‘What are jackrabbit starts and should I avoid them?’ [Newbie Guide]

Updated Aug 08, 2022 | Same topic: Beginner's Guide

Flooring the engine from a standstill sounds cool, but that’s about it. 

For many people, having their own car is a dream come true. Given that, it’s sometimes inevitable for novice drivers to be a little enthusiastic whenever they take the wheel. 

Cars at intersection

Some motorists treat the intersection box as a racing start line

One example is during traffic stops. For some reason, the green light acts as a prompt for some drivers to race each other and see who gets to cross the yellow box first. This results in a practice known as a jackrabbit start, which typically refers to a quick or abrupt acceleration from a standstill. 

Jackrabbit starts might look impressive especially if you’re driving a particularly powerful machine, and they could get you to speed faster compared to a slow start, but they’re actually not doing your car any favors. 

Car in drag race
Jackrabbit starts look and sound impressive on the track, not on public roads

The first problem with jackrabbit starts is that they waste fuel. While rapid acceleration from a standstill might save you time, it also reduces your car’s fuel efficiency by five percent in city driving and as much as 40 percent at highway speeds. When you consider that jackrabbit starts cuts down travel time by only four percent, it sounds like a lopsided trade-off. 

Second, it’s not only the fuel consumption that you’ll need to look out for. A chain reaction occurs throughout the drivetrain, from the crankshaft and gearbox to the differential gears, on account of their mechanical linkage. Slamming your foot on the accelerator forces one component to slam into the other in turn. 

Fuel gauge empty

Reduced fuel efficiency is just one of the problems with jackrabbit starts 

Where does it lead to? Premature wear and tear, not just on the driveline but on the suspension system as well. If you enjoy hearing the engine squealing from a standstill, you might get more than you bargained for with additional sounds: raspy engine bearings as well as creaking dampers and joints, for instance.                

There’s also the danger you pose to other road users. Accelerating at full-tilt means the car is momentarily out of control. If another car (or worse, a pedestrian) happens to cross into your path at the moment you floor the pedal, you’ll end up with a bigger problem than just being late to your destination. 

Find more tips for beginner car owners at Philkotse.com.

Joseph Paolo Estabillo

Joseph Paolo Estabillo


Joseph holds a degree in Journalism from the University of the Philippines Diliman and has been writing professionally since 1999. He has written episodes for CNN Philippines' motoring show Drive, and has worked on corporate projects for MG Philippines and Pilipinas Shell. Aside from being Philkotse.com’s Content Lead, he also writes content for numerous car dealerships in the U.S., spanning multiple brands such as Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Maserati, among others.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kapatilya

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