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My Car over-accelerated today. Even the brakes didn't help.

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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-19-10 07:10 PM
Original message
My Car over-accelerated today. Even the brakes didn't help.
Edited on Fri Feb-19-10 07:13 PM by truedelphi
I had a doctor's visit to make, I had groceries to buy.

M. had just overhauled the car yesterday, and it had never run better.

I pulled the 1989 Ford Passenger van out onto the local road, and it was purring nicely. Gone were all the clicks and annoying noises that the car had been making before the new voltage regulator and the new alternator had been put in place.

About a mile into my drive, I realized that I was not driving fast enough. It was a lovely spring afternoon, and I was too busy gawking at all the new buds on trees and the greenery and the happy birds. I glanced at the speedometer and realized I was driving under the speed limit.

Decided to tap the accelerator just a nudge, so that my car would accelerate from around 38 to 45 Mph (The speed limit on this road.) The instant I "nudged" the pedal, the car's engine var-roomed as though I were in a jet airplane and the plane was taking off.

The car took off, and stomping on the brake didn't help. I thought maybe the pedal had gotten caught under the floor mat, but no, M. had removed floor mats earlier while tuning up the car.

I shoved my foot between the pedal and the floor, all the while jamming my left foot on the brake. My foot went down hard, repeatedly, with seemingly little effect.

Due to all the publicity about Toyota cars with their accelerator problems, I knew
I could be endangering myself and others as I approached the main drag, HWY 29. Especially if I got there while the light was red for me, green for opposing traffic.

Since the car was not slowing, I knew the mini mall that was on my right immediately before the highway could perhaps save me. I did a radical turn quite fast into the lot, while hoping the van would not tip over.

The turn slowed the car and then braking became effective. Luckily for me, no one else was in my way - I had what is close to a full city block to bring the car to a slow enough speed. I finally just threw it into neutral, as it would not go below ten miles per hour by employing the brakes. (Bear in mind my foot was UNDER the gas pedal! for the last 40 seconds of my ride.)

Anyway I am grateful to be alive, and that this happened during a time when no one else was on Hwy 281. Had this happened 40 minutes later after arriving in the city of Clearlake, I would have probably crashed into other cars, with damage to property and other lives resulting.

If the resulting crash had occurred during the initial moments of all this, I probably would have concurred with the police that something I had done had caused the crash. The type of rapid acceleration is so scary that you can not really ascertain what is occurring as it happens, and the first thought in your head is, Why/how did I make the car go so fast?

I am safely home, and M. just researched our vehicle on the web. Apparently many vans, trucks and bigger cars put out by Ford in late eighties and early nineties were recalled due to this flaw being suspected. The advice on the web was to disconnect the Cruise Control (Something I never use, and was not using when the problem occurred.) And this quick fix has done the trick - the car no longer roars with a deafening sound like it has the combined super strength of half a dozen 747's.

M. just took vehicle around the block. No loud noise, and very controllable.

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Lars39 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-19-10 07:15 PM
Response to Original message
1. good grief!
Glad you weren't hurt, truedelphi. :hug:
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unblock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-19-10 07:18 PM
Response to Original message
2. yikes!
glad you were not harmed!
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Dappleganger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-19-10 07:18 PM
Response to Original message
3. Relieved you are ok!
As we always buy used and keep our cars a very long time, we have found it necessary to keep up with the recalls to ensure these older cars STAY safe. I'm sure you've figured that out now and once again, am glad you're alright and that nobody was hurt.
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annabanana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-19-10 07:22 PM
Response to Original message
4. I would shake for WEEKS if that happened to me.
Seriously, how are you doing?
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gateley Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-19-10 07:24 PM
Response to Original message
5. How terrifying for you! I'm impressed you were able to keep your wits and
execute an escape maneuver. So glad you're okay, and that you were able to determine and fix the problem. :pals:
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stray cat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-19-10 07:26 PM
Response to Original message
6. But its a Ford?
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The Traveler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-19-10 07:33 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. A 21 year old Ford, apparently
A 1989, according to the OP. Complex electrical systems will tend to go wonky after 21 years of use ... my 95 Trooper is showing entirely too much "personality", for example ...
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The Traveler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-19-10 07:35 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. Glad you made it
That is a real dicey situation to deal with ... but you handled it well.
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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-20-10 02:25 AM
Response to Reply #9
23. Thank you. I'm glad I made it, and also very glad it happened
When it did. This went down about thirty minutes before this particular road was clogged up with folks getting their kids from school.

The road was absolutely empty, so I did not have to worry at all about other people's safety.

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elleng Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-20-10 05:15 AM
Response to Reply #8
34. Oh Gee! Driving '93 toyo wagon, assuming NONE of today's crap!
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snake in the grass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-19-10 08:05 PM
Response to Reply #6
10. Ford
Found On Road Dead.

That's what I've always heard.

