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Thread: AA article - Gearing down when slowing down

  1. #1

    Default AA article - Gearing down when slowing down

    From http://www.aa.co.za/about/press-room...ce_ID=11061755

    Today's vehicles demand different driving habits to vehicles from previous eras, but this can be a problem for people who occasionally drive other vehicles than their usual one. This is according to the Automobile Association, which has pointed out how modern vehicles are gradually changing the way we drive.

    “A frequently-used example of how driving habits change is the old habit of changing down through the gears to 'save the brakes' when slowing down,” said the AA. “This was a habit that developed in the early days of motoring when cars had inefficient brakes which drivers couldn't rely on.”

    Until around the early 1970s, new vehicles were frequently fitted with drum brakes all round. Since drum brakes overheat fairly easily, using the gears to assist the brakes was a sensible and widespread habit at the time. However, disc brakes have since become standard fitment on almost all vehicles, and brake failure or fade is rarely heard encountered under normal use.

    The AA pointed out that nowadays, habitually changing down through every gear when slowing down simply wastes fuel and causes additional wear on the clutch. There's no longer any safety benefit to justify the habit.
    I have been doing this ever since I had my first car. Not all the time, but especially when coming off the highway, or if it's a major road with a visible red light in the distance. When I drove my brother's automatic, it was quite strange to just use the brakes the whole time. For me it wasn't always about "saving the brakes", but more about just being able to accelerate again at a moments notice. Is it really that bad?

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    Super Grandmaster Fazda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nuro View Post
    From http://www.aa.co.za/about/press-room...ce_ID=11061755



    I have been doing this ever since I had my first car. Not all the time, but especially when coming off the highway, or if it's a major road with a visible red light in the distance. When I drove my brother's automatic, it was quite strange to just use the brakes the whole time. For me it wasn't always about "saving the brakes", but more about just being able to accelerate again at a moments notice. Is it really that bad?
    It's not "bad" per se, but not really necessary due to the efficiency of modern brakes.

    I will also change down in order to help the brakes with engine braking, but in my case, too, it's more out of habit than necessity.
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    What should you do though ? Coast in neutral or stay in the high gear ?

    I still think gearing down is better. That way if you need to have other options you still can.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerfherder View Post
    What should you do though ? Coast in neutral or stay in the high gear ?

    I still think gearing down is better. That way if you need to have other options you still can.
    Never coast in neutral - what the AA is saying is to leave it in whatever gear you are in and gently brake, if you want to save fuel and put less stress on the clutch and gearbox.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fazda View Post
    It's not "bad" per se, but not really necessary due to the efficiency of modern brakes.

    I will also change down in order to help the brakes with engine braking, but in my case, too, it's more out of habit than necessity.
    Agreed... its no longer a necessity at all, but I always do it out of habit...

    Granted in my current vehicle it helps a bit since its a large 13yr old double cab with drum brakes on the back...
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    I have been called a retard my whole life

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    I was taught to always break under compression.
    Now you tell me it's not necessary?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerfherder View Post
    What should you do though ? Coast in neutral or stay in the high gear ?

    I still think gearing down is better. That way if you need to have other options you still can.
    Stay in the gear you're in, also the story about coasting in Neutral saving more petrol is no longer applicable to newer motors as far as I know...
    Quote Originally Posted by Korn1 View Post
    I have been called a retard my whole life

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    Super Grandmaster Fazda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ToxicBunny View Post
    Agreed... its no longer a necessity at all, but I always do it out of habit...

    Granted in my current vehicle it helps a bit since its a large 13yr old double cab with drum brakes on the back...
    Then it would certainly help!

    Out of interest, I took our BRZ auto home for the weekend, and that geabox automatically blips the throttle and drops a gear when you are slowing down.
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    Both my cars (2012 Rio and 2014 Picanto) have drums at the back, but AFAIK the discs in front do most of the work anyway.

  10. #10

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    Gearing down wastes fuel? What a load of tripe. Modern engines use zero fuel on overrun. Clutch wear? Seriously? wtf.

    Furthermore, being in the appropriate gear for your road speed already is a safety benefit should you suddenly need to accelerate for whatever reason.

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    Super Grandmaster Fazda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sinbad View Post
    Gearing down wastes fuel? What a load of tripe. Modern engines use zero fuel on overrun. Clutch wear? Seriously? wtf.

    Furthermore, being in the appropriate gear for your road speed already is a safety benefit should you suddenly need to accelerate for whatever reason.
    If it does waste fuel it's a miniscule amount which would be counteracted by driving correctly any way. The AA does sometimes come out with some fairly conservative ideas, and I know that the "don't change down" bit is straight from the Institute of Advanced Motoring handbook.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sinbad View Post
    Gearing down wastes fuel? What a load of tripe. Modern engines use zero fuel on overrun. Clutch wear? Seriously? wtf.

    Furthermore, being in the appropriate gear for your road speed already is a safety benefit should you suddenly need to accelerate for whatever reason.

    +1 That makes me doubt the whole article.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fazda View Post
    If it does waste fuel it's a miniscule amount which would be counteracted by driving correctly any way. The AA does sometimes come out with some fairly conservative ideas, and I know that the "don't change down" bit is straight from the Institute of Advanced Motoring handbook.
    Had a look at that now quickly... What they say is:

    This week the IAM recommends “block-changing”:
    Block-changing contributes to a calm and planned driving style.
    It requires less driver input and so allows more time for other things like looking for problems or reading road signs.
    A good driver will use the brakes or their acceleration sense to slow down, not the gears. Brake pads are cheaper to replace than clutches, so use the brakes if you need to.
    ...
    When slowing on approach to a roundabout or junction, use acceleration sense and/or brakes to decrease speed, and then select the right gear for the speed you are driving at. This may mean skipping out several gears at once.
    Gear changes should be made after braking but before turning the steering wheel.
    Rodger said: “Block-changing means choosing and changing gear once, instead of working through all the gears. Missing unnecessary gears saves on fuel, as well as wear and tear and saves driver effort. Use your gears to go and your brakes to slow.”
    So their basis for saying this is the clutch wear thing (which really is trivial compared to the strain on the clutch from pulling off from a standstill), and the fact that they think drivers can't do two things at once. I agree, don't be stirring the gearbox while you're turning, but a good driver with good habits and instincts does not actually need to "think" about changing from 4th to second as you slow down.

    Engine braking does not wear the clutch out. Slipping the clutch wears it out...

  14. #14

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    Its probably for the drivers who look down to change gears the rest do it without even thinking about it.

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    Huh? Most fuel injection cars as far as I know have " over ran cut off " systems.
    When I gear down with foot off the accelerator there is no fuel been used until I pop it into neutral, then the engine goes into idle and will use fuel, unlike carburetors they suck fuel no matter what.

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