Use stick shift to use 'Engine brakes'


I bought 4 month ago an 2006 M3 / BMW 35.000 miles. We are living on top of Spring Mt. a pretty steep street to go down to the St. Helena town/Napa Valley, about 5 miles. In order to save on the brakes, I use the stick to use the ‘Engine brake’, shifting from e.g. 3rd gear to 2nd or sometimes even to first gear. Pretty noisy, which does not bother me. My wife thinks this is not good for the car?

So, what is your opinion?

PS: I’m from Germany and we always used the stick-shift to switch ‘down’ as kind of reduce speed and no need to use the brakes all the time.

there is alot of controversy over this topic. as long as you are shifting smoothly (aka not shifting and popping the clutch) it should be fine but you will go through clutches faster. i personally use both brakes and gears to slow down on hills so that neither part takes too much strain.

What are you “saving the brakes” for? An M3 is designed for the track and with excess braking capacity. You will ever never see on any street in the US going at close to legal speeds.

I think this is antique thinking when brakes were either non power or woefully under designed.

I would suggest using the brakes to slow down, but use the engine to keep it slow. When going down a long grade, you can easily overheat the brakes and you don’t want that to happen while you are going down hill.

+1 with Joseph here. Brakes are for changing speed. Select a range that allows minimal braking to keep the car from running away in gravity acceleration. You’re soaking up all that energy in motion instead of dissipating it in heat/wear in the brakes. You should wear nothing out in any detectable manner.

Where do you live Andrew? Anyplace in the mountains where the grades are steep and long you can put enough heat into the braking system by riding the brakes to maintain speed to boil the brake fluid and lose all braking. The more powerful your brakes are, the faster you can do it.

Your car does not have an “engine brake.” Engine brakes are used in commercial trucks, not passenger cars.

What you are doing can be called “engine braking,” but that doesn’t mean you have engine brakes.

I have a stick shift too, but a brake job on all four wheels is cheaper than a new clutch. The clutch wasn’t designed for this kind if use. The brakes were.

Brakes are easy to replace or repair if you are a DIY person. I have known many people of German extraction where I worked here in the northern midwest US who knew how to do things such as this. I knew Richter, Schmidt, Hahn, Helm, Hart, Zauner and many others.