Question Topic: Vehicle handling
What is engine braking?
Used appropriately engine braking can be a safe method to slow your vehicle down. As soon as you take your foot off the gas pedal your engine revs will go down slowly. As engines are naturally resistant to turning, a lack of revs will cause you to slow down. Moreover, when you move down the gears, the engine is forced to turn faster which causes greater resistance. As such, engine braking is often recommended when going downhill as a method to keep the speed of your vehicle in check. This will also benefit your brake pads as you will be able to use them less, preventing brake fade.
When do you need to be careful when engine braking?
If you move down quickly between the gears then you will likely notice the car jolts. However, engine braking is best used gradually to ensure you remain in control. It can be used in tandem with your brake pads.
Theory Test Question
Now let’s test your understanding with the question about engine braking you might come across in your driving theory test:
What answer would you give? Let’s consider each response in turn:
When you change to a higher gear
Wrong! If you change to a higher gear the engine will not be required to turn as quickly so there will be less resistance. Indeed, changing to a higher gear will more likely see your speed increase.
When you only use the handbrake
Wrong! The handbrake only applies brakes to the rear wheels. This means that if you use the handbrake when travelling at speed this will cause your rear wheels to lock causing the car to go into a spin.
When you change to a lower gear
Correct! As you know, engine braking refers to using the resistance of the engine to slow down your vehicle.
When you’re in neutral
Wrong! The engine is not engaged when you are in neutral so the effects of engine braking would not be called into action.