Unintended Acceleration’s New Victim: Ford Taurus

March 13th, 2012

2005 Ford Taurus

I’ve never been in a car that accelerated on its own. Well, this one time, I was in a Dodge Viper that leaped to 100 miles per hour faster than I could buckle my seat belt, but I was a passenger. The driver giggled in glee as I tried to hide my panic.

Yes, that was an episode of unintended acceleration from my point of view, but not one that would cause any worry to our friends at Dodge.

I’ve also driven plenty of Toyota, Lexus and Audi vehicles without any car ever going any faster than I wanted it to go. I attribute my driving success to the fact that I know which pedal is for “go” and which is for “stop,” something that people who suffer from “pedal misapplication” fail to understand.

A new rash of unintended acceleration cases, though, should cause some pause for people in the used sedan market.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it has received 14 complaints from drivers who’ve had difficulty bringing their 2005 and 2006 Ford Taurus vehicles to a halt when their cars sped up after their throttles became stuck in the open position.

Government investigators are looking at cruise control cables that may have became detached, according to a NHTSA report.

Some of the complaints said that in addition to applying the brakes, drivers had to shift into Park or Neutral in order to stop the vehicles after engines revved up to 4,000 revolutions per minute.

I’ve been leery of unintended acceleration claims since they first started being lobbed around, because I believe, in 99 cases out of 100, the driver did something wrong. Comments from Taurus drivers, though, have me wondering if something actually is going on. One driver said,

Went through a red light, around two cars, as speed reached about 70 mph, both feet on brakes, could smell them burning … Wow, the scariest thing I have ever experienced. If there was heavy traffic, someone would have been killed. No doubt in my mind.

Normally, applying the brakes can stop any engine, even one stuck in full throttle. But if the brake pads are worn and the rotors not smooth, the car would shake like mad, smoke, stink and be harder to stop.

If you’re trolling through the used car listings and have your eye on an ’05 or ’06 Taurus, ask a lot of questions and keep an eye on the recall notices from Ford. If you buy one, or have one already, and it accelerates on its own, the best thing to do is to shift into Neutral and keep heavy pressure on the brake pedal.

That’s the one on the left.

Have you ever experienced unintended acceleration in a car?

-tgriffith

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  1. Randy
    March 13th, 2012 at 06:27 | #1

    We included unintended acceleration in our basic driver training program for test drivers, mainly because they might find themselves in a prototype or test vehicle taht could run away from the. One thing was always striking to me in training sessions– most drivers were not able ot keep their wits and do the right things to stop an out of control car. (Of course, the point of the training.) The very first line of defense is to NOT stomp the brakes. More often than not, the cause of the acceleration is the driving hitting the gas when he thinks he’s hitting the brake. Take your foot (feet) OFF the pedals. If still accellerating, reach over and shift into neutral. Modern vehicles will go into RPM limiting mode where the computer will keep the engine from over-revving. Leaving the engine running keeps power brakes and steering in full operation. Pull off to the side and shut off the engine. When I took the course the first time, I didn’t do it right myself. I shut off the key, which stops the acceleration, but leaves you with less than optimum brakes and steering.

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