Today was my day off so I knocked-off skiing a little earlier than usual. Driving home to Greenwater, I followed somebody who rode their brakes ALL THE WAY down the hill–which is about 6 miles, if you’re not familiar with Crystal Mountain Boulevard. By the bottom, pewww! The burning-brake stench hung like a fog in the otherwise crisp, clear air.
According to Click and Clack (Ray & Tom) on National Public Radio’s "Car Talk", and also "Popular Mechanics", that burnt carpet smell from riding your brakes down a long winding road, is a bad thing. It’s better to shift to a lower gear and use some of your engine’s valve compression to help slow your vehicle. It’s also better to brake intermittently rather than constantly. Apparently lots of people think that constant LIGHT braking should be the same as intermittent heavier braking. But actually, with constant braking, heat can’t dissipate the way it can if you let off the pedal from time to time. And heat is your brake pads enemy! Most importantly, constant braking stinks-out the off-duty ski patroller (and all the other nice homeward -bound people) behind you!
Oh–uh–I guess I should mention that it was 37 degrees out and the roads were warm & dry. Use whatever slowing technique works best for you on compact snow and ice. It’s best that you don’t experiment with new driving techniques when the roads have potential to be slick!