Engine Braking: What It Is and How It Works – An In-Depth Guide

What Is Engine Braking?

Engine braking is simply the process of slowing down the vehicle speed stepping off the accelerator & shifting the gear to low without applying a footbrake. The vehicle braking system is responsible for reducing speed. Due to repetitive breaking, brake shoes get worn out. So, to have another alternate option for breaking is Engine Braking.

Working on Engine Braking

In most CI or SI engines, the engine brake works due to adjusting airflow in the cylinder. It tends to get declarative forces in the engine which will help to slow down the vehicle.

When we remove the foot from the accelerator pedal, the air intake valve closes & restricts the air going into the cylinder. So, there is an energy gap that helps to create a braking force. This breaking force helps slow down the vehicle by only reducing the engine speed while lowering the gear.

This process slows the vehicle safely without damage to the car or driver.

How to do Engine Braking?

Engine braking is only applicable to manual cars, not electric cars. For new drivers, it will take some time to match this technique.

Let’s consider you are driving a vehicle at 60 km/hr in fifth gear, and now there is a traffic jam. If you want to slow down the speed of the automobile, then you can take off your foot from the accelerator pedal and shift the gear to lower positions such as fourth, third, and two (depending upon the condition). It will slow down your vehicle without applying brakes. This technique is called a clutch-brake system which is very helpful to drive safely.

This engine braking requires some practice to achieve proper engine braking techniques.

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Benefits of Engine Braking:

1. Low Maintenance Cost

One of the top advantages of engine braking is to decrease the wear and tear of the brake pedal. As we apply brakes, there is some friction between the brake pads. So, wear and tear of the brake and brake plate happens. The engine braking system is more efficient in reducing the wear and tear of brakes. It results in life-saving brakes and gives us a safe and better drive.

2. Improvisation in Fuel Efficiency:

During engine braking, the engine control unit closes the fuel supply to the cylinder via the injector. It results in saving fuel which results in improvisation of fuel efficiency.

3. Safe Driving Experience on Downhill:

As we know, controlling the car on the extreme downhill is one of the major tasks which leads to gaining more friction on the brake pad resulting in wear and tear of the brake pad. This manual stopping of a car is unsafe. But by engine braking, we will very safely experience driving.

When Engine Braking is Superior to Regular Braking:

In standard braking, we apply a footbrake to stop the vehicle instantly, which is an easy and convenient way to stop the car. Due to the application of sudden brakes, there are chances of skidding the automobile and getting wear and tear on the brake pad, which will cause damage to our car.

In engine braking, we slow our car by just lowering the gear, which is one of the efficient ways to stop the vehicle. It prevents the skidding of vehicles and wears & tear of brake pads.

Following are some instances where we can realize the importance of engine braking.

1. In Extreme Downhill

If we are using the car on an extreme downhill road, then to stop the car, we need to apply the brake more gently. It happens due to gravitation forces helping to get the car’s speed. In that instance, we need to use more brakes gently. It causes the skidding of cars.

In that situation, we need to drive the car in second or third gear, which is a more ideal position to drive the vehicle in such a condition. When we slow down the car, we lower the gear and slowly apply the brake, which helps to slow down the vehicle without any damage to the car and driver.

2. In Snow or Icy Road

While driving a vehicle on an icy road, we feel very slippery. So, we apply the brake very gently. But when we use the brake in this condition, grows the chance to skid the vehicle badly. It causes damage to the vehicle & driver.

In this condition, we can apply engine braking to settle down the speed of the vehicle in a very casual and safe way without using the foot brake.

What does No Engine Braking Mean?

We understood what engine braking means, how it works, and its benefits. But it has one disadvantage. It creates more noise.

In most cities, there is a sign of no engine braking. It means that the driver is not allowed to do engine braking. As we know, this process is quite complicated and creates more noise. This noise will disturb all civilians, especially at night or early morning.


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