What to do if your gas pedal sticks
It doesn't happen often, but when an accelerator pedal malfunctions and sticks, the situation is frightening and extremely dangerous. In an instant, the vehicle can accelerate to full speed and be unresponsive to braking efforts.
Mechanical malfunctions, such as a faulty throttle, and external interferences, such as a floor mat that wedges under the pedal, can contribute to this type of unintended acceleration.
Here’s what to do if it happens to you.
Plan your strategy for staying safe in this emergency situation:
- Stay calm and try not to panic.
- Push the brake firmly with both feet and hold it down. Pumping the brake can interfere with the vehicle’s power brake vacuum assist.
- Shift the car into neutral. If the car has a manual transmission, remember to depress the clutch to shift gears. If possible, guide the car to the nearest shoulder or safe place.
- Do not initially turn off the engine unless shifting into neutral is unsuccessful. Turning off the engine will also turn off power assist functions and make it harder to maneuver the car.
- If your vehicle has a start on/off button, hold the button down for at least three seconds to disable the vehicle. Do not tap repeatedly.
- When you have come to a controlled stop out of the way of traffic, turn the engine off (if you have not already done so). If you use a key, keep it in the ignition when you turn off the engine so that the steering wheel doesn’t lock.
- Call for assistance. Do not drive the vehicle until it has been professionally serviced.
Smart throttle solutions
Some new vehicles come with “smart throttle” technology, which reduces the possibility of unintended accelerations caused by mechanical failures. These computer-based systems recognize when both the brake and accelerator are being depressed and tell the engine to give precedence to braking and ignore the accelerator.