Baby, You Can Drive My Car

I drive a 2005 Toyota Avalon. There, I said it. It has been on my mind a lot lately. I drive one of those 2.3 million cars (in America alone) that have been identified by Toyota, that could have that, you know … spontaneous-uncontrolled-acceleration-of-up-to-100-mph-problem. Except my car hasn’t been recalled because Toyota doesn’t really know what to fix. Great. Toyota Motor Corp. has stopped selling and building eight models, because of this problem, having to admit that it is more than just floor mats getting in the way or even faulty gas pedals, although they have ordered millions of new gas pedals in preparation for …. what? (Since the supplier is shipping new pedals, but says Toyota admits they have caused no serious accidents or deaths.) … To convince themselves it’s not a faulty computer chip embedded in the electronics somewhere? I don’t know. It’s a pretty sad situation.

Well my Avalon has been a great car. Uh, except for a week ago last Wednesday, when I was breaking to bring my car to a stop at a major intersection, only the car didn’t even slow down, it kept plunging ahead at full speed, and to avoid the intersection I sailed over the curb, onto this island, where I took out a fire hydrant and stop sign. My car had to be towed away on account of the sign flew off its post (as did the fire hydrant) and the metal stump that was left standing impaled itself into the exhaust pipe underneath my car.

The damage didn’t look that bad on the outside and I was thinking I’d just get the car lifted off the stump with Godspeed, get out of the way of all the onlookers, and just drive off and live with the damage. Until I learned: A. The car was not driveable and B. The bid to fix it came in at $3200.00. Apparently no piece on the front of that car is replaceable for under $300.00, and several of them were damaged. Anyway, the car is fixed now and I learned a lot about what to do when you have an accident where you damage city property — call the police, your insurance agent, and the city, to come put the stuff on the island back up and calculate the cost for your insurance company (since you hopefully have full liabilily coverage). Oh yeah, and I called my husband first, actually, to tell me what to do and to please come to the scene of the accident, because he is always calm in situations like this, whereas I, on the other hand, tend to unhinge.

So if Toyota has quit selling and building my car on account of this, um, minor problem (?), should I really be driving it? A private firm said it had identified 275 crashes and 18 deaths because of sudden, uncontrollable acceleration in Toyotas since 1999. So what are the odds that mine would have the same problem? I’m no mathematician, but, considering how many millions of Toyotas have been on the road since 1999, with 275 crashes, the odds of mine having the same problem seems minutely miniscule, albeit the odds of my getting into an accident with it are, obviously, infinitely greater.

Nevertheless, I’ve been testing my gas pedal and it bounces back nicely after I press on it. I don’t know. I also intend to throw my car into neutral if it automatically starts accelerating and I notice at the same time it is spiraling out of control that my foot is not actually pressing on the gas pedal. Oh, and now I drive more carefully on snowy, slick roads. I take it real slow and easy on snowy mornings because I don’t want to slide through another intersection dusted with snow over black ice, like I did a week ago Wednesday.

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