What to do if Tesla accelerate by itself? Will shifting to neutral help?

What to do if Tesla accelerate by itself? Will shifting to neutral help?

Just saw the above news that a model S drove into a river by itself. Driver claims that it accelerated by itself. Just wonder what to do if this really happens to myself. Has anyone tried to shift to nautral manually during driving? Does it disengage the acceleration just like an "ICE" car? Mine is M3, but I guess all models should work in the same way?

dorisxian | 10. März 2019
carlk | 10. März 2019

Take your foot off the accelerator. That's all it is.

jordanrichard | 10. März 2019

Huge problem with that guys story. He said he kept applying the brakes as he pull into the charger. One wouldn’t be constantly having to use the brakes approaching a charger.

TranzNDance | 10. März 2019

Hit the brakes and make sure the foot is on the brakes pedal and not the accelerator.

dorisxian | 10. März 2019

I'm accurately thinking more. Given that everything in Tesla is controlled by computer, we may allow the computer to go wrong just one time out of a million. Just want to know how to save myself if a impossible really happens. Depending on the brake only may not work since we all know how strong power our car has. I have seen somewhere people try to switch into neutral while driving. Not sure if it really works. If it does, I guess this will be the move to take if things go wrong. I will try next time when I drive. Will update. | 10. März 2019

Brakes are more powerful than the motor. While it will take longer to stop, you should be able to stop the car with brakes, even if the motor was engaged. This is true of all cars, including old ICE cars.

Sound like a classic case of "I'm pressed the brake as hard as I could and it keep accelerating" (because they are pressing the accelerator not the brake). Happens from time to time in all cars and people refuse to believe they are pressing the wrong pedal under a stressful situation of their own making.

So options include:
1) Press brake
2) Release accelerator
3) Go into neutral
4) Apply parking brake (requires several screen taps)

sosmerc | 10. März 2019

It will be interesting to see if Tesla, after analyzing whatever data they can get from that car, will reveal their findings.
I am sure if their is an issue or improvement needed they will work on it. Remember back when AUDI had issues with some of their cars suddenly accelerating due to an issue with the cruise control (I believe). It was serious enough that there were lawsuits, recalls, etc. and their resale value plummeted similar to Ford Explorers after their rollover incidents.
It should not be that surprising with all of the high tech in today's cars and planes that the unexpected happens. At the moment I might be reluctant to be riding on one of the latest Boeing 737's.

sosmerc | 10. März 2019

I should also have added that I would have "no fear" if @carlk were at the controls :)........

carlk | 10. März 2019

On the other hand I would have fear if some morons are driving the car.

sosmerc | 10. März 2019

Have no fear, AI and FSD will save you !

carlk | 10. März 2019

True. It's all over the news if autopilot got into an accident. Stupid people do that everyday you never hear it mentioned.

sosmerc | 10. März 2019

Have also heard that floormats can be dangerous....just ask Toyota :)............

carlk | 10. März 2019


jimglas | 10. März 2019


sosmerc | 10. März 2019

It's not FUD.....just Google Toyota floormat issues...... | 10. März 2019

@sosmerc - on the Audi 5000, it was proven to be user error and nothing wrong with the car (I actually had an Audi 5000). 60 Minutes did a hit piece on the car and drilled holes into it (without telling viewers) to show it might happen. One of the worse 60 minute segments, when it came out later how they faked the events shown.

When it all came out, I even proved to myself that you can floor the accelerator and then use the brake at the same time to stop the car. Probably wasn't great to do that, but it was very clear to me that anyone claiming they were pressing the brake and accelerating, were pressing the wrong pedal. Brakes are incredibly strong.

Some people refuse to believe they did something wrong and/or want to place blame on someone else hoping to get a big payday. Rather sad. | 10. März 2019

I agree, the Toyota floor mat issue was a real issue, one quite different than others reported here.

reed_lewis | 10. März 2019

Tesla will pull the data from the car, and I would be willing to bet that the idiot was pressing the accelerator instead of the brake. This happens all the time. And then there will be the questions about why does the car accelerate when the accelerator is pressed even if it going to hit something.

sosmerc | 10. März 2019

All I can say is that stuff happens and news travels fast (not always correctly covered or reported) and there are consequences. I know that Audi 5000 values dropped as a result of the issue and there were class actions, etc, etc.
Tesla is in the spotlight (sometimes good, sometimes bad) and when these unfortunate incidents happen Tesla gets front page treatment. GM to this day still gets a lot of hate over the way they handled their faulty key switch issue. Maybe they deserve it, I can't say. All I know is that my 2017 Volt has been awesome so far and that tells me that GM is capable of doing some things right. Tesla is cutting edge and some of the edges are still getting smoothed out. There will be ups and downs and just want them to keep the eye on the ball and stay profitable. If the only way to do it is to build high end, lower volume cars that is fine with me. They are still creating the interest to lead others in the right direction.

sosmerc | 10. März 2019

Just FYI but, Audi did recall 250,000 cars because they felt they had an issue they needed to deal with. (at that time they were using some kind of "fly by wire" throttle system and a faulty idle stabilizer system was determined to be part of the sudden acceleration issue). What's is cool about Tesla is that they can make significant adjustments via over the air software changes to solve many issues. It is going to be interesting to see what if anything they will do to address this POTENTIAL issue. They have access to data that we don't.

