back to article Chevy Bolt electric car came alive, reversed into my workbench, says stunned bloke

The future of self-driving cars is already with us – although maybe not in the way we had hoped. The owner of a Chevy Bolt claims that his car randomly turned itself on, put itself into reverse, and crashed into the workbench at the back of his garage. Writing on a Bolt owners' forum, user SoCalif told other Bolt owners to be …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Odd belief

    "(there is an odd belief among many Americans that putting on a parking brake is bad for your car)"

    Not all that odd, considering they drive automatic. If they're too dumb to switch gears, they're probably also too dumb to loosen the parking brake when starting the car...

    1. tony trolle

      Re: Odd belief

      Automatics because hard to drink coffee, eat donut, steer AND change gear

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Odd belief

        and text, and swat the kids in the back, and put on makeup, and read a paperback...

        1. noominy.noom

          Re: Odd belief

          Where I grew up, we mostly had manual trans. But...it was hard to smoke a fag, drink a beer and cop a feel while trying to steer and shift. Usually you talked the date into doing the steering or the shifting.

          1. Steve the Cynic

            Re: Odd belief

            Pfft. I remember my first driving test, in Endicott, NY. I used my dad's car, with a manual transmission, and was slightly distressed at having to handle turns at intersections with one hand out the window showing I knew hand turn signals, the other hand working the transmission, and the other other hand holding the steering wheel.

            See, I was born with a terrible deformity.

            I have only two hands.

            (Yes, I know. It's a joke.)

            1. sisk

              Re: Odd belief

              Pfft. I remember my first driving test, in Endicott, NY. I used my dad's car, with a manual transmission, and was slightly distressed at having to handle turns at intersections with one hand out the window showing I knew hand turn signals, the other hand working the transmission, and the other other hand holding the steering wheel.

              On the gripping hand, at least you passed your test.

      2. Spudley

        Re: Odd belief

        Automatics because hard to drink coffee, eat donut, steer AND change gear

        Yes, but if you don't have a gear stick, where are you supposed to put your donut while you're sipping the coffee?

      3. roytrubshaw
        Trollface

        Re: Odd belief

        "Automatics because hard to drink coffee, eat donut, steer AND change gear"

        Don't forget answering the 'phone and texting!

        That said I've never seen the point of doing more work than necessary and my VW DSG can change gear in milliseconds, so why should I muck about being all macho and insisting on a manual? (OK in this case it's pretty much just a manual with an automatic clutch (or two), but my previous cars have all been traditional automatics and there was nothing more satisfying than leaving a manual driving adversary-- sorry fellow driver in the next lane, in the dust at traffic lights - I defy your average driver of a manual car to outperform pretty much any automatic gearbox equipped car driven in "kickdown"!).

        Meanwhile was there an earthquake on the night in question?

        BTW I am a Brit. and I don't bother with the handbrake either, when the car is in "Park" and the ground is flat.

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Odd belief

      Ever tried to get a car moving after the break cables have frozen solid? A HUGE chunk of USA has high humidity and temperatures in the -10 or lower zone in winter. Even if there is snow if you east coast humidity _AND_ unprotected break cables you can have quite a bit of fun.

      Now, the fact that the rather sane habit of not using the handbrake in _WINTER_ has spread to the southern USA and has become a standard in summer is indeed quite dumb. So is unfortunately the design of having a significant part of the break cables completely unprotected under the car.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Odd belief

        "Ever tried to get a car moving after the break cables have frozen solid? A HUGE chunk of USA has high humidity and temperatures in the -10 or lower zone in winter. Even if there is snow if you east coast humidity _AND_ unprotected break cables you can have quite a bit of fun."

        Sounds like the wrong solution. The right solution would be to stop the water getting in in the first place,or heaters. For instance, I've never heard of handbrakes on Japanese or German or Swedish cars freezing up.

        Getting things like that right is what made the Japanese manufacturers so successful. In the UK it was considered normal that it would be hard to start a car on a cold damp morning. Then along came the Japanese and showed that cars could be easy to start, and we were amazed. And the UK manufacturers went bust.

        1. CCCP

          Re: Odd belief

          @AC

          No, and no. Freezing handbrake does happen in the wrong conditions.

          Eight years ago my Saab 9-3 was stuck at the train station because of -5C or maybe lower. In desperation I peed on the calipers and it worked! Wife was disgusted (maybe because it's way harder for a lady).

        2. Useless User

          Re: Odd belief

          "I've never heard of handbrakes on Japanese or German or Swedish cars freezing up"

          Well, isn't it most peculiar that sudden <insert car related function here> or IKEA shelves falling over or people scorching their fingers on coffee-cups or microwaves setting houses ablaze only ever seem to happen in the U.S.?

          I wonder why that is...

      2. Jim Mitchell

        Re: Odd belief

        I had a seized rear brake caliper on my RWD car. Just drove it down to get serviced, the wheel was rather hot after the 2 miles or so, though. If you can't move your car in that scenario, your car, obviously, needs more torque! :)

      3. GBE

        Re: Odd belief

        "Ever tried to get a car moving after the break cables have frozen solid?"

        No. For 50+ years, I've lived in areas which high humidity in the summer and below zero (F) weather in the winter. I always use the parking brake and know many others that do the same. I've never had any problems with parking brakes freezing, nor do I know anybody who has.

        Have you had problems with parking brake cables freezing? Or is this one of the FOAF things?

        Maybe 100 years ago, this was a problem. AFAICT it isn't now -- or at least it's so vanishingly rare people should stop worrying about it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Odd belief @GBE and others

          "No. For 50+ years, I've lived in areas which high humidity in the summer and below zero (F) weather in the winter. I always use the parking brake and know many others that do the same."

