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Stick throttle ad nauseum

Since this Toyota situation is driving everybody crazy and even NPR has turned into a CNN/FOX twin with their constant updating I remembered a similar situation.

This particular car was a double barrel carb’ed older car. It was a new to me car at the time and I was younger so driving almost full throttle on the first day of ownership the throttle stuck wide open. The car was a stick shift, so I pushed the clutch and pulled to the side. Got my foot under the gas pedal to release it but it became unhooked. So popped the hood and the return spring for the throttle was broken. I babied it home. Since then I always had an extra spring. Now I wonder how come this has not happened with the other cars I have had. Anybody else had the spring on the throttle return go out on them?

I have a feeling a lot of old timers are imagining this current problem in terms of the inscrutable assemblages of simple machines that made up older throttle linkages.

This whole fiasco has got me thinking about an old '74 Corolla I had. There was a vitally important e-clip on the throttle linkage that fell off which had the effect of allowing one of the many intermediary throttle shaft rod things to rotate past 180 degrees at full throttle, at which point the return springs would start holding the throttle open instead of closed! So if you floored it, it’d stay floored until you got out and physically moved the thing back to where it belonged.

For longer than it ought to have been, my solution to this was “don’t floor it”. I’ve only recently started owning cars I can lend to someone with no special instructions, but the old “don’t floor it” Corolla was probably the worst offender.

Did I mention this vehicle was produced by Toyota? Undoubtedly a conspiracy.

My '71 VW Bus had a long, stiff throttle wire, not a cable, that ran all the way from the gas pedal (right behind the front bumper) to the carburetor on top of the engine in the rear of the vehicle.

This wire ran through a tube, and the tube was not sealed very well. In the winter water would occasionally get in the tube and freeze while the vehicle was in motion. I’d lift my foot from the gas pedal and the bus would continue on at the same speed, since the throttle was now frozen in position.

Good thing it was such an under-powered vehicle.

Many years ago a friend of mine crashed a Bug Eye Sprite because the throttle stuck wide open. It was a borrowed car and was totaled in the crash. My friend was seriously injured and was in the hospital for several weeks. Shifting to neutral probably would have prevented the crash, or at least minimized the impact.

Once upon a time, not so long ago we didn’t expect perfect cars. Today cars are expected to go 100-200K miles and never need anything. At least that’s what some of the posters seem to believe.

I had several cases of stuck throttles in cars of the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. I used to go skiing at night in college and my '67 Mustang throttle got stuck in the icey goop that collected under the area of the petal. I broke a return spring on a '61 Mercury. And I left a wrench in an Olds that got caught in the carb linkage on a test drive after a tune up.

In all cases I turned off the ignition and coasted or braked to a stop. The cars with push button ignition switches which take 3 seconds of holding them in to shut off the car is a bad design. That needs to change. Cars with throttle by wire should be programmed so the motor can’t rev above 2,500 rpm if the transmission is in neutral (and park too). My '04 T’bird seems to be set up that way now.

Any car can get the floor mats out of position where the mat can catch the gas petal, that is not just a Toyota problem. Cars can be designed to help the driver keep control in a “stuck petal” emergency. Driver’s need to realize that gas petals can stick to the floor and know what to do if it happens to them.