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December 15, 2008


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Rick Clayton

The instruction to "lift your right foot gently off the accelerator" is appropriate only for an automatic transmission vehicle with the cruise control off. If the cruise is on, it will attempt to keep the drive wheels rotating at its set speed. Lifting the foot will do nothing (it probably isn't there to start with due to the cruise control being on). Another approach is to shift to neutral (automatic) or depress the clutch pedal (manual) and lift off the throttle. These actions cancel the cruise control and allow the drive wheels to regain contact with the road in an undriven and unbraked way, which will maximize the ability to regain control of the skid. Once directional control is re-established, threshold braking can be used to slow the vehicle.

Jim Kenzie

To Rick:

RE: Instructions if you hydroplane.

You're right. I was assuming that if the car's wheels had started to spin the cruise would already have kicked itself off, and IF your foot was on the gas, get it off!

If cruise is still on it has to be deactivated too; in most cars, your suggestions will do that trick.

Slipping the car into neutral and depressing the clutch (in a manual) are indeed the right things to do. The idea is to allow whatever grip the tires do have to be directed towards steering the car, not accelerating or braking it, even by engine braking.

Thanks for your more complete description!

Jim Kenzie

John McKinlay


How come you're one of the only journalists who consistently use common sense and write about the truth? I'm surprised some of these lobbyists haven't had you shut down yet.

Keep it up!

- john.

Jim Kenzie

Hi John:

Wanna be my agent?


Jim Kenzie

Rick Clayton

There is a warning against using the cruise control when the road is wet or icy the owner's manual of just about every car. It is too bad that these things are rarely read.


Great advice as usual. It seems to me that if the car begins to hydroplane while on cruise control the drive wheels will spin faster. That signals the cruise control to release the throttle to maintain speed. This occurs faster than you or I could react as it takes only a minuscule variation in speed for most cruise controls to react. This is not intended to be an argument for using cruise control in the rain but it seems to suggest that the car simply could not accelerate while on cruise in this situation.

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