By Eric Peters, Automotive Columnist
Sticking gas pedals are not unique to Toyota vehicles. The main problem Toyota owners are dealing with — loose or out of adjustment floor mats that jam the gas pedal down — can happen with other vehicles, too. If the little tabs that secure the mat in place aren’t fitted correctly, the floor mat may slide forward and bunch up near the car’s brake and gas pedals, and could lead to “unintended acceleration.”
In addition, the cable that connects the gas pedal to the engine can bind and stick, too — especially in older cars.
What to do?
* Before you drive off, check to be sure that your floor mats are properly positioned. If the mat is held in place by tabs, be sure they are all lined up and secured correctly. If the mat is not secured in place by some sort of tab or retainer, be sure it at least has a “no slip” underside (for example, rubber pegs to prevent it from sliding around). If not, it’s a good idea to replace them with mats that do have this feature (check with your local auto parts store or see online sources such as www.weathertech.com.)
* If you are driving along and find the accelerator is sticking, immediately put the gearshift lever into neutral (on manual cars, you can depress the clutch), then use the brakes to slow the car. Pull over and stop as soon as possible. Do not turn off the engine! If you do, the power steering (and brakes) will go away and the car will be much harder to control and stop. And don’t worry about harming the engine by placing the transmission in neutral. All modern cars have devices called rev limiters that prevent the engine RPMs from going into the red zone and causing damage.
Once stopped, you can physically check the floor mat to see whether it was bunched up against the gas pedal, causing the problem. Never try to adjust the floor mat while the vehicle is moving.
For Toyota owners:
The automaker has set up a special web site — www.toyota.com/recall — and phone number (1-800-331-4331) to assist consumers. If you own a 2009-2010 RAV4, 2009-2010 Corolla, 2009-2010 Matrix, 2005-2010 Aavalon, 2007-2010 Camry, or 2010 Highlander, Tundra or Sequoia, you are affected by the recall. The latest news is that certain Prius and Lexus hybrids are affected by the recall as well.
www.epautos.com (click on “Forum”)