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IMPORTANT - How 2 Brake Properly!!!

Guys and Gals....

How do you brake properly in a car such as a clio 172 or any car with semi decent brakes and ABS?

Last night i was a TOTAL IDIOT and in playing with a 2 litre Fiat nearly killed myself Angellica, and could have hurt other people as well because i could not stop in time. This Fiat stamped on the brakes the same time as me but he went zooming backwards and my car just started physically Boating left and right like a caravan about to over turn!!!

Whats going on?!?!? Why was he slowing and im not?!?

So the question.....

Do you:

a) slam down on the brakes with the car in gear untill it comes to the point where its about to stall (aka as you have to do to pass ur driving test)


b) Slam on the brakes and clutch together to stop the engine working against the brakes which have enough power to lock themselves and let the ABS do its thing?

I went for A in this case but im sure its wrong!

I feel like such a prat! This is why under 25s have such high premiums! Theres was no need to try and get infront of the car i had already caught him up, there was nothing to prove, i should have braked sooner Aggghhhhhhh

Sorry for the moan but i and SO angry with myself.

Anyway please help me with the braking issue it will be very handy to know. Am i doing wrong by jamming in a low gear and braking or r my brakes just crap at highish speeds?


Hi Mav..

brakes only work well within given parametres.. thats why the formula1 guys still come off at certain corners and lock and slide occasionaly.

try not to use the box to slow the car..

if you are having contrl problems you are probably exceding the design limits..

ie.. no car can do wonders at braking if pushed too hard...

you will find that learning the limits of adhesion of your vehicle is the safest way.. go on a track day.. or best of all.. take the advanced driving test.. worth every penny.. all the above is covered in detail in the training and test. you will be a far safer, snoother and confident driver afterwards.

Once you learn that the first into a corner is not necessarily the first out LOL , you will make more progress.. forget the other guy apart from being aware of WHERE he is.. drive your car to your limits within its operating range...
it is often thought that to be in front is to be faster, its not...

let him fly into a corner too fast.. when he starts to lose it, you should have a line decided where you can smoothly accelerate AROUND him..

as said, trying to be first at EVERY stage of the race only leads to you losing control.. along with ANY advantage...



if you absolutely jump on the brakes, your replying on the ABS to sort out the total loss of traction......dont brake so hard next time....feed i in, when you feel the ABS judder, let off a tiny bit, then balance it.

Downshift whilst you brake( i.e. brake @ 100mph in 4th, whe rpm reaches 3000 etc, shift to 3rd and keep doin this till your at your required speed) so the engine braking helps, it wont overwhelm the brakes as the engine want to spin down faster than the brakes can......dont dip the clutch and rely on brakes only, very unsettling for the car.

ABS is there for when all hell brakes loose and you panic and slam on the brakes. but i wouldnt rely on them as a part of braking..

mav. try the middle pedal, and dont steer too much if youre rocking and rolling under heavy braking. also, your discs and pads ok?

good point capt. but although as you rightly say, the fastest in may not be the fastest out, it can be the most effective if you get in front and then do a schumacher line out of the corner, blocking them.


its is worth noteing that things can be differnt when going into a bend just as you come the crest of a hump, there is a a really nasty little S bend on an otherwise very fast A road i use alot and it catches loads of people out, there is a fast straight, then with the trees and bushes at the side of the road it appears that there is a gentle left with a slight incline, which normaly would be a fast corner, BUT.... it suddenly swings right and dips down and its very very un-nerving even at moderate speed, there is a gap in the hedge row where people keep losing it and going straight off the road, and it would be very easy to roll the car if both wheels bit the grass verge at the same time,

very dangerous, but unless you knew the road youd be totaly unaware,

keep the heroics for the track

(easier said than done)

Naa, i was WAY to late last night it was a complete Oh my God this is it im going to casualty moment.

If my car wasnt only 2 months old and had any rust my foot would have been through the floor!

I did start to feed the brakes Ben, then as i got closer and closer to the centre of the round about i pushed harder and harder till i was trying the fred flintstone technique!

