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Sticky Gas Pedals Are Rare, But Simple To Deal With

With all the attention being paid to Toyota’s accelerator problems, some drivers may be wondering what’s the best strategy to deal with a car that suddenly goes into ‘runaway mode.’

Car experts say the chances of that actually happening are very small. But there is a right way, and a wrong way, to bring a car with a stuck throttle under control, as David Pitman reports.


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The potential for a car to experience accelerator problems isn’t limited to Toyota, according to Bill Visnic.  He’s the Senior Editor at the automotive news website Edmunds Auto Observer.  

“Most cars and just about every brand, they operate the engine in effectively the same way, with electronically controlled throttles.”

Visnic says electronic throttles are so reliable he doesn’t even think about the possibility that his car might take off without any input from him.  But he says drivers who find themselves in that situation should try two things…
First, stand on the brakes as hard as you can…

“The brakes should always be able to stop you against any racing engine, whether it’s full throttle or part throttle or anywhere in between.  The brakes are designed to have vastly more power than your engine does.”

Visnic says if that doesn’t do the trick, then shift the transmission into neutral.

“The engine may still be racing, but it is not driving the car anymore because you’ve disconnected the engine from the wheels.”

Visnic says drivers of runaway cars should never turn the ignition all the way to the “off” position.  Not only does that take away power assist for steering and brakes, it also tends to lock the steering wheel in place.  Visnic adds that drivers whose cars show symptoms of unintended acceleration should not try to drive them until they’re fixed.