You love off-roading, you love your off-road truck or Jeep, and you love modding it up with extras such as the Grumper, tube doors, and really cool fenders. So when you've been off-roading for any length of time, you’re probably pretty well ingrained in the habit of using your right foot to alternate between gas pedal and brakes. Your left foot typically stays on the floor or may be used to manually shift the clutch.
Do you know there are times when using your left foot on the brake is a great way to navigate certain obstacles? It can help you maintain better control of your truck when needed and avoid messing up that new Grumper you got. So learn more about left foot braking and when to do it with the quick tips below. Then go out and practice so you can do it when it will help you the most.
Why Should You Left Foot Brake?
The main advantage of left foot braking for off-roading is that it allows you to get over an obstacle more smoothly without as much start-and-stop jerkiness. In doing so, you gain a few different benefits:
- You can climb without having to release the throttle once cresting a hill or other obstacle, thus keeping the rpm's and torque up to continue forward momentum. Left foot braking prevents your off-roader from jerking forward once you crest and damaging your truck's fenders. It also prevents engine strain that can happen when forced to take your right foot off the gas in order to brake yet need to continue moving forward.
- Avoiding the start-and-stop that comes with right foot braking that will help you maintain better traction climbing the obstacle. Used with open differentials, it can also transfer more torque to a slipping tire so you can maintain forward momentum.
- Using a careful balance of left foot brake and gas pedal, you can reduce the need to use the clutch with a manual transmission. Riding or overusing the clutch will prematurely wear it out and that's an expensive repair.
- Left foot braking your off-roader also reduces the suspension compression that happens when you right foot brake and slow the whole vehicle. This can prevent you from hitting the chassis on the obstacle you're climbing.
When Should You Left Foot Brake?
Left foot braking is most beneficial when climbing obstacles. Based on the advantages you can gain from doing it, there are two situations when you might want to use this technique:
- When climbing obstacles like rocks or trees in 4-low, left foot braking can help maintain a slow speed while you are generating the torque needed to get up and over.
- When climbing a steep obstacle and you want to prevent your off-roader from rolling back if you have to stop or slow to a crawl. You’ll be better able to keep the torque and momentum needed to keep climbing without the worry of using too much acceleration after having rolled back.
When Should You Avoid Left Foot Braking?
As useful as it is in the right situations, there's really no need to use this technique most other times. Don't do it for normal driving and avoid it altogether if you’re not in 4-low. If your vehicle has crawl control or other built-in off-roading features that do all this for you, it is unnecessary. Let your truck handle it for you.
Left foot braking can take some time to learn. Used at the right times, you’ll be able to crawl over and climb up different obstacles more easily with less wear and tear on your off-roader.
Adding mods like tube doors, specialty fenders, and steel bumpers may be more exciting than learning left foot braking. Yet once you learn and practice this new skill on smaller obstacles until you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to climb even more exciting obstacles with this new off-roading skill!