This question is very similar to another that is currently closed as off-topic:

Is engine braking harmful?

I've engaged with the discussion a little more than a I should and, while I think it has turned sharply off-topic, I'm not the only voice here. What does everyone else think?

EDIT: I had forgotten about this question:

Does Downshifting (Engine Braking) Cause Extra Wear and Tear?

The first question appears to be a duplicate of the second.

EDIT: And now I re-found this one:

Is downshifting on hills harmful for non-trucks?

The third is also a duplicate of the second.

  • Given the great answer on the newer Q, do you think we should merge these questions instead of leaving them as dupes?
    – Ben Brocka
    Jun 8, 2012 at 0:47
  • There isn't really a way to merge two questions and their answers. The closed-duplicate provides a natural link from one to the other (and there's another link back). None of the content is lost. The older question has a bit over 2K views and is still getting traffic. It seemed logical to do the closest thing to a merge given that the subject matter is identical.
    – Bob Cross Mod
    Jun 8, 2012 at 17:53
  • Well there's the Merge function. Mod menu on the closed post > Merge > use the link of the question that's open
    – Ben Brocka
    Jun 8, 2012 at 18:19
  • @BenBrocka, you're right - didn't realize that that was there.
    – Bob Cross Mod
    Jun 8, 2012 at 21:49

3 Answers 3


After reading the question and looking at the extremely well documented answer, citing sources from professional publications, it appears to me that questions about driving that are related directly to the health of the vehicle should be given serious consideration for being considered on-topic.

If the question were related to the legality of engine braking or asking if engine braking is safe for the passengers in the vehicle, then without a doubt it should be closed as off-topic.

In other words, questions that have nothing to do with the health or maintenance of the vehicle are and should be off-topic.

But this question, although an operational question, there was a problem directly related to potential risks to the health of the engine and drive-train, and any type of preventative maintenance, even operational preventative practices, should be considered on-topic here, IMHO.

The question was described very clearly, with exact speeds and RPMs and enough information for a professional mechanic to have a clear picture of how the driver is operating the vehicle and how that could affect maintenance costs in the future.

In addition, the answer that the question received is not one that offers just an opinion, something that can be easily debated. Instead, the answer is backed up with legitimate sources, which is one of the criteria for a great answer on a subjective question. It's clear the answerer did enough research to where I can be confindent in knowing that engine braking not only won't hurt my car, but it will save me time and money in brake jobs.

All in all, these types of questions could add a lot of value to the site. If questions people ask here can save you and I a lot of money through preventative practices, then this site will be more valuable than it would be if I can only ask questions here once I blow up my engine. ;) We want those people to come as well, but why not prevent disasters before they occur.


I think the tie breaker should be "would I ask a professional mechanic this question?" I wouldn't ask my mechanic about driving style, rolling up my windows to keep bugs out of my car ect. If it's something that might affect the well being of the car in any way, it seems on topic to me as long as you have some reason to assume it will; proper operation is a sort of "preventative maintenance".

I think the sentiment "there isn't a problem to be solved" is relevant as well, however the current answers seem to indicate there is a potential problem. Isn't avoiding problems as important as fixing them when constructive, specific advice can be given?


I think it boils down to this: Should questions of the form "If I do X, am I going to break something?" be considered off-topic? I'll make the argument that they should be, since I think they are likely to attract answers with more anecdote and opinion than fact. The only answer to a question like this that I can think of goes like this: "What does the manufacturer say? If something broke, would they cover the repair under warranty? If no, don't do X."

If the question you pointed out is not strictly off-topic, I think it's at least "not constructive". Voted to close. Let's see which way the precedent goes.

  • 1
    Some of the commentary (by not-me) has been to close questions that are clearly focused only on driving technique. What's missing from that question is something like "I was engine braking and now the car makes a funny sound." I.e., there isn't a problem to be solved, it's just chatter. BTW - I can't vote to close (as a mod). If I hit close, the question closes right then. I'm trying not to do that unilaterally.
    – Bob Cross Mod
    May 30, 2012 at 12:07

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