What does "burning rubber" cost my son and his car?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Apr 01, 2002

Dear Tom and Ray:

My son, who owns his own car, seems to take pleasure in showing off the power of his engine by spinning his wheels upon takeoff. He says it's harmless fun. I say he is burning rubber and costing himself money. He argues that it's not measurable, but I can see the rubber on the street, so it must be measurable. Can you help me win this argument by telling me how much rubber is actually destroyed every time he "burns rubber" and what it is costing him in tire life and dollars? Thanks. -- Allan

TOM: According to our calculations, Allan, he's burning 0.327815 grams of rubber off each front wheel, and 0.389459 grams off each rear wheel. And at a cost of 1.3 cents per gram of rubber, it's costing him 1.865172 cents every time he peels out.

RAY: My brother just made all that up. We have no idea what it's costing him to do this, but of course you're right, Allan. It's prematurely wearing out his tires. But the truth is, the tires are the least of his worries.

TOM: Right. He's hammering the clutch, the transmission, the timing chain or belt, the CV joints -- basically every piece of the drive train. We wrote a pamphlet called "10 Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car Without Even Knowing It," and jackrabbit starts are No. 1 on the list. Number 1!

RAY: So you might want to slip one of those pamphlets into his latest copy of Maxim. To get a copy, send $3 (check or money order) and a stamped (57 cents), self-addressed, No. 10 envelope to Ruin, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.

TOM: Every piece of his drive train is taking a beating when he burns rubber. All of those parts are going to wear out sooner than they otherwise would, and he's going to have to pay for their replacements.

RAY: And we have a name for this, Allan. It's called "justice." Add to that the fact that he's scaring all of the neighborhood girls and won't get any dates, and I think he's getting about what he deserves.

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