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Saved my truck using the hill-decent control

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Old 12-08-2013, 12:01 AM
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Saved my truck using the hill-decent control

I'm still not 100% sure what the HDC actually does, it's one of those buttons perched high up on the dash, I told myself I would probably never use. Well today out of sheer luck, and not knowing exactly what it does I used it.

So today it snowed at a lower elevation than it had in over probably two decades, here in Nor California. I got the bight idea since I hadn't tested out my EcoBoost, FX4's 4WD system yet, that it would be a perfect time to do so. I headed up the hill about 45 min, where it was snowing quite a bit, and not plowed yet.

I ventured off the highway and headed out on a road with approx. 3-4" of fresh unplowed powder, this road sort of went off to the middle of nowhere. All of a sudden I realized how impromptu my trip really was, as I had brought no tow rope with me for the trip, nor shovels. But I knew I was driving an extremely capable truck (even in stock form) FX4, EcoBoost, E-Locking rear etc...

First thing I have to say, is these trucks come with nearly every useful tool in the tool box bone stock, as far as traction goes. This is good because today I found out just how barely-adequate the OEM Pirelli Scorpions really are in the white stuff (I will not be buying those again). So I tried to go as far as I could in just 2wd, but the traction control cutting in & out and sideways motions made this extremely annoying. I turned off traction & stability and it just spun.

Since I had never tried the rear-locker yet, let alone owned a vehicle with a real-locker (Had a GM w/ G80 but was 2wd) I thought I would engage it and see what happens. Actually made a huge improvement, but still way too much wheel spin, and not much forward motion. At this point I switched it off, and selected 4-Hi range and just went as far as I felt safe, this was about 2-3 more miles.

This got pretty hairy as I had just realized how long my truck was, and due to the fact the road was getting deeper in snow and narrower and narrower, I was worried I wouldn't be able to turn this 157" wheelbase truck around. I came over the next hill and noticed a huge cliff, with a steep drop off and no real place to turn around. I had no choice but to drive down it, as it wasn't really a safe place to reverse back up the hill. However just barely touching the brakes (even lightly) had me losing confidence in my Scorpions winter adhesion qualities.

Seeing I didn't want to go over the cliff and potentially kill myself or this $52K truck today. I flipped the Hill Decent Control and let the truck sort it out. WOW that feature rocks (Probably one of my favorites), I could barely roll down the hill using the brakes without sliding close to the edge of the cliff. But with the HDC enabled, the truck perfectly scaled the steep, snow covered hill with ease and no fuss thankfully.

After this moment, I feared wetting myself and my knuckles were bright white, so I turned around at the first driveway I could find. At one point, I almost got stuck in the driveway as I had to sort of back down the drive, just to get this huge truck around in a three point fashion. The only way I was able to get out of the snowed over driveway was to use 4-Hi range, with the locker enabled and no traction nannies on. Tried it first with just 4-Hi and it started to dig down in the snow and not move. Flipping the locker on quickly had me moving again.

On the way home, things got scary again. Was on the freeway, when I came around a bend where the traffic had piled up with a bunch of city-slickers that had spun off the road. Well as I got closer, I saw what the problem was, Black Ice. As I rolled through the area at 5 mph, my truck began to slide on the ice. I completely freaked out, and saw huge $$$ in front of me and quickly turned on the hill decent control again, and the truck just walked right through the area with ease again (Thank you Ford).

There were at least 8-10 cars that had just spun out and slid into each other. incidentally the car in front of me did, and what looked like two others behind me. Had I not thought to hit the hill decent control again I would have easily wrecked this truck on that black ice as well.

What I loved...

Love the Hill Decent control a lot!
Love the locking rear differential (Can't believe I've gone this long without one)
Love the traction control on this truck. I know people complain a lot about it, but I felt like if I just wanted to get through this snow, and wasn't farting around. Just leaving the traction control on, and 4-Hi will get you through almost any snow situation. But I do get why you would want it off, if you were purposely screwing around in the snow.

