And You Thought We Stop Our Cars Using Brakes!


A couple of customers called us for a towing service over the last month. Turned out their worn-out brakes were the reason for them either being stranded on the road or accident-struck. 

We realized that many people today still rely on foot brakes to slow down their cars. Yes, using foot brakes is the default way to safely slow down a car under normal or emergency conditions.

But is it the most efficient way to stop your car? Let’s look at another option you can use - engine braking!

By using this technique with some extra skills and adopting new habits while you drive, you can surely get more fuel economy out of your car.

Why Engine Braking?

Let’s get to the bottom of this! The modern engine is surely a masterpiece compared to its origin. 

Like in an old V8 engine, all the cylinders received equal amounts of fuel and they operated all the time irrespective of whether the car is firing or idle! 

Modern engines make sure that no unnecessary fuel is being utilized when the car is idle. Such sophisticated architecture keeps the car engine in shape and also helps you keep a watch on your fuel expenses.

A number of engine components from cylinders to CPUs all work rigorously to deliver constant power to the mobile parts, which assists you with steering, transmission, suspension, tire pressure, and brakes.

Braking is one such part that takes maximum tension other than the pistons. But it’s designed to handle extreme conditions and stress. 

Your brakes are built to last but its quality fades with time and use, and no sooner than you know, you find yourself such as the couple who had to tow their car using our 24/7 towing service in Doylestown when your brake pads go out!

So, by using the method of engine braking you can save your brake pads by extending their lives as well as make for a better driving experience! 

How Does Engine Braking Work?

Engine Braking

Using engine braking is very simple but it takes a while for novice drivers a few many attempts to master.

In a standard gas-powered engine, this method works by restricting airflow which generates a high manifold vacuum that the pistons have to work against.

So say, you’re driving at 50 kmph in fourth gear, suddenly you see the traffic light at some distance ahead. To slow down gradually, take your foot off the accelerator and switch to a lower gear but do remember to rev-match as you keep lowering your gears.

So here, you have stopped the car without applying the brakes manually. The braking force applied is due to the friction in the drive train, mainly due to the vacuum created by the lack of air.

This clutch-and-brake technique to slow the car truly does wonders on your brake pad by limiting its wear out!

Achieving effective engine braking is a matter of timing and smoothness, so practice makes perfect.

The interesting thing is that most truck drivers make use of extensive engine braking for their routine driving, it’s supposed to save fuel and prevent brake failure in the long run.

Remember that engine braking is not at all substitutes for your default braking manner. For sudden braking scenarios, always make use of regular foot brakes or hand brakes if required!

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Should You Be Worried About Engine Braking?

If you have concerns about damaging your engine, it’s quite normal! Engine braking surely gives high revs, so you’re not wrong thinking about the safety of your car.

Let me give you tips on how not to blow your engine up! When downshifting to a lower gear, make sure that the rev counter isn’t over the red line.

Your RPM going higher is normal when you’re engine braking but don’t get your RPM beyond the normal range, other than that you’re safe even if your engine goes beyond normal!

The fact that many people don’t understand is that engine braking isn’t necessarily wrong or bad for your engine but can damage your transmission if you don’t do it the right way!

Balancing is the key to engine braking with factors such as...

  • For manual transmission, clutch wears out by shifting regularly or too frequently.
  • Aggressive engine braking leads to higher RPM, which in turn, leads to increased piston ring wear out.

Another thing to remember is to shift your gears in a decent manner, or else you’d be putting unnecessary strain on the clutch plate, leaving you with an automotive repair bill much higher than new brake pads!

To reduce the strain on your transmission, try to rev-match while downshifting to maintain a steady de-acceleration but slowly and smoothly get off your clutch.

The next time your car brakes fail on you, contact A&G Customs. Our cost of towing in Doylestown might surprise you, in a good way! Call us today at 215 669 3072 if you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere due to your worn-out brakes or other unidentified issues!