Today: is two-footed driving bad for your car?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jan 01, 2011

Dear Tom and Ray:

My husband, a dear, loving Englishman, drives with one foot on the brake and one foot on the gas. At a red light, the poor car is trying desperately to move forward, as told by the right foot, but is being held prisoner by the left foot. It's a terrible thing to experience, and takes every ounce of my being to stay silent (the last time I tried to explain the damaging factor of this type of driving, he started with the societal differences between the U.S. and England, his father blah blah and then something about the queen). So I gave up. I am just asking/begging you guys to declare that two-footed driving is bad. Really bad. So bad that a person might be deported back to his motherland if he continues to kill an innocent Volvo V40 and psychologically abuse his loving, supportive wife with such behavior. Thanks for your time, guys. I do hope you have a lovely, one-footed day.

-- Nikki

TOM: What happened to the good old days, when couples used to argue about easy stuff, like finances and whether to send their kid to reform school?

RAY: If he's actually using both feet at the same time, that is bad for the car. And potentially bad for you, too, Nikki, if you're the passenger.

TOM: If he's "riding the brake" -- that is, resting his left foot on the brake while he's accelerating -- he can easily overheat the brakes. And when brakes overheat, they stop working. That's bad, right?

RAY: Even if he doesn't overheat the brakes, he'll surely wear them out faster. He'll also be activating his brake lights when he's not intending to stop. That tends to confuse and infuriate the drivers behind him.

TOM: It also "outs" him as a full-blown geezer. If he's doing that, he might as well slap on a bumper sticker that reads "Follow Me to the Early Bird Special!"

RAY: On the other hand, if he uses two feet -- one for the gas pedal and one for the brake -- but only uses one pedal at a time, there's nothing wrong with that. Some people just feel that their reflexes are faster that way. Or that's the way they learned to drive.

TOM: It is, however, very difficult to avoid resting your left foot on the brake. Try it yourself. Your leg will be aching after about five minutes.

RAY: So make a deal with him, Nikki. If he's willing to go to the gym and strengthen his gastrocnemius, soleus, plantaris, tibialis posterior, peroneus longus and peroneus brevis muscles so he can keep his nonactive foot flexed and off the unused pedal, you'll stop complaining about his driving.

TOM: But if he can't -- or won't -- stick to only one foot at a time, tell him for queen and country, you're buying him a car with a clutch. That'll give his left foot something productive to do.

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