Even b4 i was at max travel my car started violently swaying, i had to fight to keep it in a straight line. The bloke behind must have been scared to watch it and though i was a complete tw@t, and rightly so.

Not To sure with regards to speed i was travelling, i never look at the odo when driving like that, the road seems way to important. I know i was about 4 seconds into 4th gear from a 7100 3rd gear shift, i dont know what that makes it but quite fast i reckon.

Anyway i think its down to the airfield for me, that so sh1t me up ive got to learn to brake properly. (and to learn that its not big and clever to go past people, byding ur time also works and its safer)

Ill give the modualtion a go Ben.

sounds like you were doing in excess of a ton judging those revs so theres a very fine line between a good piece of braking and a sh*t your pants one, so dont be too hard on yourself. the main thing is you and everyone else has come out unscathed and youve learnt something.....airfield or trackday prolly a good idea.
  Skoda Fabia vRS

if you can change gear fast enough, then brake.........change down 2 gears, and brake again

you will be surprised how well shift brakin works, and i have to do it all the time at the moment to wear in my new pads and discs, cos i cant brake hard i have to keep heat off the discs

in a situation like that tho, its hard to do anythin but slam on, if its really such a close call
  Corsa 1.3 CDTI

Since getting the 172 and this being the first car with ABS I must say I dont trust it as much as a non ABS car. I am not the worlds best driver and I know ABS doesnt mean shorter stopping distances but without ABS I felt I had alot more in control and able to react quicker.

Sounds stupid but I would like to be able to turn the ABS off.

on some cars at least there is a fuses that when removed disables the ABS, not sure how easy it is on a 172 though

Basically you did the right thing, just that you were too close and tried too hard to stop quickly.
Never put your foot on the clutch and brake, it makes braking distances longer!
You can use the gearbox to slow you down, but brakepads and discs work out cheaper
Would suggest you use this theory (that i use BTW )
Brake on the straight and not in the corner
You see so many idiots go flying into corners then brake, sometimes hard and they normally end up loosing it... this is due to something called "weight transferrance", ie the weight goes from back to front very quickly making the car rear end light (can also be classed in some cases as lift off oversteer).
You will actually be quicker in a corner going into it slower and coming out quicker, the point is, if your going to quick your going to have to brake, braking in corners means you unbalance the car etc etc etc..

  Ford Focus 1.4 LX

Remember that yes engine braking is good, but if you just fly down the gearbox you will be putting BIG loads on your transmission. Heel and toe it if you are going down the box and braking hard.

  172 sport,

if this helps ya have taken my 172 back to renaults 4 times now for the same problem wandering under heavy breaking they say its fine up to 70 and as thats the speed limit they cant do diddly about it have worked out that its the load sensor on the rear axle brake hard and down goes the front and up comes the back unlike early load sensors that were mechanical these are electrick so seeing as they allready have an 80/20 bias to the front lift up the back and the abs increases the front bias so effectivly you have no rear brakes and the back tries to overtake ya to do a test freight up ya boot and back seat so it wont lift up and try it it worked fine for me at over 110 although the only cure i see is lowering and stiffer shocks which im doing on sat so will let ya know if its a cure or not as i said hope this helps ya

if a sudden weight trasfer occurs, then more rear braking aint sucka good dea, then the rear will want to swap places with the front...not vice versa.

BenR is right - sort of. Yogi, if you have no brakes at the rear the cars natural tendancy will be to lock up the fronts and push straight on.

Mav - take not of what people are saying about weight transferrence.

When you brake the nose of your car will dip. Because of the nose-down attitude of the car there is now more weight pushing down on the front wheels (and less on the rear).

This doesnt happen instantaneously - your springs and dampers will slow doen this change in attitude.

Now, as someone correctly pointed out, the brakes on your car are biased heavily towards the front. This means the front brakes will exert much more force than the rears. This is great because, when stopping at maximum rate you will have more weight on the front wheels and more grip available.

