changing gears - markymarkn
One thing i've always wondered when i've been driving around....

Is it better, when stuck at lights or whatever, to put the car into neutral or is it ok to just stay with the clutch down? which is better for the gearbox or is there no difference?

similarly - when slowing down etc, I tend to go through the gears since i find it gives better control over braking, but can this put adverse stress on the 'box too? Am I better off using just the brakes? My driving instructor taught me to not go through the gears - but he said that in days of old they did used to teach students to go through the gears like I now do.

Also, has any of you out there done the Advanced Licence? I was thinking of applying to my local IAM and doing the test, since hopefully it will knock the price of my rediculously high insurance (£1300 tpft) down a bit (i'm only 19).

Cheers,

Mark
Re: changing gears - Dan J
Re slowing down through the gears my driving instructor pointed out to me that a replacement set of brake pads costs 30 quid, a replacement gearbox costs 200 - what would you rather end up replacing? You also increase engine wear I believe...

My dad told me never to sit at lights with the clutch in as it wears the bearings out on the clutch release mechanism much faster than if you just sit in neutral with the clutch in. What makes me laugh is when you see people sat on a at red lights just holding the car on the clutch or continually creeping foward. Clutch centres must love people like that having to replace their clutches every 30k miles! Not a good idea if you own a Vectra or Mondeo...
Re: IAM - Andrew Smith
I investigated the IAM thing when I was your age and found that the sort of insurance company that would offer a discount to an advanced driver was not the sort that would offer a competitive premium to a young driver.
Although your experience may vary the advanced driver scheme may be best viewed as a good way to improve your driving so that you get a NCD and not a claim.

(If it's any consolation my first insurance premium in 1992 was £675, after ten years of driving my policy this year cost just short of £800. So I never did manage to get it any cheaper)
Re: changing gears - Tomo
Certainly stay in neutral if stopped more than momentarily; it saves the clutch release bearing (and as happened to one unfortunate I knew, the foot slipping off the clutch when behind a Roller!).

Going down through the gears is disputed, some say it is unnecessary wear on the box though personally I feel in better control, especially when getting to the right gear for a bend; but then my father said using the brakes was a sign of not thinking ahead and you would find you had none when most needed, so perhaps I'm just old-fashioned!
Re: changing gears - Derek
When I underwent a minibus driving evaluation, the examiner said to put on the handbrake and slip into neutral, if likely to be stopped for more than 5 seconds.

I generally brake with the clutch engaged, changing down as the car slows, so that you're not straining engine or gearbox (as it happens, the handbook for my motorcycle recommends the same method). It gives you more control than a 'freewheel' stop. Using this method, I can 'skip' gears in the car. I find that 5th to 4th, then 4th to 2nd works for me, but my sons' instructor taught them to go from 5th to 3rd, then 3rd to 2nd.
Re: changing gears - John Davis
I think that it was common to "slow down" on the gears in the days when braking systems were very inferior to what they are today. My opinion is that it increases the wear on the gearbox, clutch, transmission etc and, nowadays, is not required.
Re: changing gears - Darcy Kitchin
My dad was an early recruit into the IAM and always recommended the "brakes to slow, gears to go" principle. He owned a small garage in North Yorkshire in the early '60s near an interesting downhill hairpin called Pot Bank where brake failure was not uncommon. When he went to recover the wreck in the Austin A40 pickup, he would (out of interest) ask the unfortunate driver when they braked and when they noticed the brakes weren't working. Out of the various replies he got, his opinion became "the sooner you know your brakes aren't working, the better" (sorry it doesn't rhyme or anything).

My view? Similar, but adding that if you need to go down the 'box to feel in control, you need to slow down earlier.

I once drove a Saab 96 2-stroke which had a freewheel device i.e. no engine braking at all, when you took your foot off, the engine settled into a lumpy idle immediately. No discussion there, then. Brake firm and early.
Re: changing gears - John Kenyon
Darcy Kitchin wrote:
>
> My dad was an early recruit into the IAM and always
> recommended the "brakes to slow, gears to go" principle. He
> owned a small garage in North Yorkshire in the early '60s
> near an interesting downhill hairpin called Pot Bank where
> brake failure was not uncommon. When he went to recover the
> wreck in the Austin A40 pickup, he would (out of interest)
> ask the unfortunate driver when they braked and when they
> noticed the brakes weren't working. Out of the various
> replies he got, his opinion became "the sooner you know your
> brakes aren't working, the better" (sorry it doesn't rhyme or
> anything).

But if you are going down hill in the correct gear, brake application
will be minimal.

