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Honest John's Motoring Agony Column 28-09-2019 Part 1

Published 26 September 2019

This week’s automotive agonising involves oil change intervals, left foot braking, Golf GTIs, MINI Countryman, and in Part 2 we check out high seats, Grand Tourers, TPMS and some bigger issues.

As usual, emails to Honest John should be addressed to: letters@honestjohn.co.uk  Please try to keep them as short as possible.

BMW 330Cd Coupe 700

An inspection calls

I have a 1999 BMW 323 automatic coupe. I had the last inspection service at the BMW dealer last November at 108,000 miles. Since then I had a waterpump change and few months ago ATF changed. Now I almost 10,000 miles since the last service and the inspection light tells me there are still 5,000 miles left before the next inspection. This will take me almost to next October/November. Shall I wait until then or have an oil change now? Also, do you recommend an air conditioning service at £80 by the dealer or I should leave it if it works fine?

KA, via email

We say every engine needs an oil and filter change at least every year or every 10,000 miles whichever comes first. Stocks of R134a refrigerant are running out and becoming increasingly expensive. R1234YF cannot be used instead and is even more expensive. So not a bad idea to get the refrigerant topped up now for £80 rather than a lot more next year. 

Ford Thunderbird Automatic Brake Pedal 

Foot in it

I used to sell cars in America, the majority being automatic. Every customer, numbering in the thousands, used their right foot to brake. In addition, I worked with hundreds of salespeople, all of whom adopted the same driving style. This mirrors my experience of selling cars in this country. I know that you have strong views on this but, I believe that, though individually we should do as we please, this matter may well be more than simple preference and may stray into best or safest practice.

DM, London

If people want to kill people through their crass stupidity all I can do is try to educate them and save a few lives. You presumably have two feet. The automatic car has two pedals. What could be more obvious than to use your left foot for the brake and your right foot for the accelerator? You then eliminate the 'Highway Code' 'Thinking Distance' entirely and stop a lot quicker. Particularly important in areas where cars and pedestrians mix. I proved this conclusively at Mercedes Benz World (https://www.mercedes-benzworld.co.uk/) on 7th May. You don't walk on one foot. You don't pedal a bicycle with one foot. You don't play a piano with one foot. You don't fly a small plane with one foot. You don't drive a go-kart with one foot. Why attempt to drive a car with one foot and have less control over it than you would using two feet?

VW Golf GTI Mk 1 And Mk7

Golf course

I’ve had seven VW Golf GTIs over the last 30 years, from Mk1 to Mk6, all purchased at around 3 years old and changed at around the 120k mile mark having given good reliable service. The latest is my second DSG, a 2011 Mk6, coming up to 95k miles. Can I safely carry on with the DSG for another couple of years, or is now the time to change? Do I stick with VW or is there something else to consider that would give the same fun, style, reliability and versatility?

DT, Newark

The EA888 engine could suffer coking up of the inlet valves, which is why they added indirect injection to it in 2013. The DSG is the DQ250 6-speed wet clutch type and needs fresh oil and filter every 3 years or 38,000 miles. Mk VIs have not been the most reliable Golfs: /carbycar/volkswagen/golf-vi-2009/good/ You could consider a previous shape Honda Civic Type R, or a BMW 130i or a Mazda 3.

MINI Countryman Brown F34 Road

Maxi MINI

Unless I can find a MINI Cooper 5-door automatic to test-drive, it now really comes down to these two cars: VW Polo 1.0 DSG, or the bigger MINI Countryman 1.5 Automatic which seems like a lot more car, but is probably more expensive on fuel. Please let me know your thoughts?

DS, via email

If you need to carry 5 people then that's a reason for the Countryman. It's actually Golf/Focus size. Nothing 'Mini' about it apart from the styling. But while you're at the VW dealer you might take a look at the T-Cross: /road-tests/volkswagen/volkswagen-t-cross-2019-road-test/

 

Checking out

I was in the checkout at Morrisons Supermarket in Fleet, Hampshire today and got talking to the lady next to me at the checkout.  She had just been fined £85 for staying longer than 2 hours in the car park there. She complained to Morrisons but has got nowhere with this complaint. Apparently she not only did a shop, but also had a meal in the restaurant in the supermarket. I think it is scandalous to fine this lady £85 for shopping in the supermarket and using its restaurant facility. I don't think that squeezing that in to just 2 hours is reasonable. What do you think?    

