Motoring corner: “Stopping a Runaway Vehicle”

What is a runaway vehicle in the first place?  Ever wondered as to what would happen if that heap of metal you call a car ever “decided” to disobey your instructions and decided to go hay wire?

What is a runaway vehicle in the first place? 

Ever wondered as to what would happen if that heap of metal you call a car ever “decided” to disobey your instructions and decided to go hay wire?

Ok, if that ever happens, how would you take control of the situation or even make sure it never happens in the first place!  If you do, reflex may take over and you can avoid an accident.

There could be numerous ways of taming a hay wire if it won’t stop accelerating or return decelerating after you take your foot off the accelerator pedal.  Similarly, there are a number of important things to check on your vehicle in order to prevent such a dangerous situation ever occurring in the first place.

A number of malfunctions occur due to neglect or carelessness on the part of the vehicle owner or user. 
The simplest causes could be, when the car’s accelerator pedal is held down by misaligned floor carpets, or can even be caused by a broken return spring!

In most cases, floor mats are held in place by hooks or fasteners of some kind or the other, but sometimes, the mats are not fitted properly after a trip to the garage or car wash or when the owner removes them during cleaning.

As a result, the driver gets in and out of the car, the mats can move enough so the front right corner can go under the accelerator pedal and jam the pedal.

I for one have experienced this once and had to manually pull the floor carpet back to release the accelerator pedal, however, my case was the opposite, my pedal was jammed in the up position and so, I could not accelerate. 

The second time, it was my clutch pedal that was locked and I could not shift the gears.  Knowing what the cause was helped me react fast.   

Sometimes, the accelerator pedal gets stuck open while you’re overtaking another car or accelerating away from a traffic light, situations when you push hard on the pedal and it is down all the way.

If it happens to you what do you do? Take heart, I will give you at least two options that could save the day. Kindly check your vehicle in order to determine which one would be applicable to your situation.  

You can even safely practice these steps to see which works best. If possible, reach down and pull back the floor mat to dislodge it from the accelerator pedal. Then pull over and stop the vehicle to inspect it before continuing (this works for my car).  

If the above does not work, push your shoe behind the accelerator pedal and try to lift the pedal, this could work in case of a defective pedal return spring.  

If these steps don’t correct the situation, shift the transmission (gear lever) into Neutral (N) and then brake to a stop.  Be prepared to hear the sound of the engine revving loudly.

This does not mean the car is going faster, only that the engine is disengaged from the transmission. It could also damage the engine, but this is a matter of personal safety, so it is unavoidable.  Better kill the engine than the engine killing you.  

If you are not able to put the vehicle in Neutral, turn the engine off, or to ACC.  Please note that, without the engine running, it might become hard to turn the steering wheel or even apply the brakes.

You will require a lot of effort to steer or even apply the brakes. If these steps don’t work, firmly and steadily step on the brake pedal with both feet. Do NOT pump the brake pedal repeatedly, as this will increase the effort required to slow the vehicle.

Wobbling in cars

By M. Gakombe

Wobbling is mechanical term. It occurs when a car exceeds a certain speed especially 50 to100km. Your car will experience strong vibrations in steering wheel and front tyres. This can even cause an accident.

Causes and solutions
1. Damaged rim. Your rim should be checked on a wheel balancing machine.

2. Worn out treads. Tyres should be replaced with new ones.

3. Hub bearing. Your mechanic will check if your bearing is in good condition and make the necessary changes.

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