          I live in similar climate. The parking brake cable can have its sheath break and allow water inside to freeze. Defrosting / heating it will of course fix this temporarily but won't remove the water and thus it'll freeze again. For it to not happen to you doesn't mean it is unheard of. I had the problem with my old car. (20-year-old rust bucket)

          The parking brake should be used regularly, year-round, for it not to get physically stuck. That sort of "freezing" is just due to accumulated rust.

          1. Nolveys

            Re: Odd belief @GBE and others

            My first car had trouble with the parking break getting frozen. Mind, the parking break was a split log. I would pull the parking break out of the back footwell, drop onto the ground and butt a wheel against it. If I was parked in slush and left later in the evening or the following morning the parking break could be hopelessly frozen. That's why I always kept a few spare parking breaks in the trunk.

        2. joed

          Re: Odd belief

          This actually happened to me last winter - after a drive in slush/snow followed by overnight parking outside. The car felt sluggish and I was going to pull over and check it (had some suspicions regarding the cause) but I decided to continue with the commute. A mistake - the brake was literally smoking when I got to work (and probably hastened demise of the wheel bearing). And lines take quite some time to thaw in the dead of winter (even in the garage) and rust on the inside didn't help. I'd stopped using handbrake until I replaced lines last fall. Likely the issue is more common with older vehicles but when the same wheel had locked for the 1st time (and would not release) the car was almost brand new and used in South East of States (with a rare visit North). American brand though as European model as it gets (make a guess). MT of course. And yes, one can drive manual in traffic and do homework on a laptop while sipping from a water bottle (closed course, professional driver, do not attempt;).

        3. Stevie

          Re: Have you had problems with parking brake cables freezing? Or is this one of the FOAF things?

          Yes. *I*'ve had my brake cables freeze solid on three occassions. Being English and with 10 years of driving in the UK behind me before I came to NY I had the habit of putting on the handbrake before I killed the engine. I've also only bought cars with a real handbrake for my own use (US cars, including some of those with Japanese names like Honda on them, often have a foot pedal parking brake, which is damn near impossible to use for a controlled hill start).

          And then I came home after dark to a car frozen over the course of the day down to the point when road salt doesn't work any more. Salty water had froen and turned the brakes into a solid mass. I ran the car in the hope the hot exhaust would thaw it out but no dice, and I was forced to drive slowly home with the handbrake on. It let go after about half a mile.

          The second time was the next day because I automatically put on the brake when I parked in my drive. I had to get a lift to the station that day. The third time was, as they say, the charm and I no longer use the handbrake routinely.

          I should point out that the car concerned had been dealer serviced for the entirety of its life and I had specifically asked for the handbrake cables to be greased at each fall and winter service. When the quadrants froze in the UNbraked position due to corrosion I had it out with the service manager, but really, what could be done? I can't get under a car any more and check for myself, and it gets cold enough here to freeze the grease anyway, which would make it crack and fall away.

          So no, not FUD. And the freezing of parking brake cables/quadrants is a VERY common thing in NY so if any manufacturer really had a cure as some here are saying I would have seen it touted as a feature on a Caddy or Lexus commercial before now.

          And when that original commentator said -10, he meant -10 F. And that isn't an unusual happenstance in winter. Like I said, it gets cold enough that exotic over-the-counter ice-melt chemicals don't work any more.

          So you are dead wrong GBE. If you want to start using UK weather to do a comparison, go with the weather in highland Scotland, not Watford.

          1. bep

            Re: Have you had problems with parking brake cables freezing? Or is this one of the FOAF things?

            Yes, English persons have trouble accepting that English weather, while crappy, is actually quite warm compared to many other locales. I still don't know how people do hill starts on vehicles with floor-mounted parking brakes. The whole idea seems completely stupid to me, just put the damn handle on the console please!

        4. DJ Smiley

          Re: Odd belief

          We broke a handbrake cable in Iceland, it was -20C outside. After this happened they told us just to leave the cars in gear, and not put it on.

      4. waldo kitty
        Facepalm

        Re: Odd belief

        Now, the fact that the rather sane habit of not using the handbrake

        i haven't seen a Bolt but who said it was a "handbrake"?? the term used is "parking brake"...

        my last four vehicles have all had parking brakes that are operated by foot... push down with your foot to set and push down with your foot to release... others of my vehicles have had parking brakes that you push with your foot to set and then pull or twist a handle to release them...in fact, AFAICR, the only vehicle that i have owned that had a so-called "handbrake" is the 1979 Toyota Celica that is sitting out under the shelter awaiting rebuilding...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Odd belief

          "i haven't seen a Bolt but who said it was a "handbrake"?? the term used is "parking brake"..."

          See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parking_brake

          "In cars, the parking brake, also called[1] hand brake, emergency brake, or e-brake"

          I have a 2007 Audi and that has a handbrake, the "parking brake" is in the center console, not getting in the way of my left foot. Most cars I've seen have it in the center console, and trucks always the parking type since they need more torque to wrench it down and also bench seating.

          I think we can all agree; don't get struck by a Bolt!

        2. drewsup

          Re: Odd belief

          for those of old enough to know, it was called an Emergency Brake, for that reason, coming down a windy mountain road, rock flips up and nicks the brake line, single master cylinder, you could gently pull out the Emergency Brake to slow the car, as they had a cable and sometimes their own pads , it was a requirement on driving tests to be able to slow the vehicle to a stop using the E brake...