PM, Fleet

Until the law is changed by Sir Greg Knight's Parking (Code of Practice) Act that was supposed to come into force this summer, the law is the Supreme Court ruling in Beavis v Parking Eye, November 2015. Beavis exceeded the free parking limit and challenges the right of the carpark operator to penalise him for this. He lost. See:  /faq/private-parking-penalties/

LR Range Rover Evoque 2015 F34 Road 

Hourly irate

Following an annual service l was advised that some bolts on the PTU of my Range Rover Evoque were loose and I should urgently book the car in for further investigation. l was told that they may need the car for maybe one or two days and was kindly offered me a courtesy car. Today I delivered my car to the dealer and collected the courtesy car at 08.15. to my surprise, at 9.55, l received a video form the technician with health check and confirmation that he found no bolts loose but did give then a tweak. On collecting the car, l was charged £330 plus VAT for less than 90 minutes hours work. When l question this, the service manager replied. “we charge £190 per hour which is very competitive". Is this correct, or the service manager just trying to justify the costs? Most importantly there was nothing wrong with the bolts on the PTU in the first place. No surprise that Main Agents are losing customers.

AH, via email

Write a letter to the dealer principal of the dealership expressing your disquiet about bringing your car in for a non-fault to be repaired, then being charged £330 + VAT for the non-fault not being repaired because there was no fault. State you want the full £330 + VAT refunded within 21 days or you will take the matter to Small Claims. Send it by Post Office Special Delivery, keep a copy, and staple the certificate of posting to the copy so it becomes a ‘matter of record’ should you need it for the court to show you made a “reasonable” attempt to settle out of court. 

SEAT Aona 2017 F34 Red (1)

Join the DQ

I note that your readers have had poor experiences of cars fitted with the VW group dry clutch 7-speed DSG automatic gearboxes. I have a SEAT Arona 1.0 115 ES tech DSG. Could you include in your Saturday Honest John data some advice on the dry clutch DSG box as to what services and garage attention would minimise the problems/failure rates. We have what we have. How can we keep on top of the DQ 200 seven-speed problems?

SR, via email

The DQ200 7-speed low torque dry clutch DSG was designed to be maintenance-free using long-lasting synthetic oil. But the synthetic oil turned out to be conductive at high temperature, knocking out the mechatronics. So the transmissions were recalled in 2012 and the synthetic oil was replaced with mineral oil that eventually degrades. All new DQ200s from 2012 were factory filled with mineral oil. These seem to be lasting about 5 - 7 years, so independents and the better VAG dealers are recommending changing the oil every 4 years. This excellent home-made video shows how it can be done: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtCA3wqDa1s

LR Fldr II Side 700

Documentary evidence

On 7th June 2019 I bought outright a used Land Rover Freelander 2 from a 4x4 specialist. The proprietor gave me the tear-off portion of the V5 registration document. I still await the changeover document registered in my name, but as yet this hasn't happened.   On contacting DVLA (by phone), I was told that they hadn't received the document from the dealer. I was advised to contact the dealer, which I've now done. The dealer stated that nowadays such actions are done online and this he did. DVLA made no mention of any dealer orientated online changeover procedure and since they've already told me that my details aren't recorded, I'm worried as to what to do now. Please advise if such an online procedure described by the dealer actually exists. If not what should I do.

DB, via email

Yes, there is an online system but something seems to have gone awry in your case. Get a Form V62 and register the car in your name. You can get them from Post Offices. Or download from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/application-for-a-vehicle-registration-certificate. The question mark here is whether the car is taxed. Did you pay for it to be taxed when you bought it? Did the dealer tax it in his name and leave it in his name? Or did the dealer leave the tax in the name of whoever had the car before? (Both illegal.) You can find out if it is recorded as taxed here: https://www.gov.uk/check-vehicle-tax

Renault Talisman Estate F34

Am I being fuelled?

I live in the north of France and drive over to the UK every week. As most of the fuel available in France is from supermarkets, I always fill up in the UK with premium diesel. I have Renault Talisman Initiale Paris with the twin-turbo 1.6 diesel engine, which seems particularly sensitive to the quality of fuel. There is a noticeable difference sometimes in how peppy and responsive the engine is when  using premium diesel, and my mpg, which I work out on a spreadsheet, can rise from just over 40mpg to 46mpg. Sometimes, though driving the same roads in the same style, there seems to be no improvement in mpg over standard diesel, and I feel certain that the additive package I am paying for has not been added. How can you tell besides my rather unscientific records?

