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Left-foot braking is the technique of using the left foot to operate the brake pedal in an automobile, leaving the right foot dedicated to the throttle pedal.[1] It contrasts with the practice of using the left foot to operate the clutch pedal, leaving the right foot to share the duties of controlling both brake and accelerator pedals.

At its most basic purpose, left-foot braking can be used to decrease the time spent between the right foot moving between the brake and throttle pedals, and can also be used to control load transfer.[1]

It is most commonly used in auto racing (simultaneous gas and brake keeps turbo pressure and reduces turbo lag), but is also used by some drivers for use with an automatic transmission or in some electric cars, as the left foot is not needed to operate a clutch pedal.

Racing and rallying[edit]

Karts, many open wheelers, and some modern road cars (cars that are mounted with automatic transmission or semi-automatic transmission as used in motorsports such as Formula One), have no foot-operated clutch, and so allow the driver to use their left foot to brake.

One common race situation that requires left-foot braking is when a racer is cornering under power. If the driver doesn't want to lift off the throttle, potentially causing trailing-throttle oversteer, left-foot braking can induce a mild oversteer situation, and help the car "tuck", or turn-in better. Mild left-foot braking can also help reduce understeer.[2]

In rallying left-foot braking is very beneficial, especially to front-wheel drive vehicles.[3][4] It is closely related to the handbrake turn, but involves locking the rear wheels using the foot brake (retarding actually, to reduce traction, rarely fully locking - best considered a misapplication), which is set up to apply a significant pressure bias to the rear brakes. The vehicle is balanced using engine power by use of the accelerator pedal, operated by the right foot. The left foot is thus brought into play to operate the brake. It is not as necessary to use this technique with rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive rally vehicles because they can be easily turned rapidly by using excess power to the wheels and the use of opposite lock steering, however the technique is still beneficial when the driver needs to decelerate and slide at the same time. In rear wheel drive, left foot braking can be used when the car is at opposite lock and about to spin. Using throttle and brake will lock the front tires but not the rears, thus giving the rears more traction and bringing the front end around.

Finnish rally legend Flying Finn Rauno Aaltonen used left-foot braking as a driving style in rallying when he competed for Saab in the 1950s.[5][citation needed]

When left foot braking is used to apply the brake and the throttle at the same time it is very hard on the car, causing extra wear on the transmission and brakes in particular.[6]

In restrictor plate NASCAR events, drivers were known to left-foot-brake at times, particularly in heavy traffic situations. Rather than lift off the throttle, which could lose considerable power and speed (due to the restrictor plates), a mild tap of the brakes while the right foot was still planted flat on the accelerator, could help avoid contact and bump drafting.

This technique should not be confused with heel-and-toe, which is another driving technique.

Road use[edit]

Many commentators advise against the use of left-foot braking while driving on public roads.[7][8]

However, some commentators do recommend left-foot braking as routine practice when driving vehicles fitted with an automatic transmission, when maneuvering at low speeds.[9]

Proponents of the technique note that in low-speed maneuvers, a driver of a vehicle with a manual transmission will usually keep a foot poised over the clutch pedal, ready to disengage power when the vehicle nears an obstacle. This means that disengagement is also possible in the event of malfunction such as an engine surge. However, the absence of a clutch on a vehicle with automatic transmission means that there is no such safety override, unless the driver has a foot poised over the brake pedal.[9]

Critics of the technique suggest that it can cause confusion when switching to or from a vehicle with a manual transmission,[7] and that it is difficult to achieve the necessary sensitivity to brake smoothly when one's left foot is accustomed to operating a clutch pedal.[8]

In popular culture[edit]

