Is Engine Braking Ever a Good Idea?

February 26, 2019 Published by Leave your thoughts

Your standard brakes are the part of your vehicle you primarily use to slow your car, but there are other methods of slowing down your vehicle. One of these methods is using the engine brake. If you’re not familiar with the term “engine braking” and what it means, here’s some information from a mobile mechanic in Flagstaff, AZ to help you learn more and better understand in which scenarios, if any, it’s a good idea.

What is engine braking?

In most vehicles, air gets sucked into the engine through the intake manifold. The accelerator pedal opens up the throttle valve when pressed, and air enters the cylinder when the intake valve opens. This air, of course, is necessary to begin engine combustion.

When you take your foot off the accelerator, the throttle valve closes. At this point, the engine will still try to take in air, but only a small amount will be able to get to the engine, because the throttle valve is sealed off. This results in a vacuum forming inside the intake manifold. As a result, the engine loses power and the vehicle slows down.

Keep in mind that this is only an option for manual transmission vehicles.

Is engine braking bad for the vehicle?

We occasionally get questions from customers who have been led to believe at some point that engine braking is bad for the vehicle. The truth is actually counter to that—engine braking is good for the vehicle, and provides you with a better driving experience as well, as it requires some practice and skill to execute well.

There are several benefits associated with engine braking, including:

  • Reduced braking need: Engine braking will help you avoid the need to apply the brakes in most situations, which can help you extend the life of your brake pads. This means you won’t have to spend as much money on brake pad replacements.
  • Gradual descents: When you’re traveling downhill, engine braking can be extremely helpful as you make a gradual descent. It’s a bad idea to constantly apply the brakes on a descent, because this will heat up the drums, discs and brake pads, which can result in the brakes fading or even starting to smoke in some cases.
  • Better fuel economy: Engine braking leads to better fuel economy, because of the closed-off throttle. This is the opposite of regular braking, which reduces your fuel economy and results in you needing to fill up your gas tank more frequently.
  • Control: Engine braking is only initiated by removing your foot from the accelerator, meaning you can use a single foot to control your vehicle and avoid fatigue.

Keep in mind that engine braking will not light up your brake lights, which means cars behind you won’t know you’re slowing down—this is one of the few disadvantages associated with engine braking.

For more information about the benefits of engine braking, contact Maclin Truck & Trailer to speak with a mobile mechanic in Flagstaff, AZ today. We look forward to assisting you!

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