KW, France

Without instituting a series of sample tests on the fuel itself by a petrochemical laboratory, you can't. What I do is stick to the same brand of Superunleaded or Superdiesel (Shell V-Power) and use the Shell Go+ smartphone app (https://www.goplus.shell.com/en-gb/) to minimise the cost. The 1.6DCI in your car was very advanced when first launched but didn't do well in the WLTP tests so has now been replaced by a 1,750cc version with 150HP.

Skoda Karoq F34 Redjpg (1) 

Extras, extras, read all about them

I've decided to go ahead and buy a Skoda Karoq. The dealer is trying to sell me some extras, which I am struggling with and perhaps you can advise me of your views. They are offering me a Kenwood DRV430 dash cam for £210. It only covers the front of the car and I am struggling to understand the benefit as it doesn't cover the sides or the rear of the car. Is there a dash cam that you would recommend that will cover the entire car and do you think they are really worth having? They are also offering GAP insurance for £375 for a 3-year period. Do you think this is worth having and is there an insurance company that is best for this sort of cover? I am looking to set up a policy with LV for the car.

MF, via email

Dashcams Buying Guide here. Mivue 766 here. Garmin 55 here. Nextbase 512GW here. BMW is now offering optional front and rear dashcams on the new 3-Series that run continuously and pressing a button saves the previous 30 seconds of front and rear footage. But obviously to cover all four sides of the car you would need at least four separate cameras. For GAP insurance, we work with and therefore recommend ALA which is almost inevitably cheaper than the commission-hungry GAP insurances bought via dealers. There are other independent GAP insurers. The point of it is to make up any shortfall between the insurance pay-out and a total loss, which might be very necessary if the car is on a PCP.

MINI 5 Door Cooper D Side

Letting it slip

I am a loyal BMW MINI customer, driving my MINI on lease from September 2017. The car has done 15,000 miles and is less than 2 years old. This is my 3rd MINI; no issues with the clutches of the previous two. On 24th June, a warning message came up stating ‘clutch overheating, stop to let it cool down.’ I stopped immediately and was unable to use the clutch. I contacted MINI Assist who came within 30 minutes and said it would be covered by warranty. I was then taken to pick up a hire car. The following day I received a phone call and was told that in order to check whether the work was covered by warranty, they needed to remove the gearbox and that would cost £700. I was told it would cost about £2,000, if not covered by warranty. They later confirmed it was not covered and the cost after negotiation was £1,777.67. I needed my car back  so what choice did I have? The fact the repair is not covered by Warranty is totally unacceptable and alarming. The car is less than 2 years old and my driving style was not an issue on 2 previous MINIs driving significantly more miles. To resolve the issue, MINI should pay the full cost of the repair. I am now effectively being held to ransom by MINI and my car is being held some distance from home until I pay for the repair. 

HS, via email

Unfortunately most manufacturers do not warrant a clutch beyond 6 months because of the significant possibility that a driver can destroy it himself or herself. That is standard across the industry.  The exceptions are if the clutch has failed due to a manufacturing defect, or if the clutch slave cylinder has leaked fluid onto the clutch or if either the engine crankshaft seal or the transmission seal has leaked oil onto the clutch or if the clutch failure is due to dual mass flywheel failure. Of course, all of these are virtually impossible for the owner to prove because they are only revealed when the engine and transmission are separated so unless the owner is present when that happens, he/she will have no knowledge. You don't say which MINI this is (One or Cooper.) All I can get from the reg is that it's 1,499cc and petrol. I had another report of clutch failure on a MINI this morning, but that was on an older car with 25,000 miles.

Scratched Wheelarch

Doing it from scratch

I recently rented a car at Stansted airport. The rental was very cheap but when I returned the car I was charged their 'standard' charge to repair pre-existing damage to the car. One was for a scratch below the passenger door which I had photographed and reported when I took out the car, and the other some scratches on the wheel hub, which I hadn't noticed at the time. When I returned the car I could not find the photograph until the charges were made, but when I returned to the office with the photographic evidence I was told I would have to apply to head office to stop the charge going through as the person I had dealt with said he was not authorised to cancel any payments. I have since done this, with an enclosed scan of the scratch, but with so far no reply. I am very suspicious about their 'charges' as whilst I was waiting 3 other customers were charged the 'standard' fee of £300 for damage they were unaware of. I am also suspicious that although I flagged the scratch when I took the car, the inspector obviously did not make a note on his sheet and the next customer may be charged for exactly the same damage. Please would you advise me as to what I can now do to avoid a costly repair charge for damage that I was not responsible for. And I would advise anybody renting a car, especially from a company with low rental costs to thoroughly check the car, take photographs of marks and damage and make sure they are logged before driving the car away.

