S60-T Accelerated on its own!

Discussion in 'Volvo S60' started by Sean Reilly, Jan 26, 2005.

  1. Sean Reilly

    Sean Reilly Guest

    While at a red light, my foot on the brake, my 2002 S60-T (34,000 miles)
    accelerated (as if someone suddenly stomped on the accelerator) all by
    itself. I kept my foot on the brake but the car began to go through an
    intersection, anti-lock brakes thumping away. I made a quick right turn and
    shifted the car into neutral. The RPMs came down from red line (8,000 I was
    told by my wide-eyed rear seat passenger) to normal in about one or two
    seconds or so. A few minutes later, it happened a second time while I was
    stopped at another red light. Twice in one night, the car floored itself
    while I was stopped at a red light. Cruise control was off. Everything
    seemed normal -- but it wasn't. I had been driving for at least ten minutes
    before the first incident so I believe the car had warmed up sufficiently.
    It wasn't the floor mat.

    I had the car at the dealer for a download of the computer yesterday. No
    indications of trouble. They drove the car off and on today to see if it
    would happen again. Nothing. I have not experienced a problem again
    either -- but my confidence in the safety of this car (now nicknamed
    "Christine" - like in the movie) is zero. I'm afraid to drive it, or have
    any family member drive it. Will it happen again? How can I be assured it

    I did express concerns about liability exposure to myself and to Volvo here
    if anything happens. While courteous, Volvo's assistant service manager did
    nothing more than have his people test drive the car today. If anyone gets
    injured (or worse) as a result of this happening again, it could be very
    ugly. Frankly, I expected more concern from Volvo here -- as the company's
    reputation is built on safety. Safety is the primary reason I bought this
    car. If I'm the customer service manager, I would absolutely notify Volvo
    HQ of this incident (minimally). I have no reason to believe he did or

    The night was cold and snowy. I had the car washed the day before -- not
    sure if either could have caused/contributed to the problem. This problem
    reminds me of the Audi 5000 problem in the '80s -- a problem that Audi
    didn't handle well -- and it cost them dearly reputation-wise.

    * Has anyone experienced a similar problem with their Volvo?

    * Does anyone have an idea of what might have caused this "foot to the floor
    automatic acceleration" problem.

    * What should I do here (aside from buying Japanese again)? Any input would
    be appreciated.


    Sean Reilly, Jan 26, 2005
    1. Advertisements

  2. i would contact your attorney and the local office of consumer
    complaints...you need to start a "paper trail" on your s80...

    if it keeps up, file claims on volvo north america...the will help
    as long as you are "making noise"...
    oh yea...i would keep kids out of my car as well...
    ~^ beancounter ~^, Jan 26, 2005
    1. Advertisements

  3. Just thinking out loud here - are the S60s prone to defective throttle
    position sensor pots, as in the S80s? If I understand the S80 problem right,
    the throttle control loses track of where it is setting the throttle. If
    this is the case, it is not likely to leave a trail (the system believes it
    did everything right). If it is a "by wire" throttle control, it could also
    be a failure of the accelerator position sensor... that would not normally
    leave a trail, either.

    I, too, would be worried. Be aware there will be a lot of institutional
    resistance to your story, since the great majority of "automatic full
    throttle acceleration" are the clear result of foot confusion. Your
    description of it happening twice, while already stopped, and the brakes
    fighting the acceleration, convinces me that isn't what you experienced.

    Michael Pardee, Jan 26, 2005
  4. Sean Reilly

    Gunner Guest

    Interesting reference to Audi 5000S. I was driving an Audi 5000S at the
    time and considered the situation lacking all technical merit. If you
    analyze the testimony given in at least one case the car accelerated from a
    full stop in such a way as to force the car through a garage door as well as
    the back wall of the garage notwithstanding the fact the driver claimed to
    have his/her foot firmly depressing the break pedal. "The car did not even
    slow down!"

    Fact: the coefficient of static friction is much greater that of dynamic
    friction. Meaning that the breaks are more effective when the car is not
    moving than when the car is moving. At least form me the car capable of
    stopping from a speed in excess of 150 KM/H very quickly.

    Conclusion: Recall the testimony (the care did not even slow down!)

    The driver has his/her foot firmly planted on the Accelerator and not the
    brake. So much for sudden acceleration!