          1. Sgt_Oddball

            Re: Odd belief

            I'd love to see how to manage that on my current car. The hand brake is a small toggle switch under the dashboard centre console. It even releases it's self if I try to drive off with it engaged (it's very freaky so I still tend to disengage it manually) as to the break line freezing issue I'll just have to wait and see since the handbrake engages as soon as the engine is off.

            1. kiwimuso
              Coat

              Re: Odd belief

              @Sgt_Oddball

              "since the handbrake engages as soon as the engine is off."

              I'm curious. If the handbrake engages as soon as the engine is turned off, how in hell do you move the damn thing if you can't start the engine? As in pushing to a safe place etc. Or simply just manouvreing around a yard.

              Do car manufacturers actually think this stuff through?

              Ditto for all these automatic e-brakes or whatever. In an emergency, how does one go about bring the car to a halt safely without a manual handbrake?

              Not to mention, how on earth is one supposed to do handbrake turns without a manual handbrake?

              The mind boggles.

              Mine's the one with the Drifting for Dummies in the pocket.

        3. David Nash

          Re: Odd belief

          Handbrake vs. foot-operated "parking" brake?

          Is this another US. thing? In the UK they are pretty much universally known as handbrakes. Probably we would call yours a "foot-operated handbrake"!

          1. Steve the Cynic

            Re: Odd belief

            It is, indeed, an American thing. Many of the larger American cars have an automatic (or even manual) shifter on the steering column and a bench seat in the front, so they don't have anywhere you can put a handbrake between the two front seats (because there is one front seat that goes the whole width of the car, and it doesn't have a "between"), so the actuator for the parking brake is a small pedal to the left of the normal foot brake (or to the left of the clutch if there is one), with a hand-operated lever usually marked "Brake Release" to release it.

      5. Innocent-Bystander*

        Re: Odd belief

        Ever tried to get a car moving after the break cables have frozen solid?

        Ever tried to take an automatic out of Park when parked on an incline without applying the parking break first? It takes some serious muscle. I'm also convinced that letting the transmission hold the car on an incline when parked will kill your transmission in short order.

        Here in Canada we have -20 to -35 in February as a matter of course. I have never had the parking break cables freeze on me.

        1. Eddy Ito

          Re: Odd belief

          My experience is what freezes the brakes is when it's parked for a few days and the weather is perfect for collecting maple sap which means it's going to reach about 40 F during the day and drop to freezing at night and it's highly likely it will cycle around the dew point. A weekend parked and the brake is stuck solid early Monday morning. Note that it's not always the cable since I had a perfectly free cable and spun the cylinder self adjuster all the way in and still had trouble getting the drum off because the shoes had collected just enough water from road spray to freeze directly to the drum. Undoubtedly it occurred as I was pulling into the drive since heavy breaking or a good travel distance would have cleared the water.

      6. Mark 85

        Re: Odd belief

        What I remember is the drum brakes getting water in them and the shoes freezing to the drum. And with the pedal on the floor for the "parking brake" (totally different critter than a handbrake), a lot of drivers forget about it.

      7. fruitoftheloon
        WTF?

        @Voland: Re: Odd belief

        Voland,

        indeed. of course if the vehicles were designed and engineered PROPERLY I wouldn't have thought it a problem eh???

        Cheers,

        Jay

      8. JeffyPoooh
        Pint

        Re: Odd belief

        VRH offered "...unprotected break cables..."

        Brakes .NE. Breaks

        1. herman Silver badge

          Re: Odd belief

          On American cars, Brakes == Breaks

      9. Blank Reg

        Re: Odd belief

        I live in Canada, and we used to have real winters, though lately, they've been kind of lame. Anyway, I always use the parking brake and in over 35 years of driving have never had a stuck parking brake due to ice.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Odd belief

          "Anyway, I always use the parking brake and in over 35 years of driving have never had a stuck parking brake due to ice"

          The conditions for ice-lock are: water in the brakes which then freezes. If it's -10C or F, it's unlikely you'll get water in the brakes. This is one of those annoying thing that happens around freezing and often overnight, when it wasn't that cold at parking time.

        2. Stevie

          Re: I live in Canada

          I have family in Canada; Alberta to be precise. They have to plug both ends of the car into an electric supply in winter so that the oil doesn't solidify, the core plugs don't get displaced and the windows don't crack when the defroster finally kicks in. Last time I was there in winter my breath was freezing into ice crystals in front of me and I thought I was having a stroke because the air was twinkling. Microscopic spontaneous ice crystals forming in mid air were reflecting the ambient light. My parent's house's concrete foundation slab cracked from the cold and it *was* heated.

          So don't talk about Canadian NoFreeze Handbrakes. Everything freezes solid there if you don't run around the houses to prevent it, and even then it might just to be difficult.

    3. Haku

      Re: Odd belief

      I once drove to a nearby city and when I got to the car park and pulled on the handbrake I heard this unnerving twang sound and felt the handle go completely loose... I was very careful on the 15 mile journey back after shopping, and thankfully I could park it on flat ground at home. Got it fixed the next day.

    4. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Odd belief

      Our cars have a light and often a beep to remind you to take the pkg brake off.

      Sure wish there were more manual transmissions in the US. People would have to choose between moving or updating their Facebook status.

      1. Nolveys

        Re: Odd belief

        Our cars have a light and often a beep to remind you to take the pkg brake off.

        I find that the feeling of driving around with a walrus tied to the rear bumper is enough to remind me.

    5. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Odd belief

      Also not that odd because in subzero temperatures the brake shoes/pad can freeze to the drum/disk.