AS, via email

Notify the managing director of the rental company that you have the evidence that the car was scratched before your rental and you want the £300 refunded within 21 days or you will sue for the return of the £300 using Moneyclaim. Enclose a print of the scratch with your letter. Send it by Post Office Special Delivery, keep a copy, and staple the certificate of posting to the copy so it becomes a ‘matter of record’ should you need it for the legal process. If you need to take this to Moneyclaim, here is the procedure:  https://www.gov.uk/make-money-claim

Suzuki Jimny 2019 F34 Cream

Narrowing it down

I am retiring to the UK and want to buy a car to meet my changing needs. For the last 12 years I have happily driven a Honda CR-V in France. I have two six stone dogs, will have a very narrow garage (and have a strong preference to park inside). The garage doors are a shade over 2m wide, the garage is 2.5m wide and I need to be able to get out of the car. Mostly the car will be used to potter locally but also to go back and forth to the Alsace until my house there sells. I am 4 feet 11 inches and either the seat needs to go up or the safety belt move down to prevent being garrotted whilst driving. I am considering a Suzuki Jimny but would appreciate your wise guidance.

GH, via email

The wonderful little new Jimny is sold out. You could get a used old model Jimny but they are dreadful to drive on the road. 2,000mm gives a bit of scope. A VW T-Cross is probably closest to what you need: /road-tests/volkswagen/volkswagen-t-cross-2019-road-test/ (Width: 1,799mm (including mirrors) You could go for a Suzuki Vitara: /road-tests/suzuki/suzuki-vitara-10t-allgrip-2019-road-test/ (Width: 1,775mm + mirrors) SEAT Arona: /road-tests/seat/seat-arona-10-tsi-2018-road-test/ (Width: 1,942mm including mirrors) Or maybe a Citroen C3 Aircross: /road-tests/citroen/citroen-c3-aircross-2017-road-test/ (Width: 1,976mm  including mirrors)

Ford Focus 1 Litre Ecoboost Engine Degas Pipe Original

Degassed at the idea

I have a 1 litre Ford Focus Ecoboost,  first registered in March 2017. I’ve been told there have been problems with cylinder heads/blocks cracking? Have you heard of this issue? Also, are there any recommendations for timing change changes or the like I should be aware of.

JB, via email

A 2017 should have the latest, improved, turbo degas pipe. All about the issue here: /carbycar/ford/focus-2011/good/ And here: /carbycar/ford/focus-2014/good/

Renault Koleos LT Nov 2018 Shell Barnsdale Bar (1)

Pumped up

I read your piece about Volvo D5 diesels and fuel with interest. I have a Volvo V70 D5. I routinely fuel with superdiesel (largely because of your advice on the subject). On Thursday I drove Gosport/Plymouth (168 mile) and, being mildly obsessive, used the car’s computer to check the mpg. I achieved 46.8 (which is in line with what I normally get). On my way out of Plymouth I realised that I needed to top up. I went into a local service area which was busy and didn’t have superdiesel on my pump. I would guess that I ended up with about 3:1 regular: super in the tank. When I got home I checked the mpg. 37.2. I appreciate the traffic was different, but that seems a big difference.

MFR, via email

Many thanks. Doesn't surprise me at all. I do better 3 - 4 mpg better than the Real MPG average in my current 3008 1.5 BlueHDI EAT6 by sticking solely to Shell V-Power diesel.

KIA E -Niro 2019 11 Side Country Speed 

Electric avenues 

I have had a 2013 Ford Focus Powershift for four years, and it has now done 55,000 miles. I know you are not keen on the automatic box in these. Ford and my local service agent say that they will need no service for life, but I am convinced that any mechanical device will require some service. What do you think I should do? I would rather like to change it, and would like to go electric, but I’d need a range of at least 250 miles. What are my options?