MilesMD88 | 10. März 2019

Use “creep mode” to back into spaces if your not comfortable with car yet or the space is tight. This mode allows you to ride the brake only and not touch throttle.

dorisxian | 11. März 2019

God bless those who lost in the terrible Boeing crash. I still trust Tesla autopilot a lot and use it a lot. I probably had gone too crazy imagining my car went totally crazy by itself. But I mean who knows for sure that this never happens? It is also the same to the ICE car that one could accelerate by itself for some reasons. My point is definitely not dissing Tesla or anything close to it. My point is that at the end ourselves are the ones we could 100% trust, we take over control when things goes wrong. So I hope to figure out the right way to do it when I need. I hope I never have to do so.
For the guy in the news, I start to believe that he hit the acceleration pedal.

DanFoster1 | 11. März 2019

1) “Unintended acceleration” is bullshit. The vehicle log will show that every one of these idiots had his foot on the go pedal.

2) Look up top fuel drag racing on YouTube; watch the brakes hold the car still while the driver prepares a “brake-torque launch.” Those cars develop ~7,400 foot-pounds of torque. Brakes always win.

3) “Unintended acceleration” is bullshit.

johnse | 12. März 2019

Brakes *in good condition* always win :)

Seriously, there have been very few verified unintended acceleration (UA) incidents in auto history.

* one maker (Toyota?) had issues where corrosion could cause problems with the controller.
* one situation was due to the accelerator position sensor (in a throttle-by-wire) scenario read incorrectly. Standard practice now is that there are two, separate sensors that read in reverse directions. If these are not properly complementary readings, the computers detect this as a fault.

Most of the claims of UA were user error.

In the Tesla, ALL forms of acceleration control are electronic and computer controlled...except the brake pedal that is mechanically connected to the hydraulic system. Even the parking brake is computer controlled. So if you are worried about a computer glitch causing UA, stand on your brakes. Since they are not used as much as on ICE vehicles, they will be in good condition and WILL stop your car.

And, by the way, if the brake and accelerator are both pressed...the computer cuts power to the motor, and you get a warning chime and a message on the screen telling you they are both pressed.

sosmerc | 12. März 2019

There's a humorous tv commercial where the customer is asking the brake mechanic about the quality of his work, and the mechanic answers, not to worry as "something" will always stop the vehicle !

DonS | 12. März 2019

I agree it is almost for sure driver error. That being said, pedal heights on the Model S are not well engineered, making this easy to do. I've learned to quickly adjust when I hit both pedals, but I've never had this issue with any other car.

carlk | 13. März 2019


Nothing is 100% safe for sure. That said I still trust the car much more so than I trust the average driver. Matter of fact I don't trust the average driver at all. | 13. März 2019

@DonS - Strange - in 6+ years on the forums, I don't recall a single complaint about the pedal heights. I've never noticed any difference from many other cars I've driven. Perhaps you have your seat is positioned poorly? Only other thing I can think of if you have a body size that is far from the norm. You might try measuring the pedal heights and compare it with other cars. I've gone all EV only now, so no other cars in my garage to do the measurement myself.

sosmerc | 13. März 2019

Perhaps adjustable pedals is a feature that some would appreciate. I had them on my F-150 SuperCrew and I think I used them exactly once.....but if the vehicle was being driven by a number of other family members or workers, I can see where that feature might be useful. I had actually forgotten about that feature on my Ford.

Pricee2 | 13. März 2019

My experience with my 2013 MS is that the car will shift into N whether you are accelerating, stopping or using cruise control. Pushing and HOLDING the parking button on the end of the gear selector will engage the parking brake no matter what gear you are in or if you are pushing on the accelerator.

jeff d | 14. März 2019

I've asked about a "kill switch", but I haven't got an answer yet.
A couple of thoughts on this...
First, It's not wise to assume there are no problems. These systems were made by people and people make mistakes all the time.

Those that say to just take your foot off the accelerator... you obviously don't understand this is a drive by wire system, taking your foot off of a pedal may have zero effect. Control systems are designed to reach an operational point and then stay there. If something goes wrong, the car may just be doing what it believes it was told to do.

The parking brake option may or may not work depending on if the electrical system is compromised. But this may be our best bet!!!

Why are the brake lights on in the photo of them on the roof? If vehicle hold was engaged it means they had their WTF moment, figured out how to get out, got out and onto the roof, and stood around taking photos before the switch into park?

Did the driver accidently engaged cruise control, Overtake acceleration or similar? I'm not sure how easy it's to do on the S. I've accidently doe this in the 3 but my foot is always on the brake when shifting.

Saw this in the S manual:
Warning: If you have purchased the optional Enhanced Autopilot or Full SelfDriving Capability packages and TrafficAware Cruise Control is active, engaging a turn signal can cause Model S to accelerate when using Traffic-Aware Cruise Control in specific situations (see Overtake Acceleration on page 86).
Warning: If you have purchased the optional Enhanced Autopilot or Full SelfDriving Capability packages and Autosteer is active, engaging a turn signal may cause Model S to change lanes.