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Chances are, you’ve never experienced this situation yourself. In fact, a car’s gas pedal getting stuck isn’t very common. But when it does happen? It can make for a pretty frightening and unsafe experience. In just seconds, your vehicle can accelerate to high speeds and become unresponsive to you hitting the brakes. The good news is that there are a few quick steps you can take to ensure your safety if your car’s gas pedal is stuck.

What causes a car’s gas pedal to get stuck?

A speedometer showing 120 mph
Speedometer | Oliver Berg/picture alliance via Getty Images

Stuck gas pedals are rare. But when it comes to what causes a car’s gas pedal to get stuck, there could actually be a couple of reasons. First, Fix Auto reports, a stuck gas pedal could point to human error. Such an error could be as simple as one of your car’s floor mats getting wedged under the car’s accelerator pedal. 

Misplaced floormats aren’t the only reason a car’s gas pedal might get stuck. In fact, BreakerLink reports that a stuck gas pedal could also mean a faulty throttle. If you find that your car’s accelerator pedal is getting stuck or if the car’s speed picks up in irregular bursts, you may want to check in with your local mechanic before getting behind the wheel again, reports BreakerLink.

What do you do if your accelerator pedal gets stuck?

Now, say you do find yourself behind the wheel and your car’s gas pedal gets stuck. While the situation is both dangerous and frightening, State Farm does have a few quick steps you can take if your car’s gas pedal sticks. First and foremost, try to stay calm and not panic. While that’s likely easier said than done, staying calm in such a situation is beneficial.

Next, try pushing the brake down. Use both feet and hold the brake down as firmly as possible. Don’t, however, pump the brake pedal or release it. As State Farm explains, doing so could cause your car’s brakes to become stiff. Once you’ve applied the brakes, try shifting your vehicle into neutral. State Farm says to depress the clutch and shift gears if you own a car with a manual transmission.

Once your car is in neutral, begin looking for a safe place to pull over your vehicle. This could be a hard shoulder on the highway or even an empty parking lot. Be sure to avoid any quick lane changes, however. Doing so could cause your vehicle to swerve and even crash, State Farm reports.

After you’ve come to a complete stop and are out of the way of traffic, turn your car’s engine off. Once your car has been turned off, inspect your vehicle to be sure a stuck floor mat didn’t cause the issue. If your accelerator is clear of floor mats, State Farm recommends not driving your vehicle until a mechanic has checked it out. 

A stuck gas pedal is a dangerous problem

The brake and accelerator pedals of a used Toyota Prius automobile are seen at a dealership
Gas pedal. | Jochen Eckel/Bloomberg

The Easiest Car Maintenance Tasks You Should Know How To Do

While a car’s gas pedal getting stuck is rare, it is the kind of car problem that you should be prepared for. After all, a car with a stuck gas pedal is a dangerous problem and could result in a crash. The good news is that understanding why and how to fix this problem can help you stay calm, should you have to deal with a stuck gas pedal yourself.