It’s one thing to descend a mountain pass with heavy cargo.

But it’s a completely different matter when descending steep gradients with cold cargo. Below, you’ll discover a handful of tried and true tips for safely descending steep grades with cold cargo.

Make Sure Your Cargo is Secure

Your cargo should always be double-checked before the beginning of a long haul across the state or country.

However, it’s imperative that you inspect the cargo before descending steep mountain gradients. Whether you’re hauling a reefer trailer or specialized packaging that’s filled with dry ice or water, you’ll need to guard against faulty equipment or loose straps.

Know Before You Go

Always know the gradient before you go.

Whether the gradient is 5% or 15% — the fact of the matter is that you should have a clear idea of what to expect on the road. The difference between 5% and 10% is significant, making it necessary to plan your journey to make the necessary preparations.

Check the Weather

Where there are mountain passes, there is always the possibility of dangerous weather.

From rain to snow, mountain passes may exhibit unpredictable weather that poses a serious threat to your life and cold cargo. Therefore, you should constantly check the forecast and plan accordingly.

Whether you must add chains for the possibility of snow or reduce PSI for increased traction, you must be well versed with adverse weather conditions while descending steep grades while hauling cold cargo.

Make Sure Your Brakes are Properly Adjusted

When it comes to steep descents — your life and cargo depend on brakes.

Therefore, you should always have your brakes adjusted when you know you’re going to drive through a mountain pass. Sometimes, you’ll find roads that demand truckers to pull over and check their brakes.

Use Lower Gears Before You Get to the Downhill

It’s time to head into your lower gears as you near the beginning of the descent.

Remember, the heavier the load, the lower the gear you want to go. Shed speed well before the grade increases to ensure your speed is manageable.

Easy Does it on the Downhill

Now that you’ve started the descent — don’t shift gears!

Remember, before starting the descent; you should have shifted to the proper gear. Although it’s possible to shift gears on a descent, it’s far safer and more efficient to shift gears just before the beginning of the steep gradient.

Manage Your Speed

Once you’re headed downhill — you can manage your speed with air brakes.

However, proper gearing prior to the downhill should reduce the need for using brakes to modulate your speed. Of course, switching to a higher gear is not recommended to speed up on the downhill.

Even if you find yourself at a slow speed, it’s better to lose a handful of minutes than compromise the safety of yourself and the cold cargo by switching gears during the downward descent.


How to Descend Steep Gradients with Cold Cargo – Truckers Guide was last modified: by