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Hello everyone,

I purchased a 1984 spider a few days ago and have been having an absolute blast with it. I'm new to Italian cars, but am familiar with driving a car with a manual transmission (or so I thought) . My question concerns braking and coming to a stop.

When I took it out for a test drive, the man selling the Alfa told me that, for example, if I am in third gear and approaching a stop sign that I should simply apply the brakes and do nothing with the clutch, just leave the car in third gear until I slow down to about 8-10 miles per hour and THEN push in the clutch as I'm crawling to a stop. I have admittedly never heard of this technique and am wondering if he is correct about this. If he is correct, is this the technique that should be applied to all cars with manual transmissions or is it simply a technique specific to Alfas?

Any insight is hugely appreciated.

Thanks you!
 

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if you are coming to a stop. lets say a light. i just slip the tranny into neutral, use the brakes to slow down.. strange how he stops.. yes downshifting into corners, in the mountains, coast roads. or back raod if you are having fun,, but a genral stop, stop as you would in a honda, or any car with a stick.. i think of it this way, which is cheaper to replace the brake pads, or the clutch?
 

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There is no need to depress the clutch when slowing until you are close to stopping. You can use the engine to help you slow, thereby saving the brakes a little. Since you are off the throttle anyway, you aren't using any more gas. When approaching a red light, I like to leave it in the appropriate gear with the clutch engaged to be ready to go if the light changes before I get to it. I disengage the clutch at the last moment before stopping. Coasting is not really a good thing. It's easy to get caught in neutral and have to crunch it into gear.
 

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Side note regarding coasting down w/clutch in vs out in an L-jet engine:
Ifthe clutch is out and the throtle is dropped above X rpm, the fuel supply is cut off until revs drop down to Y range.

Net result?
Roughly the same amount of engine braking, but slightly better fuel economy due to less fuel being actually put into the cylinders while its doing its thing.

Worth it? :shrug: Long term I suppose if you're anal about such things.

I tend to not neccisarily engine brake coming up to a stop, but like intune I do like to be in an appropriate gear to squirt away if neccisary. Coming to a stop moving at sub 30mph speeds, that means 2nd, not 3rd. (get going about 15~20mph and in 3rd mash the gas and see just how quickly you wouldn't be able to get out of the way of that truck or whatever)
 

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I've been driving manual transmission cars pretty much continuously since 1971 and I have always just put the clutch in just as I stop. Why; for engine braking, and I'm in gear should I need it. Pushing in the clutch is basically "freewheeling" which used to be illegal in many states, hence, SAAB dropping the feature in the Sixties. Also my understanding is that freewheeling develops much more of a vacuum in the engine than driving as I described above (putting the clutch in at the last moment), drawing oil off of the valve guides and into the engine cylinders.
 

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Also my understanding is that freewheeling develops much more of a vacuum in the engine than driving
No more than idling in neutral does.

Engine braking can get it to suck the paint off a valve cover though depending on how high the revs are + how low a gear when doing it.
 

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Spica cars, if set up right and the microswitch works, have the same fuel-cutoff lurch that Bosch cars do, at about 1200 rpm. Coasting down, the car will "pick up" a bit as you get to 1200 rpm in whatever gear, as the fuel supply comes back on. Some cars do this rougher than others. At least you know your pump's working as it should.
Andrew
 

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the man selling the Alfa told me that, for example, if I am in third gear and approaching a stop sign that I should simply apply the brakes and do nothing with the clutch, just leave the car in third gear until I slow down to about 8-10 miles per hour and THEN push in the clutch as I'm crawling to a stop.
There is no way I could write out my rules for driving a stickshift in 25 words or less.

When and if I shift into neutral depends on:
- travelling uphill or downhill
- clueless moron in a SUV tailgating right behind me, or open road
- driving aggressively or casually
- engine displacement vs. vehicle weight
- differential ratio
- what gear the box is in when I begin decelerating
- pure whim
- etc, etc

If you don't weigh all those factors - albeitly subconsciously - everytime you touch the clutch and gearshift, you might as well be driving a Prius.
 

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got it !!! just drive normaly...:):)
 

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"freewheeling" as I know it is when it is in neutral or clutch pressed. also most of the old time over-drives freewheel just like a bicycle let off the gas in overdrive and the engine would go to idle, stand on it the RPM would race up to the speed of the gearing and engage just like the bicycle.

I learned to also keep it in gear until close to idle speed.
save some on clutch and a fair amount on the breaks.
With a car with fuel cut (anything injected and some carbs cars) you save a tad of gas too. as all that compression breaking is not using gas at all. while slowing not a single drop. ( Must add up to a 1 or 2 gals in a life time ;) )

But you will notice the longer life on clutch and most of all break pads.
I was also taught to expect break fail and to be able to do something if that is the case. Some real old cars the breaks failed all the time as the bands would slip off. I have seen this type but never had to drive one...

but I have had breaks go a few times in single circuit systems, got to low or leaked out a ripped seal after some rust cut into the seal on a drum.

And was glad to know how to deal with it.
 

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Alfas are not fundamentally different in how you go, stop, drive from any other car with a smallish engine and manual trans.
Andrew
 

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I was thinking about this a while back after a short stop from a fairly high speed at a light that just turned red. I've always heard that an engaged engine helps you stop, but I'm not sure this is always the case.

Isn't there a point at which you're stopping at a rate faster than the engine is slowing the car down? Near this point, I'd think there is additional load on the brakes to dump the inertia of the spinning flywheel, crank, etc. into heat at the rotors.

The curves probably don't intersect at the exact (negative) acceleration where the engine is braking alone, but I'd wager that the harder you step on the brake, the less the engine helps until it actually adds to the braking load.
 

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The brakes, if working right, are far stronger than engine braking. Engine braking is for holding your speed on hills without having to ride the wheel brakes, or to coast down to a stop slowly. Not for max-g stopping.
Andrew
 

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But engine braking down hills where you don't need the brakes is the other extreme. Think of it this way... At a given speed, and stopping at the maximum rate, is there less load on the brakes with the engine disengaged due to the brakes not having to slow the engine as well as the car?
 

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Maybe a tiny amount, yes. For holding a speed, I see the point. For trying to stop fast, I think it makes such a tiny difference as to be unmeasurable.
Andrew
 

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In all seriousness, my left foot is often on the brake in the Alfa. I operate equipment of various types over a variety of soil/terrain and have reciently earned a pilots license.

Use the Force, Pepe.

We could all spend some time discussing physics, rally driving tricks, or heel and toe technique. Best of all is to just get out there and try it yourself. It won't hurt the car as long as you are regularly blasting to redline to clean all the crap out. Alfas LOVEa good romp in the twisty mountains.
 

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Yes if it is a panic break or a very fast break both the clutch and break go in. But for the day to day nice slow to a red or stop sign the compression breaking will help slow a lot. you can feel when it is helping slow and know when to push the clutch.

I would say is it more of a driving style. I also come from the mountains so saving breaks is a big deal.

I would not over think it to much. If your style eats pads faster so what. just change them more often. It is not that big of a deal. As the pads swap in and out so easy anyways.
 

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AND

Please post pics of your car.

(Extra credit if the discs are red hot after a an hour of hard driving.)
 
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