      If you're unlucky you're rendered immobile. If you're very unlucky the brake pads will be snapped off.

      This was and is a very common occurence on Peugeot 106s with drums at the rear. I lost 2 sets of brake shoes before my mechanic informed me what was happening.

      For that reason, using the park brake at traffic lights, etc is an automatic driving test fail in many states (most likely time to have picked up water which can freeze whilst the car is stationary)

    6. Unicornpiss

      Re: Odd belief

      Re. that, can anyone confirm whether the Bolt has an actual parking brake you can apply by pulling on a lever, or is it electronic like everything else?

      I'll admit that when driving an automatic, that there's little need to engage a parking brake unless I'm parking on an incline, and then it's more to take pressure off the parking pawl and drivetrain than for safety unless it's a steep hill.

      1. MR J

        Re: Odd belief

        The parking brake is intended to be something that is hard-wired in the event that everything else has failed. That's why even though you have pneumatic, electronic, and hydraulic brake systems you still get a "emergency" wire fed brake.

        The Nissan Leaf has one, and I am sure that the Bolt will as well. I would even guess that it is a legal requirement to have such a thing.

        A bigger question could be "if" the "(P)ark" function on electric cars is able to cope with the stress of a brake, I would guess no.

        I think the wife backed into the stuff in the shed and is trying to get out of it.

    7. sisk

      Re: Odd belief

      In my case it's not so much that I have an odd belief (and it would be odd) that the parking brake is bad for your car so much as the fact that I think of it's sort of unnecessary in an automatic unless you're parked on a steep incline, which are practically nonexistent in this area. When I'm driving a stick I always use the parking brake.

      Though, to be fair, the only reason I ever drive an automatic is because used standards are getting a bit hard to find in the US and I'm ideologically opposed to paying for a new car when I can get a used one that looks just as nice and will last me just as long for $10k less. Plus even on new cars you can hardly find a standard transmission unless you special order it.

    8. Tikimon
      Thumb Down

      Re: Odd belief - automatics because?

      Automatics, because that's practically all we have to choose from.

      The American auto industry has decided that manual-shift is for sports cars, and everyone else wants an automatic. Good luck finding anything else for most purposes. I totally prefer manual shift, but it's almost never an option for the vehicles I want.

      Other auto industry stupidity puts a tachometer on those with automatic shift, and an effing CLOCK in the same place for manual shift. Utterly bass-ackwards.

      You Brits like to blame American citizens for everything, as if we all wanted it that way. Sorry, we're usually victims of government and stupid companies same as you.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Odd belief - automatics because?

        "Good luck finding anything else for most purposes. I totally prefer manual shift, but it's almost never an option for the vehicles I want."

        The primary reason for preferring manual vs auto was fuel economy - american slushboxes were terribly inefficient.

        Modern CVT autos frequently get _better_ milage than manual boxes. The belt-based ones have a couple of "interesting" failure modes which generally only happen if you use the manually selected ranges too much (Yes, the technology of old DAFs and motorscooters is alive and well)

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Odd belief

      currently the owner of 4 cars - 2 of which are 26 years old and still going strong (good maintenance will keep something running for a long time)

      While I have had brake lines seize due to corrosion, I have never - ever - had them freeze...I suspect that this is something that was common with older vehicles and has improved over time...

      Note that I do use them regularly - in fact I NEVER park without putting the brakes on while the car is in neutral, let it settle and THEN put it in park....

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Odd belief

        " I NEVER park without putting the brakes on while the car is in neutral, let it settle and THEN put it in park...."

        It's worth nothing that many american cars _WILL NOT_ let you remove the ignition key until the vehicle is in Park _and_ the handbrake is on - even american-spec japanese ones.

    10. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Odd belief

      "If they're too dumb to switch gears..."

      Nothing wrong with automatics. Modern designs have almost completely got rid of the fuel economy penalty, they routinely go over 200,000 miles without so much as a fluid change or even a decent tranny cooler and I prefer them when starting from a dead stop on ice or hard packed snow.

      Manuals are fun and do have an edge in fuel economy but I've seen too many with synchro's for first or second shot by about 150,000 miles or having clutch actuators/cables shot by 180,000 and trying to get moving on slippery surfaces often requires slipping the clutch to a ridiculous degree.

  2. Amos1

    Interesting that he claims the car would have gone forward had he left it in gear since he obviously backed it into the garage.

    1. Blotto Silver badge

      Most electric cars don't have gears.

      Most automatics are electronic shift now and will go into park when a door is opened. gear selection at engine off is really irrelevant.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "Most electric cars don't have gears."

        Most of them DO have parking pawls. Something doesn't smell right about this claim.

  3. Bob Camp

    No American drives a stick anymore, unless it's a sports car. So you only use the parking brake when parking on a steep hill.

    Plus, in the north, with all the salt on the roads in the winter, the cable sometimes corrodes and the parking brake gets stuck. Sometimes it can't be applied, and sometimes it won't release. In my state (New York), the parking brake is inspected each year, but in many states it isn't.

    It looks like the car went into neutral somehow and rolled into his bench. I think there would be more damage if it actually had backed into his work bench. But I know some electric cars don't have a neutral, because they have to be towed on a flatbed.

    1. Steve Knox
      Trollface

      But I know some electric cars don't have a neutral, because they have to be towed on a flatbed.

      How can an electrical device function without a neutral?

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Most electric cars don't have a neutral because they don't need one.

        If you want to reverse, you reverse the motor.

      2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        How can an electrical device function without a neutral?

        Three-phase.

        1. GBE

          "Three-phase."