OK, now slam your brakes on. You can go from zero brakes to maximum brakes in a split second. The problem is, the nose of the car takes a little longer to dip, so you have suddenly put max. braking effort through the front wheels but there isnt any extra weight due to weight transferrence.

Result? Front-wheel lockup (non-ABS) or premature activation of the ABS.

The solution is to be progressive with your brakes - brake firmly, let the car settle into its nose-down attitude, THEN bury the brake pedal! Sounds slow but the whole thing will probably take less than half a second - try it.

(By the way the same technique works with steering too - instead of arriving at a corner and throwing the lock on, turn in progressively - let the cars weight settle onto the outside front wheel, thereby letting you get the most out of the grip available).

Aim to be smooth - dont upset the car - speed will come naturally and youll be a safer driver.

Please dont disable the ABS! Consider it a safety aid - when you are sailing along a wet road, not concentrating 100% on what you are doing and everyone in front of you comes to a sudden halt youll be glad of it. Yes, a good driver MIGHT be able to to out-brake an ABS system, but not every time. Put it this way, if we were allowed to fit ABS to my race car Id do it.

Heeling and toeing - thats a whole different subject - it will ultimately make your downchanges smoother and put less stress on the transmission (and not upset the car as much), but it is tricky, especially in a car like a 172 with a sensitive brake pedal. Practice lots in a safe area.

Oh, and do a track day - learn the limits of yourself and your car in a safe environment.

Hope this helps.

mate what do you race?
ive been racing since 8yrs old....and won several cships from karting, to formula e karts, to spuders to formula renault.

heel & toeing in the 172 is very hard, sinc as you say, the brake pedal is so sensitive, and the throttle (especially the mk2, is not the most responsive when you blip it.

also, its is placed a tad high, so you really have to rotate your heel. besides, in a FWD car, there is no stupendous benefit to h&ting....RWD cars are another matter though!

I learnt alot about braking in karting, since the lower class karts only have rear brakes....and i can (from my experience on track) outbrake most people....especially in the wet.

but i cant be bothered to go into much detail.

what you race BTW?

I race something called a Legends Car.

Its basically a 5/8 scale replica of a 1930s/40s American NASCAR racer - sounds horrible but they look much better than that (and sound fantastic at 10,500rpm)

125bhp from a 1200cc Yamaha FJ motor, sequential gearbox, RWD, locked diff, teflon tyres :), 0-60 in about 4s.

If you think 172s are fun to drive (and they are) you need to try one of these things. Been racing them since 1998 (previously karts including TKM). They take a while to learn, but going well now (75 race starts, wins in the Champ Car support event at the Eurospeedway last year, a couple of wins in the ASCAR support series in June, back out at Rockingham this Sunday - might even take the 172 if anyone else will be there).

You can go and drive one of these things at Bruntingthorpe for a couple of hundred quid, and we hope to take a couple to a track day at Oulton at the end of August. Form an orderly queue ....

Take a look at

Couldnt agree with you more about heeling and toeing. I suppose my advice would be: practice it, and if you cant get on with it just change down at lower revs (in other words dont buzz the engine and dont upset the car).

Incidentally, sometimes its better not to heel and toe in the Legend. We sometimes hit the last downchange as we turn in, livening the back end up and killing any understeer (NOT recommended road technique and definitely not in a FWD car!)

Course, all the stuff I wrote about weight transfer doesnt apply in karts, does it? No suspension = no attitude change - basically brake as hard as you can as quick as you can!

Yogi - I was thinking along the same lines as you about the whole lowering thing. Please let me know how it goes id be really interested. I was also considering getting wider wheels, same rolling diameter but 215 what do you reckon?

Pete, I did actually do what you suggested with the braking, i did do it progressively.

I started to brake and then this sudden realisatin that the scenery was moving WAY to fast set in and i hoofed it into the floorpan. The rear of my car jumping around really REALLY screwed with my head, ive never had that my old RT never did it (although it used to require a massive amount of leg power without the abs to keep dabbing hard)

Ben, Racing... Well i used to do the Boarder X (Snowboarding) and a bit of Downhill MTB with friends. Other than that just a few hours at the local 50cc Kart track. Damn those things slide like a gooden and you can get em to dance anyway u want! I wish my car had a decent hand brake!

