Turn the Key?

In all of the talk about the Toyota sudden acceleration problems I haven’t heard anyone say that a car can be stopped by turning off the engine with the key. Wouldn’t that work in that kind of emergency?

I think my preference would be to get into neutral, brake and guide the car to the side of the road and then turn the key off. If you turn the ignition off, then you also lose control through power steering, which makes it much harder to steer.

New ones often don’t have keys, they have buttons which must be held down for several seconds. Either way, you’re much better off putting it in neutral.

Yes, turning off the engine would stop the acceleration, but it would also cause loss of power steering and braking, which might make things worse.

The preferred action is to shift the transmission to neutral, steer and brake to a safe stop off the road, THEN turn off the engine.

Cars with push button start/stop systems present another challenge, as there is not a simple key to turn. Perhaps this will make manufacturers rethink the push button system.

Turning off the key to the wrong position ( in a panic scenario you’re more likely to get it wrong ) will also lock the steering wheel so it will not turn
In addition to the NO power steering and NO power brakes.

Put it in neutral.

All else comes after that.

As you are probably getting by now, turning off the engine at this point is a terrible idea. Popping a car into neutral is incredibly easy.

Turning off the ignition has actually been suggested quite a lot on radio and tv where I live (SF Bay Area). This advice has been suggested by many people in the local newspaper, radio and on tv news.

Those people who advise turning the key, while the vehicle is moving, to ANY position are dead wrong. And, if they are driving, and they turn the key, while the vehicle is moving, THEY could be DEAD wrong.

Many years ago, there was a TV commercial for some kind of pain reliever that asked, “Why trade a headache for an upset stomach?”.

In this case, the appropriate question would be, “Why trade an accelerating engine for loss of power assist for your steering and your brakes?”. A strong guy can steer a car with no power steering with little difficulty. A woman who is not very strong will struggle to steer a car without power steering. Does that sound like a situation that you would like to be in?

How about operating the brakes without power assist? On most cars, when the engine is stopped, the power brake booster contains enough reserve vacuum for one or perhaps two good stabs at the brake pedal. After that, it will feel like you are trying to put your foot through a brick wall. Again, this is something that a strong man may be able to handle. But, for a woman with less muscular strength…??

Nobody who is knowledgeable about cars and who is acting in a responsible manner would suggest turning off the ignition under these circumstances.
The only appropriate thing to do is:

Apply the brakes
Shift the transmission to "Neutral"
Steer toward the shoulder of the road while being very alert for other vehicles
When safely parked on the shoulder, turn off the ignition, put the transmission into “Park”, and call for a tow truck

Many years ago when I was in college one of my professors surprised ua all with a two question test:
(1) what is the name of your textbooks author?
(2) what are his credentials?

The question emphasized the importance of questioning things you read. Its importance always stuck with me.

There’s a whole lot of bad advice out there. My philosophy is that unless advice comes with a credible explanation or credible support data, it should be suspect until proven.

For me, I know for certain I could turn the key off (or push a button long enough) only far enough to kill the engine, and steer, and stop the car. Man’s gotta know his limitations.

I haven’t seen a modern car yet that will allow you to turn the key to the “lock” position if the car is not in park. Try it and see.