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?

carlk | 10 March 2019

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

jordanrichard | 10 March 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 March 2019

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

lifu119 | 10 March 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 March 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 March 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 March 2019

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

carlk | 10 March 2019

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

sosmerc | 10 March 2019

Have no fear, AI and FSD will save you !

carlk | 10 March 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 March 2019

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

carlk | 10 March 2019


jimglas | 10 March 2019


sosmerc | 10 March 2019

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

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

reed_lewis | 10 March 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 March 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 March 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 March 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.

lifu119 | 11 March 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 March 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 March 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 March 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 March 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 March 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 March 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 March 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 March 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 March 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.

rafamis | 2 January 2020

Well, you don't believe it until it happens to you.
As I was pulling forward into a parking spot , my model S 2015 launched. I was doing 5-7 mph, and it felt as if it accelerated to 10-12. Muscle memory immediately kicked in and I slammed my foot on the brake pedal - to NO Effect. The car stopped after it bumped a parked Chevy Equinox about 5 feet backwards and caused some front damage. My front bumper looks surprisingly less damaged than I expected.

I checked to see if the floor mat was sticking on the 'gas' pedal, but nope. it was perfectly laid down. It doesn't have autopilot, and cruise control was off. The car came off warranty 3 months back, and I had it serviced at the Charlotte Tesla shop less than 1 month ago due to the rear parking sensor going off on ghost obstacles. (which they charged $180.00 for and didn't fix. Adding insult to injury, they left the lugnuts on my front tires loose enough for them to start wobbling a few miles after riding off).

Believe what you will, but this was no user error. I intend to pursue this as far as it will go.

Neomaxizoomdweebie | 4 January 2020

Thanks rafamis. Sorry about your trading account.

sedrak.dalaloyan | 17 January 2020

Hi Everyone,

I think I feel something as well a few times, but I thought that its me probably. It always happened on the road, so I have time to figure out what is going on. Few times pushing break and acceleration fix the problem I guess, but I got very nervous whatever. I think its firmware issue probably. I'm driving 2016 Model S

mialink | 17 January 2020

Amazing how many spurious accounts of this popped up the day the NHTSA says they are looking into these claims.

I love the lengths the shorts go to spread FUD.

Harriscott | 17 January 2020

Shifting to neutral might help (it also cancels auto-pilot, if that happens to be on).

If this is a panic thing and you need to hit the brakes, *use both feet*. It could be enlightening.

I've had a couple minor unintended-acceleration incidents.probably due to accidentally engaging auto-pilot. Fortunately they were in a long driveway and I had plenty of time to ponder what was going on. It is harder to think/remember clearly when there is a garage door or person right in front of you.

GoldAK47 | 17 January 2020

"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."

1. Vehicle logs on several of them showed they were trying to stop vehicle
2. A top fuel dragster cannot hold back itself with brakes. Even 700hp cars with brembo brakes cannot hold it back. Drag cars use a transmission brake, which puts the vehicle in first and reverse at the same time....the "brakes" are not used at all because they cannot hold it. Just google runaway diesel trucks on a dyno.....the brakes will not even slow them down....they glow yellow hot and catch fire. You cannot hold these cars back with only brakes.
3. I agree, it shouldnt happen. But has. Even though you dont understand it. | 18 January 2020

@Gold -Without actually seeing the logs, I'm not sure I'd trust some random internet posting as to what the logs state. Maybe true, maybe not.

On #2, I had an Audi 5000, where the unintended thing first became a thing. This was due to a fake 60 minutes report where they secretly drilled holes in parts to show how it occurs, without stating on-air what they did. I tested it myself on my car with a fully depressed accelerator and then using the brake at the same time, it stops the car. The brakes that appear on cars are stronger than the motor. This is before the tech today to disable the acceleration if the brake pedal is touched as a secondary safety system.

I'm not sure dragsters are representative of cars, but I can see they are often one-off designs, not production cars that require meeting regulatory standards. Desiel trucks carrying 80,000 pounds going down a long hill is also a totally different scenario than a 5,000-pound car in a parking lot at low speeds.

One clue is the events are occurring when a combination of braking and acceleration is needed when moving slowly around a parking lot. Lots of chances for pedal misapplication. They never occur on the freeway.