    I was considering suing 60 Minutes and MarketPlace in Canada.

    I had the car for over 250,000 KM. Never had a problem with that issue. My
    extremely excellent private VW/Audi mechanic agreed with my assessment. Not
    that the Audi peddles ARE extremely close to each other.

    On one occasion after driving a rental vehicle (GM) for some time on
    business, I managed to have a sudden acceleration issue in my 2003 XC70.
    My assessment was that I had simultaneously depressed both the accelerator
    and brake pedals. In other words DRIVER ERROR! Not in any way a mechanical

    "Twice in one night, the car floored itself while I was stopped at a red
    light" These circumstances are remarkably similar to my situation.

    Gunner, Jan 26, 2005
  5. Sean Reilly

    Rob Guenther Guest

    I know of an Audi garage who said it was pretty much BS about the 5000 -
    many of their customers have 5000's and they themselves (garage owners) have
    at least 1 or 2 for their own use... Interesting note I found on my 99.5 VW
    Golf TDI (haven't tried on the Volvo - a 93' 960) - if I press the gas and
    brake pedals at the same time (automatic tranny) the engine will cut power
    and the car goes to idle speed - safety feature perhaps? I believe it has a
    by-wire throttle - wouldn't be hard to implement an interlock.

    I have had a car take off on me - 1991 Golf (gasoline engine) around -35°C
    out (probably below 40 with the wind) the car would not revv below 4000rpm
    while in gear, bounced off redline out of gear.... was an interesting 3-4
    minutes drive home... I assumed the throttle cable froze in position or
    something like that - when that car had a sensor failure it tended to not be
    able to rev over 3500-4000rpm and would have trouble idling.
    Rob Guenther, Jan 27, 2005
  6. Sean Reilly

    Sean Reilly Guest

    Thanks for the feedback. I did cc: Volvo (corporate) on my newsgroup
    posting the same night. I cc:ed myself for documentation purposes. In my
    letter to corporate, I suggested they run things by their lawyers. The
    choice of making updates to my car (to assure something like this doesn't
    happen again) versus settling a multi-million dollar law suit (should
    something terrible happen as a result of this happening again) would be a
    no-brainer to me, but it's in Volvo's hands.

    To Volvo (corporate's) credit... they responded to my e-mail the next day
    and asked for the VIN Number and name of dealer who looked at my car. I
    trust that they are looking into it. Didn't hear from anyone today but I'm
    hopeful that the dialog will continue.

    In a time when people sue McDonald's for obecity (which is flat-out insane),
    I'm deeply concerned about what might happen if this problem repeats itself.
    More than being concerned about law suits, I'm concerned about hurting
    someone. I don't want this to happen. You would think that
    "safety-conscious" Volvo would share this concern.

    Let's see what happens here.

    Sean Reilly, Jan 28, 2005
  7. Sean Reilly

    Sean Reilly Guest


    Thanks for your feedback. I will discuss with Volvo (if given the chance).
    I corresponded (once) with Volvo (corporate) who is looking into the
    situation. I'm waiting for their follow-up reply. I did appreciate
    corporate getting back to me. Good first step. Let's see where this goes.

    I love the car and I don't want to be an alarmist. I have no axe to grind
    with Volvo in any way. I do need Volvo's (written) assurance that this
    won't happen again, however. What do you think the chances are they'll
    provide it? I'd be shocked if they would provide anything in writing
    without making alterations to the car first (or perhaps even after they make

    Some suggested it was driver's error but, as you mentioned, the fact that it
    happened TWICE in the same night makes you (and me) feel otherwise. I was
    unprepared and caught off guard for the first event. I was totally prepared
    for the second. Some suggtested my foot may have been on the accelerator
    and I stomped on it rather than the brake. I doubt this was the case as I
    was fully stopped at red lights... for several seconds (5-20, I estimate) in
    both cases.. and my car accelerated from a perfect stand-still both times.
    It wasn't like I slowed down without coming to a full stop, stomped on the
    accelerator and the car took off. On BOTH occasions, I was fully stopped
    and then the car suddenly revved and started to fight my braking action. In
    both cases, the car wouldn't have accelerated through a brick wall (as one
    respondent said an Audi accident victim claimed) but I (or my wife or young
    daughter) probably would have rear-ended a car in front of me, or inched
    into a busy intersection to possibly get broad-sided by God knows what, or
    hit a pedestrian in a cross-walk.

