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Using Brakes vs Engine

On last Sunday’s show you all admonished a woman’s male friend for suggesting that using the brakes are better than using the low gear down steep hills. HOWEVER, several years ago IT WAS YOU TWO NOODLE-HEADS WHO MADE THIS ORGINAL SUGGESTION!!! In fact, you compared the cost of a brake job vs a new transmission. How soon you forget your own advise! Little did you know you were being taped and Nixon’s not around anymore to snip-out the evidence :>)

I believe the advice that has been given involves two different situations and two different recommendations.

  • You are going down a short hill or coming up on a light. Use the brakes. Little wear and heat on the brakes.

  • Long hills call for using engine braking.

    So depending on the situation, the correct answer may be either #1 or #2.


Anyone who deals in absolutes is very foolish, and the question of downshifting vs braking is illustrative of this maxim.

As Mr. Meehan stated, what applies in one type of situation does not necessarily apply in another type of situation. In fact, T & R have consistently pointed out that reliance on only the brakes to slow a vehicle on a steep, long downgrade is likely to lead to overheated brakes and possibly boiling the brake fluid. That is why they have consistently recommended downshifting on long, steep downgrades and using the brakes in addition to downshifting. The regulars on this board are also consistent in this recommendation.

On the other hand, there are some folks who have asked about downshifting their transmission when approaching a traffic light and/or when on a short downgrade. T & R and the regulars of this forum have been consistent in pointing out that in these situations, it makes much more economic sense to rely on just the brakes, rather than downshifting the transmission.

By the way, in your next-to-last sentence, you should have used the word “advice”, rather than “advise”. If you don’t believe me, spend a few minutes with your dictionary in order to learn the differences between these two words.

Yours in accuracy,