I think it was called “the 4WD that couldn’t slow down”

How did the cruise control disable the brakes?

A routine road trip became half an hour of horror for a Melbourne man this afternoon when his four-wheel-drive’s cruise control malfunctioned on the Eastern Freeway.

In a scene reminiscent of the blockbuster thriller Speed, the Ford Explorer’s cruise control jammed on at 80km/h… Senior Constable Adam West said the man attempted to stop the four-wheel-drive by braking, knocking the four-wheel-drive out of gear or removing the keys – all to no avail.

You’d have thought Adam West would’ve had some way of saving the distressed driver.

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10 responses to “I think it was called “the 4WD that couldn’t slow down”

  1. Zippy the Pinhead

    “and pulled the handbrake, finally coming to a halt”

    thought something was bogus — surely this would be the FIRST thing to do .. not after an extended freakout that included calling the cops.

  2. “bogus”

    I agree. Some guy in England pulled this stunt a few years ago with a multi-axil truck. Rubbish. Take it out of gear, put it in reverse if you have to.

    Cruise control is just electronics controlling the fuel line, it can’t defeat the mechanics of the drive train.

  3. This story absolutely stunk of hoax on first read. Even if the switch attached to the brake pedal which turns off cruise control failed, even if the cruise control electronics failed, preventing an operable brake pedal switch from disabling cruise, even if an appropriately shaped rock magically levitated up under the bonnet and jammed the throttle wide-freaking-open, I have yet, in 40-odd years of gearheadedness including owning 426 Hemi-powered drag cars and dry-lake racing motorcycles, to see a standard passenger car whose engine would not be stalled by standing on the brakes. This story will be followed up with the ‘ha ha fooled you mechanical know-nothings’ hoax admission in a day or two.

  4. You’d have thought Ford would’ve come out very quickly and said “that’s impossible” if it was, though.

    This is not good advertising for the Explorer.

  5. Indeed. Put it in neutral, pull the hand brake. This story makes no sense on its face, and I suspect the driver will be seeing some charges in the not-too-distant future.

  6. “thought something was bogus — surely this would be the FIRST thing to do”

    Riiiight, I’d advise against using the hand brake when travelling at speed.

    “You’d have thought Ford would’ve come out very quickly and said “that’s impossible” if it was, though.”

    Indeed.

    There’s loads of electronics in cars these days, at this stage I have to give the bloke the benefit of the doubt.

    “‘ha ha fooled you mechanical know-nothings’

    Electronic malfunction?

  7. I always thought that two things shut off cruise control: braking and putting your foot down hard on the accelerator. Certainly my own experience bears that out, but that’s in an ordinary passenger car, not a 4WD.

  8. Thankful I have a cheap Korean car – the only thing that’s electric is the radio and the windows. Oh, and the fan. The fact that it has a clutch is a bonus too.

    But yeah, it’s hard to take this seriously…

  9. Although I’m not sure how this could happen either, until the investigations are done I’m with Rob and am prepared to give the driver the benefit of the doubt.

    No doubt should the investigation of the vehicle turn up with no malfunction, this driver will be kissing his license and a good part of his bank account good-bye.

  10. The Australian wrote on 17 December:

    “Chase Weir not the first to experience Ford Explorer cruise control malfunction ”

    Link:

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/ford-explorer-cruise-control-malfunction-a-known-problem/story-e6frg6nf-1225811468014

    In another story:

    http://www.3aw.com.au/blogs/3aw-generic-blog/chase-weirs-triple0-phonecall/20091216-kx6z.html

    Ford claims:

    “It’s highly unusual and it was not something we have encountered before anywhere in the world,” Ms McAlary said.”

    Hmm, in the Australian I read:

    “One driver, Felicity Beck, tells how her Ford Explorer “became a complete monster” on a country road on the way to Wiltshire, forcing her husband Gordon to eventually stop it with a series of handbrake manoeuvers.”

    Sounds similar to me… What’s Ford’s out? That it wasn’t an identical situation????

    Then:

    “Another, Pat Rushton, explained how her husband Derek only brought their newly purchased explorer to a halt by driving onto the shoulder of the road by turning off the ignition. “He kept saying, it won’t stop, it won’t stop, she said.”

    and:

    More recently, a 23-year-old woman from Miami claimed to have experienced similar problems in October with her 2002 Ford Explorer – the same year as Mr Weir’s model.

    “I had to literally throw myself off of the highway so that I wouldn’t hurt or kill anyone,” she says in a YouTube post. “My plan was to jump off into a grassy area but when the car landed hard the accelerator let go. I got out of that car so fast. It is now in the body shop but I never want to drive aFord ever again.”

    The moral of this story? Probably better to believe Mr average bloke than a multinational corporation who have a vested interest!

    I’m a cynic myself but didn’t really see any good reasons to dismiss Weir’s claims.

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