Sorry Mav, should have read both your posts properly.

Hmm, have to go and play in the car, see if mine behaves itself.

Probably obvious, but have you checked:

1. Tyre wear (worn shoulders may cause instability)
2. Pressures
3. The road - mine seems quite prone to tramlining (i.e. following the contours, raised white lines etc.), but you normally feel that through the steering.


I will check the pressures again 2night to make sure.

The passenger side shoulder (as always in this country) is slightly more worn than the other but i dont think this could cause the caravaning.

The road is quite new so im not dont think it was that although the right lane is on a slight angle, down from the road centre towards the curb.

What ever it was i think my level of skill was massively exceeded and im just gonna have to be more carefull.

As a btw, has anyone ever got out and touched the wheels after a massive braking incident? I swear that a few degrees more and they would have actually glowed! I did the spit test and the disc were fine but the wheels boiled it off! I was well impressed


Not sure if I can help, but the guys are dead right on this one. Loose a little more speed first. A great read would be "ROAD CRAFT" (not sure of publisher, may be HMSO) it is used as the civi. advanced driving and the basis of the Police driving. It explians where you should be and the sactions needed to be a fast, safe and progressive road driver.

At the approach to a hazzard loose the SPEED before entering. e.g. RB or tighter bend than the speed can manage. Get yourself in the right gear before enetering said hazzard and as you meet the convergance point accelerate hard. You will be round far quicker than someone bracking too hard to late. Reason is the above posts about weight transference etc. (dont know if convergance is the right word, so e.g. round a tight bend watch where the two kerbs meet in front of you as they appear to get further away from you the bend is straightening so hit the right pedal.

Cant help with race tracks, roads are my thing, progressive, fast but above all always safe so you dont exceed the safe to;erances of the car.

BENR and PETES seem well equiped to talk about race tracks.

Cheers buddy Mark

Blaze is spot on.

Racing and road driving are two entirely different disciplines. Ive had this discussion many times with my bruv-in-law, a police driver. Both police drivers and racers spend a lot of the time travelling very fast, but the emphasis is different. Police = fast & safe, Racer = faster than everything else full stop.

It gets a bit scary reading some of these I had a race with ... posts, dont you think?

Hopefully my comments will help people understand the dynamics involved, but I claim to be only a competent road driver. There seem to be a wide spectrum of Forum users and although Im new here Im getting to know who to pay attention to (e.g. Blaze) and who not to (e.g. the 1.2 guy).

Just thinking about the instability thingy again. I read that a 172 can do 100-0 in 3.9 seconds, which is pretty impressive. At that level of deceleration there isnt going to be a lot of weight on the rear, so any steering movements could really upset things (bit of pilot induced oscillation perhaps?). ABS wont save you in that case.

My personal reckoning puts the cause as some road condition (the slight corner cant have helped) and then me making things ten times worse by counter steering against the motion to much. once i hot to about 40 and held the wheel dead straight it started coming back.

I think as with most things it was propabley something simple and then driver error pure and simple


Excellent responce. A race course is a whole different kettle of fish. NO weird things happen. Road surface is clean and tidy and the same, no people in the opposite dirrectio. etc. etc.

Why O why cant drivers realise on the road U get nowhere going crazy.

Great example, and Im affraid to say the problem with cost cutting in polce driving as well cause the macho prob..

Hate to say a few years back (10+) we did a few runs where one driver would go hell for leather and the other would not braek any road rules, no blues and twos. Over a 4 mile run the diffrenec was a mere 56 seconds. Admittedly this was in London. No wonder there are too many accidents.

I appreciate there are country roads where there are less drivers. Saying that there is always someone in front, traffic lights, RB etc. etc. where yiou have to stop or slow massively. No advantage raely in driving like a C!!!.

For me it is just great to see peoples faces when a raelly goos overtake that is palned properly comes off. It can take time cant it.

