Is my driving style bad for my car?

I learned to drive a stick 20 years ago. I was taught to downshift to help slow the car. I do this about 25% of the time. Does downshifting to slow the vehicle hurt the car? The transmission? The clutch? I’m willing to try to change if I’m hurting my car.

It depends on your downshifting technique. If you just let out the clutch without any throttle work, then yes, you’re being hard on your clutch and your synchros. If you let out the clutch after blipping the throttle to match the speed the engine will be going in the new gear, then you’re only being hard on your synchros. If you’re clutching in, moving the gear shift to neutral, then clutching out, blipping the throttle, then clutching in again and changing to the new gear, then congrats: You’re doing it right, and you’re not causing any abnormal wear.

Downshifting to slow for a stop only does additional wear to the drivetrain, mainly the clutch. Your brakes do a much better job for slowing/stopping, don’t bother downshifting to slow for a stop.

Please search for all of the previous discussions on this topic, which apply to you too.

If you have excellent technique (matching revs precisely as you downshift) you’re not wearing things out much faster. Otherwise, you’re wearing out your clutch faster and putting more stress on your synchros. Brakes are cheaper, but if you enjoy it, it may be worth the cost to you.

New brakes cost $$ Clutch and transmissions cost $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

If you are really really good, it is safe.

If you are going down a steep long hill, then you are risking overheating the brakes and loosing the ability to control the car. There are not too many locations that would come into play however. You will see the emergency truck pull off’s on those down grades.

It depends if you’re adding throttle before the lower gear is selected, or if you’re downshifting in the same manner as upshifting i.e. simply selecting a lower gear and letting the clutch pedal out.

I was taught to simply “let the car slow itself down,” using the brakes as necessary, thus I have yet to burn out a clutch.

The football coach that taught driver’s ed taught me to downshift as I slowed down and I used to do it religiously. As I got older and older, I started to realize that he didn’t walk on water and now I use my own common sense. I just let the car slow down on its own and use the brakes to stop it most of the time. If you really want so “save the brakes” get in the habit of looking well past the rear bumper of the car immediately ahead of you. If I see a traffic light go from green to red a half mile ahead of me on the highway, I let my car coast.

Don’t assume that the person that taught you to drive knows everything. Some of them teach their own bad habits to their students.

Great answer, B.L.E. This is the first key of the “smith system” driving method that is taught to commercial drivers. Pay attention 12-15 seconds down the road, watching for any hazards and “stale green lights”.

I once read in a book on driving by the great race driver, Jackie Stewart, that “The engine in a car is a marvelously inefficient brake”. It is good to gear down a bit to descend a long hill, in addition to what truckers call “snub braking”. But you don’t need to downshift so that your running 4500 RPM. 2000 RPM or so will do it. It takes really severe misuse to overheat the brakes on any decent modern car.

How many clutches or (manual) transmissions have you replaced or repaired.

If none keep driving the way you do.

The real disadvantage to using transmission for engine braking is increased fuel consumption. Also there is some wear to your clutch & transmission/driveline.