    Three passengers in the car with me that night would testify as to what
    happened, if necessary. The second time it happend, as the car reved and
    fought my braking action, I exclaimed something like, "Here it goes again!"
    They were happy to get out of the car when I reached the destination. Can
    you see the Audi commercial now?... "The best thing about a Volvo is getting
    out of it... alive."

    Maybe Volvo will do nothing... and maybe I'll never experience the problem
    again... and maybe the problem will never happen to any other Volvo owner.
    That would be 100% fine with me. In the mean time, I've documented
    everything so that if something tragic happens, I can provide my lawyers
    with plenty of evidence that I did my best to resolve the issues. In the
    mean time, I continue to monitor this news group for input.

    Sean Reilly, Jan 28, 2005
  8. Sean Reilly

    Sean Reilly Guest


    Thanks for your feedback. I did consider (and re-consider) that it may have
    been driver (my) error as you suggest. I was wearing boots that night as it
    was snowing. This was the first time I wore boots with this car and --
    yes -- the accelerator and brake are close together (something Volvo's
    engineers might want to consider in future designs as many Volvo owners --
    in both USA and Sweden -- wear boots during winter).

    If it happened once, I would be much more likely to concede that I may have
    been at fault. But it happened twice in the same night -- about 5 minutes
    apart (and the second time I was VERY aware of what happened the first
    time). I tried to recreate the situation that night after dropping my
    passengers off. Zip. Volvo said they couldn't get it to happen either.

    After reading your feedback, I went out (with my boots on) and tried to step
    on the brake and accelerator simultaneously. It was difficult to do but I
    was able to do it. HOWEVER, with a foot on the brake (fully stopped) and my
    attempt to step on the accelerator at the same time, I couldn't get the car
    to rev into the red line zone without really forcing my foot down in such a
    way that my foot was almost entirely off the brake. This was a highly
    unnatural driving position that took deliberate action to cause. Highly
    doubtful I could have done it accidentally -- TWICE -- in the same night.
    Try it if you own a Volvo and see what you think.

    Did I accidentally step on the accelerator rather than the brake? Fair
    question. My recollection... I was stopped at a red light. Did I lift my
    foot off the brake to stomp on the accelerator (accidentally) -- TWICE -- to
    the red line point? Highly doubtful. Tonight, I deliberately floored the
    car (foot not on the brake) and I couldn't get it to red line before I had
    to slow down. Did the car red line (only) after I shifted into neutral that
    night to disengage from drive? Possibly... I honestly don't know as my
    primary concern was to get it to disengage.

    Was I impaired in any way that evening? Absolutely not.

    I have no axe to grind with Volvo. I love this car. I don't want to put
    Volvo through unnecessary paces or expenses to fix something that isn't
    broken (if it truly isn't). What I DO want is to be 100% certain that this
    problem doesn't happen again -- ever. I'm doing all I can to be sure it
    doesn't. I'm willing to work with Volvo on this... to meet with
    engineers... to explore possible causes. If they can prove to me how it
    was driver error, I'll happily thank them for educating me so the problem
    doesn't happen again. For me, it's about safety -- not ego. Not sure how
    Volvo feels here yet. I'm hopeful they'll share my position.

    I don't know why you find my reference to Audi "interesting." It was the
    only thing I could think of... that comes close to what I experienced TWICE
    the other evening. You suggest the Audi situation was a scam based on your
    experience and a conversation with your mechanic. Not sure if a study of
    two is statistically meaningful. You suggest 60 Minutes did a hatchet job
    on Audi. It wouldn't be the first time they sensationalized something for
    ratings. I hate the show. Can't stand the show or the reporters. Was the
    Audi story sensation or reality? I honestly don't know. I never saw that
    piece. Did you really consider suing 60 Minutes over the story? You must
    really have LOVED your Audi!

    My Volvo didn't accelerate to the point where it would have gone through a
    garage wall (at least not with my foot on the brake). But it did creep
    forward during the process. It would have rear-ended a car in front of me
    had there been one, or I would have crept far enough into the intersection
    to be T-boned by oncoming traffic -- thankfully there was none, or I would
    have hit a pedestrian in front of me if there had been one. Thankfully --
    this time -- no ill events. I don't want there to be "next time" where the
    outcome might be different. Wonder how Volvo feels? We'll see.