Be patient on the raod as U will enjoy the ride far more. Ur passenger certainly will.

Like good posts PETES etc.



pete, i know the legends. watch them at oulton park and they really scream round...not very technical cars though are they!!!! which is probably why they would be so fun.

blaze.....i never ever ever take my racing skills to the road, i change my style totally as the road is just waybtoo dangerous!!! i couldnt imagine loosing it a racing speed on the road....and heading for the nearest post box broad side!!!!
and the other road users (in general) heve got no clue about what is goin on i stay well clear of them.

karting was my fave as the formula E karts 250cc, 105bhp, 6 speed sequential box, all round discs, a wing on the back and a small fairing on the front. one corner is flat out in 5th completely sideways till your rear tyre just skims the dirt on the much fun!

but im in formula renault, but not fast enough. the karts did 0-100mph in 5.6 secs topped out at 160 and would do 0-100-0 in about 9 secs.....just gut wrenching!

you really learn how to back a car into a corner with rear brakes only on the 100cc karts (17bhp) 80mph and faster thana ferrari to 60! anyway, in the wet, i haveto say i was king cause i would really get under people off line and in standing jst proud thats all, not boasting i hope you understand.

BenR - theyre a bit agricultural, but its a real car underneath (plenty of adjustment - track, wheelbase, ride height, springs, camber, caster, diff nose). Like you said - it keeps it entertaining. Its the only car Ive driven where you can get it sideways and still keep accelerating - tyres give no grip, so you dont scrub speed off when you slide. Theyre a scream to drive - ever tried 3-abreast round Gerards at Mallory? If you want to try them out you can hire one for the Rockingham series at very reasonable rates.

Agree with the race vs road comment - after youve crashed on a track you have NO desire to do the same on a road (trees, lampposts, ditches, tractors ....)

What do you think about a Cliosport trackday? Im involved with a trackday company who I think would be glad to help. Rekon thered be much interest?

yes, there would be interest, but it rarely end up goin though.....most people forget to send money, or interest dies a week before the date etc.

so alot of organisation will be needed, i think a few people have tried.

cant afford the legends thing, im building my own classic (sort of) race car, a MK1 XR2 fiesta. the chassis is just one of the best FWD cars i have ever driven, so adjustable!!!!!

road tyres only last 1800miles though!!

I know this is off topic but Id just like to say, this is one of the most sensible, responsible and interesting posts I have read on here for a long time.

Im not ruling out all the other good stuff that is on here still and the hardcore of contributors that make this site so successful, but what really ruins it for me, is reading about how so-and-so sat up such-and-suchs ass at 100+ before undertaking him on the pavement sideways, etc. and all the other irresponsible stories of road racing that go on.

Sorry to interrupt chaps. We need more of this type of thread! Its educating and ultimately would help us all to enjoy our great cars more safely.


Thanks Andy,

Im sure Im not that good as to say I am in any way a great driver, maybe just a reaonable one who doesnt think every idiot in a capable (or not) car can cane me.

Id rather be behind for a minute caus, guess what I may even be three cars behind but if U R on a dual or mway then they have made no time what so ever, as they have to get of, RB, lights etc.etc. Where is their advantage,

I would not buy the 172 if I didnt feel the fun. But fun can be SAFE!!!!

No I am not an educationalist, just a realist.

I work in sales now and there is a saying "PROPER PREPERATION PREVENTS PISS POOR PERFORMANCE" This works well on the road equally as well

Christ I babble, few beers in the afternoon and there U go

  172 sport,

i understand what your all saying about progressive braking etc but some times you aint got a chance to do it me n dash had a little sprint on the a127 a while back and even he noticed the trouble i was having stopping in a strait line its not that ya need more power to the rears just being able to keep what youve got as i said frating up the car done the trick for me as it stopped the rear lifting obviously not very scientific but it did prove that if ya lose the rear brakes it will try and overtake ya as it aint being slowed at all whereas the front is trying to rip up the road with all the force it has also with such sensitive steering the rear has to come out a lot to even notice it on the s/wheel trouble is u cant realy drive arond with a load of weight in the car so i hope the springs will cure it will let ya know how it is when done

Afternoon beers in the week? Good effort!

