Driving Tip: Using Your Automatic Transmission to Help With Engine Braking Down Steep Hills
When you are travelling down a long, steep hill, you should use your automatic transmission engine braking to avoid overheating your brakes.
How do you do this? When travelling downhill, shift your automatic transmission into a lower gear using the gearshift. Typically, you will have the choice of ‘D’,’3′,’2′ and ‘1’ or something similar to that.
By shifting into one of the numbered gears (i.e. from ‘D’ down to ‘3’ or turning your overdrive OFF), the car will stay in a higher gear without downshifting. This will rev the engine higher, and it will slow the car down as you descend the hill.
It is perfectly okay to do this to your engine and transmission, although if you have never done it before you would swear it couldn’t be good for your car. If you ‘ride’ your brakes down the hill, like most drivers do, you will most likely overheat them. This will make them lose their effective braking power and can result in your brakes “vibrating” or “shuddering”. Under extreme conditions your brakes may even fail! If you are experiencing a brake shudder, your brakes may be warped and require attention. We have qualified mechanics who can inspect your brakes and advise if the rotors require machining or if the brake pads also require replacing. Contact us today to get rid of that annoying shudder or vibration in your brakes within a few hours.
Be smart – use engine braking.
I am surprised by the number of people who don’t know about this driving technique – you can always tell the people who don’t know by looking at the brake lights of people in front of you as you descend the hill. The people using engine braking will almost never touch their brakes, while the people who don’t know better will have their brake lights on all the way down the hill.