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    Hi,

    Sorry if this has been already been asked, but is engine braking a good method to slow down? I've been doing it since I passed my test, more or less, (suggested by my dad) however I did a few google searches recently and it came back with mixed results.

    Normally when I'm doing 30+ and want to slow, I consecutively downshift into the next lowest gear (untill 2nd) slowly releasing the clutch (when near the biting point) each time and combine this with a bit of footbrake (I don't touch the gas). Is that a good method? I know there is a technique called heel and toe which involves "blipping" the accelerator on shift, but isn't releasing the clutch slowly, thus reducing any jerk, also a credible alternative?

    - J.
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    I'm pretty sure this was discussed in a very recent thread.

    My view on it is you don't need to use engine braking on modern cars except in icy conditions, when the brakes won't slow you down, or when you're going down a steep incline and riding the brakes will cause them to fade. Everywhere else you can go on the footbrake.

    I expect there will be various opinions here. My dad told me I should get into the habit of slowing down with the gears, but that's simply how he was taught back in the day. Now brakes are better you don't need the gearbox to help you out. It's a good skill (if you can call it that) to own as it will help you avoid accidents in the ice and snow, but it's not something you NEED to do in everyday driving. Of course there's no harm in doing it either, as long as you aren't wearing the clutch out by using it to spin up the engine every time you change down.

    Do what's comfortable for you.
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    I always engine brake - it's a good habit to get into as it removes total reliance on the brakes. It's ridiculous, but it always annoys me when I follow cars with their brakes on all the way down a hill or something, when all it's taken me is to change down a gear.

    Double declutching is only really necessary when you're driving a car with no synchromesh - on modern cars, it's not needed, but I end up doing it anyway when I'm driving new cars, just out of pure habit.
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    (Original post by Charlski)
    I always engine brake - it's a good habit to get into as it removes total reliance on the brakes. It's ridiculous, but it always annoys me when I follow cars with their brakes on all the way down a hill or something, when all it's taken me is to change down a gear.

    Double declutching is only really necessary when you're driving a car with no synchromesh - on modern cars, it's not needed, but I end up doing it anyway when I'm driving new cars, just out of pure habit.
    I found my Dad's Astra monumentally hard to ddc - the stubby little gear lever has no feel at all and the clutch travel was so long you couldn't effectively ddc. The Minor only has 2 or 3 inches of clutch travel making it really easy

    OP, if you want to use engine braking, please read up on double de clutching (a bit easier than heel and toeing) and then progress onto h+t if you wish. How you're doing it at the moment is essentially transferring all the wear that as on your brakes onto your clutch plates, rather than into your engine.
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    Yes your method of allowing the engine to speed up gradually is better than dumping the clutch and getting that jerk, it lowers the shock loading on the internals.

    What you are doing is a good habit.

    Don't forgot if you are not using the brakes and slowing down with the brakes, you can always blip the throttle before engaging the gear if you are not braking. Heel and Toe is where you are braking with your toe and then blip the throttle with your heel as you downshift. So braking and changing gear. Most of the time on the public roads you don't need to h+t. But rev matching you can do before touching the brakes.

    Graham
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    (Original post by gbduo)
    Yes your method of allowing the engine to speed up gradually is better than dumping the clutch and getting that jerk, it lowers the shock loading on the internals.

    What you are doing is a good habit.

    Don't forgot if you are not using the brakes and slowing down with the brakes, you can always blip the throttle before engaging the gear if you are not braking. Heel and Toe is where you are braking with your toe and then blip the throttle with your heel as you downshift. So braking and changing gear. Most of the time on the public roads you don't need to h+t. But rev matching you can do before touching the brakes.

    Graham
    Darn it Graham you have beat me to it. I too suggest rev matching, it makes for smoother (apparantly) more economical driving, and unlike simply braking and switching to first when stationary can allow you (in say 2nd) to keep moving if needs be, say the lights change. Also allows you to change between any gears, eg, 5-2 at any point... Just remember if your car is at 4000 revs doing 40 in 2nd gear your going to be doing exactly that when you switch to it. It can be good practice to just keep swtiching gear whilst attempting to keep a constant speed.
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    (Original post by Nuffles)
    OP, if you want to use engine braking, please read up on double de clutching (a bit easier than heel and toeing) and then progress onto h+t if you wish. How you're doing it at the moment is essentially transferring all the wear that as on your brakes onto your clutch plates, rather than into your engine.
    (Original post by gbduo)
    Yes your method of allowing the engine to speed up gradually is better than dumping the clutch and getting that jerk, it lowers the shock loading on the internals.