I appreciate you are not preaching your views to others and are being realistic about what you say. That said, there are a lot of people around that would do well to learn a little from some of the things that have been said here. Im just one of those that agrees with your view points.

At the end of the day, I bought my car too for the fun factor - Christ I was even considering a diesel before the Clio won me over! - and I do enjoy being able to drive fast but not at the cost of my safety, and that of other drivers.

The 6 Ps apply in a lot of situations as well - not just on the road or sales!


Always beers at the weekend!!!!!!!.

Good to hear some positive comments about some peps. here. (never mind my rantings)

6Ps glad to know U know them


Beer? In Hereford its compulsory cider!

Thanks for the positive comments (always difficult when youre a newbie on a Forum).

All 172s do this tail wagging thing. I was coming of a slip road on to the motorway the other day. I was going about 90 going into the fast lane and a car pulls ,from the middle lane, pulls into my lane doing 70 And I was a bit close at the time. So I stamp on the middle pedal and got a big tail wag. Felt this and let go of the brake pedal and reapplied with less pressure hehe. Brown trouser moment I shouldnt of been going so fast hehe but this other shouldnt of pulled out on me at that distance. Even with the car lowered the brakes can still sting ya. The EBC on the 172s woke by putting more braking power to the wheels with most grip?, this I think doesnt help the car and proberly causes some of the tail wagging in the 172s. But the car certainly stops quickly when its needed


yogi, im afraid that your theory doent quite add up. not that im argueing, more like friendly debating.

you car is not articulated, so why wouod the rear be carrying more speed than the front if you were braking!?

if the rears had no brakin force applied that mean that they would be nowhere near their adheision limits and wouldnt break traction. However, over bumps etc, where the amount of weight (force) applied on the tyres occelates, then the adheision limits would vary.....and traction could break if there was very little weight on the rear (were talking a few %) but not in a straight line really.

I remember one night i made a total monkey of myself. Id just picked up two of my mates up as we were heading down to a nightclub, on the way there i took a turn on to a cracking road that takes you through a tunnel, by this time my car was just warming up. As i got on to this road a crapy little Escort GTI horsed past me, i told my mates " watch this " well i bounced my 172 off the limiter in 2nd and 3rd screamed past the escort and had to brakes quick as the lights that " never change " fcuking changed. I was standing so hard on the breaks they then decided to fade on me ( no A.B.S kicking in ). I managed to stop about 10 yards past the lights. After thinking about it with my mates that night, i never took into consideration that my brakes were stone cold as the route i took from my house to my mates would of ment i would have only of had to stop once ( when i got to my mates house) so im pretty sure that was why i was finding it hard to stop that night. Thats the only time ive had problems braking. Apart from that night id say the 172 brakes are pretty good

Two things you learn very quickly on trackdays:

1. Do all your braking in a straight line, otherwise the back end squirms all over the place.
2. Come off the brake pedal about a second before you turn in for the corner to balance the car.
3. When you turn in, use the necessary amount of lock so that you have to make mimimal steering inputs mid corner, especially applies to fast corners.
4. If you do try and steer the car with the throttle ie. you need to tighten up then lift off and feel the car.

Most of this can be applied to the road as wel.

well basically yeah, but it get a bit more complicated when actually goin for the fatest lap time (ie qualifying or racing) when trail braking to the apex is much faster than braking, turning, accelarating.

one of the thing i have found from racing is that none of that applie whe all hell is let can you brake in a straight line when when there is no straight....sure you could keep the car straight and cut across the track, but then your perfect line through the corner no longer exists.

well basically yeah, but it get a bit more complicated when actually goin for the fatest lap time (ie qualifying or racing) when trail braking to the apex is much faster than braking, turning, accelarating.

one of the thing i have found from racing is that none of that applie whe all hell is let can you brake in a straight line when when there is no straight....sure you could keep the car straight and cut across the track, but then your perfect line through the corner no longer exists.