Shift to neutral, maybe not

That advice they’re giving about shifting your out of control Toyota into neutral may not work. The following is testimony by Rhonda Smith before congress:

I merged over into the second lane. Not going into passing gear. At this time, I lost all control of the acceleration of the vehicle. The car goes into passing gear and the cruise light comes on at this time. I?m thinking that maybe the cruise is what caused the car to keep accelerating, as my foot is not on the gas pedal.

I take off the cruise control, but the car continues to accelerate. To make a long story short, I put the car into all available gears including neutral, but then I put it in reverse and it remains in reverse as the car speeds to over 100 mph down the interstate.

I place both feet on the brake after I firmly engage the emergency brake and nothing slows the car.

I figure the car is going to go its maximum speed and I was going to have to put the car into the upcoming guard rail in order to prevent killing anyone else, and I prayed for god to help me.

I called my husband on the blue tooth phone system.

I knew ? [pauses to keep from crying] I?m sorry.

I knew he could not help me but I wanted to hear his voice one more time.

After 6 miles God intervened as the car came very slowly to a stop. I pulled it to the left median. With the car stopped and both feet still on the brake, the motor still revved up and down. At 35 mph it would not shut off. Finally, at 33 mph, I was able to turn the engine off.

After my husband arrived, he found nothing unusual about the accelerator or the floor mats, but the strange thing was that the dash lights and the radio were still on.

After the wrecker arrived, we gave the vehicle fob to the wrecker driver. When he hooked the car and prepared to winch it on to the back, he asked my husband to put the car in neutral so he could start the winch.

The driver was standing 20 to 25 feet away at the controls. Without thinking, my husband sat down in the car without the key fob and was able to shift the car into neutral, which he shouldn?t have been able to do. When he did that the car actually tried to start itself.


I don’t think one anecdotal story is a good reason not to try shifting to neutral first. Ms. Smith might have had issues not common with other people who should shift to neutral if they lose control of the throttle.

I disagree. I always thought that cop driving the Lexus would have been very aware that shifting into neutral would have been the first thing to do. Since he and his family died in the crash we’ll never know. I do think there is more to this problem than Toyota is letting on.

Whether or not she was able to locate neutral in a panicked state (rightfully so), the advice to shift into neutral is the best possible advice. And I am not aware that the cop driving the Lexus was ever advised, or said he had, shifted into neutral. Given little press that existed at the time, and the absence of the key which he might have normally used to turn off the car, he might not have thought of neutral.

I agree…even if it didn’t work in this case, at least attempting to shift to neutral would be good advice.

You disagree when I say it, but when texases says basically the same thing, you agree? What’s up with that?

I’d like to think it was my winning personality, but it’s actually a different poster, Whitey…

I would definately try to shift into neutral but this women said she tried to shift into reverse as well as neutral and no shift position had any effect.

You’re right. Different posters. Oops!

This kind of situation shows that it may be a deep deep software language glitch . Something that no shim will ever fix. It’s not the pedal that’s sticking , it’s one of those Xs or Os in the computer.

"Open the pod bay doors Hal "
“I can’t do that Dave”

An eerie potential that people have been anticipating since the dawn of computers.

The problem is that we don’t know if she wasn’t able to shift to neutral because of a mechanical problem or (understandably) because she was in a panic state. It could be that she had broken motor mounts before this happened, and the open throttle shifted the position of the transmission, making it impossible to shift out of drive. There are just too many “ifs” to draw any serious conclusions based on this testimony.

If it turns out to be a unique mechanical problem that kept her from shifting out of drive, we shouldn’t apply it to those who don’t have the same issue.

Broken motor mounts? You must work for Toyota. These engines do have rev limiters. And if motor mounts break from a first time rev like that, these cars have many more problems. This is an electronic issue that toyota can’t find or won’t admit.

Perhaps I am debating your reading skills and not the issues? I used “broken motor mounts [i][u]before[/i][/u] this happened” as an example of a possible mechanical issue that [i][u]might[/i][/u] have been a reason she couldn’t shift out of drive, which would in no way absolve Toyota of any responsibility for this loss of throttle control. These are two separate issues that you don’t seem capable of separating in your mind. You haven’t been drinking, have you?

All I am saying is that there are too many unanswered questions to draw any substantiated conclusions about this particular situation. Forgive me for wanting to answer these questions before I accept your knee-jerk reaction as a soundly reasoned conclusion.

All I am saying is that we should know more about this woman’s particular situation so we can determine the reason she wasn’t able to shift out of drive (WHICH WE DON’T YET KNOW).

This is an international problem with Toyota vehicles and the U.S. Congress is investigating. I think broken motor mounts have been eliminated as a cause.And yes, I can separate the two issues. Maybe you’re just an apologist for Toyota. Blame the victims.

If you are going to accuse me of being an apologist, would you please tell me where I have apologized for Toyota?

All I have done is challenge the conclusions you have drawn. Furthermore, your conclusions seem to be based on too many assumptions, which is a sure sign of fallacious reasoning.

I haven’t blamed the victim in any way, or attempted to absolve Toyota for responsibility here or anywhere else.

The only conclusion I’ve drawn is that this is an electronics problem and the people who have experienced it are not at fault by their actions or inactions.

The only conclusion I’ve drawn is that this is an electronics problem and the people who have experienced it are not at fault by their actions or inactions (sic).

Oooooookaaaaaaaaay. Whatever you say.

From the original post:

That advice they’re giving about shifting your out of control Toyota into neutral may not work.

From this woman’s experience, shifting to neutral may not work. Did you read the article?

I believe that the shim will prevent sticking of the frictional preloading mechanism in the pedal assembly that can keep the pedal down, but I also think there exist deeper problems as well. I don’t “buy” the EMT theory, but a software glitch or an intermittant problem with the pedal transducer (my guess) would not be out of the question.

That would be Is and Os, I believe…binary language.

I don’t know about the inability to shift that she described in her testimony. I also wonder about her having called her husband on her cell phone while going over 100 mph down the highway and accelerating. I have no doubt she had a serious problem, but I’m guessing there was some embellishemnt there. I wonder…has she “lawyered up” for a civil action? Perhaps full disclosure would have been in order here.

That cop who died had time to make a call on his phone also.