          Yep. AFAIK, all electric/hybrid cars use brushless motors, so they are multi-phase (at least three).

      3. Chemical Bob

        "How can an electrical device function without a neutral?"

        Because neutral and ground are tied together at the breaker panel.

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      Towing on a flatbed is more to do with the battery charging electronics than the lack of neutral (a gear state that doesn't necessarily make sense in a direct drive vehicle with a reversible engine...

      No gearbox/clutch needed - what is neutral?

      (Yes there is a direct reduction gear train, but no 'box' - tesla spent a lot of money on a 2 speed box until they decided to just build a motor that can rev higher, since the gearboxes were getting ripped apart)

    3. joed

      "No American drives a stick anymore, unless it's a sports car." - false statement though a self fulfilling prophecy that automakers use to jack up car price and steer buyers away from more reliable and efficient transportation option. If you don't enjoy spending time and money at transmission shop (and plan to keep the car for longer than 3 years) you better get a stick.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        If you don't enjoy spending time and money at transmission shop (and plan to keep the car for longer than 3 years) you better get a stick.

        Maybe US auto gearboxes are less reliable than UK ones - but they seem to last a good long while over here...

      2. DryBones

        Automatics have a higher MPG rating than manuals now, probably because they can fit more gears. Also rather reliable, and as fast if not faster than most at shifting.

        Most Americans do drive automatics. I drive one because I don't want to faff with the gearbox, and the extra pedal, and rev matching, and getting clutch cables replaced (I have a friend with an earlier model Subaru that stretches them like they were taffy). Nothing in the cupholders, phone in pocket, I just want to spend the attention instead on making sure nobody manages to run into me. That is my choice, hopefully you can shrug about it the way I do those that want a manual.

      3. Unicornpiss

        Transmission longevity

        I have had many cars with automatics. Some I've had to rebuild at a little over 100K, some lasted over 200K miles with little attention. Not sure where you got "3 years" as an apparent benchmark. Of course if you have a CVT, all bets are off.

      4. PJF
        Pint

        9000 pound sports car..

        I have a pick-up, a large "ute" a you call over the puddle. At 220,000 miles (about 350,00 kilos) I had the clutch assembly replaced due to a bad throw-out bearing. I use the "parking" brake daily to unlock the cage where I park during work hours. The only time I've had problems with the parking break "sticking" is after a long run on slushy roads when the temps are around 28 to 35 F (-3 to 2 C abouts) with the copious amount of salt they use on the roads, and an 8+ hour sit.

        1) I drive a manual x-mission

        a) no where near a sports car

        2) 20 + y.o. vehicle

        3) use parking/(semi)hand break daily

        4) never had the cables replaced

        5) haven't had the rear (drum) breaks replace'

        a) yearly DMV/MOV inspection w/emissions

        6) live in an area of salt 24/7/365 in the N.E. U.S.

        What am I doing wrong?

        ' I do, bi-annually, tear down the break assembly, replace the springs and lubricate the wear areas as needed...

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: 9000 pound sports car..

          "What am I doing wrong?"

          Well for one thing you need to stop breaking your car and start using the brakes instead...

        2. David Nash

          Re: 9000 pound sports car..

          "ute" no, that's an Aussie term, not a UK one.

          "What am I doing wrong?"

          Apart from saying "break" instead of "brake"? Not much.

        3. ZippedyDooDah
          Paris Hilton

          Re: 9000 pound sports car..

          "I do, bi-annually, tear down the break assembly, replace the springs and lubricate the wear areas as needed..."

          That's what I do with my doll as well.

      5. Blank Reg

        While I prefer a manual transmission, I've never had a transmission problem on an automatic, and I've always kept my cars for at least 250k. I am not at all gentle on my cars so I have had the occasional clutch problem on my manuals.

      6. W4YBO

        "...you better get a stick."

        1995 Dodge Ram 2500 auto transmission, sold in 2015 with 265,000 miles on it (I claim I drove it past the moon). Gargantuan transmission cooler on it, but it never had a problem.

        2001 Dodge Durango auto transmission - currently 201,000 miles. Just 38,000 more miles to the moon.

        1985 Chevrolet S-10 Blazer - 185,000 miles when I had the transmission rebuilt by a shadetree (or maybe shady) mechanic. I don't want to talk about it.

        The last vehicle that I had with a shifter was a 1976 Triumph Spitfire 1500. I broke my right foot pushing it out of the road. I don't want to talk about that, or the Renault 910 I owned as a teenager, either.

    4. cray74

      No American drives a stick anymore, unless it's a sports car.

      A little broad on that generalization. I have three friends who favor manuals in non-sports vehicles. One likes the extra control when towing her horse trailer in mountainous Colorado, and one other...well, he'd like to have a sports car, but got an underpowered hatchback and put on a fart-can muffler so it sounds sporty. Then there's the friend who claims automatics are tools of the devil and bad driving.

      If you don't enjoy spending time and money at transmission shop (and plan to keep the car for longer than 3 years) you better get a stick.

      Odd, my experience was that manuals had the higher transmission repair demands. The clutches faded like clockwork whether they were my '86 Sentra or 2006 hatchback: 80,000 miles, time for a new clutch. Never had transmission problems with an automatic in less than 200,000 miles.

  4. GitMeMyShootinIrons
    Terminator

    The Chevy....

    ....Bolted

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Chevy....

      Maybe the car feels more secure close to the tools.

      1. DNTP

        Re: feels bettter close to the tools

        Ha! All my electronic equipment feels more safe away from my toolkit, at least by how it always becomes suddenly more cooperative when I walk over with the big wrench.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Chevy....

