You tell me about unintended acceleration, I’m likely to snap back: “Hell, I have enough trouble trying to come up with intended acceleration.”
That said, there are people who think Toyota has truly screwed the pooch with this little scandal. The Autoextremist, for instance, weighs in:
The Toyota implosion marks a definitive shift in the American automotive landscape. After dominating the hearts and minds of the American consumer public for the better part of three decades, we are now witnessing the end of Toyota’s reign over this market.
With Toyota unable to avoid the kind of national and now international scrutiny and notoriety that has humbled lesser companies, we will see Toyota eventually fall back from the top tier in this market, eclipsed by a host of savvy competitors led by a dramatically rejuvenated Ford and an increasingly aggressive Hyundai.
Maybe. I’m hearing from people wondering if they should unload their Toyotas now while there’s still time. (Answer: No.) Having survived a bout of unplanned wide-open throttle, I continue to believe that anything automotive is ultimately fixable.
It was late one night, and I was heading home in my ancient Celica from a swing shift at what may be considered a moderate speed. And then it wasn’t quite so moderate. I glanced at the tach, which was way up by the 5500-rpm redline. Okay, fine: if we have to do this in second gear all the way home, we shall.
The next day, the problem was diagnosed: broken throttle spring. Replacement part: $2.
Nowadays, of course, you can’t get anything diagnosed for under three figures. J. Random Camryite almost certainly has a slushbox and no idea how to take it out of gear. (“Won’t it hurt the transmission?” Well, maybe. On the other hand, crashing into something will hurt a whole lot more than the transmission.) And most of the time, popping the hood won’t tell you a damn thing unless there’s been major engine trauma.
The point, though, is that this kind of incident is survivable, provided you don’t suddenly dissolve into a puddle of fear.