Question(s) about Braking

As the title says, I’ve got a question about braking. I’ve been playing Forza since the original Xbox, but it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve started taking advantage of the tuning and manual shifting. For about a year now, I’ve been using Manual w/Clutch. Since I’ve started using Manual/Clutch, I’ve been experimenting with what I call “Clutch Braking”. If this is an actual technique that goes by a different name, I am completely ignorant of it (like I am with pretty much everything about cars). So, what I’ve been doing is, when I start braking, I pop the clutch to (theoretically) remove the engine’s influence from the wheels, with the hope that without the power from the engine being transferred to the wheels conflicting with the stopping power of the brakes, that will reduce braking distance & time. Whether or not this works is what my question is. As I mentioned before, I operate in nigh complete ignorance of how cars actually work, so what I would like to know is if this is actually working the way I’ve been thinking it would, and if it’s even necessary or not. I don’t use ABS (even though that would help immensely with brake distance & efficiency), so if anyone is going to experiment (this is here as a precaution, not an indication of expectation), you’d want to factor that in. I’m going to be doing some tests after work today, but I wanted to know if this sort of thing has already been tested or not. If it has, then I’d just be wasting my time. If this sort of thing has already been covered in another thread, I apologize for the re-post.

Actually downshifting helps add to the braking force. It’s called engine braking, if you come completely off the throttle then your wheels are turning the engine, working against the compression in the cylinder. As for whether it’s useful, if you can lock the wheels then your stopping bottleneck is the tire so more force can’t help but at high speeds you may not be able to lock even with full braking so it could help.

That makes sense. Thanks for the help. Haven’t had much time to test this out well (been lazy & spent my time painting cars). Whatever I find out, I’ll post on here.

What you’re doing is colloquially referred to a “free-wheeling” - many learner drivers will ride the clutch (or “free-wheel”) when turning into corners because they haven’t anticipated the need to down shift before a corner; and act of turning and downshifting is too difficult to do while taking the corner itself, so instead of stalling the car by driving at a low speed in a high gear, they ride the clutch until they can apply the throttle out of the corner.

Although I know it will cause an argument when I say this, the term “engine braking” isn’t really accurate when talking about gears either. Engine braking is simply releasing the throttle while moving (ie taking your foot off the gas) downshifting at the same time is not a prerequisite for “engine braking” but has a compounding effect.

Ultimately what you’re doing is a less effective way to drive the car though. Engines makes peak power and torque at various RPM’s and you want to try and maintain the most power possible on the throttle and have the right gear engaged at all times so the car is as responsive as possible.

A combination of engine braking and downshifting will slow the car faster than free-wheeling and look at it this way - no one in professional racing does what you’re talking about and Ferrari is always trying to minimize the amount of time the clutch is engaged on their cars.

Edit - maybe I read your post wrong? Are you expecting that having the clutch pressed means that no power is being transferred to the wheels and that that will slow the car (without the brake or the downshift)?

Holding the clutch while you brake is not a good idea, it means no engine braking…it will take you more time to slow down and you will also have less control over the car if you start the turn while still holding the clutch.
Just downshift before entering the turn and use the right gear with a little bit of gas if possible, you will have more stability and more importantly you will be faster out of the corner.

I noticed that there has been a little confusion over exaclty how I brake (because the required information was never given), so I’ll try to clear that up as best I can. When coming to a point where I need to slow down, if I don’t have to slow down much, I don’t. I’ll just run through, coasting (with occasional bursts of power if needed) if I have to. When I do need to dramatically lower my speed, I hit the brake, engage the clutch so that I can downshift (if needed), and with the hope that removing the power of the engine from the wheels will make the tires more responsive to braking and turning. Usually I try to pump the brakes (because I have ABS Off), but sometimes forget because I’m silly like that. I hope that helps clear things up, and I appreciate the responses. From the sounds of it, I should stop doing this, because it’s actually reducing braking efficiency. Thanks all. Will be testing this later today, just so I know how much it’s affects braking. Will test on 3 different tracks, all at turns that have the descending numbers (500->400->300, etc.) on one side or the other.

