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 …

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...

tony trolle

Re: Odd belief

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

Gene Cash
Silver badge

Re: Odd belief

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

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.

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.

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! :)

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.

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...

Haku
Silver badge

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.

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.

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.

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!

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).

joed
Silver badge

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;).

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.

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)

Eddy Ito
Silver badge

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.

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...

Unicornpiss
Silver badge

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.

Nolveys
Silver badge

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.

Nolveys
Silver badge

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.

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...

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.

Mark 85
Silver badge

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.

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

JeffyPoooh
Silver badge
Pint

Re: Odd belief

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

Brakes .NE. Breaks

Stevie
Silver badge

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.

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?

herman
Silver badge

Re: Odd belief

On American cars, Brakes == Breaks

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.

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!

Sgt_Oddball
Silver badge

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.

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.

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.

David Nash
Silver badge

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"!

Steve the Cynic
Silver badge

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.)

sisk
Silver badge

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.

sisk
Silver badge

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.

Tikimon
Silver badge
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.

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....

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.

Blank Reg
Silver badge

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.

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)

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.

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.

Steve the Cynic
Silver badge

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.

Stevie
Silver badge

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.

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.

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.

Blotto

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.

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