    What you are doing is a good habit.
    Argh mixed opinions! :confused:
    Well actually it seems obvious that applying some power on downshift will do less harm than just downshifting. Still, whenever I downshift with my current method I make sure the speed difference isn't huge e.g. 1500rpm @ 20mph in 3rd down to 2nd.

    Regarding "blipping", does it mean a quick touch of the accelerator? So in DDC, I would just touch and release the accelerator right before the downshift?
    Heel and toe is more or less impossible in my car - the accelerator is 3-4 inches below the foot brake.

    (Original post by L-J-B)
    Just remember if your car is at 4000 revs doing 40 in 2nd gear your going to be doing exactly that when you switch to it.
    Ah yeah, that will be useful. Thanks!
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    Oh no I agree with Nuffles! Engine braking is good, just you can reduce your wear on the clutch by rev matching.

    But if your revs are low anyway, any wear is going to be very minimal even without rev matching. Don't panic!

    Blipping picks the revs up to the same point as they would be in the next downshifted gear or slightly higher.
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    To DDC you press the clutch in and move the shifter into neutral, then lift the clutch back up, and then blip the throttle, clutch back down and move the stick into the next gear down. How much you rev the engine depends on what gear you're going into and what sort of speed you're going at. When you nail it you'll feel the gearstick almost 'suck' itself into the next gear down without you having to put much effort into it. It's a wonderful feeling.
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    A few definitions, since these things need a bit of clarification:

    Accelerator sense - slowing down by taking your foot off the accelerator. This utilises engine braking. It does not involve changing gear or braking.

    Rev matching / Raised revs - Blipping the accelerator prior to changing down to raise engine speed and smooth the change. This is not the same as 'heel and toe'. Both IAM and RoSPA regard heel and toe as unnecessary on the public road.

    BGOL - Brake/Gear Overlap. This is when you change down while braking. Generally discouraged in advanced driving as it goes against the 'Brakes to slow, gears to go' adage and shows poor planning. You can then raise revs using heel and toe if needed.

    Slowing down through the gears - Utilises engine braking but is not the same thing. Only really to be used on steep hills or in slippery conditions.

    Third Gear Hold - Leaving the car in third gear can help control its speed by using engine braking, for example down a hill in a 30mph zone.

    Fourth Gear Hold - Same as above, but when for example exiting a motorway travelling at 70mph in fifth gear. Changing to fourth gear before slowing means that you can then brake progressively to a stop with both wheel and engine braking without a) the engine labouring in fifth or b) changing down through the gears along the slip road.
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    (Original post by gbduo)
    Blipping picks the revs up to the same point as they would be in the next downshifted gear or slightly higher.
    (Original post by Nuffles)
    ....and then blip the throttle, clutch back down and move the stick into the next gear down. How much you rev the engine depends on what gear you're going into and what sort of speed you're going at.
    I'd probably understand what to do when I try attempting it tomorrow, but I just want some clarification on the last bit. When "blipping" the throttle, do you constantly rev throughout clutching down --> in-gear --> clutching out? Or is touch the throttle --> release throttle and then clutch in --> change gear --> clutch out? At the moment, I imagining the best way would be clutch down --> change gear --> rev when nearing biting point --> clutch up I.E. same way you upshift.
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    To be honest, it depends what you're slowing down for.

    If you're slowing to stop at traffic lights, or to turn into a junction then I'd say it would often be best to simply use the brakes smoothly, then lift off at the right speed and take the gear you want. Likewise if something unexpected happens, the brakes are going to give you the best stopping power. "Brakes to slow, gears to go?" - probably a good general rule.

    But there are always exceptions. Say you're travelling along a NSL single carriageway at 60mph and you intend slowing to around 40-45mph for a moderate bend or maybe a junction with restricted view. You might be in 4th gear on approach; for the navigation and exit of the hazard you may want 3rd for extra flexibility and performance. Since you'll want 3rd, it may be useful (rather than braking a bit then changing) to simply take 3rd gear at 60mph (would be helpful/important to use rev-matching here for smoothness, maybe DDC but that's a matter of preference) and let the engine's braking effect bring the car smoothly and steadily down to the speed you want in perhaps 5-7 seconds depending on the engine setup and gear ratios.

    Likewise in an urban area you could drop from 3rd or 4th at 30-40mph into 2nd to slow the car ready to turn into a junction or pass some parked cars. May not be the best idea though, as if there are following drivers you wouldn't be showing them brake lights, so they might be surprised by your significant speed reduction. Could work well though in some circumstances, I think.

