Quick steps to take if your gas pedal sticks

How to react if malfunctions or external interferences cause unintended acceleration.

Foot on gas pedal of a vehicle

It doesn't happen often, but when a gas pedal sticks or malfunctions, the situation is frightening and extremely dangerous. In an instant, the vehicle can accelerate to full speed and become unresponsive to braking efforts.

Mechanical malfunctions — such as a faulty throttle, external interferences, a floor mat that wedges under the pedal — can contribute to this type of unintended acceleration.

What to do if your accelerator sticks

Below are some ways that may correct the stuck accelerator and help you to remain safe.

  1. Stay calm and try not to panic.
  2. Push the brake firmly with both feet and hold it down. Don't pump the brake pedal or release it because you will lose all your vacuum power assist, causing your brakes to become stiff and very hard.
  3. Shift the car into neutral. If the car has a manual transmission, remember to depress the clutch to shift gears.
  4. Steadily hold the brake and look for an escape route, like a hard shoulder on the highway. Avoid quick lane changes, which could cause you to swerve and lose control of the vehicle. If possible, steer in a straight line.
  5. Do not turn off the engine unless shifting into neutral is unsuccessful. Turning off the engine will turn off the power-assist brake functions, making it harder to maneuver the car.
  6. When you have come to a controlled stop out of the way of traffic, turn the engine off (if you have not already done so). If you use a key, keep it in the ignition when you turn off the engine so the steering wheel doesn't lock.
  7. If your vehicle has a start on/off button, hold the button down for at least three seconds to disable the vehicle. Do not tap repeatedly.
  8. Call for assistance. Do not drive the vehicle until it has been professionally serviced.

"Smart Throttle" technology

Some new vehicles come with "smart throttle" technology, which reduces the possibility of unintended accelerations caused by mechanical failures. These computer-based systems recognize when both the brake and accelerator are being depressed. They also tell the engine to give precedence to braking and to ignore the accelerator.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates). While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. State Farm is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.

Start a Quote
Select a product to start a quote.
Agents Near You
Contact Us
844-373-0003

Also important

Auto Manufacturers Recalled a Record Number of Cars

Know how to handle vehicle safety recalls.

Help Make Your Commute Safe and Sane

Want a safer commute? There are things you can do to help make sure you commute safely, such as eliminating distractions. Read these tips from State Farm.

Related articles

Car Fire: What to Do if It Happens to You

Car fires don't happen frequently, but when they do, they're a potentially deadly emergency. Learn what to do when you experience a vehicle fire.

Latest Car Safety Features Becoming Must-haves

Car manufacturers have rolled out many new car safety features in the last few years. Learn more about adaptive headlights, blind spot detection and more.

Intersection Safety and Red Light Cameras

Running a red light is a bad idea, but in some places it can also mean a surprise ticket.