Example - A515 going into Ashbourne from Buxton - a 1 in 7.
My technique (in the trusty 306DT) is to brake to about 10mph at the top, drop
into second, and then use the brakes to ensure that I don't over rev the engine.

My speed then never exceeds 30mph and I've always got the brakes available
if I need to stop halfway down - a dash out from the marketplace car park being the common one.

Where I come from it's better to never put yourself in a position where you
brakes could fail.

/john
Re: changing gears - Dan J
In that situation your method is probably the best as it leaves you in maximum control of the car in a difficult circumstance - I was meaning generally slowing down in normal conditions and how it puts unnecessary wear on all sorts of components if you brake through the gears. When in Clovelly I had to use 1st gear and the brakes (I dread to think what gradient the hill was, probably a 1-in-4) on the way down but I would never normally use the engine as a means of braking.
Re: changing gears - Darcy Kitchin
John Kenyon wrote:
> My technique (in the trusty 306DT) is to brake to about 10mph
> at the top, drop
> into second, and then use the brakes to ensure that I don't
> over rev the engine.
>

ie you brake first before changing down, I agree.
Re: changing gears & IAM - Jonathan
I passed the IAM test about 8 years ago and as far as I remember, you should be able to drive without ever touching your brakes. This shows that you have anticipated all potential hazards and traffic flow sufficiently to allow engine slowing (not braking) to reduce your speed.

Anther reason for this, is that older carb engines slow quicker than more modern injection ones and they also stall less at lower revs without being laboured. It is perfectly acceptable to skip gears, the maxim is to make progress and to get to the desired speed as quickly and safely as possible, I quite often skip from second to fifth and back again.

The IAM should be taken primarily to improve your driving skills, it is a bonus to get a reduction in premiums.

Get in touch, I would thoroughly recommend someone to take it, as it improves your skills, and as with anything, the better you do something, the more you enjoy it.

Regards

Jonathan
Re: changing gears & IAM - Jonathan
Correction should have read

> Anther reason for this, is that older carb engines slow
> quicker than more modern injection ones and they (injection engines)
> also stall less at lower revs without being laboured. It is perfectly
> acceptable to skip gears, the maxim is to make progress and
> to get to the desired speed as quickly and safely as
> possible, I quite often skip from second to fifth and back
> again.
>
> The IAM should be taken primarily to improve your driving
> skills, it is a bonus to get a reduction in premiums.
>
> Get in touch, I would thoroughly recommend someone to take
> it, as it improves your skills, and as with anything, the
> better you do something, the more you enjoy it.
>
> Regards
>
> Jonathan
Re: changing gears & IAM - Dominic Grimes
Your experience shows how the IAM teach different driving methods. When I took my test I was taught never to use the compression of the engine to slow the car down but always brake to an appropriate speed for the manouvre. The reason being that if you usethe engine to slow down you do not give the cars behind you an early indication that you are braking. - gears for go, brakes for slow.

dominic
Re: changing gears - Tomo
My brother (only been driving about half a century admittedly) calls it the Institute of Addled Motorists).
Re: changing gears & IAM - Jonathan
I don't use the engine to slow the car, I brake and change down to the appropriate gear, rather than go through all the gears, or I accelerate and change up to the most approriate gear. (Hence 2nd to 5th and back again).

Jonathan
Re: changing gears & IAM - John Kenyon
Jonathan wrote:
>
> I don't use the engine to slow the car, I brake and change
> down to the appropriate gear, rather than go through all the
> gears, or I accelerate and change up to the most approriate
> gear. (Hence 2nd to 5th and back again).

You are kidding yourself.
Every time you take your foot off the gas with the engine in gear, engine braking occurs.

(Unless you're driving a Trabant, 2 stroke SAAB, or any other car with
a freewheel or engine disconnection device)

/john
Re: changing gears & IAM - Jonathan
OK, if you want to split hairs, then yes it happens, but I don't purposefully change down gears to slow the car down, There is a difference between allowing the car to slow in the same gear and changing down, making the engine slow the wheels.

Jonathan
Re: changing gears & IAM - Jonathan
Incidentally, how many people use the accelerator to get the engine speed to match the gears when changing down or up. This makes for a much smoother ride.

Jonathan
Re: changing gears - John Kenyon
Darcy Kitchin wrote:
>
> John Kenyon wrote:
> > My technique (in the trusty 306DT) is to brake to about 10mph
> > at the top, drop
> > into second, and then use the brakes to ensure that I don't
> > over rev the engine.
> >
>
> ie you brake first before changing down, I agree.