    And when descending a hill, I'd always choose to select a lower gear to hold the vehicle back so I don't have to be riding the brakes all down, heating and wearing the pads. Probably the biggest textbook use of engine braking, along with driving on a slippery surface.

    The other aspect of this is holding a lower gear with plans that it will control or reduce speed. This might be useful in a twisty section of road if you're pressing on a bit. You'll want a reasonably low gear to keep the car balanced under throttle when cornering at a confident speed and then to give some exit performance - but if there's another bend fairly close, holding the lower gear and closing the throttle will aid slowing smoothly and steadily for the next one and will help produce a flowing, brisk drive. 3rd gear is often a good choice for this sort of thing. Using the brakes too often in such circumstances can quickly become very thrusting and appear impatient to others, whilst not making an enormous difference to the average speed.

    I'm definitely in favour of rev-matching on gear changes - it always makes them smoother and potentially faster, whilst reducing clutch wear. I guess it's especially important if you're selecting low gears that will significantly raise the revs, as you would be to make the most of engine braking. It will be worth practising. The aim is to set the engine speed to the speed it will be after the clutch is raised. The revs can be raised by either a brisk 'blip' or a steady controlled squeeze - I use both depending on circumstances, but more often the latter. Practise judging how much you need to add for different changes so there's no jerk when you raise the clutch, even if you lift it quickly. Don't worry about DDC or heel-toe until this is well polished. :driver:

    If you're looking to improve your driving, then use of engine braking and acceleration sense will help your judgement of speed and distance and encourage you to anticipate and plan better as you can't react so quickly. When executed well it can also look quite elegant too - if you care about that sort of thing!
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    (Original post by jam12)
    I'd probably understand what to do when I try attempting it tomorrow, but I just want some clarification on the last bit. When "blipping" the throttle, do you constantly rev throughout clutching down --> in-gear --> clutching out? Or is touch the throttle --> release throttle and then clutch in --> change gear --> clutch out? At the moment, I imagining the best way would be clutch down --> change gear --> rev when nearing biting point --> clutch up I.E. same way you upshift.
    (Me jumping in ...)

    No problem

    It's:

    Clutch down
    Move gear lever - (These two ...
    Adjust throttle - ... can be done simultaneously)
    Lift clutch

    When you're adjusting the throttle, it can be done in two ways - you've sort of described the two.

    If you 'blip', you generally press the throttle quickly and fully to raise the revs to just over what you want, then lift the clutch as they fall past the correct point. Useful for fast gearchanges into a particularly low gear.

    When you 'raise', you basically smoothly press the throttle a bit to gradually raise the revs then set it to the right level and hold it there whilst you lift the clutch. Slower, but can be done in 1-2 seconds when you're used to it. Probably slightly harder to get right. Useful for most gearchanges - including upchanges (where you let it go a bit, but don't let the revs fall all the way to idle). This is the constantly revving one - it works well, but when there's no load on the engine, you don't need much throttle to raise the revs.

    HTH - do let me know if I've not explained it clearly (And how your practice goes tomorrow! )

    Best wishes
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    It's a different order of doing things. My IAM observer once gave me a minor for changing down and then slowing with the engine braking (on a flat road approaching a bend I intended to take in third). According to his book I should have slowed first using the brakes progressively, and once I'd got the desired speed, only then changed down.

    They do take it a bit far sometimes. On the plus side, I am now an extremely smooth driver.
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    I prefer to use the brakes to slow down.
    An engine or clutch is much more expensive to replace than brakes.
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    (Original post by ocelotrevs)
    I prefer to use the brakes to slow down.
    An engine or clutch is much more expensive to replace than brakes.
    This is what a lot of people have been saying to me. Knackering your brakes is a lot cheaper than knackering your clutch.

    I would love to know how to preserve the life of my clutch in general, fixing that up would not be cheap
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    Thanks for the tips guys! My Dad has had the car the past two days so not been able to try anything out - very frustrating!

    (Original post by ocelotrevs)
    I prefer to use the brakes to slow down.
    An engine or clutch is much more expensive to replace than brakes.
    My usual route to uni is mainly a 40mph zone, of which has a number of traffic lights. I drive a 2.0L diesel and slowing down from 5th without downshifting will mean I'd have to clutch in very early to keep the car from stalling...
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    (Original post by ocelotrevs)
    I prefer to use the brakes to slow down.
    An engine or clutch is much more expensive to replace than brakes.
    You have got to really **** things up to damage your gearbox/engine/clutch from changing gear.

    You will cause much more wear to the clutch by slipping the clutch for 1 second on a hill, than using it for engine braking.
 
 
 
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