YONKERS, N.Y. (Feb. 1, 2010) — In the wake of Toyota Motor Corp.'s massive recall of 2.3 million vehicles for problems with sticking accelerator pedals, consumer watchdog group Consumers Union has issued a directive instructing drivers on how to deal with sudden unintended acceleration—the problem some Toyota vehicle owners have experienced.
Yonkers-based Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports (CR) magazine, called the problem of a car racing ahead even though the driver is not pressing on the accelerator pedal “a rare but potentially fatal event.” Toyota reported that there have in fact been several fatalities linked to the problem.
Sometimes there are warning signs beforehand—such as the accelerator pedal being harder to depress, slower to return to its upper position or simply not operating smoothly, CR said. “Other times, the problem strikes without warning.”
If a car suffers sudden unintended acceleration, the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center recommends a driver take the following five steps that can help bring a runaway vehicle safely to a halt:
1. Brake firmly. Do not pump the brakes. Do not turn off the engine yet—because doing so would disable the power assist for your steering and brakes.
2. Shift the transmission into Neutral. Don't worry if the engine revs up alarmingly; most cars have rev-limiters to protect against damage.
3. Steer to a safe location and come to a full stop.
4. Shut off the engine with the transmission still in Neutral.
5. Finally, shift the transmission into Park or, with a manual transmission, set the emergency brake. Then breathe deep and call for help. Do not drive the car.
An illustrated free, downloadable pdf document on “How to cope with sudden unintended acceleration—Five steps that could save your life” is available at Consumer Reports' Web site.