Can You Engine Brake In An Automatic

Can You Engine Brake In An Automatic

It is possible you may have come across engine braking before but you are not sure if it can work in an automatic car. For the longest time, we have seen it being popular in a manual car, but how about the automatic transmission?

Yes, engine braking is possible in automatic transmissions too but it will be less common. For you to achieve engine braking, you need to shift the lever to the low-range gears. This would definitely apply to when the car is going downhill and you let the foot off the accelerator.

Some automatic transmissions allow the user to downshift the gears to give you the best engine braking. You could use the paddles provided to get the car into a lower gear and experience engine braking.

What is Engine Braking?

In simple terms, engine braking is when the car slows down without necessarily pressing the brake. Engine braking is activated when the accelerator is released and the air intake valve of the engine is closed. When this happens, there is a vacuum created that keeps air from flowing to the cylinders. This in turn leads to a braking force since the engine is not getting as much air as it needs to run at high RPMs.

There is quite a resistance created in the engine. This braking resistance is then transferred to the transmission and subsequently to the wheels. That is why each time you lift off the gas pedal, you start to feel the car slowing down on its own.

Here is a video explaining further about engine braking

[su_youtube url=”” width=”300″ height=”200″]

How to Engine Brake Correctly

Engine braking is not hard, but you may have to do a few attempts before getting it right. The first thing you should consider is safety each time you attempt engine braking. That is why you are advised to practice engine braking on dry roads or uncrowded places first.

Engine braking is different from one transmission type to another. However, expect it to be common in a car having a manual transmission.

How to Engine Brake Correctly

For engine braking to work, first, take the foot off the gas and then shift into a low gear. Make sure the car has slowed down enough for that particular gear you want to use. If you are downhill, you should notice the decrease in speed from the moment you lift your leg off the gas pedal.

Engine braking can also be used in the braking of large commercial vehicles. However, the process is slightly different as it relies on a specific braking system called the jake brake.

Below is a video with more details on how the jake brake works.

[su_youtube url=”” width=”300″ height=”200″]

Benefits of Engine Braking

Engine braking will have a lot of benefits that are key in ensuring you use it properly. Here are some notable benefits that make more people consider engine braking.

  1. Can reduce the wear on brakes

Engine braking means you are not always on your brake pedal. The result is that now your brake pads, rotors, and the other various parts of the brake system will be spared from wearing down fast.

You can see that you will not have to change the brakes fo often, especially for drivers who have to drive steep declines all the time.

  • Reduces the chances of brake ineffectiveness

Have you ever tried stopping and it seems you are not stopping as fast as possible? That can be a scary feeling for most drivers. With engine braking, there is the chance of having the best braking performance at all times.

There will be no brake fade also because the brake pads and rotors are not overworked to the point they are too hot to do anything. If you have ever been on a never-ending downhill, then you know how it is easy for the brake pads and rotors to overheat.

  • May improve vehicle control

Engine braking also creates a smooth and consistent braking force. The same cannot be said for some pedal braking experiences especially when some of the components are worn. Also, if you want to accelerate, it will be a smooth experience even for your passengers.

Of course, stopping should be also faster since the car is already braking. Theoretically, you can come to stop faster when the need arises.

Engine Braking Concerns

Engine Braking Concerns

It is possible to have some concerns generally with engine braking. There are some people who have voiced their concerns about the use of engine braking and what it can do to the car’s engine and transmission.

Whenever you shift frequently, it is possible to put wear on your clutch. Of course, it depends on the skill of the driver. As for the automatic transmission, you should consider not overdoing it as it will lead to increased temperatures in the transmission.

Sometimes engine braking can be quite aggressive. This would lead to having very high RPMs in the engine which leads to engine wear too.

Some people forget that they should be alert even with engine braking available to them. For this reason, sometimes you may see people getting into accidents for the failure of reacting in good time.

Why Engine Braking May Be Prohibited in Some Areas

When you are driving, you may notice that in some areas there are signs showing that engine braking is prohibited. So, why is this the case? Should you not attempt engine braking in such a case?

This rule mostly applies to commercial trucks which tend to release a loud noise that sounds like gunfire when engine braking is engaged. So, the reason could be to help reduce such noise which might cause some disturbances in such areas.

There could be other reasons so make sure to follow the rules correctly.


Is it okay to engine brake in an automatic transmission?

It is quite okay to do so. Just make sure you have done enough practice so that you can get it right to avoid any issues.

Are there benefits to engine braking?

Engine braking could lead to lower maintenance costs of your brakes. This is because you do not need to keep applying the foot to the brake pedal while going downhill.

How often can you use engine braking?

You can use it as much as possible without braking. The most important thing is to ensure that you engage it correctly and still maintain alertness.

Recent Posts