Yes, the method you are using is resulting in far less control and will give you much slower lap times. The ideal way through a turn is to be accelerating rather than braking. If you need to slow down, it should be done prior to the turn, but as little and as late as possible and with the minimal amount of clutch.
Of course, mastering this technique and applying it properly to every turn is what makes the fastest drivers the fastest.


Alright, so I finally got around to testing how holding the clutch while braking affects distance/time. Took a little longer to do than I wanted because I was being lazy & doing other things. Anywho, for the tests, I used a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. 10 with Default Upgrades and Tune settings. I tested on the Indianapolis Grand Prix Circuit, going from the starting position to the 1st turn. I started to stop when I hit the 300 foot marker. I tested at two different speeds under two different circumstances: 60mph with & without clutch; 100mph with & out clutch. For 60mph, both scenarios ended up stopping right around the 200ft marker, with the clutch brake stopping closer to or beyond the marker. As for the 100ph test, without constant clutch I ended up stopping between the 1st & 2nd traffic cones aget the 100ft marker. With constant clutch, it ended up going to the 3rd-5th cone. So, when it comes to AWD vehicles, when going 60mph or slower, there isn’t really any difference between “free-wheeling” and not. Any faster than that, and you’ll want to keep off the clutch except when you need to downshift during the stop. I’ll test this with RWD & FWD as well, but I suspect that there won’t be much of a difference. Hope this helps.

I think that you should try to take a corner rather than check when the car stops, holding the clutch and removing the power of the engine from the wheels doesn’t make the tires more responsive to braking and turning, you are actually losing braking efficiency and control.

This is a very interesting point and got me thinking.

If you use engine brake, the powered wheels will get braking power from the brake pads + engine brake. Therefore the powered wheels will likely get overloaded.

Provided that the brake distribution is set according to the weight distribution, FWD front wheels will also lock first if using engine brake. RWD’s brake distribution will have to be moved forward to compensate for the engine brake. This may explain why my brake distribution based on weight has been typically off. Not to mention FM brake distribution % is backwards, i.e. Front = Rear and Rear = Front.

In my opinion, the braking distance difference will be small IF brake distribution is compensated for this.

In real life, I would think using engine brake would be beneficial as it reduces brake wear. In racing, using engine brake would reduce brake wear as well as decreasing the brake temperature.

In Forza, the brake temperature does not come into play as far as I can tell. Also have no idea if the heat radiation from hot brakes affect the rim+tire temperatures.

This is one of those topics that is very misunderstood, and where many people have opinions based on “it seems like…”

First, Engine Braking can be a very loosely defined term. Essentially, if you lift your foot (or finger) off the throttle - without disengaging the clutch - you are “engine braking.”

As to whether or not it is a good, effective thing to do - that is, does slamming down through the gears to “force” engine braking help you win the race - a little searching will show that many people have many different opinions on it.


In real-world pro-racer driving:
When you start talking to people who are actually “in the know,” the answer generally becomes “no.” If the car is setup properly, you want to apply braking force so that all 4 wheels are right at the threshold of locking up. Let’s say you are at 99.99% of traction threshold. Now, add 1% “wheel-stop-turning-force” from engine braking on the drive wheels. What happens? You’re now at 100.99% of threshold — in other words, your drive wheels are now locked and sliding. I think we can all agree that’s a “bad thing.” In addition, ask anybody involved in racing if they’d rather spend money replacing brake pads or replacing engine / drivetrain parts…

In Forza driving:
First, it’s really tough to get the brakes setup the way a Formula 1 team can do it (for example). Also, it’s very, very tough to get to and hold 99.99% of traction threshold. So, for many, MANY Forza players, it is beneficial to let the “engine braking” help out a little.

  • Don Ente