AutosEngine braking over idling: Experts debunk old driving habits to save fuel

Engine braking over idling: Experts debunk old driving habits to save fuel

Drivers with a manual transmission often make a mistake.
Drivers with a manual transmission often make a mistake.
Images source: © Autokult | Filip Buliński
8:16 AM EST, February 26, 2024

During driver's education, instructors often discourage idling. Despite this advice, some drivers continue to think that coasting in neutral can lower fuel consumption. This belief isn't entirely baseless - in days past when carburetors were the norm instead of electronic fuel injection, shifting to neutral was beneficial. Yet, in today's world, this method is not endorsed.

- Engine braking is a far superior technique,- suggests Zbigniew Weseli, the director of Renault's Safe Driving School. This tactic involves keeping the car "in gear" and simply easing off the gas pedal. This causes the RPMs to fall, and no fuel is injected into the cylinder. In such situations, you can reduce fuel consumption by approximately 0.26-0.53 gallons, depending on the car's size.

Descending a hill can often tempt drivers to shift into neutral, but this action carries drawbacks. For instance, extended use of brakes, particularly in mountainous regions, can lead to overheating, decreasing their effectiveness.

Experts from the Safe Driving School additionally observe that driving in neutral or with the clutch engaged essentially yields the same results. In both scenarios, there's an increase in wear and tear on the disengagement system, albeit a minor one. Moreover, coasting in neutral also markedly slows down reaction time to road conditions.

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