Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

2012 Subaru Forester - safety concerns

I have enjoyed your column in the Minneapolis paper over the years. Now I have a problem I hope you can help me with.

In December, I was parked in a space at a supermarket and the car ahead of me was backing out. To avoid backing out of my space, I started my car and put it in drive to pull into the newly vacated space. I had my foot on the brake to avoid going too fast. My car revved and I kept pressing the brake and finally it stopped without hitting anyone or anything. I took it to the dealership and they ran a diagnostic on it and took it for a test drive. Nothing showed up.

On January 4 I was backing out of my driveway into the alley when I had my foot on the brake again to avoid going too fast. The car again revved with me pressing on the brake. It finally stopped. My adult daughter was in the car with me this time. I called the dealership on Monday and made an appointment to bring it in on January 8. I again explained the problem and they gave me a loaner car to drive. They contacted Subaru America. The lady called me on the 14th and said a quality control person would come out on the 25th. The dealership called me on the 16th and said my car was ready to be picked up. I told them about the QC guy coming out and he checked and said it was ready to be picked up. Nothing was found. When I picked it up, it was covered in snow. We had not had snow for 2 days. The paperwork they gave me was exactly the same as the previous diagnostic check so I had no idea what was done.

I called the lady from Subaru America and she said the technical people looked at it and they would not send a QC person out for that. I then spoke with the Service Manager and he said they had 4 different people look at it who found nothing. I asked if brake fluid could have leaked into the power booster or if the master cylinder could be leaking brake fluid in the power brake booster or if there was any corrosion anywhere. Nothing.

I am leery about driving it. I do not want to cause an accident. I am a senior citizen and use a walker but I KNOW I was stepping on the brake. Also, my floor mat is held down with pegs so that hadn’t slipped.

I’m sorry this is so long but felt I needed to let you know the whole story. Thank you for any advice you can give me.

Sue Duffney

No idea what the problem is but if you ever get in that situation again put it neutral that way the brake’s will hold it.

1 Like

I believe you, but I also think your foot was also touching the gas pedal.

It might be hard to believe, but you can press the brake AND the gas pedal at the same time. I did the same thing happen in my race car when going into a corner… Rolled my foot to the side to get it off the gas and allowed the car to recover. Was careful after that to make sure I hit the brake squarely.

I believe you…look here

That was one of the reasons I moved from Subaru to other makes.
My feet were regularly getting on both pedals: I wanted to step on brakes, but the panel above pedals would get in the way and I would end up touching gas pedal too.
That problem appeared in mid-2000 models and last time I checked was 2012 and the trouble was still there.
I would not feel that scenario of touching two pedals is far-fetched.

Many cases of unattended acceleration with this car.Look at my post above

Those complaints could result from badly-placed gas/brake pedals. The OP should learn the ‘shift to neutral’ procedure, and also take extreme care to not accidentally push both pedals. It may be time for a different car.

For this sort of problem what’s needed is a gadget that would flash a light (or log an event etc) if BOTH the gas pedal and brake pedal were detected as being pressed at the same time. If OP had that installed on her car she’d know if an inadvertent simultaneous gas/brake pedal press was the problem or not.

I find myself inadvertently stepping on both pedals when driving my Corolla sometimes, especially when stopping at stoplights. And at first it is really confusing why the engine is racing while I’m waiting for the light to change. Transmission is in neutral so the car doesn’t jump ahead, manual transmission. Anyway such a thing is definitely possible.

now it kinda gets back in my memory (although it could be a false one) that somewhere around 2010-ish, after Toyotas’s unintended acceleration disaster, manufacturers started to introduce the function of ignoring acceleration pedal input when brake pedal is pressed in

why I recalled that is before the time I would go for the “quick brake pad burn-in” where to heat it up I would drive pressng both pedals for a minute or so, until they get hot and then run final 7-10 “proper cycles” of 60->10 or so; on my newer car it did not work anymore, accelerator would be ignored

It’s entirely possible to tap the gas pedal by mistake. I’ve done it a few times myself.Happens way more than people will admit to.,
It’s also possible there could be an issue with the induction system needing to be cleaned. Maybe a sticky throttle plate or idle air control valve issue.

Do what you want, but if I had a car that I suspected of unintended acceleration, I’d trade it and get a new car. The liability risk is just not worth it. Let us know how it all turns out. I have reached out to Subaru and asked if power can be applied when the brake is being depressed. Most modern vehicles preclude that as a safety measure.

1 Like

Additionally, on a modern vehicle, the brakes can easily overpower acceleration, so if the OP’s vehicle doesn’t have that feature, simply jamming on the brakes would halt the vehicle even if the engine is racing. And, as was already noted, simply throwing the transmission into neutral is something that should have been done.

Very true about the brakes. No daily driver vehicle has an engine that can overpower its brakes in a normal situation. I don’t agree with the many auto writers who think that a typical driver can react and overcome most unintended acceleration situations by shifting or taking any other action than braking. Like the OP’s two experiences, the event almost always happens quickly, in a very short span of space. Like the length of a parking space. I feel that it is unrealistic for the driver to be able to take any action that could prevent a very dangerous situation in such a short time/space event. If it is a stick shift, of course there are more options and the driver’s involvement is also very different. On a related topic, the idea that some autonomous vehicle advocates tout of having the drive “retake control” if Autopilot or a related system cannot suddenly handle a safety emergency is ridiculous. I formed that opinion after hearing Toyota autonomy experts talk about what they found when studying the topic. Things happen faster than a driver can react to when they are not in control and doing expected things to control a car already. Having been to a few driving schools, I can also say from first-hand observation that even when a person is told in advance they will have to retake control and even when they are told exactly what they will need to do, they usually cannot without practice. Watch folks try the emergency lane change all driving schools do. Almost without fail, the drivers will plow into the cones (which represents a crash) when they need to change from one lane to another quickly. Even though they know it is about to happen. It takes a few tries to get it right.

In close maneuvers like the OP described, I use both feet. Right foot on the gas, left foot on the clutch or (with an automatic) on the brake. It prevents the potential problem of unintended acceleration, even if the engine for some reason speeds up without driver input, or the driver presses the gas pedal in error.