didn't know what was over the crest of the hill as far as which way the trail went and what sorts of rocks/boulders I'd have to avoid. It turned into an all out freefall as the vehicle steadily increased speed due to a lack of brakes!!! I'm not a yahoo when it comes to offroading and wasn't out driving crazy. I was merely testing the abilities of my new truck in what I thought was a controlled manner. In my mind it failed this portion of the ride miserably as I could very well have been killed. My last truck that I had taken off road was a 1997 Toyota Tacoma 4wd which I know had no ABS and I'd gone down many hills as steep or steeper than this without an ounce of Drama. I honestly can't remember the last time I was that terrified! I thought for sure this was going to turn into a horrific crash!
 

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I think you just answered your own question.

SDB1 said:
I was merely testing the abilities of my new truck in what I thought was a controlled manner. In my mind it failed this portion of the ride miserably as I could very well have been killed. My last truck that I had taken off road was a 1997 Toyota Tacoma 4wd which I know had no ABS and I'd gone down many hills as steep or steeper than this without an ounce of Drama.

The Ridgeline is made for light duty off road. In my opinion a steep descent on very sandy surfaces does not constitute light duty off road. I just did a section of trail that was also quite steep, but was rocky instead with the ABS working 40-50% of the time and was extremely impressed with the abilities of the truck.

I think you may have gone beyond the abilities of the Ridgeline. The Tacoma is made for more serious off road abilities and with out the ABS you are able to manually control the vehicle more as opposed to a computer.
 

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I lived at the top of a VERY steep dirt road in Vermont for 20 years. My `2000 Dodge Durango's ABS would work as you describe anytime the road got icy. Fortunately there was a little bit of a flat runout at the bottom before it ended at Route 9 (55mph two lane). It is very disconcerting to have your foot firmly on the brake and be gaining speed. I often wished I could turn off the ABS and I inquired how to do it at the Dodge dealer. They suggested (on ice anyway) that if there is that little traction, the vehicle would slide even with the brakes all locked. I suppose you might dig into sand and slow down. He reminded me that at least the ABS was keeping you facing in the right direction. Imagine sliding and gaining speed going downhill BACKWARD!
 

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On some slipery surfaces, as you have described, you are better off without the ABS. The reason is that the build up of sand and other matter in front of a locked wheel slows the vehicel better than an ABS system does. BMW is aware of this and on their K1200GS off-road bike there is a switch to disable the ABS.:D

Should this be one of your favorite roads you might consider installing an ABS kill switch in the dash. Find the ABS fuse under the hood and make it switchable from the fuse kill point of view. Test it by pulling the fuse to see if the desired effect is atained...if it is, then add the switch.
 

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SDB1 said:
I've never run into this before so you can imagine my panic when I was making such a decent down an unfamiliar trail with absolutley NO BRAKES! If there was a way to shut ABS off I could have locked all 4 wheels and used the friction from the tires to slow me down since the sand was so thick.

I don't go offroading but I've run into similar circumstances enough on loose gravel and other slick situations on roads that I can completely imagine what was going through your mind.

I definitely don't want to start a "ABS is wonderful" "ABS is evil" thread, but that feeling of pushing on the brake and getting little to no braking effect is not fun. Glad you made it out mostly undamaged.

-Trevor
 
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