Hi guys I just got your pamphlet Ten Ways You...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | May 01, 1994

Dear Tom and Ray:

Hi guys! I just got your pamphlet "Ten Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car Without Knowing It" and read the part about saving clutches. Specifically, that the less time your foot spends on the clutch pedal, the less wear and tear on the clutch. Being the owner of a new, five speed Suzuki Sidekick, and wanting to do right by it, I took your advice and started shifting into Neutral at stoplights, and in general spending as little time as possible with my foot on the clutch. The next time my husband rode with me, he asked why I was using the clutch that way. I replied "Tom and Ray said to." He said that while it may (or may not... he wasn't convinced) save wear on the clutch to sit in Neutral at stop lights, what you guys didn't mention is that to do so is illegal. Something about the car not being under control. Can you address the legality of sitting in Neutral at stop lights??? Thanks muchly!

TOM: Sue, if you had been reading our column faithfully, you would know that you should never listen to your husband when it comes to cars. Husbands always try to sound like they know what they're talking about. But trust me (I've been a husband several times)... they don't know diddly. And that's certainly the case here.

RAY: First of all, you DO save wear and tear on the clutch by spending as little time on the pedal as possible. If he doesn't believe you, give him our pamphlet as reading material next time he goes into the porcelain palace (by the way, if you haven't ordered your copy yet, you can get one by sending $3 and a self addressed stamped envelope to.... ) If he doesn't come out convinced, don't let him anywhere near your new Sidekick.

TOM: And as far as I know, it's perfectly legal in all 50 states (even New Jersey) to have your car in Neutral at a stop light. In most states, it IS illegal to COAST in Neutral when the car is moving. THEN the car could be considered out of control. For one thing, the car could stall (causing you to lose your power steering and power brakes) and you'd never even know it.

RAY: There probably ARE things that are illegal to do at stop lights, but I don't think putting your car in Neutral isn't one of them. You're doing the right thing, Sue. Keep it up.
TOM: Hey folks, please don't send us any more "self addressed stamped envelopes" for personal replies.

RAY: Right. Since my brother and I are in the witness protection program, we have to be careful about how we communicate.

TOM: Actually, we're in the WIT-less protection program.

RAY: The truth is, we just don't have time to respond to your letters personally. We'll answer as many as we can here in the newspaper, so everybody can read them.

TOM: So keep reading...but put those extra stamps to better use! 525

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