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Old 12-08-2013, 12:13 AM
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Forgot to mention, the FX4 20" wheels pack a ton of snow inside them, when you are driving in snowy conditions. I should have thought before hand and cleared the snow from the insides of the wheels. Made for a horrific vibration between 50-68 mph.
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Old 12-08-2013, 12:41 AM
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Pool Runner, glad you made it out of the snow safely. Good thinking on using hill decent, locking differential and and traction control. It was a heck of a snow storm last night in Redding. Lived here four years and haven't seen this much. I have a 2011 F-250 diesel and really like the safe driving options. Were planning on traveling full time in our fifth wheel within the next few months and I'm sure we will encounter similiar situations like you did.
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Old 12-08-2013, 12:49 AM
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Originally Posted by mrpd114 View Post
Pool Runner, glad you made it out of the snow safely. Good thinking on using hill decent, locking differential and and traction control. It was a heck of a snow storm last night in Redding. Lived here four years and haven't seen this much. I have a 2011 F-250 diesel and really like the safe driving options. Were planning on traveling full time in our fifth wheel within the next few months and I'm sure we will encounter similiar situations like you did.
I've been driving in the snow for years, it's not my first rodeo by any means. But I can tell you, I don't think I want to drive this truck in any in the near future until I replaced these OEM Pirelli Scorpions. I really like how quiet they are in the dry, and I love the dry weather and wet performance. But they almost feel like a summer tire in the snow.

I mean the truck got me through everything I threw at it, even when I was testing out different scenarios. But with these tires I was pretty much sweating it.
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Old 12-08-2013, 02:36 AM
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Glad to hear your truck performed so well with the exception of the tires. Although I gotta say that's one thing I love about the n.p. 435 4 speed trans I have in my old trucks is that when I get in a situation like you where in I'd just drop the tranny to the granny first gear and let the trans. do the work of walking the truck down an icy snow covered hill. And personally the best truck I ever owned for driving on ice is my 86 150 4x4. I used to work at a shop here in pa and the boss would make me park in the alley on a hill behind the shop. And in feb. of 99 we had a horrible icy storm come through. At the end of the work day my fellow coworkers would stand at the back door and place bets as to whether or not I could get my truck off that hill. So I'd just go out fire it up slam it into 4 low and granny gear and that thing would just walk right up the hill like there it was dry pavement. Meanwhile I would have to walk at an upward angle just to get to my truck. So I feel your concern and gratitude that you have with your truck. Sorry for the hijack.
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Old 12-08-2013, 06:40 AM
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Great story brother and thanks for sharing.

I gotta say that I'm totally impressed with the sure footedness of these trucks even with the bologna skin tires that Ford throws at us.
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Old 12-08-2013, 07:18 AM
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Great story..for some good tires try These coopers. Discovery STT's.



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Old 12-08-2013, 09:43 AM
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This thread makes for an interesting read.

I've never tried hill decent control on ice, as it's intended as a way of safely descending steep off-road grades. I'll have to give it a shot though, as I'm sure the computer will be much better at managing wheel lock-up than I ever could.

Since Scott posted his...



This was last winter when I got stuck in the driveway. The only reason I made it that far was the sheer weight and ground clearance of the X. My F150 couldn't hope to do as well.
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Old 12-08-2013, 09:49 AM
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Good to hear it all worked out! You don't realize how much crown or pitch is actually on a road until you are doing less than 5mph on ice like you did, and you are trying to keep it in your own lane
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Old 12-08-2013, 11:58 AM
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remember guys always let your motor slow you not your brakes in the wet white stuff!

glad to know it snowed in Redding as that's where I am heading now! should make for a fun trip!
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Old 12-08-2013, 12:01 PM
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remember guys always let your motor slow you not your brakes in the wet white stuff!
Eeeessshhhh....be VERY careful doing this. There is no ABS for this kind of braking action, and if you downshift and your rear axle brakes free it could send you sideways. Professional truck drivers are taught to NEVER use the engine brake when it's slick out for this reason.
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Old 12-08-2013, 12:03 PM
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remember guys always let your motor slow you not your brakes in the wet white stuff!
Good luck with that.
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Old 12-08-2013, 01:44 PM
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Eeeessshhhh....be VERY careful doing this. There is no ABS for this kind of braking action, and if you downshift and your rear axle brakes free it could send you sideways. Professional truck drivers are taught to NEVER use the engine brake when it's slick out for this reason.
Exactly. We even disable the exhaust brake in the rain, especially if it hasn't rained in awhile and the roads are oily. There's nothing like feeling the exhaust brake kick in and the ***-end of a 19-ton tanker/pumper coming around on you.

Coasting is one thing... engine braking is quite another.
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Old 12-08-2013, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by senix View Post
Great story..for some good tires try These coopers. Discovery STT's.



Someone forgot to attach a plow !
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Old 12-08-2013, 02:05 PM
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Man, Pool and Tom - y'all boys had me blood pressure up! I've driven a heap in snow and ice mess, but only had 2WD rear wheel drive Isuzu diesel sedan. But, I had two complete sets of wheels and tires, great winter tires. Had to use chains a few times, but never got stuck.

Y'all boys come on down here where when we get 1/2", hey, nobody goes to work!!
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