Saturday, October 6, 2001
G O O D  M O T O R I N G

Braving the "stop and go" ordeal
H. Kishie Singh

AFTER many years I had a dose of "stop and go" driving. Of course, where else could I experience it but in Delhi! I hope I never get to experience it in Chandigarh. To begin with, you need thousands of vehicles with aggressive drivers.

‘Stop and go’ driving puts a lot of strain on the engine and the clutch plate
‘Stop and go’ driving puts a lot of strain on the engine and the clutch plate

The journey from Majnu-ka-Tila through Tibet Vihar till Wazirabad Bridge took an hour and ten minutes. When you are driving in first gear and stopping after every 5-10 seconds, there is a tendency to keep the left foot on the clutch, to keep it depressed. This is hard on the clutch plate. The normal position is "clutch out". To do this means putting the car into neutral every time you stop. An irksome process but absolutely necessary. And make sure the hand brake is raised.

Imagine this. You are in a line of cars, nose to tail. There can be a hundred or more cars ahead and behind you. If the driver behind you bumps you, and your car is in gear, clutch depressed, you can be in trouble. Sitting a little bored, tired, hot, irritated, your reflexes may be slow. The bump to your car can startle you, and your left foot can slip off the clutch and the right foot may press down on the accelerator. All involuntarily, and all wrong!

By having the car in first gear and pressing the accelerator, you will slam the car in front with full power. If the driver in front is also in gear, you will trigger a chain reaction that can involve a dozen cars or more.


The first mistake here is of not keeping the car in neutral and not putting on the hand brake. All this is irritating to do repeatedly but it is the proper procedure.

During the ‘stop and go’ ordeal, you may encounter some other problems as well. You may wish you had tanked up at the last filling station rather than waiting for the next one. Besides keeping an eye on the fuel gauge, you may have to keep track of the temperature too — you may never have seen the needle climb so high. Do not allow the needle to go into the red area — the danger zone. Before that happens, switch off the air conditioning. You have hundreds of exhausts pouring hot air into the surrounding area, raising the air temperature. And you have the radiator fan pulling in the hot air in an effort to cool the engine. This aggravates the situation. As a final measure, you may have to switch off the engine — a step that you should have taken in the first place.

Put the car in neutral, pull up the hand brake. Place your right foot on the foot brake. Switch off and wait patiently. This procedure if properly followed, will result in minimal damage to your car. In case of a fender-bender, it may also prevent you from ramming into the car ahead of you. You can stop the chain reaction from continuing.

You may think this "stop and go" driving is rough on the driver, but it is much worse for the car. At times like this, there is a lot off strain on the engine and the clutch plate. It is a test of good driving in deplorable conditions. But who creates these conditions?

It is the driver who is fairly and squarely to blame. Take a look at your driving habits. You may find yourself a major contributor. Nothing to be proud off. Try and follow road rules at all times. It does make motoring safe and simpler.

Happy motoring!