    Sean Reilly, Jan 28, 2005
  9. Sean Reilly

    Guest Guest

    The ECU on the S60 has an onboard "flight recorder", which stores items such
    as throttle position, power asked for and power provided, acceloronmeter,
    steering angle and brake switch information for the last (i think) 4hrs, so
    any funny business will be clearly shown on the download.

    Guest, Jan 28, 2005
  10. Sean Reilly

    Guest Guest

    I have just been out in a friends s60 2.0 T (180bhp) auto. By way of an
    experiement we tried full power with the brakes hard on whilst stationary
    for a couple of seconds.

    The brakes were able to hold the car stationary against full power of the
    engine. Note that this was after being at idle for abit so the brake servo
    was at full capacity- thus the brakes at their most effective.

    Had yoou not had full brake servo assistance you probably wouldnt have been
    able to hold the car on the brakes. If this was a T5 or such with more power
    than 180bhp you also may not have been able to hold it.

    Get back to the dealer and see what the flight recorder says....

    Guest, Jan 28, 2005
  11. The most noticeable feature of most "accelerated on its own" stories is that
    the car accelerates at full throttle, although the driver is pressing on the
    "brake" pedal as hard as possible, and the brakes do nothing. Since the
    brakes seem to work afterward and the likelihood of simultaneous total brake
    failure and throttle opening is nil, the inescapable conclusion is that the
    driver got on the accelerator pedal instead of the brake.

    That's what is different about this case. An unimpaired driver, waiting with
    his foot on the brake, is not very likely to accidentally slip his foot
    upward onto the accelerator and depress it fully without noticing,
    especially if (as described) the same foot is still on the brake and the
    brakes are fighting the acceleration. In addition, as described, the engine
    went from red line back to idle on its own. I've had foot confusion myself -
    when the brake went to the floor I thought I was on the clutch instead - and
    the mind focuses a lot on the pedals at times like that. The driver would
    definitely know if the engine idled down because he moved his foot.

    Barring some weird medical problem (I've heard of Alien Hand Syndrome - is
    this Alien Foot Syndrome?) the problem pretty much has to be in the throttle
    control system.

    Michael Pardee, Jan 28, 2005
  12. (snip...)

    there is only one country in this world in which cars suddenly accelerate
    while the driver hits the brakes: USA.
    And there is only one reason for that: you can easily earn billions of
    dollars for that in the USA. Any lawyer sees the dollar-signs in his eyes
    while fighting for "human rights" being destroyed by the bl***
    manufacturers. Coffee too hot: get 15 million from MCD***, ice to cold?
    get...... killed yourself your kid while misregarding a red traffic light
    and the kid was not using the safety belt? claim a "poorly designed lock....
    sorry...... this is not normal....

    All in all: I did not belive this self-accelerating stories and I do not
    belive in this story.

    Looking about the warnings in the recent manuals and on the sidewalls of my
    tires I have many thoughts and many doubts....

    Jürgen Schrader, Jan 29, 2005
  13. Sean Reilly

    Sean Reilly Guest

    I agree with you that law suits in the USA are out of control. Ridiculous.
    That is true. But, as I live in the USA, and I recognize this epidemic, I
    try to protect myself from becoming a victim of said law suits. For this
    reason, I went to Volvo with a problem I experienced. I don't believe it
    was driver error (twice in one night). I believe it was my car. Nobody got
    hurt. No law suit was filed. I reached out for help and advice. I'm
    trying to prevent both from happening in the future. I don't want anyone to
    get hurt and I don't want any kind of law suit from being filed (against me
    or against Volvo). In good faith, I took steps to prevent future injury or
    legal action. I have done my part to the very best of my ability. This is
    on the record. Now the matter is in Volvo's hands.

    For the record, I didn't post my experience to find out who believes about
    the events and who doesn't. Juergen, in all candor, I don't care what you
    believe about this situation or my country for that matter. I posted my
    experience merely to find out if any other Volvo customers ever experienced
    a similar situation.

    Sean Reilly, Jan 29, 2005
  14. Sean Reilly

    Sean Reilly Guest

    Thanks Tim. Sadly, my car isn't the T5 (which it were). I have not tried
    to do what you did only because I don't want to harm my transmission or
    brakes by putting that kind of stress on them.