        He clearly should have written "no tools inside car overnight" .. not doing so was clearly an invitation to the car's AI system to incorrectly deduce that on soime nights there should be tools in the car and one night to action to correct the owners clear inability to ensure this "safety" property held.

  5. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Fault between chair and steering wheel

    Most garage slabs are simply sitting on dirt without being attached to pillars or the foundation. Heavy rains could have caused the slab to shift slightly so that the car rolls without its parking brake on. That looks like a very slow impact.

    1. Jim Mitchell

      Re: Fault between chair and steering wheel

      The vehicle should not roll very far if it was in Park, even without the parking brake engaged. A pawl should engage when Park is selected, or worst case, after the car has rolled a little bit.

      1. Eddy Ito

        Re: Fault between chair and steering wheel

        Which of course brings up the next question, since I'm reasonably sure the parking brake is electric like everything else, why doesn't it simply deploy automatically when put in park?

        1. Mark York 3 Silver badge
          Angel

          Re: Fault between chair and steering wheel

          My new Jeep has a electronic "parking brake", that is currently set to come on automatically, when the vehicle is in park (handy as the wife has a habit of claiming any real estate in the centre for her crap).

          Still has to be manually released by pushing the button on the center console.

          I'm still in two minds on using the parking brake overnight in winter, here in Canada the temperature can drop from 10C one day to something like -18C the next morning (Usually -28C the day after that). Most places I park are on level ground, but there is a incline on my drive.

          What can be quite amusing to hear about is those with excessively heated garages driving out from say 20C to -25C & wondering why the windscreen disappears into a shower of glass within seconds of leaving the garage.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Devil

    Do you know where your car is going?

    Somehow one of those early beta 'kill all humans' chips (KAHFET) must have ended up on its motherboard, probably a mixup with their other assembly line...

  7. imanidiot Silver badge

    and yet...

    I STILL think it was most likely user error.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Not Christine

    More like Maximum Overdrive

  9. Eddy Ito

    My money is on operator error. Likely backed into the bench and had his wife cover for him while he was out the next day in order to place the blame elsewhere when the insurance company asks wtf happened.

    I will say that even though I drive a stick and use the hand brake religiously to prevent the cable from freezing in my car I do forget about half the time with my wife's car, an automatic, simply because the parking brake is a pedal and not a lever between the seats.

    1. JeffyPoooh
      Pint

      EI suggested "...out the next day....place the blame elsewhere..."

      It's my assumption that most modern cars know the date and time. If an accident is sufficiently noticeable, then it's dangerous to assume that the car's many computers won't have logged the impact along with Time Stamps.

      Especially if the manufacturer gets involved.

      So there's a small possibility that your point is valid. But if so, then the deceptive owner is probably going to get caught.

  10. Lee D Silver badge

    No parking brake on?

    Your own stupid fault, pay your insurance claim fee and lose your no claims discount.

    Why the hell do you think parking brakes exist? There's a clue in the title.

    If nothing else, if some prat does hit your car, on that perfectly level road that "doesn't need a parking brake", in gear it stands a 50/50 chance of continuing to roll in the direction of the collision and doing more damage to other vehicles / pedestrians and good luck explaining to those unlucky owners why you shouldn't have to pay part of their damages.

    And don't give me rubbish about corroding or frozen cables. Cars the world over have parking brakes. They will corrode or freeze no more than any other component. If you're worried about it, check them occasionally by maintaining your car properly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Lee D

      If you're on a level surface, or even a few degrees elsewhere, the car being placed into "Park" will keep it from rolling. Unless there is a problem with your drive-train. There is no need to also put on the brake, unless you feel like it. It's not an oversight on the driver, it's how most all cars work. Try it yourself in any automatic transmission road vehicle. IF YOU DARE!!1! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Seriously, nothing will happen and you'll feel like a prat. Good day.

    2. Eddy Ito

      Ok Lee D, clearly you've never been to SoCal so I'll give you the real reason most people here don't use their parking brake. It's because it doesn't work. It used to work if they bought it new but after leaving it on for 30,000 miles the pads or shoes are simply worn completely to rivets and perhaps beyond. We folks in the southland like our ginormous anti-social speaker systems and keep them turned up so loud we don't have to listen to the horns of the people we've nearly driven off the road with our bad driving habits. Needless to say, that grinding noise coming from the rear wheels is completely lost in the THUMP of our beats that we can only feel in our chests because our ears no longer function - hence the heavy bass bias which often rattles the windows, not that we hear that either. That brings up why we don't signal even if swooping across five lanes of traffic, you see we needed to run all the extra power cables to the amp in the trunk so we rerouted the power for the directional flasher and two brake lights back there. I know it's hard to understand but any money not spent on the sound system goes into the overwide Dubs and stretched 185/35 tires, not on maintenance. That's why if it looks like we spent more money on the wheels than the car it's because we did. FYI, the skinny tires are stretched so the sidewall is slanted inward because if it went straight up it would rub the fender since the wheels are so wide we had to pick the wrong offset that's going to wear out the wheel bearings before the tires go bald. But it's cool, we'll be chillin' to our beats.

      No, really, a lot of them evidently think like that.

    3. DryBones

      @Lee D

      So, do you drive a manual, or an automatic? I'm under the impression that manuals don't have the "Don't go anywhere even if started" park detent that automatics do, and thus the parking brake is mandatory. It's as commonly called the "emergency brake" as it uses a secondary cabled system to actuate the brakes and not the power assist, so can serve in an emergency if the normal assist fails. For automatic transmissions, the parking / emergency brake is useful for not getting stuck in the park detent if on a hill, or reinforcing it on said hill just in case.