RR, via email

KIA e-Niro: /road-tests/kia/kia-e-niro-2019-road-test/ Hyundai Kona e: /road-tests/hyundai/hyundai-kona-electric-64kwh-2018-road-test/

VW T5 Caravelle T Side 700 

Miles high club

For two years I have owned a 2010 VW T5 Transporter minibus, (engine type CAAC), which has done 363,000 miles and is used as a taxi. Had EGR checked by Westbourne of Hickstead who were going to attempt a Terraclean of the EGR - they reported that the EGR actuator seized and EGR was basically inoperative. Therefore EGR was replaced on 26th June. At first, it seemed to cure the problem - no recurrence for 200 miles, but today the fault returned just as before. Desperate now. Any thoughts please?

LM, via email

Try posting at http://www.honestjohn.co.uk and then <ASK HJ> so it can be referred to our mechanic. But, at 363,000 miles you have to face the distinct likelihood that the engine is close to end of life.

Click to Honest John’s Motoring Agony Column 28-9-2019 Part 2

Comments

TTToommy    on 27 September 2019

agree with HJ on many things BUT left foot braking? Never

Might be OK if you're learning to drive and will only ever drive an auto but those of us brought up with right fot braking and those who drive autos and manulas NO

Be honest - an emergency needing hard/emergency braking and your foots on the brake without you even thining about it

Scot5    on 27 September 2019

Left foot braking yet again but this time HJ goes way over the top: "If people want to kill people through their crass stupidity" - shame on you HJ.
So everyone is wrong - driving instructors, advantced driving instructors, courts ( you blamed driver for a death when court said otherwise ), drivers who've driven their cars for 60 years without incident, etc. And you say they all want to kill people? Your worse than Donald Trump.

You stop faster? YOU HAVE NO EVIDENCE TO BACK THIS UP.

I've said it many times before and I'll say it again - drivers do not drive with their left foot over the brake pedal, their foot is resting on the floor or as more often the case on the foot rest ( which is what the footrest is for or are you going to now claim manufacturers too are intent on killing people?). It takes longer to move your left foot from it's resting position than your right foot from the accelerator - fact.

Moreover, you have in the past in these columns claimed it takes seconds to move your right foot from the accelerator to the brake... fake news ! That's your Donald Trump side again.

And how many accidents have been caused by people who've read your column and tried left foot braking? I've no evidence of that, hey but neither have you. Rather than do what's been natural for many years, an incident occurs and the brain takes time to remember which foot to use rather than hit the brake without thinking. I'd say your advice has more chance of causing an accident.

Oh, and if it takes longer to use your right foot in an auto, then it takes longer to use your right foot in a manual too therefore perhaps you believe buying a manual car an intention to kill someone?

Silas Marner    on 27 September 2019

As automatics have double-width brake pedals, how about braking with both feet? Problem solved!

Slow Eddie    on 27 September 2019

You're wasting your time, Scot5 (as I am again!) - HJ doesn't engage in reasoned discussion. It's full-on man-in-pub style argumentation: adopt an opinion and keep asserting it ever more forcefully and indeed abusively. But if you can overlook the bee-in-bonnet crankiness, the old boy's columns can still be informative...

Falkirk Bairn    on 27 September 2019

My 78 year olf neighbour has had a clutch fitted to his Nissan - 30 mths old, 40K miles under warranty.

He bought the car brand new pre reg Pulsar for some £11,000 (Great price for a slow selling model)

Clutch issues & was quoted some £1200 as a repair.

He told the supplying garage that he had never burned out a clutch in his entire life BUT he had replaced clutches whilst helping neighbours. He insisted on seeing the removed parts when coming to pick up his car.

Oil seal had failed & contaminated the clutch - Dealer repaired under warranty foc.

I think, if I was faced with a clutch issue, to face the service manager with the facts of no history of fast starts, no trundling along in too high a gear & never had clutch issues + wanting to see the evidence of the removed clutch/dmf or whatever.

Gilesmeng    on 27 September 2019

Am I being fuelled?

I use Shell V-Power in my XC60 Diesel.

When I take it to France (don't tell Greta...!) I use Total Excellium diesel - seems pretty similar and a lot better than supermarket stuff.

Craig_    on 27 September 2019

'You then eliminate the 'Highway Code' 'Thinking Distance'' utter claptrap. Your thinking distance would be exactly the same. The only difference is between the time to stamp your left foot and the time to move then stamp your right foot.

Of course the carnage on the road if everyone started trying to left-foot brake would be horrifying.

   on 27 September 2019

If I got fined by a supermarket for spending money in their store, than they wouldn't see my custom again. They'd probably see something else from me, but not what I'd put into writing. For legal reasons.