    My car has 34,000 miles on it. I'm wondering if the car you tested had
    newer brake linings? Might that make a difference? Or, on the night I was
    driving it, there was snow all over (the roads were wet). Could wet
    pavement (and wet brakes) make a difference? If the brakes were wet, could
    they still hold the car?

    The car didn't go fast when it reved up, but it did creep.

    Sean Reilly, Jan 29, 2005
  15. Sean Reilly

    Sean Reilly Guest


    Took the car in two days after the event. I know I didn't drive for more
    than 4 hours between the event and the Volvo visit. They did "dump" the
    flight recorder and saw nothing unusual.

    Sean Reilly, Jan 29, 2005
  16. that would be for a jury to decide...in the usa, large payouts keeps
    honest...if it were not for financial loss...do you really think, for a
    min, co's
    would "do the right thing" in a capitalist environment...???
    ~^ beancounter ~^, Jan 30, 2005
  17. Sean Reilly

    Guest Guest

    Frankly if the brakes were not up to the job of holding the car against full
    power, or indeed performing a panick stop from..say 70mph withoout something
    breaking or bursting then i'd be worried.

    Warming up the torque converter is another thing, and I would not suggest
    you apply full power against a stationary transmission for more than
    3-4seconds (which in reality is along time) but for the purposes of an
    experiement or leaving the lights as quickly as possible it presents no
    danger, if done with mechanical sympathy etc.

    The car in question was a 2004 with 18,000miles on it, if the brakes are not
    worn out and the rear self adjusting mechanism is working properly then the
    braking performance of your car vs the one I used should have been very
    nearly the same- servo issues aside.

    Grip the tyres have against the road is also irrelevant (with a FWD car
    only) as all the braking power is applied to the front wheels, which on a
    FWD is where the engine power is applied to also- you could jack up the car,
    and remove the wheels and there would be no difference. Think about it.
    This is probably down to the car moving when you applied the brakes and the
    servo not being able to give you 100% assistance because the engine was not
    producing any vacuum to make the servo work..

    Guest, Jan 30, 2005
  18. I did a test on my own, with my BMW 530d A Touring. (193hp, 410NM torque).
    The brakes could easily hold the car with full throttle. Sure, I stopped the
    test after 4-5 secs to avoid damages in the automatic transmission. And in
    that, switching into N, or turnng the engine off is no problem. And compared
    to a 2.4 or 2.5T the diesel is by far much stronger.

    I read your stroy, but beliving in it: no.

    Jürgen Schrader, Feb 1, 2005
  19. Sean Reilly

    Rob Guenther Guest

    Maybe there is a cutoff when both pedals are applied? My Golf diesel will
    cut engine power if the brakes are on with the accelerator.

    But then again I saw a video where a Volvo V70 wagon was doing a brake stand
    (rear wheels locked, probably by parking brake) with the fronts burning into
    a cloud of smoke it only took off when the guy released the brake.
    Rob Guenther, Feb 2, 2005
  20. Sean Reilly

    Sean Reilly Guest


    When I posted my original question on the newsgroup, it was for one
    reason... Simply to find out if other Volvo owners had ever experienced
    anything like what I experienced? I wasn't looking for people to believe,
    or not believe, me. I wasn't looking to solicit political viewpoints about
    my country, or any other country for that matter. I didn't want to discuss
    the legal system in my country, or any other country. **All I wanted to
    know is if other Volvo owners had ever experienced something similar to what
    I experienced. **
    My experience was disconcerting (to say the least) and I was looking for
    information (one way or the other) so that I could take the best --
    educated -- approach as a follow-up to that bad experience.

    I'm not sure why you felt compelled to turn a simple question into something
    other than what I was asking for. I don't believe I signed on to a
    newsgroup called alt.politics.socialist or alt.autos.Nazi. I signed on to
    alt.autos.volvo -- which I expected to be a newsgroup that transcends
    political viewpoints or boarders and, instead, is a place where Volvo owners
    could gather input on their cars from other Volvo owners.

    You seem to be a self-proclaimed Volvo expert. Peachy for you. Volvo is
    sending a representative to look at my car on Thursday which I appreciate.
    Hopefully this will be good (and safe -- which I believe is what Volvo wants
    and certainly what I want) for all.

    Sean Reilly, Feb 2, 2005
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.