      If said prat hit hard enough to break the parking pawl so it can roll, it's most certainly not the owner's fault for not having the parking brake engaged also, it's the prat that hit them and damaged the car, pushing it onward and the like.

      1. Charles 9

        In a manual, you simply leave the car in a low gear (first or second). The resistance of the still engine combined with the gear ratio in a low gear provides the same thing the parking pawl does in an automatic. Yes, I used to drive a stick. Most people drive automatics because they're a lot more practical when you're including cruise control, and for a country as big as the United States with lots of open road, it kind of becomes very useful for those long drives.

  11. Haku
    Trollface

    Those pesky Russian hackers just can't leave America alone...

  12. a_yank_lurker

    Chevy and Trash

    Chevy has produced some horrendous garbage including the Vega aka Vaguely (vaguely a car/can vaguely see it through the smoke), Chevette aka shove-it. GM engineering has been erratic at best for 50 years so I can see this being either a wetware problem or a GM screwup.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Chevy and Trash

      Has America ever produced a decent car (i.e. one that can go around corners)?

      The Ford GT40 is about the best I can think of.

      Of course Mr. Drumpf is going to improve the U.S. car industry in just four years, so I expect we'll be seeing Mercedes/BMW/Audi/VW standards of vehicle pretty soon. ;)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Chevy and Trash

        @AC

        Speaks someone that's never driven an American car...

        But I don't want a car that "feels sporty" with a dirty oil burner up front, or that's FWD.

        OK the plastics are a bit "off" in some, bit like Seat really. But drop it into drive, sit back and relax, I'm sure there'd be less road rage [and speeding] if all cars were lazy, comfy autos. I did once have a V6 auto Citroen which is up there as one of my favourites

        BTW the GT40 was British unless you're talking the remake?

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Chevy and Trash

        "The Ford GT40 is about the best I can think of."

        Produced in Slough.

      3. Unicornpiss

        Re: Chevy and Trash

        American cars that will go around corners:

        -Ford Focus, Mustang, GT40 as mentioned

        -Various Cadillacs (who woulda thunk it)

        -Chrysler LH sedans (sad to see them go away, my LHS was one of my favorites)

        -Chevy Corvette, Camaro (though ugly as sin IMHO)

        -Dodge Viper, Hellcat

        -Tesla (for the most part)

        -many others

        While I like a lot of European and Japanese cars, and secretly covet my friend's Audi S4, a lot of American buyers don't like to pay the extra premium for these, and consider it (although often misguided) more patriotic to "buy local", whatever that means these days in our global economy. Also, you may argue that some Japanese cars are more reliable, but the gap is much smaller these days, and non existent in many cases, and European and Japanese cars are often a LOT more expensive to fix when they do break.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meanwhile, a security researcher

    ... was looking at his Chevy Bolt simular thinking "I know I send it the reverse command, why didn't it work?."

    Only to discover later one that he'd left his code set to "Production" instead of "Simulator". ;)

  14. DrXym

    Not surprised the parking brake is so mysterious to Americans

    Manual vehicles need a handbrake more, especially on hills and when taking a car in and out of neutral. Automatics tend to creep forward so the handbrake isn't used so much. Cars are just left in park unless parked on a hill or something.

    Aside from that, the driving test and instructors in manual gear countries will teach people to put the car in neutral at lights and apply the handbrake. I realise bad habits mean people don't use the handbrake as much as they're supposed to and you can sometimes hold the car with the clutch at biting point. But at least people are aware of a thing called a handbrake and habitually use it more than an automatic car driver would.

    Many modern manuals cars have electronic handbrakes that apply automatically when the ignition is turned off. I don't see why an electric vehicle shouldn't at least do the same.

    1. Long John Brass

      Re: Not surprised the parking brake is so mysterious to Americans

      I've had both manual & automatic cars over the years, An auto + v6 is very nice for commuting (Except for mileage/kilometerage?) start stop traffic is a pain in the left leg.

      I've always used the hand brake when parking the car, never understood people who just leave the damned thing in park; gives me the heebie jeebies. Parking a manual on a hill I always put the car in reverse just in case the handbrake fails or doesn't hold like it should.

      Never had problems moving back to a manual after driving an auto, but the other way round is a bloody nightmare, I always end up slamming the brakes when my left foot goes for the clutch pedal & nails the brakes by mistake. very embarrassing :)

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Not surprised the parking brake is so mysterious to Americans

        "Parking a manual on a hill I always put the car in reverse just in case the handbrake fails or doesn't hold like it should."

        There's a certain rather hilly town in Derbyshire I visit sometimes and the area I need to park in absolutely REQUIRES both the hand brake AND leaving it in gear opposite to the slope. Either alone simply won't hold the car in place.

        1. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: Not surprised the parking brake is so mysterious to Americans

          Lots of places like that in Derbyshire. Be like (some) locals and also have some wedges for your tyres as added safety.

        2. Charles 9

          Re: Not surprised the parking brake is so mysterious to Americans

          I'm guessing the roads around there don't have kerbs (as the normal procedure then is to turn your wheels such that in the event of a rolldown, the car immediately hits that kerb, likely stopping it).

  15. Amos1

    The great thing about having a manual transmission in 'Murica is that the young punk thieves can't drive them. A fellow up the street from where I work got carjacked at a gas station but the fool couldn't move it because it was a stick. So he had to take off running and leave the car.

