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The Dangers of Driving With Both Feet

Every week, we take your questions about what is going on under the hood of your vehicle and pose them to a knowledgeable mechanic in the Greater Toronto Area. In today’s column we learn more about the possible dangers associated with driving while using both your feet and what problems can occur when your wheel rims corrode.
Nida Zafar
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Dear Ask a Mechanic,

I have been using both my feet to drive for more than 65 years, stemming from (transitioning from driving) manual to automatic. I am quite comfortable with this approach, using my left foot for braking. What is your take on this? – Breaking old habits

Zafar Habib, co-owner of Humble Autohaus in Scarborough, said he has seen many of his customers drive this way, and he doesn’t think it’s a good idea. “By mistake, if you push the gas and the brake at the same time, the car could go out of control,” he said. Habib said this could cause the car to jerk or jump, creating a safety issue. In some vehicles, pushing both pedals together will cause ‘throttle override,’ where the car will substantially reduce power or even just idle. If a driver needs to make an emergency maneuver and the brake needs to be engaged, driving this way may result in the gas pedal being pressed by accident. Driving with both feet also increases the likelihood of riding the brakes. Habib said the best driving method is to only use your right foot for the brake and gas pedal.

 

Dear Ask a Mechanic,

I drive a BMW and I’m finding that my wheels are starting to corrode. Not only does this not look good, but I’m also concerned it could impact the drivability of the vehicle. What are your thoughts on this and how can I fix this? – Corroding rims

Habib said this depends on the type of wheel you have. If your wheel is steel, corrosion will look like a discoloured buildup that’s rough in texture and can contribute to causing your rims fail. If the corrosion is bad, the rim can collapse, bend or even split, impacting the drivability and safety of the vehicle. “(If) the steel is weak, whenever there’s any big bumps on the road or potholes, it can easily damage the rim,” Habib said.

In situations where customers are faced with severe buildup, Habib said the best option is to replace the rims. As a prevention measure, you should also clean the rims at the first sign of rust. A homemade solution of soap and water works well, Habib said, followed by a coat of paint once it is dry.

With aluminum wheels, corrosion usually results in cosmetic damage but seldom structural concerns. Aluminum wheels tend more toward surface and bead corrosion, with the possibility to latter could causes air leaks.

 

Ask a Mechanic is written by Nida Zafar, a reporter at The Pointer who grew up in a house full of mechanics in Scarborough, and occasionally poses your questions to her dad or brother. You can send your questions to wheels@thestar.ca. These answers are for informational purposes only. Please consult a certified mechanic before having any work done to your vehicle.

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