Haven't shopped in a Morrisons either, since they sacked an employee in Basingstoke for wearing a help for heroes wristband.

glidermania    on 27 September 2019

Oh I see the anti LFB dullards are out again. With a manual, you use TWO feet and hence pedals when parking or reversing, the accelerator and the clutch.

While parking or reversing an auto and only using the accelerator, you risk careering into parked cars. Just watch YouTube videos of cars running amok in a car park when the startled driver keeps their RIGHT foot slammed on the accelerator.

As for 'normal' driving, I used to drive down the motorway at 80+ in my Z4 auto right foot on the accelerator. When approaching traffic or cars in lane 2 who looked like they were just going to pull into lane 3 no matter what (yes, you can spot them), eased off the accelerator and covered the brake with my LEFT foot.

Do that in a manual and see 1, how uncomfortable it is if you do have to brake suddenly and 2, the split second difference needed to move your right foot to the brake might be the difference in not hitting the car in front.

groaver    on 27 September 2019

While parking or reversing an auto and only using the accelerator, you risk careering into parked cars. Just watch YouTube videos of cars running amok in a car park when the startled driver keeps their RIGHT foot slammed on the accelerator.

Perhaps it's like that for you. Others can drive just fine using their right foot only in an auto and never risk crashing. You state it like it's a certainty.

People who have lost competency due to increasing senility, well that's a matter of general driving competency not just parking.

Edited by groaver on 27/09/2019 at 21:16

MP98    on 28 September 2019

While parking or reversing an auto and only using the accelerator, you risk careering into parked cars. Just watch YouTube videos of cars running amok in a car park when the startled driver keeps their RIGHT foot slammed on the accelerator.

Perhaps it's like that for you. Others can drive just fine using their right foot only in an auto and never risk crashing. You state it like it's a certainty.

People who have lost competency due to increasing senility, well that's a matter of general driving competency not just parking.

I think you might have hit the nail on the hea for many. Some of those concerned are towards the end of (and possibly beyond) their competent driving years. Some may say they’ve driven for years / have a 127 year old parent who hasn’t had an accident and still drives etc. - but if they need to left foot brake to remain in complete control there are probably other good reasons why they should hang up their driving gloves. That said, I don’t doubt LFB gives tighter control in close, low speed parking situations in a lower powered car. Never had an issue letting torque move the car and covering with the right foot personally.

masiv    on 28 September 2019

'Never had an issue letting torque move the car and covering with the right foot personally.'

This is exactly what I do. It just seems like common sense to me, rather than all this debate over LFB. If you cannot manage to do this, then you shouldn't be driving. (Disability adaptions excluded obviously)

stojom    on 28 September 2019

Mp98. Are you in the uk as oldest person here is 112. A mere child.

gordonbennet    on 28 September 2019

I'm now in two minds about the LFB issue, no i don't use it myself on the road but now and again i would use it with certain automatics when loading a car transporter at extreme angles, needing precise control.

It won't surprise many that the cars most difficult to control in such circs were those with automated manual and twin clutch gearboxes, in general torque converter and CVT gearboxes (mainly Toyota's) caused no issues and you could control the vehicle easily with the one foot on the throttle, because you could trust the car not to suddenly engage drive and lurch.

I'm not entirely convinced its such a good idea for someone who's been driving a manual for decades to suddenly in the autumn of their life buy one of these awful semi auto/dual clutch monstrosities, even when you're in the prime of your life they take a lot of getting used to for close work.

I drove car transporters for 20 years in my previous work and even with all that experience these things could prove a nightmare for all of us in the industry.

I mentioned this in one of last month's LFB comments, one has to wonder if the unfortunate chap in my home town who has since lost at least one leg would have not been devastatingly crushed had the older driver either chosen a proper controllable auto (TC or CVT) or if he had to buy one of the other type and covering the brake with his left foot would it have helped? would his reactions have been quick enough?

I really don't know, but this single recent event was witnessed by my neighbour and caused him great distress just seeing it happen and trying vainly to help the innocent victim, it's made me think a lot and has reinforced my complete opposition to these weird boxes which don't allow precise torque application for close work in the way a decent torque converter does.

