Vorpal wrote:Drivers currently are taught to rely on their brakes. I had to take a UK driving test about 10 years ago, and I was in the habit of downshifting. I was told by a driving instructor in no uncertain terms that I must not do that.
News to me. Blimey! So I've been doing it all wrong, ever since I took my driving test some 45 years ago?! I had to google. From this site
Engine braking during normal driving: Years ago it was considered ideal when slowing down or coming to a stop in a car, to use engine braking as the primary source of slowing or stopping. During a driving test for example, the driving examiner wouldn't be too impressed by a driver constantly using the gears as a means to slow down as the brake is the preferred method in modern driving.
The issue with engine braking and using the gears to slow the vehicle is that one of the drivers hands spends a good deal of time on the gear stick, where it would be better placed on the steering wheel. A certain amount of a drivers attention will be devoted to these downward gear shifts that would otherwise be better placed on the road ahead.
One thing I noted: this website is clearly aimed at British drivers, but this passage appears to have been written by an American writer (in the UK we talk of the 'gear lever' not the 'gear stick', and 'gear changes' not 'gear shifts'). I wonder whether this trend to rely on brakes is America-driven, seeing as almost all cars in the USA are automatics and engine braking is virtually unheard-of?
Another point: almost all cars nowadays have disk brakes on all four wheels. This was not so when I took the test: many cars back then had disks only on the front wheels, and drum brakes on the rear - and some (my old banger amongst them) had drum brakes all around. Now drum brakes are more prone to 'fading' during prolonged braking such as a long downhill (I've had experience of this!). So engine braking would certainly have been de rigeur
in those times.
And another thought. In my old-banger days (again) brake linings were all made of asbestos. Now, even though the full dangers of asbestos were not as well known then as they are now, it was certainly regarded even then as a Bad Thing to pump too many clouds of asbestos straight into the atmosphere. So don't use the brakes too much! Nowadays of course, brake pads are made of something else (what?) so it's no longer an issue.
Perhaps someone with more knowledge of cars than I have, can confirm or correct these thoughts?