What is engine braking?
Engine breaking occurs when the driver takes their foot off the accelerator to allow the vehicle to slow down. As soon as you release your foot from the gas, you will notice that the engine revs begin to gradually decrease, in manual vehicles, engine braking can also be increased by switching down to a lower gear.
Engine braking can be useful in circumstances such as driving downhill, when a combination of engine braking and the foot brake is required to ensure safe driving. All drivers use engine braking to some extent, whether they realise they are doing it or not.
How can you use engine braking?
When used correctly, natural engine braking is a safe and effective method to slow down a vehicle. Using engine braking correctly varies depending on the situation and driving conditions. For example, if you were approaching a large roundabout, the most effective way to slow down would be to come off the gas in good time on the approach and gradually apply the brake. In this example, you are using both engine braking and the brake pedal to slow down the car. You can also use the cars gears to increase engine braking, once the car has slowed down to 25-30mph you can drop down into 3rd gear without there being any pull back or loud engine noise.
Engine braking in snow and ice
When slowing down when driving in snow and ice, too much use of the footbrake can have the opposite of the desired affect and increase your chances of skidding. Therefore, in these conditions, engine braking is especially useful and should be used more than the footbrake. When using engine braking in snow and ice, you will need to read the road the road ahead as early as possible and carefully time your approaches at junctions.