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I have a manual transmission that’s front wheel drive. Does downshifting damage the car?

Damage, no; wear out the clutch faster, probably. Why do you downshift?

To slow down a little faster. I thought it was good for the car’s transmission? I guess I was wrong?

My high school driving instructor taught me to downshift to help stop the car. As I grew more experienced, I finally figured out that he did not walk on water and using my own judgement, I dropped the habit of aggressive downshifting to “save the brakes”.
Today I save the brakes by looking far, far, ahead of me while driving and if a light turns red way up there or I see a bunch of taillights light up, I know it’s time to just let the car coast.

If you make a practice of downshifting, it does put increased wear on the transmission synchronizers and bearings. Downshifting helps you keep the car under control in descending steep grades, but is really unnecessary in coming up to a stop on level ground.

If you do decide to always downshift as you slow down, I would recommend putting loud mufflers on the car so that as you increase the wear on the transmission, you do sound like a LeMans race driver.

Yep, definitely not good for the tranny to use it instead of the brakes. Use brakes instead.

Down shifting is usually unnecessary when coming to a stop, however, if the light turns green and you have to go again before you are stopped, it is good to downshift to an appropriate gear. Just learn to do it properly, matching revs with the throttle pedal instead of letting the clutch drag the engine up to speed.

I once knew a guy who drove a 5-speed Subaru, and in the city, he would often slow down to 10-15 MPH and leave it in 5th gear to accelerate, forcing the engine to pull from 400-500 RPM. That will ruin your rings and bearings in a hurry! It is hell on the tranny, too.

"Does downshifting damage the car?"
Depends upon how well and how often you do it. Do it right,and I would say there is less damage to the transmission other than a little more clutch wear. Stay in the correct gear for the conditions and down shift correctly when needed. No hard and fast rules. I’m certainly going to down shift ANY transmission when not doing it will wear my brakes and nerves excessively.

Make sure to “blip” the throttle to rev match (speed up the engine to match the higher tranny speed). This will reduce clutch wear and still provide engine breaking you want.

Car makers say not to in their books, but I always have with no ill effects, including clutch wear. We replaced the clutch in our Ranger at 88K miles, but only because the internal slave cylinder failed and he had to crack it open anyway - still had lots of life left, according to him.

Give it a try without the “blip” it will work just fine,always has.

New clutch $$$$
New brakes ???

Rev match to minimize clutch wear and reduce shock load to engine mounts. Double clutch to help the synchros. There would be negligible amount of clutch and transmission wear when done right.