    I'm convinced the reason people don't use parking brakes is because their parents told them to never do it because the cables would rust up and lock in place. I've had that happen last century when the rear brakes were drums but that was the last time. My kids use it all the time as do I but my wife? Nah. Doesn't matter what kind of incline she's parking on. Put in in park and take your foot off the brake and let the car bounce back and forth on the parking pawl while she messes with her purse.

    1. disgruntled yank

      car thieves

      If only. About 10 years ago somebody popped the ignition in our old station wagon and drove it about three miles east. Whether he was really proficient at the manual transmission, I don't know, except to say that there was no smell of burnt clutch when we retrieved the car at the county lot.

  16. Scroticus Canis
    Holmes

    Occam's Razor - It's the wife wot dun it!

    Did anybody see a workbench in the picture? I just saw a broken chipboard cupboard covered in junk.

    Now back to the main topic of frozen brake cables and automatic transmission......

  17. herman Silver badge

    I think it was Blond error. He says he was 40 miles away. His wife was home and she claims the car crashed itself. Riiiiiight...

  18. Winkypop Silver badge
    Trollface

    ...there is an odd belief among many Americans...

    There sure is, look what they did in DC just now.

  19. Milton

    Properties of a Parking/Emergency Brake

    1. No matter how automated and electrically controlled the vehicle may be, the brake of last resort must be fully manual with no dependency on anything except a good physical effort.

    2. It must effectively lock the rear wheels sufficient to prevent rollaway on a 1:3 incline (they do exist, rarely).

    3. The assembly including lever must employ enough mechanical advantage so that a small adult female can yank it to effect.

    4. The lever, like the hazard light button, and fuel pump cutout[1] must be accessible to passenger as well as driver, for driver-incapacitated events or where assistance is needed. So it must be a lever in the centre.

    It is amazing that this isn't a legal requirement.

    [1] Yes I know that many cars don't have a fuel cutout switch in the cabin. And that some place the hazard light button in the stupidest places (which idiot puts it on the column behind the wheel?!)

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Properties of a Parking/Emergency Brake

      1. No matter how automated and electrically controlled the vehicle may be, the brake of last resort must be fully manual with no dependency on anything except a good physical effort."

      Agreed. Sadly, some newer cars, manual and auto, come with electrically operated push button "hand" brakes. I'm not sure how they work in the event of an electrical failure or even just a flat battery. Will you just keep rolling along, if driving? Can it be disengaged to do a push/bump start?

      1. Charles 9

        Re: Properties of a Parking/Emergency Brake

        They could be like air brakes: engaged on power-down instead of on power-up creating a failsafe. And I don't know if push-starting a Bolt is a good idea. They work most consistently with sticks because of the way the wheels connect to the engine (I HAVE started stick cars a couple times in the past by carefully engaging first gear while the car was coasting). Most autos I know you can't push start because the Torque Converter gets in the way. Anyway, you can't push-start a car with a flat battery (no way to bootstrap the alternator to kick off the charging cycle).

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Properties of a Parking/Emergency Brake

          "Anyway, you can't push-start a car with a flat battery (no way to bootstrap the alternator to kick off the charging cycle)."

          Maybe I should have mentioned I was in the UK. Manual gearbox is by far the norm.

          Having said that, I've not had to do a bump start in many years. The pleasures of a company car :-)

          The alternator was driven of a belt from the engine and starting a car with a flat battery was definitely something I did in the past. (petrol though. Never tried with diesel.) The battery would not turn the engine over, but may have had a little life in it. ISTR the dash instruments/bulbs working, so if that's required for the alternator, then maybe there was enough.

    2. Charles 9

      Re: Properties of a Parking/Emergency Brake

      "And that some place the hazard light button in the stupidest places (which idiot puts it on the column behind the wheel?!)"

      Someone who doesn't want the driver's hands to drift too far away from the steering wheel in the event you DO need those hazard blinkers, especially if you have to do it by feel because it's night and your interior lights are gone for some reason.

  20. Cuddles

    Inconsistent claims

    "if he had failed to put it into park, the car would have rolled forward – not gone into reverse"

    "his garage is flat"

    So the garage is flat, but the car would roll forwards if it wasn't in park. There's no point arguing about parking brakes and automatics here, the story simply doesn't add up. Seems far more likely that the wife simply reversed the car herself, then tried to cover it up. If she simply put it in the wrong gear when starting a journey (which happens almost as frequently as people hitting the wrong pedal), then the mileage wouldn't have changed and there'd be no evidence other than her own word. And of course she put it back in park afterwards, so noting that it's still in park means nothing.

  21. Vinyl-Junkie
    Coat

    Isn't this a case...

    ...of locking the garage door after the Bolt has horsed about?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If it keeps on rainin' ...

    When the Chevy brakes I'll have no place to stay.

  23. Cynic_999

    Why the problem?

    I cannot understand how anyone can have a break problem in a car. If you feel tired or need the loo, just pull into the closest lay-by, roadside café or service station, and take a break. Easy.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Why the problem?

      If your steering box breaks while doing 60 on the highway/motorway I would certainly call that a problem.

      And I've certainly had very close calls in getting to the closest loo in time. Not knowing exactly what foods it is that makes your gut go into "blast mode" is a pain...

  24. Clive Galway
    FAIL

    I smell bullshit

    "Besides, he noted, if he had failed to put it into park, the car would have rolled forward – not gone into reverse."

    Look at the pictures. The front of the car MUST be pointing out of the garage, otherwise how else would he have gotten in? Therefore, the last gear he used was reverse, not forwards, so his statement is patently false.

  25. Stevie

    Bah!

    Car are obviously belong to lightbulb.

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