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Sudden Acceleration-Prepared in Advance with These Tips

Updated on March 9, 2010
2008 Toyota Avalon  One of the Recalled Models    automobilemag.com
2008 Toyota Avalon One of the Recalled Models automobilemag.com

Do you know what to do if you are driving and your car suddenly and unexpected accelerates? With the recall of 8 popular Toyota car models “sudden acceleration” has become an ever more pressing subject. Here are the top tips to keep in mind as you drive your Toyota or any car for that matter.

Stay Mentally Alert to the Possibility

Obviously if you are currently driving one of the recalled Toyota cars, you need to stay mentally alert to the possibility that your car may suddenly accelerate. Don’t think it can only happen while you are travelling at a high rate of speed. Incidents have been reported while drivers were merely parking their car, or backing up slowly. Prepare in advance. Rehearse mentally the steps you will take if rapid acceleration occurs when you are driving your car.

 

Do Not Pump the Brakes

Our first inclination would probably be to pump the breaks if we are travelling at a high rate of speed. Actually that will do nothing but cause you to lose power breaking. Rather than pump the breaks, be prepared to slam on the brakes, ONE time only.

That means pushing the brake pedal down as far as possible and holding your foot on the pedal until the car slows down. Once stopped, simply turn off your car.

If you have ever driven a car without power breaks, you are well aware of how difficult it is to slow the car down under normal conditions. Pumping the brakes will turn an accelerating car into a manual breaking car that is also accelerating - a scarier prospect than having the lone problem of sudden acceleration.

Do Not Turn Off the Engine

Naturally, if you tried pumping the brakes, the next thing your racing mind might attempt is to simply turn off the engine. That’s not a good idea either, because turning the key too much could actually lock the steering wheel making you lose control of your car.

Putting the Car in Neutral

Putting the car in neutral reportedly is better than trying to turn the ignition off or attempting to pull out the key. This would be the normal response however, if we mistakenly pumped the brakes and the car was still accelerating. Who wouldn’t attempt to just pull out the key? Imagine trying to drive an accelerating car with no power steering or a locked steering wheel. So remember NOT to turn the key in an attempt to turn off the car.

Instead . . remember to apply the brake firmly and at the same time slip the car into neutral, the car will stop accelerating. The engine will still rev but once it has stopped you can then simply turn the car off.

How many times have you put your car in neutral? It is not a gear most people use or even remember they have. So the next time you are in your car, practice putting it into neutral, just so you remember how to do it in an emergency.

Of course those of us who have driven stick-shifts, will probably easily recall how to slip a car into neutral as the use of lower gears becomes a habit when the transmission is not an automatic.

Push Start Ignitions

With the newer key-less ignitions, there is nothing to pull out, so the natural tendency would be to pump the start-stop button like you do the brake. Again you don’t want to take that action. Instead apply the brake and push the ignition button for 3 seconds (unfortunately this rule cannot be applied to every car, the driver must read the owner’s manual under what to do in emergencies, to be sure of the procedure for their specific model) the car should then slow down and the driver can regain control. Just don’t forget to apply the brakes firmly, without pumping.

Interior of 2010 Volkswagen Jetta  newcars.com
Interior of 2010 Volkswagen Jetta newcars.com

 

The Easiest Car to Stop - Volkswagen

If you are the owner of a Volkswagen, then you will be happy to know it is a model that is one of the easiest to stop if rapid acceleration occurs. Pressing firmly on the brake will take the car out of acceleration mode quickly.

In the Volkswagon Jetta for example, the technology allows the brake pedal to override the gas pedal. Quite a few German models have this technology. While the car is accelerating, hitting the brake pedal brings the car quickly and easily to a stop.

So to conclude remember rapid acceleration can be controlled. Mentally prepare for the possibility by going over the steps outlinned here.

  1. Push the break pedal ONE time.
  2. Slip the car into neutral while applying the break
  3. Once the car stops, turn off the ignition

ConsumerReports.org has made this video available on Youtube. The driver examines 3 different situations in which a driver would need to stop a car from accelerating.

  • With a Toyota
  • With a newer push button start car ignition
  • With a Volkswagen model

 A visual review will help to put the steps in your memory, should you ever confront this type of danger.

When All Else Fails

It is horrifying to think that there is still a chance your car will not stop accelerating even if you have remembered and tried all the steps listed above.

Unfortunately that can be the case. In such circumstances the following steps have proven successful

  • Call 911 on your cell. Perhaps a police cruiser will get in front of you and use their driving skills to slow you down.
  • Apply both the brake AND the emergency brake at the same time. It may slow the car down.
  • If possible try to travel up a steep incline of some sort and as soon as the car begins to slow down, try to turn off the ignition.

Comments

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    • wandererh profile image

      David Lim 8 years ago from Singapore

      Somehow I feel that a fine, whatever the amount, is just not enough. As car manufacturers, I feel that they should be held to a higher standard as lives depend on the reliability of their product.

    • Jen's Solitude profile image
      Author

      Jen's Solitude 8 years ago from Delaware

      Does it make you feel any better to know they were just fined the biggest amount ever for a car manufacturer because of their failure to notify the authorities that be, in a timely manner? :-)

    • MFB III profile image

      MFB III 8 years ago from United States

      Aim your car for some soft grass void of pedestrians, preferably in front of a Toyota plant or dealership the unlock your seat belt, and then "Jump!!"....LOL.. obviously you have the better ideas...but this one would be quite satisfying to me...~~~MFB III

    • Jen's Solitude profile image
      Author

      Jen's Solitude 8 years ago from Delaware

      Funny you should mention electronic controls as the latest news reports seem to leading that way as a cause for the accelerator sticking. Problem is no lights come on warning of danger, the accelerator just sticks. Scary! Thanks for your comment,someonewhoknows

    • someonewhoknows profile image

      someonewhoknows 8 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

      It makes you wonder why we need so many electronic controls.I can understand using electronics for safety reasons,but when the "engine" light comes on,an idiot light that doesn't tell you what the problem is,just to have your engine checked.I've always liked having a volt meter,and engine tempature meter,as well as a tachcometer that shows the engines R.P.M.All of these let me monitor my cars performance,battery,engine temp meter rather than a simple light that tells you nothing until it's already too late to do anything about it.Rather than waiting for a light to come on saying "your engine is about to self- destruct without any indication that you might have a problem early on,so you can have it checked before it becomes a major problem.

    • Jen's Solitude profile image
      Author

      Jen's Solitude 8 years ago from Delaware

      Your welcome K, thanks for the comment.

    • K Partin profile image

      K Partin 8 years ago from Garden City, Michigan

      Hey Jen, good advice here. This serves as a great reminder. Thanks K.

    • Jen's Solitude profile image
      Author

      Jen's Solitude 8 years ago from Delaware

      Thanks Paradise, appreciate your comments!

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Once again, people will be grateful for this well-written public service hub.

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