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?