Still, I can understand people not wanting to admit their error, and some being totally convinced they are right. The logs should help clarify it, but my guess when shown the logs, some will then shift to saying the logs are wrong and it some kind of conspiracy. Sad, but every carmaker has the same problem with a tiny percentage of owners.

andy.connor.e | 18 January 2020

Someone drove their Model X into the side of a building and blamed it on autopilot. The logs showed the accelerator was pushed to 100%. Good thing Tesla has the logs as evidence. Like having a dash cam. You can claim anything until evidence tells the real story.

blue adept | 19 January 2020


You could try deactivating your AP, or just making sure that you're stepping on the STOP pedal and not the GO pedal.

DonS | 20 January 2020

While I believe the logs that says drivers pressed on the accelerator, I also know that there is something peculiar in the pedal placement on my S that makes it extremely easy to catch both pedals. Yes, when the brake is pressed hard enough, it disables the accelerator, but I can see how drivers might panic. I've never bother to analyze exactly how the S pedals are unusual, but I know that catching both pedals has happens to me more often than the total of the dozen other cars I have had.
I do not think this falls into the category of a defect, but I do see some room for improvement.

PrescottRichard | 20 January 2020
blue adept | 20 January 2020

So it comes down to a matter of user error or someone looking to blame someone else for their mistake and/or a pay out and/or spread disinformation to generate negative press for Tesla...FUD'sters at it again.

crt6598 | 20 January 2020

Between Obstacle Aware Acceleration (OAA) and Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) the UI is fully prepared to stop the vehicle (or other action), in case of unintentional acceleration (by the human). Even without Autopilot engaged, these features are a 100 percent no fail (no matter the road/weather conditions).

As soon as the audible alerts initiate (probably even before then) on AEB, the UI already knows what to do, it is merely letting you (the human) know “I am prepared to make corrective/ collision avoidance measures”.

Recently M3’s AEB kicked in and stopped the car as it detected a sudden decrease in speed. This occured 3 cars ahead of me (in my lane) on a freeway exit ramp. The AEB determined that the current rate of speed and distance from the car ahead required intervention, as such it applied the brakes, stopping the car before the car even ahead of me came to a full stop.

OAA is basically negates accelerator input. In the event the human does not realize the wrong pedal is being applied, the UI then detects an object (either ahead or behind) and negates acceleration, making the accelerator “feel mushy”, thereby letting the human realize the brake is not being applied.

These cars are already designed for autonomous use, the UI and all the cameras and sensors work, period. There are thousands of calculations occurring every second.

To those who claim acceleration by the vehicle “by itself”, I would say anything is possible, but not probable. The UI is constantly computing and learning from everything on the road, (and likely even computes the human’s driving habits/likely reactive time) making unforeseen events an extremely rare occurrence.

Elon has surely put forth products that pose a question sooner than most humans were prepared to answer: can a machine drive better, safer, and do it more efficiently than a human can?.

Well if it is always safe, ready, and attentive, and not sleepy, tired, distracted, road ragey, or in a hurry, then the answer in my opinion is a resounding yes.

GoldAK47 | 21 January 2020

I have no doubt some cars can hold themselves back with brakes. These cars cannot. Diesel trucks have bigger brakes, rated for more stopping power. They cannot hold themselves back. These cars have toque and HP exceeding the diesel trucks. Gas cars make very little horsepower at low RPM, so you were holding back probably 50hp. Not even in the same ballpark as these cars. I own 3 dynos. I can guarantee you cannot hold these cars back with brakes.

heres an example.
skip to 1:45
Watch brakes try to stop it.

GoldAK47 | 21 January 2020

Yes, what you are describing is fail safes to keep it from happening. But when a sensor fails, and looks normal to the knows nothing is wrong. This situation already crashed airplanes with redundant systems. Why not a new car company pushing the limits of tech?

Is it likely? Absolutely not. Its a very robust system (obvioulsy a very rare situation)
Is it possible? Absolutely.

andy.connor.e | 21 January 2020

Its more likely that @GoldAK47 is manufacturing fear, doubt and uncertainty. Regardless of the fact that Tesla has and owns all the data for every car on the road and has confirmed car longs with NHTSA. But just keep talking about how it "could" "possible" "if" "maybe" "perhaps". | 21 January 2020

@Gold - Are you aware of production cars that brakes can't stop the car? I'm not talking about vehicles people modify after the factory - who may add dramatic engine power without upgrading the brakes. I'm not as familiar with diesel either, so these may be the exception. Luckily Tesla makes no diesel vehicles.

TabascoGuy | 21 January 2020

"We investigate every single incident where the driver alleges to us that their vehicle accelerated contrary to their input, and in every case where we had the vehicle’s data, we confirmed that the car operated as designed."

Mike83 | 21 January 2020

I think a blood test for drugs or alcohol for the driver might resolve the issue.