Sammy Hagar describes using the technique in "I Can't Drive 55", from his 1984 album VOA.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Team O'Neil Rally School & Car Control Center | Press". Team-oneil.com. Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  2. ^ "Left Foot Braking In Front Wheel Drive, Rally Racing News". Rallyracingnews.com. Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  3. ^ Dave Coleman. "We join the reigning champion team...and drive the junior car". sportcompactcarweb.com. Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
  4. ^ "How to left foot brake" (PDF) (2). Rally Talk. February 2005. p. 5. Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
  5. ^ "Driving Legends". theitalianjob.com. Retrieved 2009-10-25. 
  6. ^ "How the turbo Anti-Lag System works". rallycars.com. Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
  7. ^ a b "Frequently asked question: Why can’t I use the left foot for braking in an automatic car?". driving-school.com.au. Archived from the original on 2007-04-29. Retrieved 2007-10-10.  (from internet archive)
  8. ^ a b "Ask Ripley". The Daily Telegraph. May 2001. Retrieved 2007-10-10. It is true that some drivers with automatic gearboxes use left-foot braking to good effect but, as a general rule, it is difficult to achieve the necessary sensitivity to brake smoothly when your left foot is used to operating a clutch pedal. 
  9. ^ a b "Driving automatics safely: Why do you repeatedly advocate left foot braking of automatic cars?". HonestJohn.co.uk. Retrieved 2007-10-11. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Ross Bentley (1998). Speed Secrets: Professional Race Driving Techniques. Osceola, WI, USA: MBI Pub. Co. ISBN 0-7603-0518-8. 
  • Henry A. Watts (1989). Secrets of Solo Racing: Expert Techniques for Autocrossing and Time Trials. Sunnyvale, Calif.: Loki Pub. Co. ISBN 0-9620573-1-2. 

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left-foot_braking — Please support Wikipedia.
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220 news items

Montreal Gazette

Montreal Gazette
Sun, 24 May 2015 15:15:18 -0700

Q: I learned to left-foot brake years ago with automatic transmission equipped cars, but still rent stick-shift cars on trips for the fun and to maintain ambidextrous braking skills. However, I have been told by a friend that left-foot braking is ...

duPont REGISTRY (blog)

duPont REGISTRY (blog)
Mon, 04 May 2015 12:07:30 -0700

To test the level of their control we tried our best to heat the rear tires using left foot braking, but the engine power was quickly knocked back to idle. The 2015 Nissan 370Z NISMO features exterior, interior and performance refinements, along with ...
 
Telegraph.co.uk
Wed, 03 Nov 2010 08:00:56 -0700

I note your frequent advice to use left-foot braking in automatics. Like many of your readers, I suspect, I drove both automatic and manual cars and switch constantly between the two. Right-footed braking avoids any possibility of confusion in my ...
 
Telegraph.co.uk
Thu, 19 Aug 2010 22:31:11 -0700

You seem to be stressing the use of left foot braking whilst manoeuvring only, where I can see your point if you have to use the accelerator. However, all my automatics over thirty years have engaged drive at idle, which is why the brakes have to be on ...

GQ.com

GQ.com
Fri, 06 Mar 2015 06:09:38 -0800

"Left-foot braking is when you keep your foot on the throttle while you brake, which you don't do normally in road cars. You'll also see that the front wheels of an F1 car are pitched in slightly - that's the camber. That helps the car to load into a ...
 
autoevolution
Fri, 13 Jun 2014 04:13:08 -0700

Before starting to experiment with left foot braking, try to get accustomed to the previously mentioned techniques. This type of braking is heavily used by rally drivers and even weekend warriors that hit their local track with a stripped out Citroen ...

Telegraph.co.uk

Telegraph.co.uk
Thu, 02 Apr 2015 03:45:50 -0700

Schneider has swapped right-foot for left-foot braking in this automatic car. “Absolutely no problem for me because I came from karting where you learn that skill,” he says. The C350 feels more planted. “I can feel the steering precision and weight in ...

Jalopnik

Jalopnik
Mon, 26 Jan 2015 09:48:23 -0800

What you learn is that sliding a car around is a lot of fun, left foot braking is an art that takes a lot of getting used to (the brake is not the clutch!), and understeer is cardinal sin number one. Driving Subaru's WRX STI Rally Car Will Melt Every ...
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