In addition to the hundreds of thousands of individual consumers who have been effected by the Toyota recalls, car rental firms are also working to get Toyotas in their fleets repaired and back into service. Enterprise Rent-A-Car announced last month that almost 8,000 of its approximately 35,000 recalled Toyota and Pontiac Vibe vehicles have already had their sticky accelerator recall service performed, and the vehicles have been returned to their rental locations.
As recall service continues, many drivers are understandably nervous to take the wheel of a Prius or other model involved in the recall. It might surprise you to learn that sudden unintended acceleration, although rare, is nothing new, and not necessarily limited to the makes and models being recalled. In addition to misplaced floormats, the same problem can be caused by a stuck cable, stuck linkage, malfunctioning throttle body, etc.
In the unlikely occurrence that you ever experience this problem, keeping your cool and following these simple steps from the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center can help bring your runaway vehicle safely to a halt, and quite possibly save your life.
Brake firmly. Your brakes should help to slow (or perhaps even stop) the vehicle even as the engine races on. Don’t pump the brakes, and don’t kill the engine yet, since that will cause loss of power assist both for brakes and steering, and possibly make the vehicle even more difficult to get under control.
Shift Into Neutral. The engine may make some interesting sounds for a moment, but most vehicles have rev limiters that will protect the engine from damage.
Steer to safety. Now with the engine in neutral, bring the car under control and steer it to the side of the road or other safe location and bring it to a complete stop.
Shut off the engine. Leave the transmission in neutral until the engine is off, and then once it’s off, shift into park, set the brake, and call for help. Do not attempt to drive the car until it receives qualified service for the problem.
On some models, it may be more difficult than you might guess to move the transmission into neutral on the fly, so it’s a good idea to practice ahead of time at slow speeds in a large, empty parking lot. Although it’s very unlikely that you will ever have to face the situation on the road, by practicing a shift into neutral while your vehicle is under way, you’ll be better prepared should you actually have to do it at highway speed.