There’s an old adage, “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.” When it comes to driving in Atlanta traffic, there’s no telling what you’ll encounter, especially considering the fact that Atlanta has some of the worst drivers in the country. While you can’t control other drivers, you can do your part to be prepared and safe on the road. That includes being prepared for emergencies… Like a jammed accelerator pedal!
What to Do If Your Accelerator Jams
While accelerator pedal jams are rare in newer vehicles, they can still happen. If you drive an older vehicle, it’s even more important to know how to handle a jammed accelerator.
First and foremost in any traffic emergency: Stay calm. Remember to breathe, focus on safely managing the situation, and try not to panic. Panicking can lead to poor decisions that hurt the situation more than they help. Put your hazard lights on or flash your lights to alert other drivers. The sooner they see you coming, the more likely they are to be able to get out of your way and avoid a collision.
As you’re watching the road and the cars around you, scan for a safe “exit.” Can you pull over to the shoulder, emergency lane, or a grassy, empty area?
Try to Lift the Gas Pedal
Use your right toe to nudge the accelerator upward. If there’s an object lodged underneath the accelerator, try to safely remove it while maintaining control of your vehicle. You will still have your left foot available to hit the brake pedal if need be.
Use Your Brake Pedal
If you still can’t get the accelerator unstuck, apply steady, even pressure to the brake pedal. Don’t just stomp on the brake; keep pressing down smoothly and be aware that your car may not respond the way you’re used to. If your vehicle pulls to one side or the other, concentrate on steering and navigating away from other cars.
Shift to Neutral
Most contemporary cars will respond to these strategies, but if your accelerator is still stuck, try shifting gears to neutral. Be careful NOT to put the car in park or reverse, as that would not only severely damage your transmission but could also cause you to lose control.
If nothing else has worked and you’re unable to safely steer your car to a stop off the road, your last resorts are to turn off the engine or pull the emergency brake. These should absolutely NEVER be used unless you have no other choice.
You should only turn your ignition off while driving in a true emergency because this “fix” can be almost as dangerous as whatever situation you’re trying to get out of. Turning off your ignition will cut the gas and decelerate your car, but doing so also shuts off important safety features like power steering. If you’ve ever tried to turn the wheel without power steering, you know that it takes a lot of strength and makes it very difficult to control your direction.
The only other option to stop a car with a stuck accelerator is to engage the emergency brake. Again, this is a “nothing left to lose” option, as pulling the emergency brake while moving can cause your car to violently lose control.
Once you’ve safely brought your vehicle to a stop, it’s important not to drive it until you’ve determined what caused the gas pedal to stick. If you’re looking for used auto parts to help you keep your ride running smoothly and safely, U Wrench It has you covered. We specialize in providing Atlanta mechanics (both DIY and pro) with affordable used auto parts.