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.
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