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What’s engine braking, & why smooth drivers love it so much

Engine braking is the unsung hero in the car that most of us ignore or do not know about. Engine braking is very important and every new and experienced driver should know about it. Since Indian roads are majorly populated by manual transmission vehicles, engine braking is something that everyone should learn and use. Using the method, you can also become someone who drives extremely smoothly!

While most modern engines use an array of computers to drive the engine and many other things in the vehicle. Brakes are one of the parts that are under the most stress in the vehicle but worry not, there are other ways to slow down without using the brakes and depending on the friction.

What is engine braking?

Engine braking is simply engine acceleration playing in reverse. In more complicated words, when the driver releases the accelerator, the airflow to the engine stops. It creates a high manifold vacuum that the cylinders have to work against. This takes a lot of energy and slows down the vehicle.

Heavier vehicles like truck and semi that use diesel engines use Jake Brake that effectively slows down the heavy vehicles. The system opens exhaust valves to the cylinders exactly before the compression stroke ends. It releases the compressed gas trapped in the cylinders that slow down the vehicles. Most heavy vehicles around the world use the Jake brake system to slow down and put much lesser pressure on the brakes. Smaller diesel engines with throttle body also provide ample engine braking but the effect is not as much.

How can you use engine braking?

It is very simple. Just don’t use the clutch when you lift your foot off the accelerator. The engine braking starts. You can feel the same by the slow-down rate of the vehicle. If you want to experience it clearly, then try using clutch after lifting off the foot from the accelerator and note down the car slowdown rate. Now, do the same without touching the clutch pedal. The rate of slowing down is much higher when you do not use the clutch pedal after lifting the foot from the accelerator.

The lower gears like the first and second provide more engine braking than the higher gears. So you feel the engine braking phenomena much more when the lower gear is engaged compared to the higher gears. That is because of the gear ratios. Since you accelerate quicker using the lower gears, you can slow down quicker using the same lower gears.

How does that make you a smoother driver?

To drive smoother with engine braking, always lift your foot off the gas and do not use the clutch. You can always shift down to the lower gears to slow down quicker. That transition just makes the drive experience smoother and over time, you get into the hang where you can just use the engine braking to slow down to your desired speed without touching the brake pedal. However, always keep in mind that the brake lights do not function when you use engine braking so the motorists behind you do not get to know that your vehicle is slowing down.

Any other benefits?

Using engine braking increases the life your brake pads and the brakes themselves by quite a lot. Also, by using the combination of engine braking and the brakes, you can slow down a lot quicker and more efficiently. Start doing it out there and let us know about your experience.