How to Use the Car Accelerator

The accelerator pedal is the pedal on the right and is operated using the right foot only. The accelerator, otherwise known as the gas pedal or throttle regulates engine speed. How you use the car accelerator determines how smooth the ride will be and how fast you go; the more you push the pedal, the more the car accelerates and the faster the car will travel.

When driving, wear sensible shoes as this will enable you the best control over the vehicle. Flat shoes are preferable along with shoes that aren’t at risk of slipping off such as some types of sandals. Shoes with soles that aren’t too thick are also beneficial as you’ll get a better sense of how much pressure you’re applying to the pedals.

Foot Placement

When operating the accelerator, rest the heel of your right foot onto the floor and use the ball of your foot to press the pedal. This will give you the most control for operating the pedal.

How to use the car accelerator pedal
Use the car accelerator pedal by resting the heel of your right foot on the floor and press the pedal using the ball of your foot.

Operating the Accelerator Pedal

Though the accelerator is one of the easier foot controls to operate, it still requires a little practice. You’ll need to learn how to use the accelerator for:

  • Moving off from a stationary position.
  • General driving while on the move.

Moving Off from a Stationary Position

Your car’s engine has a lot of work to do when moving off from a stationary position. It has to get your car and passengers (totaling around 1.5 ton) from a stationary position, into motion. For this to happen, you’ll need to provide power to the engine.

If you’re driving a manual car and assuming the car is ready to go; 1st gear selected with the clutch down and parking brake on, gently apply a little gas. To give you an idea of how much, press the accelerator pedal a small amount – about the thickness of a one pound coin, or until the needle on the rev counter reaches around 1500 RPM. You can then release the parking brake and gently release the clutch.

If you’re driving an automatic, press the foot brake down with your right foot, select ‘drive’ on the gear selector, release the parking brake and from the brake pedal, apply pressure to the accelerator slightly and gradually using your right foot. 

General Driving While on the Move

As you gain driving experience, you’ll get better at anticipating the flow of traffic. When your foot is on the gas pedal, it costs you money, when it’s off the gas pedal, it’s free. Try to anticipate when you’re likely to slow down or stop by what’s happening up ahead. By doing so, you can come off the gas pedal early and allow your car to naturally slow down (engine braking), rather than getting there and relying the brakes to lose unwanted speed.

You will of course still need to use your brakes, but using engine braking where possible helps to save fuel and reduces brake wear.

You’ll also need to consider when you should apply gas and when not to. Cars are at their most stable when traveling in a straight line, but when traveling around a corner, they are at their least stable – particularly when the road is wet. Always shave off excess speed before entering a corner and use the accelerator to gain speed once you have exited the corner. You may need to apply very small amounts of gas while cornering to maintain speed and this is acceptable.

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