A friend of my father had a Ford Exploder, that had a bad case of shitty wiring. One night, while his family was asleep, the car did exactly what the name implies and caught fire in the garage. The result was a completely burned down home (luckily, the whole family got out, including the pets) and my father's friend is living in a trailer park in south Georgia, waiting for the compensation from Ford, which is denying all responsibility.

I would never, ever buy one of their crap cars. Never!
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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-20-10 02:35 AM
Response to Reply #10
28. So -now- you tell me that is what FORD means.
Makes total sense to me at this point.

And your friend's experience with shitty wiring is not the only case.

M. has been busy on GOOGLE since I got home, reading up on the experiences of others.

Fords do have a bad record as to being able to ignite while parked in the garage where they
catch on fire and then the house burns down.

Good luck to your friend and I hope he is paid plenty for that heartache of losing his home.
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no_hypocrisy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-19-10 09:39 PM
Response to Reply #6
17. My 1986 Ford Escort did the same thing. Braking didn't help.
I ended up hitting a Coke machine in front a pharmacy. Nobody really believed my story.
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endless october Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-19-10 07:32 PM
Response to Original message
7. i'm glad that you are ok.
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Walk away Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-19-10 08:22 PM
Response to Original message
11. It happened to my Dad. He stopped by side swiping a parked police car and driving into a brick wall
All air bag deployed and the car was totalled but he limped away with a few cracked ribs and a whole body bruise.
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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-20-10 02:16 AM
Response to Reply #11
21. Good Grief. Very glad to hear your dad survived -
But if I ever ever EVER crashed into a police car, my spouse would never let me hear the end of it.

Going off to the Pearly Gates (or even, the reverse of that) might be a slightly less tormenting experience!
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Walk away Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-20-10 04:44 PM
Response to Reply #21
39. And police cars are $80,000 vehicles so even minor damage..
is expensive. The police were really nice to him and were just glad he was OK. It really shook him though. He lived and traveled around the world for fifty years and now he thinks twice about driving to Pennington to visit my brother.
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Redd817 Donating Member (7 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-19-10 09:01 PM
Response to Original message
12. if it happens again, or to anyone
Edited on Fri Feb-19-10 09:12 PM by Redd817
I certainly don't want to be a "Monday Morning Quarterback", but a helpful tip to remedy the situation would be to put the car into Neutral gear if possible, and then turn the key to kill the engine. The reason the brakes don't work in these situations is that the roaring engine robs power from power braking and you are also pushing against all the motor force.

I think because automatic transmissions are more popular and not as many drivers have experience driving a manual with a clutch, drivers focus on the gas and brake and forget about the third option of neutral. If the acceleration were to get stuck in a manual car you would just push in the clutch to separate the engine from trans, but in an automatic drivers are used to putting it in D and leaving it there.

Just trying to be helpful.
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MelissaB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-19-10 09:08 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. Nice post and helpful information.
Welcome to DU!
:hi:
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shireen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-19-10 09:19 PM
Response to Reply #12
15. thank you. And welcome from me too.
:hi:

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DRoseDARs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-19-10 09:26 PM
Response to Reply #12
16. Also be mindful that turning the ignition off too far locks the steering wheel. Rd the Owner's Man.
A locked steering wheel in an out of control vehicle is bad, m'kay?
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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-20-10 02:21 AM
Response to Reply #12
22. You are right. I'm happy you are emphasizing that for other readers.
If you see the end of my post - I did use "neutral" at the tail end of my experience.

And I imagine if I had had to slow down earlier, I might have done that also - only I waited as long as I could. I had the false impression that by shoving the car into neutral when I was going above forty five, that I would be harming the transmission beyond repair. Now I know better.

Oh, and M. found several stories on the web of people in this same situation I was in, whose cars locked them out of trying the "neutral" strategy. Especially among newer cars. For whatever reason, a driver can be locked into "drive," or fourth gear, at the same time the car is over accelerating.

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pokerfan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-20-10 03:54 AM
Response to Reply #12
32. What they're recommending
Brake firmly. Do not pump the brakes.

Put the car into neutral. On most automatic transmissions, this means moving the selection lever one notch toward the Park position.

Once the car is stopped, turn off the ignition.

http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/27/what-to-do-i...
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slipslidingaway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-19-10 09:16 PM
Response to Original message
14. Happy to hear that it all worked out OK, a frightening experience
for anyone.

:hug:






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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-20-10 02:31 AM
Response to Reply #14
26. Thanks slipslidingaway.
:hug: to you too

I feel very :hug:gy tonight.
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Fast Dude Donating Member (146 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-19-10 10:27 PM
Response to Original message
18. Put the damn thing in neutral...
Why do people who claim to be "good drivers" not know this basic emergency procedure?
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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-20-10 02:28 AM
Response to Reply #18
24. In my case, I waited until I had gotten the car
Edited on Sat Feb-20-10 02:28 AM by truedelphi
under 10 miles an hour. I mistakenly thought that I would ruin the engine if I did that at forty five Mph or more.

