Toyota "sudden acceleration"

Correct me (gently) if I’m wrong, but if a car accelerator is stuck, why can’t the driver shift into neutral and - with power steering and (one hopes) brakes functioning, coast to a safe stopping spot and then shut down the engine? The racing engine might “blow,” but that seems a better option than smashing into something - or someone.

Of course that is the correct thing to do. Isn’t it sad that so few people seem to realize this?
However, when people are in a crisis situation, sometimes reasoning ability goes out the window, so that is why it is a good idea to periodically review this concept with all of the drivers in your family, especially the younger ones.

As to the engine “blowing”, that will not happen on a modern vehicle. The ECM is programmed to not allow the engine to rev beyond a certain set number of RPMs. Once the engine reaches that stage, fuel flow is cut off until the engine slows down.

You can shift to neutral if the accelerator gets stuck.

The problem is being able to react promptly and NOT panic.

Shifting to neutral is the correct thing to do. The engine won’t “blow.” It has a governor and will not over-rev itself.

The engine would race, probably bouncing repeatedly off the redline, but it won’t blow up.

Most people do not even realize what neutral is on an automatic. They know D(rive) and park, and reverse.

Yes that is the theory but I suspect there might be other unknown circumstances that prevent this sometimes. It still bothers me that it was a California Highway Patrolman that went off the cliff. Certainly he should have been trained or known how to put the car in neutral. I just don’t buy the operator error/wrong pedal/scenario in a good portion of these cases.

I agree, a CHP officer should have known what to do. The Toyota owner that testified before congress said she tried all the gears and the car kept racing. The transmission in a modern car is linked to the shifter by ‘wire’. Sounds like it may be a computer problem.

It really makes me wonder about driver’s education and training. If you learn to ride a motorcycle, they make you practice using the engine cut-off switch. They also make you practice emergency maneuvers, like swerving and stopping quickly. Students first practice these maneuvers while the motorcycle is still, with the engine off. Then they practice them on the range. Driver’s education classes should include the same thing. First, sitting in the car with the engine off, go through the motions of shifting to neutral and pulling over. Then do it for real.

Muscle memory is so important in emergency situations. Practice makes perfect.

Yep, I was glad to see the professor from Illinois demonstrate that a short could cause the rapid acceleration. Just doesn’t make sense that this is operator error regardless of how unbelievable the circumstances seem. It bothered me that they don’t open their minds a little to the possibilities of an electronic issue and keep insisting it is a pedal problem.

In the radio news report, the banker said (something like): “I was waiting in a line of cars, and the engine began to race (in his Lexus), and the brakes wouldn’t hold the car! I shifted to neutral…”.
I find it hard to believe that the brakes wouldn’t hold the car. The brakes weren’t overheated from prolonged use. I’m sceptical about his assumption.
On those cars which ran away, I think that the driver had been riding the brakes for a while after the engine went to acceleration. This action would eventually cause the brakes to be ineffectual. I suspect that this is what happened with the Highway Patrol driver.
So, the warning should be: "Don’t OVERUSE the brakes when you get uncommanded acceleration. Use your brakes ONCE, hard, and pull over to the side of the road, stop, and turn the engine off."
If the brakes won’t hold, indeed, push the gear shift to neutral, safety steer to the side of the road (if possible), and turn off the engine.

That’s exactly what you should do. The ECU will protect the engine from blowing.

And, even if I were driving an old vehicle with an engine capable of destroying itself, I’d still do the same thing. The heck with the engine. I’d rather lose an engine than have my kids lose a dad.

First get safe. Then worry about the engine.

Agree with you. Sitting in a parked car and going through the motions while talking it out loud will program the brain with an automatic response. It is exactly what many athletes do with their set motion routines.

The problem is that the standard will always be directed at the lowest common denominator. Whatever is going on in these Toyotas, the lawyers will clearly show it is not the driver’s responsibility to be trained and able to handle it safely. This is going to lead to a pile of fail-safe modifications and add-ons that will drive up both the cost of buying and maintaining all new cars.

There seems to be a multitude of problems regarding sticking acceleraters, carpets pushing acceleraters, electronic throttle controls malfunctioning and brakes not functioning properly on Toyotas. Is there a significant number of each of these problems or is the sensationalism of a few stories adding up to follow the baloon boy and Octomom stories as fodder for the NEWS(?) channels? And the politicians see an opportunity to strut in front of the cameras with no possibility of offending any constituents. Domo arigato Mr Toyoda.

i think that we are missing the obvious… the first thing to do is press on the brake - I’ve heard that the weakest brake will stop the strongest engine and that most, if not all, of these incidents are actually driver error. If they were on the brake, the car will stop unless there is a simultaneous failure of the throttle control AND the braking system… not very likely. Almost all of these people think that they are on the brake but they are actually on the gas and are in a total frozen panic.

Also check out Dec. 2009, Car & Driver, “How To Deal With Unintended Acceleration - Tech Dept.” Break test. See the attachment. I can’t see why the brakes would not hold the car either.

30 other threads on this, and no one even mentioned using the search function yet

We are told: "Simply put the car into neutral then turn the engine off."
MAY NOT BE SO SIMPLE! Check out these video clips:

(after putting car in neutral and unable to turn off engine!!!)



and the CA crash:
“911 Call Released from Crash that Prompted Initial Toyota/Lexus Floor Mat Recall”
(with California Highway Patrolman driving unable to stop vehicle)

"Witnesses saw flames coming from the front and rear tires of the speeding 2009 Lexus ES 350 before it crashed Aug. 28 in Santee, suggesting ?long, constant heavy braking,? said Sgt. Scott Hill, the lead sheriff’s investigator. "

This has happened to my wife on her Hyundai Santa Fe and when under the sudden stress of this situation, it is very had to act in the rational manner you describe. I must assume that this type of sudden acceleration situation has not yet happened to you and I hope that it never does. What a person says should be done and to perform under this situation are entirely different animals. There are thousands of vehicles and drivers that have experienced this sudden acceleration and all react differently.