Why not shift into neutral, Toyota victims?

Here’s something that has been bugging me big-time since the original problems with Toyotas that have sticking accelerators. (Back when they lied and said it was floor mats, I wondered why all Toy-owners wouldn’t just rip out those floor mats–not the carpet, but the added-on floor mats–immediately!)

When I was in Driver’s Ed, our instructor told us (and I remember this quite vividly) that if the car ever ran away with us, and the brake wasn’t enough to stop the car, there was a simple solution. “Turn the ignition off!” yelled one kid. That was my thinking, as well. “No,” said the owl, “because then you lose the power brakes and more importantly the power STEERING boost, and do you want to try to steer this thing that has power steering without the vacuum pump on? It’s much tougher than steering a car with a wheel that isn’t power steering.” We tried it and found he was hootin’ the truth.

“So,” said our wise owl, “what you do is shift the transmission from Drive into Neutral. NOT into Reverse! Not anywhere else but just into Neutral!”

“Can you DO that?”

“Yes! See where you can go from D to 1 or 2 for climbing hills?” (This was still true in the 1970s and 1980s; I don’t know if automatic transmission cars still even have “2” and “1” gears on the shifter. I should go look before I post, but bah. I’m wingin’ it. Do you think that gets me into trouble very often??)

“Yeah. So you can shift into neutral? Like just BOOM, even though there’s only the automatic clutch?” Our eyes lit up. “That means the power won’t be TRANSMITTED using the transmission from the engine to the drive shaft and wheels. So it won’t be engaged!”

“Exactly. Then you’ll have a car that’s just going ZOOM without adding to your speed. Okay, BUT. You still have the momentum and you’re still rolling. Now you brake, and if that’s not enough, use the emergency brake. Sure, that’s going to ruin the hand brake, but who cares if it saves you and/or the pedestrians and vehicles you’re going to otherwise crash into?”

I agree. Even if this ruins the transmission, I would argue that this is better than being in a runaway car that won’t stop until it hits something that will probably NOT be a haystack (which is what the Scooby-Doo kids always used to hit in order to stop . . . but there just aren’t any convenient haystacks in suburbia. Or anywhere. Not any more.)

Anyone out there know if this is still a viable idea? CAN you shift into “N” from “D” at any time while an automatic transmission car is rolling? Mama is arguing with me that you can’t do that and that CNN told her so. Of course, if you are driving a stick (manual transmission, which used to be called “standard”), this won’t apply, and you can just stomp the clutch and rip down into any other gear you like, such as neutral. But the automatic transmissions of today may be much more fussy.

If you hear an awful grinding noise and the transmission falls out of your Toyota onto the blacktop when you try this as an experiment, don’t blame me. As my Dad always said, “Piece of Japanese junk! 3@!%$^%!!” (But remember, he served in WWII. Radio/radar operator landed on Leyte, standing up to his knees in typhoon waters, learning to drive in a Jeep. He never really forgave the Japanese for WWII.) Also, who cares if you ruin a car that is trying to kill you? But maybe that’s just me.


Author: shalanna

Shalanna: rhymes with "Madonna" and "I wanna," and is not a soundalike with "Hosanna" or "Sha-Na-Na." Aging hippie with long hair, husband, elderly mother, and yappy Pomeranian. I've been writing since I could hold a crayon. I started with fiction, which Mama said was "lying." “Don’t tell stories,” she would admonish, in Southern vernacular. “That's all in your imagination!” When grownups said this, they were not approving. So, shamed, I stopped telling stories for a few years--rather, I stopped letting anyone read them. I'm married to a fellow computer nerd who doesn't really like hearing about writing, but who reads sf/fantasy and understands the creative drive. I'm actually a nonconformist/hippie still wearing bluejeans and drop earrings and the Alice-in-Wonderland hair with headbands and sandals. Favorite flavor is chocolate/orange, favorite color is either Dreamsicle orange (cantaloupe) or bubble-gum pink, favorite musical is either Bye Bye Birdie, Rocky Horror, or The Producers . . . wait, I also love The Music Man. Is this getting way too specific and irrelevant yet? Obvious why I don't sell a ton of flash fiction, isn't it? To define oneself, I always say, it is good to make a list. How about a booklist? Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen C.S.Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (all the Narnia books) J.R.R.Tolkien,The Hobbit/LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy Gail Godwin, The Odd Woman F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye (before dismissing it, actually read it) George Orwell, 1984 Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle Donna Tartt, The Secret History Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn James Allen, As A Man Thinketh Mark Winegardner, Elvis Presley Boulevard James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie The KJV and NIV Bible (each translation has its glories)

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