Big rigs usually have exhaust brakes that help drivers stop massive vehicles with little to no help from the conventional friction braking system. This way, the wheel brakes don't fade under load and everybody gets home safely at the end of the day.
But what would happen if one was to install a do-it-yourself exhaust brake on a regular passenger car? Would it make any difference in the stopping power of a petrol-fed vehicle?
Well, the video embedded at the top of this page, published by the folks at Garage 54, tries to answer these questions with a hands-on experiment. And this being Russia, a Lada 1300 that's seen better days plays the role of the guinea pig and gets an exhaust mod in the form of a repurposed intake valve.
Welded on the exhaust pipe and linked to the old handbrake handle with a steel wire, the makeshift exhaust brake is then put to the test in a series of downhill runs.
First, the driver wants to see how well the car can maintain its speed going down the road in third gear using engine braking. Then in second gear.
As expected, the crusty old Lada can do a decent job in second gear and an even better job in first gear. However, trying to slow down in third gear was quite the adventure, with the Russian Fiat-based saloon failing to stick to the 10 miles per hour speed set at the top of the hill and accelerating to roughly 37 mph during the descent.
But when the DIY exhaust brake was activated, creating back pressure and putting extra force on the pistons, the stopping power seemed to be much improved.
The same ingenious Garage 54 mechanics tried to convert a petrol-powered, water-cooled Lada engine into an air-cooled machine, and on a different occasion, they froze the rear differential to see what would happen.