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If accelerator sticks (not due to floor mats)

What if I’m happily driving along on the Interstate at about 70 mph – and my accelerator sticks. I quickly tap the accelerator a few times, but to no avail. Is it okay to move the shift lever from “drive” to “neutral”? Could I also turn the ignition key to the ACC (accesories) position?

Put it in neutral, pull over and turn it off. The engine will scream in neutral but it won’t cause any serious damage. I’m not sure about your car specifically, but turning it off might lock the steering column, so it would be better not to mess with it until you’re safely stopped.

I agree. Put in neutral, pull over, then turn it off. Once the engine stops, the power steering becomes very hard to turn and you have one good press on the brake pedal before it also becomes hard. Most cars today have rev limiters built in that will protect the engine from over-revving when in park or neutral. So, let it run until your stopped in a safe place.

There has been so much noise on the local TV news recently about this, and no one wants to say the obvious (which you mentioned), put it in neutral. The engine will not be damaged, you won’t crash, and you can move to the shoulder and park safely. Why won’t the TV news tell you the simple answer? I guess they get more viewers with dramatic crashes.

A recent fatal accident in San Diego County highlighted the ‘stuck accelerator’ problem. A call came into 911 from a passenger of a borrowed Lexus ES350. He stated that the car was running away; the brakes could not stop it; and were doing 120 mph into a T intersection. The car hit a Ford Explorer; went through the intersection; rolled down an embankment; and caught fire.

Turns out the driver was an off duty California Highway patrolman. Why he could not unfoul the accelerator pedal; kick the transmission into neutral; or hold the start/stop button down to defuse the runaway is an enigma. On further thought, I wonder why the PCMs of these drive by wire throttled engines could not be programed to drop the fuel injector pulse width to idle fuel width whenever the brake pedal signel is present or at least trim back the power output to a level the brakes could manage.

Comments welcome.

I wonder if that particular accident was one of the ones caused by Toyota’s floormats. You know–the mats related to their HUGE recall that was announced yesterday or the day before.

I believe that the article claimed that the floor mat was after-market. It is hard to believe that the driver didn’t think to shift to neutral.

I just today read an article on this accident. According to the article there were two contributing factors:

  1. the floormat was from another model
  2. the stop/start button has to be depressed for three full seconds to shut the engine down. I liked the idea of a stop/start button. Now I’m not so sure.

Apparently NHTSA has had onther complaints for that car of the floormmats entrapping the accelerator pedals. Toyota has issued a recall.