How can you use your vehicle’s engine to control your speed?

Question Topic: Vehicle handling

Mark one answer
By changing to a higher gear
By selecting reverse gear
By selecting neutral
By changing to a lower gear

You should draw on the benefits of engine braking alongside using your brakes when you need to control your speed. Using your brakes alongside engine braking helps to protect your brakes from overheating. When your brakes overheat brake fade can occur. As such, using your engine to control your speed can be particularly useful when going on long downhill stretches of road. Without it, you will put greater strain on your brake pads and could cause them to fail. It is best practice to use this approach whenever you need to control your speed. It will also save you money by protecting your brakes from preventable damage.

How does engine braking work?

Engines are naturally resistant to turning. This resistance also increases as you move into lower gears. When you take your foot off the gas and provide no revs, the engine’s natural resistance to turning kicks in. As the resistance is greater in lower gears, they will help you control your speed more. However, moving down through the gears too quickly can cause the car to jolt. As such, you should use it gradually and in tandem with your foot brake to make sure you maintain maximum control.

Theory Test Question

So, how can you use your vehicle’s engine to control your speed? Let’s check each answer from the question above:

By changing to a higher gear

Wrong! If you change to a higher gear, then there will be less resistance from the engine to faster speeds. This will mean you have less control over your speed.

By selecting reverse gear

Wrong! Cars are fitted with a reverse inhibitor and transmissions should not engage reverse when you are moving forwards. As such, this would not help you to control your speed.

By selecting neutral

Wrong! You will have less control over the speed of your car whether you are trying to accelerate or decelerate in neutral.

By changing to a lower gear

Correct!  When you change to a lower gear you can benefit from engine braking. Lower gears offer more resistance to higher speeds helping you to control your speed. This should be used in conjunction with your brakes.

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