What Is Engine Braking?


The footbrake is the most dependable and risk-free means of slowing down a moving vehicle, regardless of the conditions.

But as a driver, you may have also heard of another form of breaking, known as engine braking. 

What Is Engine Braking?

You may be wondering what engine braking is, and if it is safe to use this method to stop your car.

All of these questions and more will be answered here, so keep reading to find out all about this braking method. 

What Is Engine Braking?

As opposed to using the footbrake to stop a car, engine braking involves letting go of the accelerator and then shifting down gears to slow the car down. 

To put it in more technical terms, the engine is applying decelerative forces to reduce the rotational speed of the wheels.

This occurs when the accelerator pedal is released, closing the air intake valve and creating an internal vacuum.

It decreases the quantity of air that can enter the cylinders, which saps the engine’s power and generates a braking force that will eventually bring the car to a stop.

The engine brake does not operate until the transmission is engaged.

When the clutch is released, the force of deceleration created by releasing the accelerator is not communicated to the drivetrain, meaning that the wheels do not stop. 

By changing into a lower gear, the rate at which the engine brakes may be increased.

When the revolutions per minute (RPM) are raised, more torque is supplied through the transmission, making it simpler to bring the vehicle to a controlled stop in less time.

Are There Any Benefits Of Engine Braking?

Using the engine to slow down reduces the wear on the brakes, which is one of the most significant advantages.

Because friction causes brakes such as caliper and drum brakes to function, they degrade whenever the brake pedal is depressed. 

Using a combination of engine braking and foot braking can allow you to drive more safely and save the wear on your brake pads.

This will increase the longevity of your brakes and enhance your driving pleasure.

The degree of control it provides you as a driver is another perk, especially while going downhill.

By selecting a lower gear before commencing a downhill, you may retain speed control through the engine rather than depending exclusively on the brakes. 

This decreases the possibility that the brake calipers would overheat or, in the worst-case situation, stop working.

In slick conditions, engine braking may also be a valuable technique.

When driving on slippery roads, using the brakes increases the chance of the wheels locking up and the car sliding, and this risk is only exaggerated by panicking and slamming on the brake pedal. 

When driving in snowy or icy conditions, engine braking can help mitigate this risk by allowing you to slow down without using the brakes.

This allows you to adjust the vehicle’s speed while maintaining wheel rotation.

Will Engine Braking Damage My Car?

Will Engine Braking Damage My Car?

Many motorists are afraid that engine braking will be hazardous to their engines since it may result in high RPM. Everything depends on how close to the red line the RPM is and how long it stays there.

Before attempting to execute an engine brake by shifting into a lower gear, it is necessary to ensure that the rev counter has not exceeded the “red line.”

If you maintain a high RPM for a lengthy time, the engine may overheat, placing stress on the radiator and the rest of the cooling system. 

Even if the engine sounds loud, it is safe so long as the revolutions per minute are below the red line. Nonetheless, you should be cautious if the RPM is higher than expected.

When applying engine brakes, you must additionally consider the transmission system’s possible vulnerability.

If you abruptly shift from a high gear to a low gear, you may place additional strain on the gears and clutch plate, which might result in a repair bill that is far more than the cost of a new set of brake pads.

Rev-matching is a downshifting method that includes raising engine speed with the throttle and then releasing the clutch pedal gradually.

This helps to reduce the strain exerted on the gearbox. This allows you to change into a lower gear without feeling a jarring sensation and also lowers the transmission’s wear and tear.

How To Engine Brake?

The process of engine braking in a car with a manual gearbox is easy but may take rookie drivers many attempts to master.

Consider that you are approaching a traffic light at 40 miles per hour while in fifth gear.

Remove your foot off the accelerator and shift to a gear with a lower ratio, such as second or third, if you want to come to a halt with greater control (remembering to rev-match as you downshift). 

This will force the vehicle to decelerate without having you press down on the brake pedal. After that, you may apply the clutch and brake approach to properly stop the car while minimizing brake pad wear.

Due to the necessity of timing and smoothness in engine braking, much experience is required to engine brake properly.

Summary

Engine braking is a perfectly safe move to do in your car, so long as you are in complete control at all times.

This is an excellent way to break as it can save your brake pads from wear and tear. You do have to ensure that you don’t rev your engine too much though, as this can eventually cause some damage. 

Engine braking is ideal when driving down a steep hill, or if you are driving in less than ideal conditions, such as on roads that are slick or icy.

This form of breaking allows you to keep control over your car, without harshly slamming on the breaks. 

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