I actually the most cost effective way of slowing to lose most of the speed
- anticipation and taking my foot off the soot/noisy pedal.

/john

(probably the reason why I get half decent fuel consumption figures, despite
relatively high average speeds)
Re: changing gears - Richard Hall
On some Land Rovers (5 speed gearbox), if you sit for too long in gear with the clutch depressed, the release bearing overheats and melts the plastic carrier it sits in, with expensive consequences. I always put the gearbox into neutral and release the clutch if I am stationary for more than a few seconds. As for using the gears to slow the car down - I take the 'slow in - fast out' approach to corners, and use gears as well as brakes to slow down in a straight line so I am in the right gear at the start of the corner. A legacy of my Herald-owning days, when freewheeling into a corner, power off, wrestling with a sloppy gearchange in a desperate attempt to find the appropriate cog, could mean the car got very out of shape as the rear suspension 'jacked up' and the inside rear wheel lost contact with the ground.... I have been driving like this for around 250,000 miles and haven't broken a gearbox or clutch yet.
Re: changing gears - John Slaughter
I'd agree with the general tone here. Sitting stationary with the clutch depressed simply wears the thrust bearing and clutch. If you're going to be stationary for more than 10 seconds, put the car in neutral.

Likewise I've always been on the side of gears to go, brakes to slow, believing that using the gearbox to slow relates to cars of a previous era. Particularly so these days, with brakes costing £10's and gearboxes and clutches £100's.

The IAM and the Police certainly use these methods, and even advocate 'block changes' (eg 4 to 2) when approaching hazards. This works when you can see the hazard and plan ahead, but clearly there are cases when you need to match the gear to the speed all the time.

Off road of course it's different. Despite Landrovers Hill Descent Control (which times out after a while to prevent brake overheating (!)) it's far safer to use the gears and not the brakes, but this is a very specialised activity.

regards

John
Re: changing gears - Bill Doodson
To repy to the last part of your post, (the first parts well covered). The only way to reduce your insurance premiums is to get older or change sex to femail. Andrew Smiths bit about not having any accidents is also true. It helps to build the no claim discount. I didnt have one for about the first 10 years of driving. I had my first accident within 6 hours of passing my test!

Bill
Re: changing gears - Richard Blackburn
When driving a car with a manual gearbox, I personally tend to use brakes to slow rather than use the gears (having been taught that brake linings cost less to replace than gears.

I also drive an automatic (being a recent convert), and I'd be interested to know what the current advice is - do you keep your foot on the brake (or apply the handbrake) when waiting at the lights etc? Or should you put the lever in the 'park' position?

Richard
Re: changing gears - Darcy Kitchin
We spectacle wearers find that sitting behind an automatic car held stationary with the footbrake is very trying. Even more so with the eye-level 3rd brakelight. For traffic lights, I'd use the handbrake, leaving the car in gear. For longer stops, move the selector to neutral with the handbrake on, as the gearbox fluid will heat up if left in gear too long.

Anything but sitting with your foot on the big pedal ...
Re: changing gears - Bill Doodson
To repy to the last part of your post, (the first parts well covered). The only way to reduce your insurance premiums is to get older or change sex to femail. Andrew Smiths bit about not having any accidents is also true. It helps to build the no claim discount. I didnt have one for about the first 10 years of driving. I had my first accident within 6 hours of passing my test!

Bill
Re: changing gears - Peter Morrison
I have always used gears to slow down, and have never heard of a gearbox breaking. Clutches yes, release bearings yes, gears, never.

Cheers,

Peter.
Re: changing gears - Cockle
Richard

As someone who also drives both auto and manual vehicles I've always thought it to be good manners when stopped in traffic to slip the auto into neutral and apply handbrake. This avoids dazzling the driver behind with continuously applied brake lights and the use of neutral avoids the panic when he/she sees the reversing lights flash on as the lever goes through reverse from Park to Drive!

