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Can't physically keep gas down due to physical/health issue. How not to wear out transmission?


I have a collagen disorder that means my tendons get hurt really easily. I drive very gently - accelerate gradually, coast to a stop, use brakes gently, etc. However, I’m concerned I might be wearing out the transmission because it is really hard for me to keep the gas pressed down continuously; this hurts my Achilles tendon. I frequently let up on the gas briefly (less than a second) to give my tendon a break. I also take my foot off the gas when going downhill (but maintain a constant speed).

It’s not like I’m revving up and slowing down; it’s more like I’m keeping a constant speed but occasionally letting my tendon recover.

Is this something the adaptive automatic transmission would learn to deal with? Just not to downshift during those times when I’m maintaining a constant speed but taking my foot off to let my tendon/foot rest? Or is that just going to be bad?

Just wondering if this is a sign that I’ve been wearing out the transmission: I’ve driven the car about 30K miles and it started shifting hard today (while outdoor temps around 100F for the first time this year), and I smelled a burned rubber smell for a few minutes a few weeks ago when driving in heat. Planning to get the automatic transmission fluid drained and filled/changed.

I do a lot of my driving on a non-highway road where the average speed is about 50 but there are frequent stop lights and I need to adapt to other cars frequently. Not sure what to do about how I can’t physically drive like most people.

Car make, model, mileage?
Have you changed the transmission fluid before?

A hand operated throttle is not very expensive. Did you consider having one installed?

Tagged: Toyota, Corolla
No Model-Year given.

My wife lived a while in NY City. She was constantly hitting the gas and letting up the gas, and not driving slowly, never had any trans problems. Keep up with the recommended fluid changes is the best advice.

"Keep up with the recommended fluid changes is the best advice."

Agree. For peace of mind you should look up the “severe driving” maintenance schedule in you Owners Manual and follow that for transmission (and engine) fluid changes/service. This schedule usually recommends more frequent service and is good for anybody to follow.

Be sure, especially with transmission fluid, that transmission fluid of the exact specification of the vehicle manufacturer (Toyota) is used. Stay away from universal or generic fluid. If in doubt, use genuine Toyota products.

What is the vehicle model-year of this Toyota Corolla and approximately how many miles are on it?

Hey OP, consider the advice of BillRussell, will you? A hand device to control throttle and braking might be your answer. Really hard (your words) to push down on the pedals is pretty scary. Remember what James Dean said in that highway safety commercial just days before he was killed by another driver? “The life you save might be MINE!”. Rocketman

+2 for the hand operated throttle. Another possibility if the problem is not as bad with your left leg is to have a pedal extender installed so that the gas pedal is on the left side of the brake pedal. A neighbor with an artificial right leg uses this method and has for about 40 years.

Hand throttle AND brake for sure.

Regarding your current car problems, I doubt they are related to your driving style.

Sorry everyone, it’s a 2013 Toyota Corolla at about 29K miles. Planning to change the ATM fluid every 30K miles (rather than 60K as is recommended for standard driving). I do a lot of city driving and mountain driving.

Thanks for the suggestions about following “severe” maintenance and the hand throttle.

It’s possible that I’ve trained the adaptive transmission to be very responsive to pressure by accelerating very slowly, so I might be working with a weird situation anyway where to stay under the speed limit I have to press the pedal extraordinarily lightly, which is actually harder than pressing a pedal down more (keeping a pedal just like 1% depressed, when there is more resistance when you first start pressing either pedal, is harder than using it at like 20% depression). Maybe if I try to keep the gas down continually the car will learn to handle a bit more pressure on the gas.

I have no trouble using and holding the brake down when needed because I can engage my whole leg, can press it down all the way, and it’s not such a sensitive movement. I think what is hard about driving with the gas down the whole time is the degree of keeping the pedal in a barely-compressed state that is very sensitive to small changes (I don’t want to speed accidentally).

You should consider using the cruise control more. I use mine a lot, it saves wear and tear on the right leg. I agree, holding the throttle partially depressed is fatiguing, which is why I depend on the cruise control for all but city streets.

But a manual throttle is a good alternative. Sometimes called a hand throttle. Ask at your toyota dealer.

I had a lady come in with almost the same problem. She would get severe cramping in her achilles
tendon while pressing the gas. The brake pedal did not bother her because she could use the arch of her foot instead of the toe…that didn’t give her a problem.

First she wanted me to do something to redesign the pedal. We talked about adding a small block to the pedal so her arch would do the pushing, but I came up with an alternative to try.

I added a spring to the throttle body to kind of make it like a “hair trigger”. For those who remember “Throttle return springs”…it would be the opposite. All it did was counteract the spring tension built into the throttle body.

We took it for an hour drive and the throttle was as responsive as before and the idle dropped as quick as before.
It actually took two different springs to get it right. The first one let the throttle idle, but it took a few seconds for the RPM to drop from 2000 down to an idle.The second try was just right and when I last saw her a few months ago, she said “it worked like a dream”.
She has been driving this for two years now.


Not to be a sourpuss . . .

I would never have done that throttle modification

Liability comes to mind

If that vehicle gets in an accident, and it’s discovered . . . or the lady mentions the modification . . . you might have some questions to answer

Personally, I would just avoid any possibility of that, and decline to do those modifications

I will only add that I go through something similar but it’s in reverse of the OP’s problem. I have some (a lot actually) nerve deadness in my feet with no reflexes due to prior back problems.

The throttle in my Lincoln needs only to be barely brushed and I’m doing 50 MPH. I often find myself speeding (not by that much though) because I can’t really feel the pedal so I use the cruise control to death.
Even with the cruise on I often find myself going faster due to the pedal being depressed a tiny bit and not being able to feel it so I have to constantly wrestle with my feet.

My Dad would get cramps in his legs when he would drive on trips. They had just purchased a new 1978 Buick Century, but it didn’t have the cruise control. My mother said that Dad would never go for an option like that. It was decades ,before he even condescended to buy a car with an automatic transmission. When his birthday was coming up, I made up a story that I needed a sedan to transport some people and myself to a conference and would he swap cars with me for a day. He bought the story and I took his, Buick to my mechanic where I had made arrangements to have the cruise control installed. When I returned his car, I didn’t say a word about what I had done, but did leave the instruction manual for the cruise control hanging on the turn signal lever where he would see it. The next day, he and my mother decided to take an overnight trip so he could test the cruise control. He thought it was great. He never had another car that didn’t have cruise control.

Good ideas above. I don’t think the way you drive will do any harm or cause any extra wear beyond what’s normal to the transmission. If that’s your concern, my recommendation is to just drive the way you like to drive, and not worry about the transmission. If you want to take some pro-active actions to protect your transmission, giving it a proper service – meaning dropping the pan and replacing the filter – every 30K miles might help, and as long as done correctly, at least won’t do any harm.

Having a few physical problems of my own I have sympathy for the OP. That said the description of their driving habits seem to be as much as a problem rather than a solution. Things like arthritic socks or foot wear or something to make operating a vehicle safer than it sounds now.

I do like the hand throttle idea because it sounds like most driving is in town.