The best way to brake.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jun 01, 1993

Dear Tom and Ray:

Assume you're driving a car approaching a red light at 35 miles per hour, at a distance of 300 or 400 feet. Once you release the accelerator, which causes the least wear on the brakes: Light application until the car stops, or allowing the car to roll free and apply heavy braking at the last minute?

RAY: I can tell you're a real cheapskate, Robert. You're so determined to save money, you sit around thinking about stuff like this. Well, luckily, you have a soul mate here in my brother, and I'm sure he's thought about it, too.

TOM: Thought about it?? I did my doctoral dissertation on it! And the answer is that braking gradually will cost you less. The two braking styles put the same amount of wear and tear on the brakes, but if you brake lightly over a longer distance, you won't have to spend money on band aids to cover the bruises you get from your head banging off the windshield.

RAY: In general, the smoother you drive--that is, the fewer sudden or jerky movements--the better. Not only do you maintain better control of your car, but your car will last longer as well. We cover the issue of panic stops and why they're bad for your car in our new pamphlet called "Ten Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car Without Even Knowing It." You can get a copy by sending $3 and a nude photo of your girlfriend to ....

TOM: But when in doubt, a good rule of car ownership is to do everything as smoothly as possible. Accelerate smoothly, brake smoothly, turn smoothly, and talk smoothly when trying to unload your used car on some unsuspecting relative.

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