Vehicle problems happen to all of us from time to time. It doesn’t just happen to owners of older vehicles, but to newer vehicles as well. Regardless of the age of your vehicle, it’s important to be mentally ready in case a mechanical breakdown occurs. Are you ready?
Recently, Toyota has been in the news because of a sticking accelerator pedal. Based on thousands of vehicles driven daily, this problem may have been blown out of proportion. I’ve had an accelerator pedal stick before and I’m sure many other auto manufacturers have also had them stick. The problem here is that someone panicked and it got out to the media. Regardless of how it got out, we now have to ensure the solution for all drivers gets out as well.
If you’re driving along and you’ve taken your foot off from the gas pedal, you’ll know if your accelerator has stuck because and the vehicle hasn’t begun to slow down yet. The first thing to do if this happens is to control your vehicle. Begin braking and select neutral. Most new vehicles have a regulator that stops the engine from revving too high if neutral is selected while driving along. You won’t damage your engine, so you’ve got nothing to lose by doing so. This will help you stop in time, provided you do this immediately. Remember, you’re already late in slowing down because the vehicle continued at its normal speed when you thought you were starting to slow down.
By leaving the engine running, you’ll still have power steering and power brakes. If you turn the engine off, you’ll still have brakes and some steering, but they’ll be very stiff to use since the power will be gone. What you’ll lose is your ability to steer if you turn the engine off. The steering wheel may lock if the key is turned back all the way and not left in the accessory position. This may be a problem if you can’t stop in time and have to steer out of the way. We teach these safety techniques to our students at Young Drivers of Canada and what to do if the accelerator sticks. We do this so they have the knowledge, ahead of time, in case the problem happens to them while they’re driving.
There are a few things to avoid doing if your gas pedal sticks. Avoid trying to fix the problem with the vehicle still in motion. Wait until you have pulled over and safely stopped before looking to see what caused the problem. This would include looking down at the gas pedal, sticking your toe under the pedal to pull it up, and worse; trying to loosen the pedal by hitting it harder. Why on earth would you want to go faster to try to stop?
To ensure you won’t have a problem like this, take your vehicle in to your mechanic and have proactive maintenance performed. Make sure your vehicle’s acceleration and braking systems are properly maintained. Why wait until there’s a problem before getting it fixed.
Oh yeah, I also drive a new Toyota and haven’t experienced these problems. However, if I do, I’ll be ready for it.