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Question:

How do brakes work on a long, steep downgrade?

A As a supplement to the braking effect of your engine
Explaination

When it comes to driving down long, steep downgrades, the braking effect of your engine is what's most important. Your brakes are only a supplement to being in the proper low gear. They cannot "correct" your vehicle being in an unsafe high gear without too much pressure on your brakes.