TMC is an independent, primarily volunteer organization that relies on ad revenue to cover its operating costs. Please consider whitelisting TMC on your ad blocker or making a Paypal contribution here: paypal.me/SupportTMC

Anton Yelchin's all too predictable "freak accident"

Discussion in 'Cars and Transportation' started by tonybelding, Jun 20, 2016.

  1. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2006
    Messages:
    1,091
    Location:
    Hamilton, Texas
    Like everyone else, I was shocked when I heard about Anton Yelchin being killed in a "freak accident" in which his car rolled back and crushed him against an iron gate. It seemed bizarre. How does that happen?

    Today I learned that the car was a Jeep Grand Cherokee -- just like mine -- and the light bulb came on, and suddenly it all made sense. I've been living with this vehicle for well over a year, and I'm painfully aware of how its shifter functions. It's an incredibly stupid design.

    Basically you have a shifter stalk with PRND indicator lights on top of the knob. The knob doesn't move like a normal shifter. It's more like a two-way joystick that you nudge forward or backward to move the shift indicator in that direction, then the stick bounces back to its center position. Which means: the indicator light on top of the knob is your only way to tell what gear it actually ended up in -- unless the sun is shining into the cabin, in which case the light isn't really visible and you are left with no clue.

    So, basically, to put it into park: Grab the shifter and nudge it forward two or three times, then shade the knob with your hand so you can see whether it actually went into park or not.

    Looking at the photos of Anton's sloped driveway and the gate and brick columns there, the "freak accident" seems a lot less freaky and a lot more like an accident waiting to happen with this vehicle.

    Today when I was backing out from the hardware store: I grabbed the shifter and nudged it back, then shaded it with my hand and saw it had jumped past R and landed on N. Then I had to jiggle-and-shade it a couple more times before it ended up in the gear I wanted. That's standard operating procedure for this wretched thing.

    I've received the recall notices, but -- unfortunately -- that's all they are: notices. They're telling me that there's going to be a recall to fix it, someday, eventually, whenever they figure out how to fix it.

    But what about the parking brake? Shouldn't Anton have had his parking brake on? Well. . . Obviously I can't speak for him, but I've practically given up using mine. The parking brake indicator is minimal and easy to overlook, with the result that several times I've found myself driving around town with the brake on, burning up the brakes, and didn't even know it. After a while it's easier to just not use the damned thing.

    And I find myself wondering. . . What in the world were they thinking at FCA when they designed this piece of garbage? I mean, what was the process that led to this weird design, and how did it ever get approved for production? What were they trying to accomplish? I have no idea. It couldn't have saved them any money, even. You'd thing they've been in business long enough by now to figure out how do make a shifter, wouldn't you?

    BY COMPARISON, my Tesla Roadster has a push-button shifter that is utterly foolproof, and a hand brake right next to it that is impossible to overlook. It's mind-boggling that a startup car company with their first model can come up with something so functional, while a company with the size, history and experience of FCA is putting out a design that makes no sense whatsoever, and is dangerous too.
     
    • Informative x 9
    • Love x 1
  2. msnow

    msnow Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2015
    Messages:
    4,257
    Location:
    SoCal
    Can you post a picture of what it looks like?
     
  3. stopcrazypp

    stopcrazypp Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2007
    Messages:
    7,050
    I'm reading the articles and trying to understand how the shifter works. To get it in park for example, do you toggle the shifter three times to get it in park? Or do you hold it forward until it changes to park? From what I hear, it seems like the latter.

    People basically don't hold it forward long enough and think they are in park, but instead they are in neutral, which seems like it is a fairly easy mistake to make.
     
  4. Ryan MF

    Ryan MF Member

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2015
    Messages:
    146
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Tony, If Anton Yelchin did have the same car with these shifter issues this should really be published more broadly. Sometimes it take public pressure to force a company to make things right. Maybe an article submitted to an online new site or blog?
     
