Even if you do everything to be safe you can stiil break down... just learn to be safe when you do!
If a tire fails while driving, BE SAFE! Slow down gradually and look for a safe place to pull over. Look for a safe, level place as far off the road as possible. You want to be safe when you jack the car up!
Hopefully you are prepared and know where your jack is, and have air in your spare tire.
Open the hood so other cars can tell you're broken down.. BE SAFE: Put on your hazard flashers.
It's a good idea to put a brick, rock, log, almost anything behind one of the good tires as a safe measure, to keep it from rolling. It's a good idea to put a piece of plywood or a board under the jack if you're on dirt or grass. A jack isn't safe on a soft surface!
When the ABS operates the rapid applying and releasing, or "pumping" of the brakes by the computer can make a rather loud noise and vibration. The first time I worked on a car with ABS I thought I'd check it out. When the ABS "kicked in" during my "test" I thought I had broken something on the car!
ABS was supposed to make cars more safe, BUT A FUNNY THING HAPPENED!
When ABS was first introduced a trend was noticed: rear end collisions actually INCREASED in cars with 4 wheel antilock brakes. The theory was that the noise and vibration they make "freaked out" drivers, who released the brake, then rear ended the car in front of them.
MY ADVICE: Get out on an open stretch of road with no one around and try stopping as hard as you can a few times. Get used to the "ABS experience" so it won't freak you out if the ABS system activate and you can be safe in a panic stop.
Cruise control is nice, but it can also be dangerous. A lot of people "get too comfortable" while the car is on cruise: even crossing their legs and so on! This just isn't safe!
BE SAFE!! NEVER KEEP YOUR FOOT FAR AWAY FROM THE BRAKE PEDAL WHILE YOU ARE ON CRUISE!!!
Another danger is cruise control in the rain. If it strarts to rain, BE SAFE! TURN OFF THE CRUISE CONTROL!!!
Cruise control works like this: it senses the car's speed. If the speed decreases, the cruise control opens the throttle a bit, trying to speed up. If it still is going slower than where the cruise is set, it will open the trottle more and more.
SO HERE'S THE SCENE...
You're cruising down the highway with the cruise set on 70. Suddenly you hit a puddle, or even a slick spot. Your car slows down. Your tires have no traction. Then the cruise control does EXACTLY THE WORST THING that could be done under these circumstances: IT FLOORS THE ACCELERATOR TRYING TO GET UP TO SPEED!
You spin wildly out of control.
Hitting small puddles and slick spots in the rain or snow is no big deal if you're just driving without the cruise on. In the case above the puddle or slick spot wouldn't have even been noticed.
BE SAFE! KEEP YOUR CRUISE CONTROL OFF IN SLIPPERY ROAD CONDITIONS!!!!
If the cruise does "run away", remember a quick tap on the brake will disengage it.
There have been a lot of safe car concerns about "cars running out of control". This can be caused by a lot of things: sticking cables or throttle linkages, or electronic defects in the case of sticking cruise controls, or "drive by wire" automobiles. (Drive by wire systems control the throttle by an electronic servo via the computer. The gas pedal isn't directly connected to the throttle. The pedal give input to the computer, the computer operates the throttle. That's drive by wire. Other designs (so far non-mainstream, mostly experimental) operate the steering and brakes in a similar fashion.)
Any car which has stuff like a "one touch push button start" feature is likely to have some sort of drive by wire also.
Safe driving is a matter of knowing what to do in a un safe situation!
If your throttle sticks, here's how to come to a safe stop 1) Pull back on the gas pedal with your right foot, step on the brakes with your left foot. Many sticking gas pedals have been from shifting floor mats, so look at your floor mats and keep them clear of the pedals. Floormat or whatever, pulling back on the pedal with your toe might "unstick" it.
2) YOUR BRAKES PROBABLY STILL WORK
Press the brake pedal first thing: it will often turn off cruise controls or drive by wire systems.
3) As you are pressing the brake, be ready to do two things: put the car in neutral, and turn off the ignition switch. If it is a manual, press in the clutch.
When you put the car in neutral the engine may rev up to a scary level, and may even burn up! But a blown motor is a small price to pay compared to a wreck! That's why you should be prepared to turn off the engine, which brings me to
CAUTION PART TWO!!!!!!!
When you turn off the key switch, only turn it off one click! This should avoid locking the steering wheel.
ALSO: When the engine stops, you may lose power steering and power brakes. This does not mean you will lose ALL steering and brakes, just that the pedal will be harder to press, and the steering harder to turn.
The very second you experience a runaway situation, the safe thing is to begin stopping. If you have to shut off the engine, try not to release the brake pedal once you shut it off. On most vehicles this means you will have power brakes for your stop.
Drive by wire stuff might not let you shut the motor off going down the road, but even a drive by wire car should let you shift into neutral. The newer cars have a rev limiter built in, so the motor is less likely to blow up on a drive by wire car thrown into neutral than a regular car with, say, a sticking throttle cable.
Thank you for visiting the ECONOMECHANIX WEB SITE. Please feel free to comment. We also serve the surrounding communities of Alachua, High Springs, Hawthorne, and Newberry! Gainesville has been my home since 1974, and I've loved Gvl and the Gators since I came here in the fall of 1974 to attend the University of Florida. I loved it so much I stayed and opened my car repair business. Originally it was out of the back of a 1963 Chevrolet wagon, but in 1977 a fellow mechanic and I opened an auto repair shop with actual walls, etc. I stayed in the same location for 26 years, and recently moved my operation to property I bought 15 miles east of Gainesville. I am doing most all the repairs myself now, having reduced my overhead from $1500 per month to practically nothing. I do work by appointment only. I mostly work only on my established customers cars, but I will occasionally take on new clients. E-mail me and I will either make arrangements to look at your car, or I will recommend you to someone who will.
George G. Scott, Jr.
ABS: Anti-Lock Brake Systems
ADVANCE: Car ignition timing
ALTERNATORS and Car Battery
BATTERIES: Auto, Car or Truck
BELTS AND HOSES
BODY AND BUMPER REPAIRS
BRAKE REPAIRS: Car or Truck
CARBURETORS:Car & Truck
CHECK ENGINE LIGHT
CLEANING: Engine Cleaning
CLUTCH REPAIRS: Car & Truck
COMPRESSION: Car Engine
COMPUTER CAR CONTROLS
CV JOINT OR CV AXLES
ENGINES: Car & Truck
FUEL AIR MIXTURE
FUEL INJECTION: Car & Truck
FUEL PUMPS: Car & Truck
GAGES AND "IDIOT LIGHTS"
GASKETS AND SEALS
GLASS: WINDOWS AND WINDSHIELDS
HEADS & HEAD GASKET
HOSES AND BELTS
"IDIOT LIGHTS" AND GAGES
IGNITION TIMING: Car & Truck
AUTO JACKS: lifting cars safely
LEAN "Car runs lean"
LIGHTS: WARNING OR "IDIOT LIGHTS"
Limp Home Mode
NO START: Car Won't Start
OIL: What's right for your car?
OIL LIGHT ON OR GAGE LOW
RADIATORS: Car and Truck
RICH: Car runs rich
SEALS AND GASKETS
SERVICE ENGINE SOON LIGHT
STARTERS: Auto, Truck
TIMING: IGNITION TIMING
TIMING BELT & TIMING CHAIN
WARNING LIGHTS OR "IDIOT LIGHTS"
WATER PUMP REPAIR
WINDOWS AND WINDSHIELDS