Is an Engine Braking a Good Thing?

A view of engine compression brake rocker arm (on the left)Here’s is how to do it well – even on an automatic

If done correctly and used appropriately, engine braking is good and can benefit in terms of increased safety whilst driving. Here are some examples of when to use engine braking and how to engine brake.

Engine braking is a generally accepted practice and can help save wear on friction brakes. It’s even used in some motor sports to reduce the risk of the friction brakes overheating.

Engine brakes reduce the occurrence of brake failure by using the engine to slow the momentum. They increase the effectiveness of braking, save money by reducing wear and tear on the tires and brake system, and increase safety.

Active use of engine braking (shifting into a lower gear) is aantageous when it is necessary to control speed while driving down very steep and long slopes. It should be applied before regular disk or drum brakes have been used, leaving the brakes available to make emergency stops. The desired speed is maintained by using engine braking to counteract the gravitational acceleration.

Engine braking downhill:

Whilst driving downhill a vehicles momentum will increase due to gravity. Heavier use of the vehicles brakes than usual is needed in order to slow the vehicles progress. Under heavy braking, brake fade can occur. Brake fade is a result of overheating and reduces friction between the brake pads and discs. The reduction in the effectiveness of brakes is dangerous and is more common in larger vehicles.

Automatic cars are no exception. Select ‘2’ or ‘1’ for steeper hills on the lever. This will have the same effect as 2nd gear on a manual vehicle.

The issue with engine braking and using the gears to slow the vehicle is that one of the driver’s hands spends a good deal of time on the gear stick, where it would be better placed on the steering wheel. A certain amount of a driver’s attention will be devoted to these downward gear shifts that would otherwise be better placed on the road ahead.

Engine braking does not cause any damage to the car. However, excessive engine braking and changing down gears to slow the car will increase clutch wear.

How to Reduce Brake Wear:

Braking from high speeds is probably one of the worst possible things you can do. Obviously, emergency situations may require it. The faster you drive the more your brakes will have to wear. Stepping on the brake pedal at the last minute is not a good way to stop and will surely take life away from your brake pads. Instead, try easing on to the brake pedal so that your speed decreases evenly and slowly.

Do not carry useless stuff along with you. It may not make a huge difference, but more weight means the brakes have to do more work to stop your vehicle.

Use only your right foot on the brake pedal. I often see cars cruising at a constant speed or accelerating away from me with brake lights either constantly illuminated or lightning. By braking with only your right foot, you will avoid simultaneously pushing both pedals. Also, it will be easier to resist unnecessary brake taps.

Source : The Independent

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