Possible Duplicate:
Does Downshifting (Engine Braking) Cause Extra Wear and Tear?

Edit: As mentioned in the comments: Duplicate of Does Downshifting (Engine Braking) Cause Extra Wear and Tear?

Many people, it seems, use the motor brake to slow down the car, often when they want to bring it to a complete standstill, e. g. in front of a red light. Depress clutch, shift to a lower gear, engage clutches slowly while letting the engine run at idle speed. Others - including me - let go the accelerator, use the (little) breaking effect excerted by the engine, and eventually just depress the clutch and use the brakes to bring the car to a standstill.

Note that I'm not talking about downshifting at the beginning of a long descent, where continuous braking will let the brakes run hot.

The reason given for the clutch maneuver is that this saves the brakes from wear. But it also puts more wear on the clutch, and possibly on the transmission.

Given the price of a new clutch and that of a new set of brake pads, I'd rather have the latter replaced. And compared to how often I have to use the brakes anyway, it can't be all too much that I save.

Is there any firm advice on this question? Assuming a reasonably recent car, of course - maybe this used to be an issue some decades ago.

  • Would it not be a duplicate of several engine braking questions here? We had covered clutch and gear wear in those in detail.
    – theUg
    Jan 22, 2013 at 1:31

1 Answer 1


The problem is that what you are talking about is not engine braking as such, but clutch braking.

To engine brake without putting undue wear on the clutch, you do the following:

  • depress the clutch
  • change to neutral
  • press the accelerator so the revs will match the gear you are intending to move to
  • change into the next lower gear
  • release the clutch

There should be no slipping of the clutch, and the syncromesh should also not need to run, as you should have matched revs appropriately.

The benefits include less likelihood of locking up, consistent braking, longer brake pad life, and because you are in a lower gear, the braking force is greater.

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