Magic Rabbit welcomes Jeep owners to its car washes

In March 2013, a regional car wash chain ban Jeep Grand Cherokees – model year 2010 or older to go through all its car washes. Waterway spokesperson Mike Schlote issued the following statement: “Waterway has experienced an unacceptable number of dangerous and costly accidents involving pre 2011 Jeep Cherokees and Grand Cherokees. At Waterway, employee and customer safety is our chief concern. Therefore we have made the decision to stop washing these vehicles.”

The dangerous and costly accidents are related to the so-called sudden unintended acceleration (SUA). In 1989, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defined “Sudden acceleration incidents” (SAI) as unintended, unexpected, high-power accelerations from a stationary position or a very low initial speed accompanied by an apparent loss of braking effectiveness. In a typical scenario, the incident begins at the moment of shifting to “Drive” or “Reverse” from “Park”.

The NHTSA definition appears to leave out of consideration the following types of incidents:

• any incident that might occur while the vehicle is already in motion, for example:
o A sudden acceleration from 20 to 60 mph, or 40 to 80 mph.
o Speed oscillations (hunting) about the set speed.
o Overshoot beyond a new set speed with the cruise control on.
o Speed drift (either up or down) with the cruise control on.
o Sudden unexplained deceleration.
o Lurching
o Sudden accelerations when vehicle is pulling in to a parking bay or stopping at traffic lights

• Incipient incidents -”near miss” incidents – when the driver switched off the ignition, or managed to apply sufficient brake pressure and brought the vehicle to a halt safely.

• Alleged incidents of sudden acceleration in vehicles with manual gearboxes. [These may result in a racing engine, but it is likely that the driver's natural reaction will be to disengage the clutch and then bring the vehicle to a halt by controlled braking.]

Are reports of sudden acceleration are only limited to Jeeps? According to Michael Palese, spokesperson for Chrysler Group LLC, says sudden acceleration incidents have occurred in other auto manufacturer’s vehicles. He says Waterway is unfairly singling out Jeeps. “Actually this is an urban legend that was started up by the carwash association,” Palese said. “The International Carwash Association some years ago, had it in their head that there was a problem with Jeep vehicles – and actually went on a little bit of a campaign trying to make this reputation stick.”

According to the International Carwash Association spokesperson Eric Wulf, “We do provide recommendations regularly about this topic of sudden acceleration,” but “these incidents can happen in other types of vehicles.”

In fact, there were many reported incidents of sudden acceleration in other vehicles.

1987: The 1982-1987 Audi 5000s sales in the United States fell after recalls linked to sudden unintended acceleration. There were 700 accidents and 6 deaths.
1988: 1986 Honda Accords were documented to have had sudden acceleration incidents due to the Vehicle Speed Control component, as reported to the NHTSA.
1997: Sudden acceleration in Jeep Cherokees and Jeep Grand Cherokees was reported by Diane Sawyer in a March 1997 ABC News Primetime segment.
2000: Several Ford Explorers were reported about in the UK by a Channel 4 news program where the vehicle was already moving at speed and experienced sudden acceleration.
2005: Incident observed in a Toyota Camry. The cause was found out to be a tin whisker.
2006: The 2004 model year Ford Mustang Cobra was recalled by Ford for accelerator pedals that failed to return to idle after being fully pressed.
2008: Incidents involving the 2005 Kia Amanti and Kia Sephia had been reported that were preceded by a racing or highly revving engine.
2009: Toyota Avalon displays unintended acceleration without floor mat; observed by dealer.
2009: Chase Weir’s experience with sudden acceleration in his Ford Explorer while driving on a freeway was reported by a number of news organizations, along with the released 000 emergency recordings of the incident.
2009-2010: Several vehicles were recalled in the 2009–2010 Toyota vehicle recalls, which resulted in suspension of production and sales of many of Toyota’s most popular models, including the Toyota Corolla, Toyota Camry, Toyota Tacoma pickups, Toyota Avalon, Toyota Matrix, Pontiac Vibe, and more.

Some have suggested that sudden acceleration may be caused by electronic interference. Today’s cars use ‘throttle by wire’ technology, and it’s possible that the electronic signals could be jammed by other devices in your vehicle’s complex computerized environment. Toyota’s massive recalls were the result of sticky accelerator pedals and interfering floor mats. Such problems may be caused by driver error (e.g., pedal misapplication), mechanical or electrical problems, or some combination of these factors.

What to do if you encounter sudden acceleration problem. Toyota in its website recommended that “the most natural reaction to a stuck-throttle emergency is to stomp on the brake pedal, possibly with both feet. And despite dramatic horsepower increases since C/D’s 1987 unintended-acceleration test of an Audi 5000, brakes by and large can still overpower and rein in an engine roaring under full throttle. With the Camry’s throttle pinned while going 70 mph, the brakes easily overcame all 268 horsepower straining against them and stopped the car in 190 feet—that’s a foot shorter than the performance of a Ford Taurus without any gas-pedal problems and just 16 feet longer than with the Camry’s throttle closed. From 100 mph, the stopping-distance differential was 88 feet—noticeable to be sure, but the car still slowed enthusiastically enough to impart a feeling of confidence. We also tried one go-for-broke run at 120 mph, and, even then, the car quickly decelerated to about 10 mph before the brakes got excessively hot and the car refused to decelerate any further. So even in the most extreme case, it should be possible to get a car’s speed down to a point where a resulting accident should be a low-speed and relatively minor event.”

No matter what you drive, Magic Rabbit treasures your business and welcomes all customers with open arms. We will continue to serve Jeep and Toyota customers because we are here for YOU.

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