A suggestion to markymarkn, have you looked into PassPlus. I have no experience of it but I understood that it was designed to give the more inexperienced driver more awareness and would also be recognised by some insurers to enable lower premiums. Whether this has proved to be the case I don't know but might be worth investigating.
Re: changing gears - Brian
I have always used the gears to slow down and have never yet had to replace either a clutch or a gearbox, however, I do match the engine speed to the road speed when changing down, so the is minimal clutch slip (and wear).
The other advantage of going down through the gears is that should circumstances change and rapid acceleration be required to avoid a hazard, then it is instantly available. That would not be the case if you are freewheeling or in a high gear.
Re: changing gears - markymarkn
cheers lads (and lasses), thanks for info

After further research, my local IAM offer quite a good deal. something like 30 quid to join then free lessons by volunteer members, and you just have to pay for the test on top of that. bargain.
Re: changing gears - Dan
MarkM,

Do the pass plus. It takes 6 hours (one stint if you can bear it) and can save you up to 400 quid insurance if you are in your first year. Cost: £80 if using own car, £100 in instructors. All weather, night, dual and motorway driving plus rural etc..(i did mine in flood conditions!)
Straight forward and very unlikely not to pass it unless you are a complete muppet.

BTW surely anyone who questioned using low gear to slow cars downhill can't live near any hills! (Er... yeah OK l live in Norfolk but l once saw a hillock) If you are in 2nd (for example) the cars descent is controlled and puts only similar strain on the engine/gearbox as accelerating would providing your not slamming it into second at 50. Additionally it is far better to be already slowed by the engine and have the brakes as an additional stopping aid than be standing on your brake pedal in 5th grinding your pads away into little firelighter cubes.

As for changing down the gears on the flat, no point. Can anyone confirm that this is a leftover from early-day police driver practices?

Had no idea what untold damage l was doing to my clutch with the pedal down in gear at lights routine, will change my ways!

Dan
Re: changing gears - The Growler
I think all this is why someone invented auto trans!
Re: matching revs to engine speed - Stuart B
Jonathan asked
"Incidentally, how many people use the accelerator to get the engine speed to match the gears when changing down or up. This makes for a much smoother ride."

Yes quite agree it does make smoother progress and always do it. The technique on up changes has a specific term for the technique, something like sustained throttle or similar.

After a few fluffed down changes where I totally missed matching revs to speed on a regular junction I thought I was losing my touch. To describe the junction, fast downhill approach into tight more than 90 slot right.

Found that in the shift from 5 or 4 direct to 2 it was impossible to match revs. Eventually found after some experimentation that if braking was continuous for longer than about 1 second the drive by wire throttle is disconnected and no amount of blipping whatever can affect the engine revs. Now I know about it I can plan and drive round the "problem" but can anyone explain why this is a feature? I understand it is on Bosch injection systems with fly by wire.
Re: matching revs to engine speed - John Kenyon
Stuart B wrote:
>



>
> Found that in the shift from 5 or 4 direct to 2 it was
> impossible to match revs. Eventually found after some
> experimentation that if braking was continuous for longer
> than about 1 second the drive by wire throttle is
> disconnected and no amount of blipping whatever can affect
> the engine revs. Now I know about it I can plan and drive
> round the "problem" but can anyone explain why this is a
> feature? I understand it is on Bosch injection systems with
> fly by wire.

Possibly a carry over from having a FI system compatible with
auto gearboxes - avoids having torque input from the engine
at the same time as working against a braking force.

Sounds like a cue for a on/off switch modification...

/john
Re: matching revs to engine speed - Stuart B
Hello John,

Re your earlier comment about the A515 dropping down into Ashbourne. You get used to the smell of fried brakes from the quarry lorries down around the market place approaching the T as I recall.

Used to use that road regularly, up and then fork right at the pub up towards Winster and the A6, quite a nice driving road when its quiet.

Rather glad I am not around Ashbourne now with that nutter throwing things through windscreens though. :-(

Regds,
Stuart
Re: matching revs to engine speed - ROBIN
Holding a car on the clutch wears out the entire clutch mechanism prematurely,holding the clutch in whilst stationary wears just some of it out prematurely.
Slowing the car by changing down a gear or two prepares you for any change in circumstances in advance,that is why it is recommended.
If it wears gearboxes out then I have been very lucky in the last38 years and just about a million miles.One of my cars has endured my driving for 170000miles over 6 years and its on its original clutch and gearbox.Brake pads last at least 60,000 miles........
I do not consider this remarkeable.
Petrol v Diesel - Lee H
Some interesting posts here, it makes me think about exactly how I drive. I covered a lot of miles in a Citroen TD, but now drive a petrol.

I was wondering if it (engine braking) makes any difference to the strain on the works / fuel consumption between the two - the diesel would really slow down on an idle throttle, but the petrol not as much. Think I prefer the diesel as it feels more direct.

Anyone know if it matters either way?
Re: Petrol v Diesel - Stu
My father bet me he could change gear without using the clutch but by matching engine speed to road speed(?)

Of course I didn't believe him, twas rather spooky to see it done. (Very old Sierra).
 

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