If it\’s got an engine. . .

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Unintended Acceleration

Posted by ifitsgotanengine on November 12, 2004

Several years back, the Audi 5000 was accused of randomly surging forward at full throttle, even though the brakes were pressed. An episode of CBS’s 60 Minutes in which an Audi 5000 had been rigged to jump forward with nobody inside probably didn’t help matters.
Audi was eventually absolved of any wrongdoings, however. They managed to prove that the brakes (all of which functioned properly after the unintended accelerations) were strong enough to hold the car against full throttle. That is, if the brakes were depressed with the car in gear and then the gas floored, the car would not move. This does not surprise me.
But that’s not how it happened in the accidents. First the car lunged forward, then the brakes were pressed.
In almost all modern automobiles, the power brake booster gets its assist from engine vacuum. At full throttle, there is no vacuum. There is a reserve in the booster itself, usually enough to operate the brakes two or three times. After that, they become much more difficult to operate.
Imagine if you will. . .
You are an elderly lady. You get into your car and put it into drive. the car leaps forward, even though you haven’t pressed the gas. You stab the brakes. The nose of the car dives down. You let off the brakes. The car lunges forward again. You press the brakes again. Nothing happens. . .
Having said that, I still don’t think the Audis were at fault.

One Response to “Unintended Acceleration”

  1. Anonymous said

    The real issue in the Audis of that vintage was the proximity of the gas pedal to the brake pedal. It seems people would be pressing the brake pedal to slow down and unintentially be hitting the gas at the same time with the side of their foot. Having had that issue with my Opels in the past I can relate, but the 10% rule does apply in this case too.
    Stephen V.

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