Do we need to gear down to Stop? Not necessarily!
The cars of today have excellent braking power whereas prior to the 1960’s they didn’t and you needed to use the motor to slow the vehicle down as well as the brakes. Parents continue to teach their children to gear down as that’s what they were taught.
We need to think about the reasons for doing this, rather than just doing it.
In the cars today there is no need to gear down as the brakes are power assisted by the motor and much more effective in stopping.
You would still gear down if carrying/towing a heavy load or the vehicle is heavy, where you need the motor to help the brakes to slow down or come to a stop.
In todays cars, you only need to listen to the motor and stay in the gear you are already in when you start to slow down with the brakes, and only disengage the clutch just prior to the motor struggling and selecting the gear appropriate for your speed. If the lights change to green and you can then keep going, select the gear appropriate for your speed, it may be 2nd or 3rd gear (depends on how much you slowed down). If you know you are stopping, sit the gearstick over 1st gear with light pressure and once the vehicle has slowed down enough, the gearstick will drop gently into 1st gear before you come to a stop.
The motor is still helping to slow you down without you having to down gear. Don’t disengage your clutch too early, only when it’s getting close to where the motor is going to struggle, otherwise you will be rolling and not having proper control of the vehicle, plus you will feel the vehicle speed up when disengaging the clutch too early as the motor is no longer helping to slow the vehicle down.
Every time you use your clutch, you are wearing it. Is it cheaper to replace a clutch or brake pads?
Again, there is no right or wrong answer. You can continue to do either.