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Will "flooring it" damage your car's engine?

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I got my driver's license about five months ago. I drive a 2006 Toyota Highlander, and each day I get on the highway and drive 45 minutes to get to school. When I get onto the highway, I like to floor it and accelerate as quickly as the V-6 can take me. I just love hearing the roar of the engine. Then, as soon as I get to 65 mph, I quickly let off the pedal and cruise at the speed limit. Is it bad for me to "floor it" a lot, and will that hurt the engine? Or is it fine? I would hate to mess up the new car my parents just got me. Thanks! -- Neil

TOM: Neil, we want to thank you.

RAY: Yes. This is one of the worst things you can do to your car. We count on behavior just like this to provide a steady income for us at the garage.

TOM: Right. And one of my kids is still in college, so keep it up, Neil.

RAY: The reason it's bad is that when you floor the gas pedal, you start a chain reaction that slams one expensive component into the next. The pistons slam the connecting rods. The connecting rods slam against the crankshaft. The crankshaft slams the transmission. The transmission slams the axles, and on down the line.

TOM: When those parts are whacked around like that by the torque you create, they wear out and break faster. That's how we mechanics make our boat payments every month.

RAY: So, if you want your car to last as long as possible, accelerate gently. It's fine to go 65 mph -- that's no problem. But get there smoothly. The same is true for driving around town. Don't jack-rabbit away from red lights or stop signs.

TOM: And if you take our advice, Neil, you'll find that, as a bonus, your gas mileage will improve measurably -- enough so that you can afford to buy one of those NASCAR CDs of the sounds of roaring engines you like so much.

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