Thursday, December 17, 2009

Whoa gee gee

I don't know what to make of the story of a young man on a freeway who's car's cruise control would not disengage.

Normally, you just switch it off or touch the brake. I can believe that it could malfunction as stated. Would not just reducing the car speed by the coast down button not work? He also stated he could not move the gear lever to neutral. Could be interlocked I suppose. I hate this sort of thing. I can't move my gearstick into gear without my foot on the brake. I am just sure one day it will all go wrong and cause me to be stranded.

He could not shift down gears to slow the car either? He could not turn the ignition off? All goes against my car experience.

Then there are brakes. Unless the model he was driving was fitted with four wheel unassisted drum brakes, I cannot see how the brakes would not stop the car. In fact they eventually did, seemingly when he was instructed to use them by police.

It would be an awful situation to be in. I can understand how you cannot think of all the right things to do in a split second, but he had forty odd minutes to unpanic himself. All very odd indeed.

I recall an old lady who drove a beautiful old black Riley who was a customer of the service station where I worked. The car had twin petrol tanks. She would ask for $2 of petrol in one tank and $5 in the other. It was a long time ago. Her accelerator jammed once and with clever use of her clutch and gears, she got the car to the service station in highway and local traffic. The car was having a good old rev and had mechanics running out to attend.

But the young man with the stuck cruise control could do nothing. Hmmm.


  1. My sister was a passenger in her friends old Datsun 180B once when the accelerator got stuck. She ended up steering whilst her friend tried desperately to unstick it! It all ended well.
    I guess the problem with turning the ignition off is no power steering and the chance it could go into steering lock mode, then you're outta control even more. Poor guy, when you're panicky everything seems a million times worse.

  2. Anonymous6:39 pm

    Even modern cars can't override an engine at full throttle. I imagine the guy's car was automatic, and had some sort of switch to disallow shifting to neutral at speed. I can't see why the engine off switch wouldn't work.

    See also for something similar that killed a USA police driving instructor.

  3. I heard that he had to jam hard on the brakes while putting on the hand brake at the same time to try and get them to work which they did.

    I loved my old bicycle, it had brakes but two feet flat on the ground were best and I do have big feet.

  4. Fen, he had plenty of time to think a bit. Yes, you would only want to turn the ignition back to accessory but you can still steer without power steering.

    Anon, I don't have any tech knowledge, but I still think the brakes will stop the car. The US stuff is scary.

    Clearly you did not have heels on Jahteh. Wearing out the shoe leather on your plates of meat that your parents worked hard to buy

  5. Once upon a century ago several friends and I were in a car travelling at sonic speed down the Falls Creek road with aged, hot brakes that just would not grip, so the driver used the hand brake around every single hair pin corner.
    I took up drinking 2 mins after we got home.... but my point is if his brakes were old and he'd heated them up by pumping them often as he'd been told perhaps the handbrake was the only thingie that worked.

  6. Scary trip Jayne. They were probably drum brakes, much more susceptible to brake fade when used heavily and often. Modern disc brakes are much better.

  7. Couple of issues here:

    1. The car in question was (from memory) an 02 Ford Explorer, there is no interlock to prevent shifting to neutral (all Explorers are auto BTW).

    2. Some vehicles won't let you switch the ignition off at speed, to preserve steering control and brake vacuum assistance, again an 02 Explorer has no such interlock.

    3. After 40 minutes on the phone you don't reckon the following were mentioned: Ignition off, cruise control off, car into neutral, kicking the fuck out of the dash in the hope the cruise control switch/fuse/relay at fault came back to life?

    4. Interestingly the little chump new all about a US recall regarding electrical fires, related to the c/cont switch. He neglected to research far enough to know that the recall did not effect cruise control operation, nor did it affect RHD cars.

    Anyone see a pattern of potential fame-whoring/compensation seeking here?

  8. Pleased you responded Mutant. I knew you would know about such stuffs. I hope the media follow this one up.

  9. When I heard about this on Sydney television my first reaction was amazement that this went on for 54 kilometres followed by amazement that he didn't run into anything in all that distance.

  10. Victor, had he turned east onto the Monash Freeway, he could have gone on for a couple of hours without a traffic light.


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