Unintended Acceleration

  1. Are there any vehicle models with automatic transmissions that can not be shifted into neutral while accelerating?

    2. Which vehicle models, other than those with standard transmissions, can you lock the steering by moving the ignition key when the shifter is in neutral?

    3. Which vehicle models/engines less than 15 years old would rev to destruction with a wide open throttle?

    I think every media/talking head discussing this issue should always include brief simple instructions on procedures drivers can take in case this extremely rare event was to occur.

Adurham; I understand your concern and curiosity. But don’t expect the media to be reasonable in addressing this issue. That would make it sound dull and viewers and readership would drop.

  1. I don’t know of any car that cannot be shifted into neutral, whether it is accelerating or not. On floor shifts you have to press a button on the shift lever to get it to shift. It is even possible to shift it into reverse on many cars while going forward. I actually did this at low speed on my Dodge Colt with a floor shift automatic. It was quite a jolt with the rear tires screaming, but the transmission was robust enough to take the jolt.

  2. If you have ever taken a car through a car wash you will have noticed that you are supposed to (a) put the car in NEUTRAL and (b) turn off the ignition. That way you can still move the steering wheel or the tracks in the car wash will align them. Never put a car in park in the carwash. The steering wheel does not lock by putting the car in neutral; that would make parking difficult. In other words, smart drivers would not have had the “unintended acceleration” since they would instictively put the car in neutral.

  3. Most engines have rev limiters; but in an emergency, who cares. I would throw the car in reverse (and wreck the transmission) if that was the only way to slow it down.

I am in no way making excuses for Toyota, and such problems should not happen with modern cars. I do believe the media is not all that interestting in educating drivers to do the proper thing when faced with an emergency such as this.

Someone did the numbers on this and your chance of getting killed due to unintended acceleration is about equal to being fried by a lightning strike.

  1. None that I know of. I won’t swear to it, but I’m about 95% certain that any automatic car can be shifted into neutral while in motion.

  2. Don’t know, should not be possible on any, but I drive manuals and I don’t know.

  3. NO vehicle built since 1995 (those with OBD2) should allow the engine to over-rev. It would be stupid to design the ECM any other way. Anything with electronic fuel injection should have a rev limiter, carburetors would likely not have a rev limiter.