News Flash: Unintended Acceleration Can Happen To Anyone!

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
news flash unintended acceleration can happen to anyone

Paul Niedermeyer is not alone. Well, it’s a little different this time. Here’s exhibit one: the pedal assembly from my 1988 Mercury Cougar XR-7. Far from your average Reagan-era Yank Tank (and kudos if you spot all three modifications) the Cougar sat around for a year while I was hunting for parts, waiting for arrival and installing them.

So, after a brief re-acquaintance with the Foxiest of Fox Body Cougars, I went for a normal commute on a totally normal day. But I hadn’t driven the Cougar in a while. And time was not on my side on this day.

Even worse, I was mulling over personal problems yet to be resolved. At the wrong moment: I put the Cat in reverse, let out the clutch and motored out the driveway. Paying attention to my neighbor’s E36 M3 parked behind me, I hit the brakes in preparation for a quick move back to first gear. The only problem? I hit the accelerator instead. HARD.

The old 5.0L mill revved to 4500 rpm before I realized what the hell happened. It left me completely dumbfounded. If it wasn’t for my left foot firmly on the clutch, it would have been a bad day for two cool cars on a quiet suburban street. Take a look at the picture again: the brake doesn’t look close to the throttle, but my foot can easily press both at the same time. So what makes the Cougar a decent heel-and-toe machine also makes it easy to confuse the brake for the gas. Now I know how drivers of the Audi 5000 felt back in the day.

Well, not the ones who sued Audi for their troubles: this is a 22 year old car, after all. And I thought a total car dork like myself would know better. Too bad operator error happens to anyone, floor mats or electronic throttle cables be damned. Like they say in Driver’s Ed, prepare for anything behind the wheel. Spot potential threats early. Most importantly, understand the risk lurking behind your actions and take responsibility for them. Because, like it or not, everyone is responsible for their actions.

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  • Johnny ro Johnny ro on Mar 26, 2010

    I crashed my KH250 triple once with uncontrollable WOT. I fired it up, clutch in, side stand up, feet up, WOT, dump clutch, let off throttle, hold on for dear life, grab clutch on the way down, crawl to bike, turn off switch. I had been fooling with bars and cables and used up all the slack (or had too much I forget) and tightened it all up and then when I went wide open throttle cable housing pulled out of carbs and locked WOT. I was glad nobody was watching. Didn't think to sue anybody.

  • Several years ago I was test driving a VW Passat GLS (V6), when I decided it would be fun to push the gas nearly to the floor for a few seconds. However, when I lifted my foot, the pedal didn't go with it. I had about fifteen seconds to stop the car before a red light intersection ahead and my gut reaction was simply to stand on the brakes. Not only did the brake force overwhelm the engine force, but after a few seconds of the two systems battling each other, the computer seemed to figure our what was going on and cut the power to the engine until I lifted off the brake again. At that point I simply turned the car off. Turns out that the gas pedal had become jammed under the corner of the floor mat (sound familiar?). When I returned the car I warned the owner that she may want to do something about the mat but she simply looked at me in disbelief.

  • Wjtinfwb How does the ICE mid-engine C8 platform work for... anything else? A sedan? SUV? With a mid engine configuration? A mid-engine SUV will have to be Suburban sized to offer the utility of a CRV. GM should dust off the Omega platform designed for the Cadillac CT6 for an SUV/Sedan offering with exceptional handling, Rear or AWD capability and acceptable space utilization. They also need to focus on interior fit & finish, trim choices and high quality final engineering and assembly. What GM doesn't need is another half-baked product with a storied and prestigious badge on the decklid and a premium price on the Monroney. No more Cimarron's, Allante's or X-cars needed to tarnish the reputation of Corvette.
  • InCogKneeToe BUILD It and they will come.By Build It, I mean a Vehicle that the Customer Wants and it works for them. It could be called Chevette for all that that matters. The Mach E's success isn't because it totes the Mustang on it.Just build what people want, the next Caravan/Taurus/Beetle/Maverick (truck).
  • YellowDuck do you make a mid-engine crossover? Or even a 4-door coupe? Me not get.
  • 28-Cars-Later Thanks Corey. The head stud job on NOrthSTAR-T was $3K *years ago* as it involves an engine pull so rear wheel arch rust in and of itself isn't a show stopper. I'll be sure to check out the trunk as it may start to add up on deferred maintenance. Supposedly this was garaged so the underneath the rockers etc. should be decent but if those are shot its not gonna work.
  • Mark 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, G4NG engine with connecting rod bearing issues. Engine needs to be replaced, but Hyundai is denying warranty claim. I have all maintenance records from mile zero. It has been in Hyundai Service department 5 time in 4 months. They added the knock sensor and software update to let you know the engine is about to blow up. They kicked the can down the road doing patch work until the car was past the 120k extended extended warranty. I have that documentation too. So how can I join the class action law suit or find a Lawyer that handles these types of issues?