Does flooring the engine "clear the pipes"?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Apr 01, 1992

Dear Tom and Ray:

Please settle a long running debate between me and my husband. I say it will stress and hurt the engine of our car to "floor" the accelerator every day. He says it's OK, and may even benefit the engine by "clearing the pipes." Who's right? Our car is a 1986 Honda Civic hatchback, with little power for hills, passing, etc. My husband wants something more powerful, but we can't afford it just yet. What do you think?

TOM: I think it's interesting how people give their cars human characteristics. Your husband says he's "clearing the pipes," as if the car has some peanut butter stuck in it's throat.

RAY: But cars don't have "throats," and don't work that way. While driving the car at highway speed once in a while does help keep carbon from building up inside the engine, flooring the gas pedal every day doesn't help it at all.

TOM: Flooring it is equivalent to kicking the TV set to improve the reception. It may make you feel better, but you're not fixing anything. In fact, all you're doing is shortening the life of the car.

RAY: And I think that's what your husband is trying to do. He wants a more powerful car right now, so he's trying to croak this Civic. In fact, one of our operatives spotted him down at the Chevy dealer last Saturday drooling over a red Camero with a V-8 engine.

TOM: I think my brother's right. Your husband hates this car, and he's taking out his anger by slamming the gas pedal to the floor.

RAY: If he's really bent on destroying this Civic, tell him not to waste his time flooring it while the engine is warm. Tell him, for his purposes, it's much more efficient to rev the heck out of it when the engine is cold. That'll have him signing papers for the Camero by next weekend.

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