Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cruising down the highway...

I drove to Eastern Iowa today and just past Webster City I set the cruise control. It slipped up to 72 and it was a little frosty out for that so I touched the brakes to turn off the cruise. I was planning to let it slow down to 65 and stick to the speed limit until I got a better feel for the road.

The car slowed to 70, and then inched back up to 72.

Weird. I thought I'd turned off the cruise with the brake. Maybe I didn't hit the brake enough.

Apply brake again. Pam, mother-in-lawish type, beside me adjusted herself in the seat a bit for comfort.

The car slowed to 67 and then, inched back up to 72.

Shit.

I turned off the cruise by reaching up to switch off the after-market cruise control I've had on the car since I got it and used with great success for 80,000 miles over the past 3 years.

The car maintained 72 miles per hour.

Shit.

I put on the brake again and pushed in the clutch. The car slowed, but the engine revved waaaay up. Crap! My foot wasn't on the gas at all!

The cruise was stuck on. I was in fifth gear going 72 miles an hour on potentially icy roads... and Pam was with me... she's not a fan of the driving anomalies. In fact, she can be a real wreck when things go awry. She wasn't too keen on my check engine light coming on before we got out of town (Coolant temp too low. I need to replace the thermostat, known problem.) truth be told.

So, deciding this wasn't safe, and not an auspicious start to a 4 hour drive (one way) just 30 minutes out, I applied the brakes and dropped down to 35mph before pulling off to the shoulder and putting in the clutch. The car immediately red-lined at like a zillion RPM and I switched it off. I didn't want to do that too soon, I'd lose power steering when I turned it off. I'd prefer to do that when the car is aimed the right direction. Pam now can't help but notice something is up. "OH!" She says as we coast to a stop.

"The cruise control wouldn't shut off." I said as we sat for a few seconds, the smell of burning engine juices of some sort wafting into the engine compartment. "I washed the car last night. It probably got ice on something."

I started the car with my foot on the brake and clutch, ready to turn it off if I got runaway engine sounds. They didn't reoccur so we finished the trip without cruise control. I called my mechanic a few hours later and asked him if that was possible and he said it was. I should be fine though after things warmed up. I didn't test it again yet. I'll try it later, somewhere safe, close to his shop, and at a slower speed.

Meanwhile, we got there and back again OK and without any further excitement. Her comment, "You're so calm during this stuff." I was calm when I ran over the deer and drove around the one standing in the road too. (I did NOT veer around it. I steered around it. The difference is I never lost control of the car, oversteered, or didn't know where I was going. I'm an excellent driver, seriously.)
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