Death by floor mat?

Who was it that said everything is in the details?

A few days ago, I was driving a 2009 Ford 150 Supercrew 4 x 4 truck. It was one of the vehicles us editors get to try out and then write about in Machine Design. Anyway, I was minding my business, driving a sedate 60 mph in the right-hand lane of a busy freeway. Suddenly, the vehicle took off, speeding faster and faster….65, 70, 75, 80 mph. I thought the accelerator was jammed, so tried quickly kicking it – an old trick to free mechanical linkages (I've since found out everything now-a-days is controlled by electronic sensors.) Alas, the behemoth did not stop. Then I turned off the cruise control thinking it was struck. No luck. Now I'm thinking, look for a soft spot to crash land. Luckily, I didn't downshift to low gear (after all, this is a $40,000 truck we are talking about), but the thought did pass through my head.

So I pushed and pushed on the brake and sloooowly the vehicle stopped. I stuck it in neutral and shut it off. I had parked within inches of the white line that marks the edge of the freeway, so huge semis continually rattled the 4 x 4 as they whizzed by going around 100 mph, or so it seemed. To make matters worse, I had my little dog with me. Luckily, a nice cop pulled over and used his patrol car to push the truck to a grassy area away from the freeway. He also called a tow truck. The hot sun beat down and my little dog was panting like crazy. The tow truck showed up after awhile and $90 later we were dropped at the nearest Ford Dealership. It was a Saturday, so of course Service had already closed and I had no way to get home. Couldn't even get a rental car. Luckily, dealership personnel gave me a ride home.

Monday morning I took a cab back to the dealership. They eventually figured out what had gone wrong – not a stuck accelerator pedal and not a stuck cruise control. Someone had installed the driver's side floor mat upside-down. This meant that the cut-out area intended to accommodate the accelerator was in the wrong location. Unbeknownst to me, the mat had literally bunched up over the accelerator pedal, pushing it to the floor. I found out later the Ford people had delivered the vehicle like this so the floor mat would not be dirty. They had forgotten to turn the mat back around.

Readers, do you have a similar story? We would love to hear it! Send us your comment, and you might win a Machine Design thumbdrive!

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