  5. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2006
    Messages:
    1,091
    Location:
    Hamilton, Texas
    It works by nudging or bumping it. A short nudge will move it one position, and a slightly longer nudge will move it two positions, and an even longer and harder nudge will move it all the way to the end. Also, a *very* short nudge will often fail to move it at all, and a *very* long nudge will move it to the end and then "bounce" back to some other position. Which means, if you don't have a perfectly calibrated hand (which I certainly don't have), you basically are going to end up in a random gear every time you use it, and you'll often end up having to nudge it back and forth several times to get it wherever you actually want it.
     
  6. Az_Rael

    Az_Rael Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2016
    Messages:
    1,241
    Location:
    Palmdale, CA
    • Informative x 1
  7. GoTslaGo

    GoTslaGo Learning Member

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2015
    Messages:
    1,461
    Location:
    NV
  8. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2013
    Messages:
    10,376
    Location:
    San Mateo, CA
    Tony, thanks for posting. I understand your description of how the incredibly poorly designed shifter works, but isn't there a clear indication in the dash instrument cluster of what gear the car is in? (Like the Roadster and Model S/X and a thousand other car models have)

    Is the only indication the small lighted letters on top of the shifter knob?
     
  9. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2006
    Messages:
    1,091
    Location:
    Hamilton, Texas
    Yes, it also shows up on the dash, if you think to look over there instead of where your hand is actually doing the shifting at. Although, the indicator on the dash can also be obscured by the steering wheel from some angles, and depending on its position.

    Personally. . . I look at the shifter when I'm shifting, and I look at the dash when I'm driving down the highway. (Often because I'm trying to figure out whether I've accidentally put it into "sport mode", which is done by nudging the shifter rearward when it's already in D, or because I'm trying to see if I've accidentally activated manual paddle shifting by bumping one of the paddles while making a turn!)
     
  10. Johan

    Johan Took a TSLA bear test. Came back negative.

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2012
    Messages:
    6,890
    Location:
    Drammen, Norway
    I agree the design is silly and is not unlikely partly at fault for his tragic death. One has to wonder though that if the car was on a slope wouldn't it start to roll backwards the moment he took his foot of the brake (assuming the parking brake was disengaged)? Like was suggested in the "ICE cars are dangerous" thread by GoTeslaGo perhaps this is what happened, and he panicked and instinctively got behind the car to try to stop it from rolling further, not thinking straight (i.e. somehow thinking he would be strong enough to hold/stop the car)?
     
  11. CmdrThor

    CmdrThor Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2013
    Messages:
    861
    Location:
    Marietta, GA
    After reading the article I was curious what would happen in Model X if I left it in neutral and exited the vehicle. I'm sure it's been mentioned ad nauseam in other threads but thankfully the moment I opened the driver door the car shifted into park. *phew*
     
  12. Boourns

    Boourns Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2016
    Messages:
    664
    Location:
    Dallas
    ^ Yep. Seems like Tesla has the best solution to this potential problem. Car automatically goes into park and engages parking brake if the driver leaves the car. Have a separate tow mode that requires several steps to engage.
     
    • Like x 2
    • Informative x 1
  13. hockeythug

    hockeythug Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2013
    Messages:
    1,499
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Seems like an no brainer for any new car regardless of what type of shifter it has.
     
  14. mczajka

    mczajka Member

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2011
    Messages:
    160
    Location:
    Waldorf, MD
  15. Boourns

    Boourns Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2016
    Messages:
    664
    Location:
    Dallas
    I think I read today that the Jeep has one of those manual foot pedal parking brakes so it couldn't be automatically engaged.
     
  16. derekt75

    derekt75 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2012
    Messages:
    592
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Although it's frustrating when you lift your butt off of the seat in the car wash to take your phone out and the car switches into park.
     
  17. Spidy

    Spidy Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2015
    Messages:
    777
    Location:
    Germany
    But that's the emergency brake not just putting the car into P. At least with Mercedes those are two different things.
     

Share This Page