DaveinOlyWA wrote:I also think its important to note that slowing down by downshifting on a manual tranny is not recommended. But then again, we just started wearing seat belts how long ago?
Downshifting isn't recommended? By whom? I think people don't downshift enough! Have you ever been in a passenger vehicle that has lost it's brakes on a steep downhill grade do to not engine braking? I have (I wasn't the driver.) Have you ever had a vehicle that after 30 years still had it's original brake pads, shoes, rotors and drums and they still looked new while the neighbor's needed changed every 6 months? I have.
Why do people say downshifting is only a manual transmission thing? I downshift all the time in my automatics. Right now I'm loving the 6 levels of "downshifting" my Avalon Hybrid gives me, and I use them all.
Who's at fault in a rear ender? The one that was tail-gating or the one who downshifted? The one who was tail-gating of course. So why blame the guy who is engine braking or regenerating without brake lights? People need to give the next car some space. If it starts to slow down, then slow down and maintain that space. Don't wait for brake lights to come on. If you can't do that then expect to rear-end someone some day.
Now don't get me wrong. I see a benefit in brake lights lighting up for any sort of deceleration. But I also see some issues with it. First, when going down a hill behind a car that turns it's brake lights on anytime it's downshifted or regenerating then there's no way to know when the car may want to actually stop, or if it's going to keep going the same speed. I guess this could be remedied by adding varying levels of brake lights, or make them flash for more forceful braking. But second, then how do you apply the same technology to all cars? Nearly all cars have the ability to downshift. Anyone who wants to can move that lever down and get engine braking action without lighting up the brake lights.
Before the Leaf and the Avalon I had an old 23:1 CR VW diesel that engine-braked more forcefully than the B mode on the Leaf. I often thought of hooking up the idle switch (a switch that turned off the upshift indicator light when the throttle was at idle) to a blinker module that could blink the brake lights on and off when engine braking. I have always been personally aware of people behind me not seeing brake lights come on. So in the Leaf and every other vehicle I've had I simply and lightly tap the brake pedal a few times when I go to downshift so as to alert them of my intentions.
I think the way this is going is that cars are starting to have automatic braking and automatic distancing technology. So some day law makers may make it a must that all new cars have such technology. Then if the next person lets up off the pedal in B mode or whatever, the cars behind will automatically adjust their speed.
Here's another story about downshifting. I worked as a school bus driver in Colorado for 5 years. The mechanic told me that in his many years being a mechanic there he never needed to replace bus brake shoes or drums from wearing out. The only time he had to replace a few was when the bearing seal failed and contaminated the brake linings. He attributed this to the bus drivers being good about downshifting. But with the company cars the teachers would take it was another story. Since the teachers weren't trained driving professionals, they would come back with warped rotors EVERY TIME they went over a mountain pass. The mechanic got to the point he installed oversized slotted and drilled rotors and ceramic brake pads on all the company cars so he wouldn't need to replace them so often.