If you’ve ever taken a car to a track day or just had a spirited drive on a mountain road, you may have noticed that when you downshift, the car slows down significantly. If that has ever concerned you then there’s nothing to worry about. What you experience is calledEngine Braking and it happens due to your engine working against the vacuum when the throttle is closed.
Now engine braking, when performed deliberately, is a useful maneuver that has several benefits. The most important one being that it reduces the stress from the brakes. Since it has similar results, your brakes get used less often. In turn, they fade less and last much longer. Other than that, it’s also more fuel efficient as the fuel injectors shut down temporarily while the engine is braking.
So does that mean engine braking is the ultimate solution to all our driving problems? Well, no. For you see, on normal circumstances like hill descents, engine braking is really useful. However, while you’re on a track setting the best possible lap times, slowing down while shifting down can affect your overall time.
That’s whereRev Matchingcomes into play. It lets you downshift so that your engine remains in its power band without slowing you down. It is a simple technique that might need some practice to perfect. Note that this tutorial is going to be for cars with a manual transmission only. The rest of them either don’t need it or do it automatically for you.
Take your car up to cruising speed, preferably 40mph. Also, make sure you’re in high. 4th gear would be ideal for this demonstration.
Take your foot off the accelerator, you’ll feel the car starting to decelerate.
Then when you’re ready, shift down to 3rd gear. Now just before you can release the clutch with your left foot, you need to ‘blip’ the accelerator with your right foot. By blip, I mean just give it a quick flick and then release the clutch. You’ll notice the deceleration won’t dramatically increase when your car goes in a lower gear.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, this may seem easy but does need some practice before you get it just right. It’s not particularly difficult. In fact, I’d say it’s way easier than drifting. It’s not even like you’d need this only on a racetrack. Just take your car to a mountain road and try it out yourself. Get it right and it’s guaranteed to put a big smile on your face!