You've seen these stories in the news. They usually don't end well. In all likelihood, it is not going to happen to you, but life is full of surprises. We're talking about sticking gas pedals. Learning what to do if your gas pedal sticks to safely bring your vehicle to a stop can be life saving!
Causes of a Sticky Accelerator Pedal
There can be several reasons for a sticky accelerator pedal. In some cases, floor mats shift position and interfere with the normal workings of the accelerator pedal mechanism. In other cases, a faulty throttle could be to blame. On occasion, some external factor might be at play. Regardless of the cause, knowing what to do when a vehicle won't stop accelerating can literally be a life-saving skill.
Stopping the Vehicle: Step by Step
Some of these steps will seem common sensical, but they are worth mentioning because panic can sometimes send common sense responses flying right out the window. With that said:
- Don't panic. Panic has never helped anyone in an automotive emergency. Staying calm will help you think more clearly and notice what is happening with the vehicle as you move through the next steps.
- Depress the brake pedal with both feet. By using both feet on the brake pedal, you can be sure that you are not accidentally continuing to depress the gas pedal. Hold the brake pedal down and don't pump the brakes. Your vehicle's ABS will do any pumping necessary if you just keep the pedal down.
- Shift the vehicle into neutral. If you drive a vehicle with an automatic transmission, simply shift into neutral. If you are driving a vehicle with a manual transmission, remember to depress the clutch before shifting. Using the clutch is something that comes naturally when you drive a stick shift vehicle, but a sticky accelerator pedal is unnatural and may cause you to react in an unnatural way. So, don't forget the clutch.
- While keeping the brake pedal depressed, look for a safe place to escape danger. If you are on the highway, this could be a hard shoulder. As you make a move toward a safer space, take a straight, direct line to that location. In an emergency situation, you could be tempted to get to the escape route too quickly. This can lead to abrupt lane changes that put you in further danger, as well as endangering other drivers on the road.
- Don't kill the engine. It can be tempting to kill the engine to stop the acceleration from happening. This should be a last resort. If shifting into neutral doesn't work, only then would killing the engine be an option. When you kill the engine, you also disable your power brakes and ABS, as well as your power steering, which will make it even more difficult to navigate your vehicle.
- When you have come to a complete stop, then kill the engine. Of course, make sure you are out of the path of traffic when you stop the engine. If your vehicle uses a key for the ignition, be sure to leave the key in the ignition after the engines is off; this will keep the steering wheel from locking. If you use a push-button ignition, simply hold the button down for a minimum of three seconds.
- Call for help. The odds of the gas pedal sticking are very small. That doesn't mean, however, that it couldn't possibly happen again if you start it back up and try to drive it like normal. You should call for help and make sure your vehicle has been thoroughly inspected by a certified mechanic before you attempt to drive it again.
Smart Throttle Technology
In the wake of recent, highly-publicized incidents involving stuck accelerators, some automakers have begun incorporating smart throttle technology. The technology senses when a driver is pressing both the gas pedal and brake pedal at the same time—which has sometimes been blamed for these incidents—and ignores the gas pedal so that any time the brake pedal is being depressed it is given preference.
If you drive a Ford or Lincoln and encounter a situation like this, any mechanical issues that may be related to the situation will most likely be covered by your Ford Protect Extended Service Plan (ESP). If you are considering a Ford extended warranty plan, call us at 866.943.7778 or try our Quick Quote system, which gets you a quote right away and even allows you to purchase completely online.