BTW, in the case of some of the newer vehicles that are over-accelerating, the driver is locked out of that option. They are stuck in fourth gear or drive, and simply cannot put the car into neutral.
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Fast Dude Donating Member (146 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-20-10 04:47 AM
Response to Reply #24
33. Who cares about an engine
You can replace the engine. No replacing life and limb.

Glad you are OK.
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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-20-10 03:43 PM
Response to Reply #33
35. You are right and I hope that other people are a bit quicker on the uptake than
I was. Hit "neutral" when your car freaks out.
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JustABozoOnThisBus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-20-10 03:58 PM
Response to Reply #18
38. because nobody ever uses "neutral"
Park, Drive, and Reverse. That's about all anyone with an automatic uses. No "muscle memory" of neutral, so it's not easy to do in a panic situation.

But yes, it's the right thing to do.

:hi:
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area51 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-19-10 10:50 PM
Response to Original message
19. Thank goodness you're all right.
:hug:


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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-20-10 02:30 AM
Response to Reply #19
25. And a small return
Hug to you

:hug:

It feels very nice to be alive and unhurt.

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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-19-10 10:52 PM
Response to Original message
20. Yikes! Good think you came out OK!
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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-20-10 02:47 AM
Response to Reply #20
30. Thanks Odin2005. n/t
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canetoad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-20-10 02:31 AM
Response to Original message
27. You may find this story interesting
Happened in Melbourne, my patch, couple of months ago.

Guy driving Ford Explorer on the freeway was stuck on 80kph for something like 50kms while police escorted him and tried to work out a way to slow the vehicle down. Luckily for the driver, all ended well.

http://theage.drive.com.au/motor-news/cruise-control-te...

and a follow up from a week ago.

http://www.theage.com.au/national/cruisecontrol-terror-...
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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-20-10 02:46 AM
Response to Reply #27
29. I am heading to bed, but did find the story interesting
Edited on Sat Feb-20-10 02:46 AM by truedelphi
Will want to read it more thoroughly tomorrow.

It is of interest to me how Ford Company dismisses the man's predicament.

"We need to actually find out what happened during the incident. The brakes of Mr Weirs car did stop his car at the end.

"The braking system of any vehicle are designed to stop the vehicle. They will override the engine and stop the vehicle if they are applied firmly enough. And that did happen with Mr Weir yesterday.

"What we need to determine is why that happened at the end and what was different at the start of the incident and why it didnt work then when they brakes were applied properly or whether something went wrong with the vehicle."

Professor John Price, former lecturer in automotive risk analysis at Monash University and consultant to the automotive industry, said he thought the incident was "extremely rare, otherwise we would have started hearing court cases about it by now". "I can assure you companies like Ford spend a lot of effort going through every possible safety event, and this would be one of them. Something has happened here that they didnt pick up in all their safety testing," he said.

"I dont think its a single failure. I think its a combination of two or three rare failures."

Professor Price said the failure of the cruise control to disconnect is a safety question posed in the design of the vehicle, and the car companies design protections against it.


Sad that Ford won't take responsibility. In my case, the car would have been very uncontrollable -as the brakes were doing very little. What helped me out was that the engine went into over acceleration just before a hill - that meant I didn't get into the astronomical reaches of speed. It was scary enough just as it was - and had I gotten into going sixty, seventy, eighty Mph or more, I might not be sitting here typing any of this now.



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Rhiannon12866 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-20-10 03:41 AM
Response to Original message
31. OMG! What a terrifying experience!
So glad that you're okay and that you kept your wits about you, did just the right thing. Not everybody could have. Your driving skills are extraordinary and deserve to be very proud of yourself... Also, thanks for your sage advice. :hug:
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upi402 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-20-10 03:52 PM
Response to Original message
36. I saw this happen to a woman in an Audi, if I recall
decades ago. Must be frightening as hell. She rammed into a rock wall. My buddy and I assumed she passed out. It was early morning so too early to be drunk, unless from night before.

Glad you're alive too truedelphi! Could it be carb linkage/spring sticking?
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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-21-10 02:41 PM
Response to Reply #36
40. It was some circuit relay related to the Cruise Control, which I was not
Even using at the time of the mishap.

The Cruise Control has been disabled, and now everything is fine.

I feel pretty glad I'm alive too. It would have been a shame to miss out on this beautiful spring weekend (I am in California) and of course, the rest of my life as well.

I have no idea of how many people have been hurt and killed because of this flaw in the FORD design. And under the wrong circumstances, a driver could be charged with reckless endangerment and even homicide. Plus live with the tremendous guilt that they had injured or killed someone else. For something not their fault at all.



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ThomWV Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-20-10 03:58 PM
Response to Original message
37. Stand on the brakes, aim for something soft, turn off the key.
Edited on Sat Feb-20-10 03:59 PM by ThomWV
When you turn the key off the steering will lock, so aim for something soft first. Oh, pull the emergency brake too.
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