My family has owned Japanese cars since I was in high school – particularly Toyotas – because they were reliable, relatively inexpensive, and in no way because I was dating our local Toyota dealer’s daughter. The family joke’s always been that the only way you could stop a Toyota was to shoot it in the engine block with an elephant gun. Turns out we were right.
There’s a lot of hysteria in the news over the Toyota sticky gas pedal problem, but I don’t share it for a few reasons that are actually pretty obvious if you stop beating your breast and think for a second. First off, yes: the idea of a car that accelerates out of control sounds scary, but let’s take a deep breath and remember that we’re not talking about a Ferrari Enzo here: it’s a Toyota Carolla.
A Carolla can accelerate from zero to sixty in about nine seconds… provided you just pushed it out the back of a cargo plane. A “speeding Carolla” is pretty much the same as, say, a “Navy SEAL with an inner ear infection”, or a “ninja with spina bifida” – a nifty trick of the English language where a scary-sounding phrase is completely negated by the second clause.
If the gas pedal on a Carolla gets stuck, even at full throttle in high gear going downhill with a trunkload of cinder blocks, we’re not exactly looking at a warp core breach or a China Syndrome situation. At worst, the engine throws an annoying mosquito whine, and maybe you aim at the squirrel to chock your tires and bring the car to a stop… assuming you can’t think of the five different ways you can bring a car to a stop that leaped into my head in the time it took to type the ellipses at the end of the last sentence.
(Actually I just thought of a sixth, but being a science fan, I’d personally try the brake pedal, parking brake, throwing the transmission into park or neutral, or turning the engine off before I bet my life on “fervent prayer.” But that’s me; your mileage may vary… but it will stop when you plow into the tree.)
Second: sure; I can see how the idea of a car with a gas pedal that doesn’t do what you expect is scary, but it doesn’t deserve this kind of press coverage. After all, American cars have had a similar yet inverse problem for 25 years: after driving them for a while, nothing happens when you step on the gas. Because the fucking things have broken down.
I’ve owned three American cars, all because I was a part of a great American tradition: abject poverty. Each time, I would’ve bought Japanese or German cars, but they were more expensive for some reason. That reason being they worked.
My first car in high school was an 1978 Ford Fairmount that was eight years old with 50,000 miles on it. Literally the first time I drove it, on the day I got my driver’s license, it broke down three-quarters of a mile from my house. The mechanic told me that the problem was the alternator. Three weeks later he told me it was the flywheel. A month later he told me it was the head gasket. Two weeks and 10 quarts of oil after that, he told me it was a cracked engine block. My car apparently had malignant, virulent, metastatic cancer, like James Caan in Brian’s Song… provided Jimmy stole Billy Dee’s wallet, fucked his wife and shit burnt oil all over his fucking driveway before he died.
My last American car – a 1987 Plymouth Colt – sealed the deal on never buying another American car when the timing belt blew… a month after I’d brought the car in to get the timing belt replaced. Funny story: it turns out that the 1987 Plymouth Colt required two timing belts. On a four-cylinder engine. Why? I presume because American automobile engineers can’t count to fucking four without considerable additional mechanical assistance.
Anyway. Since I graduated college, I have never owned any car that wasn’t Japanese, and while they have had their problems, on their worst day they were still cheaper and more reliable than my best day in an American car. So if the worst thing you have to worry about in a Toyota is that the gas pedal is sticky, you shouldn’t panic; you should get down on your knees and thank God that you have the option of buying a car where that’s the only thing wrong with it.
And you should be positively gleeful that Toyota’s doing another recall due to apparent brake failures in those Goddamned fucking Priuses.
Yup, now people are complaining that the brakes on the hybrid Pruis are sometimes not as responsive as they would like. Which sounds, at face value, like a manufacturing defect, but stop and think for a minute: unlike in a normal gas-powered car, the brakes in a Prius need to stop a car with two completely seperate – and heavy – power plants. Which is a job in and of itself, but it must become nearly impossible when you also add in the size and weight of the generally huge and overinflated egos of your average self-satisfied shiteating Prius owner.
You see them about every third Prius you pass while you’re driving: a big “Support Local Farmers” bumper sticker, and a vanity plate that reads something like “GAS-SIPR” or “GRN-ERTH” or “50-MPG” just to hammer home that they’re saving the world by using 30 percent less gas than most drivers, regardless of the fact that they’re also using 100 percent more neutron bomb-ready cobalt and highly-caustic lithium hydroxide (To be fair, the lithium hydroxide only happens when the battery’s lithium is exposed to rare and uncommon compounds such as water). If these holier-than-thou cocksuckers wanted to practice truth in advertising, they’d return the “50-MPG” plate and swap it for one reading “PH-14″ as a gentle reminder that while you’re wasting gasoline, they’re in a car loaded with a powerful corrosive that will splash across the backs of their necks when their fucking brakes fail.
Thankfully, all of this affects me not at all, because a few months ago I sold my old Toyota and bought myself an environmentally-friendly and safe Honda. It is environmentally friendly because it is a hot-rod red S2000 with more than 250 horsepower that goes zero to sixty in just over five seconds. Yes, it sucks high-test gasoline like a fat man at a milkshake bar, but it helps the environment by shitting pure awesome, making the world a better place just by being in it. It has so much low-end torque that it requires something called Vehicle Stability Assist, and when I turn it off, a big orange light turns on the dashboard in the international symbol for, “If you try to drive the car like this, you are probably going to die”. Therefore, I leave it on, meaning it is safe.
And unlike you suckers in Carollas, Priuses and shitty Detroit rolling iron, I don’t give a fuck if the gas pedal sticks or the brakes fail. Because I already intend to be buried in this car.