Steve Mugglestone    on 28 September 2019

After reading HJ advice on left foot braking. All my cars are Automatic and I will never buy another manual so no confusion. I decided to change my driving style and change to LFB.
What a disaster. I was a danger to myself and every other road user. After 2 weeks I went back to my normal style and felt much safer. After 60 years driving using my right foot for braking I found it impossible to change. The first time I had react quickly it was my right foot that hit the brake pedal not my left.

jchinuk    on 29 September 2019

"You then eliminate the 'Highway Code' 'Thinking Distance' entirely and stop a lot quicker."
Really? The "Thinking Distance" is the time taken by your eye to register a problem, tell your brain, the brain to work out what action is required, and finally the brain to tell your body (a foot in this case) what to do. It's a very rare condition (possibly unknown) that means one foot reacts quicker to your brain.

The point is that while probably safer at low speeds, where I (and I assume others) use both feet anyway on clutch / accelerator, it is less of an issue on the road at normal speeds. More relevant, it's possibly more dangerous to try and change after doing one thing for many years.

Goodness knows what will happen when electric cars just have one pedal, push to go, release to stop.

jchinuk    on 29 September 2019

Re : Checking out
Whilr I agree it is scandalous that people are charged 'out of the blue' and often by third parties, not the shop next to the car parks, these days managing car parks is contracted out.
However, some control is often required. The nearest supermarket to me is next to a small industrial estate and within 10 minutes walk of a commuter rail station. Until they introduced some parking controls the car park (it's a 24/7 store) was full by 8:00am Monday to Friday, with workers from the small businesses and commuters. Not very useful for the supermarket or their customers.

Chuckie888    on 30 September 2019

I tried Left Foot Braking many years ago after reading a HJ article. It was difficult to get the sensitivity right at first, but after some practice in spartan traffic, I find it is far superior to right foot braking and also helps in some advanced handling\car control situations such as entering a bend or in snowy conditions when you need to shift the vehicles weight quickly. I do not seem to have a problem when reverting to RFB when driving a manual car either. I think we all need to calm down a little, even if the language used by HJ was incendiary but it must be so frustrating to keep giving people good advice and it not being heeded.

Edited by Chuckie888 on 30/09/2019 at 09:41

madf    on 30 September 2019

I drive an uato Jazz and rest my left foot on the footrest. It takes longer to LFB as I have to lift my lkeft leg and move it sideways...

Reversing and parking on an auto is a doddle.. idle and let the creep do teh work.

In 1970,m uncle crashed a 1969 Daimler through the back wall of his garage when reversing and did not brake in time. He was 65 years old.. Two years later he was diagnosed with Parkinsons...which says it all LFB would have made no difference.

I am 72 and so far appear to be compos mentis but standing on my head is inconsistent with LFB,, oh sorry that's yoga not driving...Maybe not quite compos then....:-)

gentle giant    on 30 September 2019

Left foot braking.
If you have driven automatics for the majority of the time, your left foot becomes used to the sensitivity required for braking.
However, if you have two cars one a manual the other an auto, it can actually be dangerous to use left foot braking. I have had a car go into the back of mine because I forgot for a moment I was driving the auto and used the brake pedal as you would a clutch pedal, I.e. I pushed it down quiet firmly. This was on approaching a roundabout so I was travelling fairly slowly. Of course this meant the car stopped dead and the poor chap behind was not expecting it. Fortunately the damage was limited to a cracked number plate on his car. Now for safety reason I always use my right foot for breaking.
The problem will be if a switch to a car with no conventional hand brake. If I do I will obviously have to left foot brake to make sure the car does not suddenly move when the parking brake is released.
Before the advent of ani lock breaking , I used left foot braking on my classic rally car to stop the wheels locking up, but crashed on one occasion because I boiled the brake fluid and lost the brakes.

Chrishunt    on 1 October 2019

I have an auto (dual clutch) and I left foot brake and have done since switching to autos nearly 4 years ago having driven manuals for the previous 36 years. I find it particularly useful for driving on narrow roads with passing places and poor sight lines - part of my regular trip to work. I have no issues with LFB, it is very useful for close control in confined spaces but I do use it all the time.

Having said all that in the end the safest braking method is the one the driver is most competent to perform in the majority of circumstances. Yes there might be advantages in certain circumstances but there's little point adopting LFB if brain and body just just don't get it.

Re thinking time - that's only part of the measure between need for action and actual action - there's thinking time plus reaction time and, if you're already covering the brake then reaction time should be negligible but that applies just as much to RFB as it does to LFB.

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