The news is full of stories of runaway Toyotas lately. While no one will say definitively what the malfunction is, there are definite solutions to get yourself back in control of a runaway vehicle.
The causes could be many, and they range anywhere from faulty pedal assemblies, to faulty electronics, to software glitches in vehicle computers. Despite what we don’t know, what we do know for sure is how to safely handle a runaway situation.
Read the following simple two steps carefully. They can save your life.
First step. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel that your vehicle is accelerating unexpectedly, DO NOT PANIC. Stay calm. You’re still in control of the vehicle despite an increase in speed.
Second step. If you have an automatic transmission, reach for the gear shifter. Gently place the vehicle in neutral. Neutral is usually only one click up from ‘D’. Note that some vehicles may require you to press in the shift button on your gear shifter in order to move from ‘D’ to ‘N’, although it seems that many do not. Give it a try while you’re stopped in your driveway so you’re prepared if you do have to press the button. If you have a manual transmission, simply press in the clutch and shift to neutral.
At this point, you’re even more calm, your vehicle has absolutely no forward power anymore. You’re rapid acceleration will completely stop and you’re free to use your brakes, signal, and pull over into the shoulder.
Despite the fact that your engine will be revving very high, and very loud, you’re in control. Ignore the engine noise, you’re not hurting the car at all.
When you’re safely pulled over and completely stopped, activate your hazard lights, turn your car off, and shift the car into park, in that order. You’re safe. Do not attempt to drive the car again. Call for a tow truck or for the police to help and have them bring your car immediately to the dealer.
You’ve just calmly and effectively avoided a potential accident.
A common question is why can’t I just use the brakes? It’s a good question, and the reason is that the brakes are not the most efficient way of slowing down a runaway vehicle. If you’ve read about these situations in the news, you’ll notice that people claim that their brakes would not stop their vehicle. This is generally because the braking system is fighting the engine, and eventually the brakes will heat up to the point that they become non functional. It much more effective to remove the engine power first by putting the car in neutral and then use the brakes freely. If you panic and slam on the brakes, please remember the one most important thing, immediately put the car in neutral to remove engine power.
Another common question is can I just shut the car off? While you can just shut the car off, it’s not the safest way to regain control of your vehicle. When you shut the car off, you will lose your power steering and your brake boost. Remember, without those, your vehicle will become much harder to steer, and you will only have one or two powerful pumps of the brakes left before you’ll have to really stomp on the brakes to slow your vehicle down. It’s better to leave the car running and shift into neutral.
While this isn’t really a green article, it’s an important one that needs to be shared. Please share the link with everyone you can, whether or not they drive a Toyota.