Should I drive fast or slow on a dirt road?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Nov 01, 1990

Dear Tom and Ray:

I drive on a dirt road approximately two miles daily. I have heard opposing suggestions about the best way to drive on dirt roads. One theory is to drive slowly, 5-15 mph, so the bumps will not cause so much damage to the car. The other theory is to drive faster, 35-40 mph, so the car jumps over some of the bumps. Which method would cause less wear and tear on a car?

TOM: Think about this, Don. If Mike Tyson's fist was about to collide with your face, would you rather it came at you real slow or real fast?

RAY: If the fist hits you while it's moving slowly, you probably wouldn't spit out all of your teeth. But if that fist connects with your jaw at full speed, you'd probably be on a milk shake diet for years to come.

TOM: The same theory applies to driving over bumps. If you drive slowly, you put wear and tear on the components of the front end because you're making them bounce up and down. But by driving fast, you add a whole other force; the horizontal force of speed.

RAY: To put that in language that everyone can understand, that's sort of like having Mike Tyson punch you in the face, while kneeing you in the groin at the same time.

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