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How does a car sitting there idling drop into reverse?
Well, let me tell you. It happened to me with my 78 Dodge Diplomat. I almost won the Darwin Award that year.

I drove around the corner on my way to work. I live on a corner and my garage is on the side street. The wife was flying some windsocks from the plant holders on the posts in front of our house. One was on the ground. Who would think that that could have killed me.

I was late, but I thought I would put it up so I pulled to the curb and "threw" it into Park. PRNDL There is a tab between Park and Reverse. If you don't get it firmly seated in the Park position, the cam or whatever the proper term is, can rest on the tab. The idling of the car can work the shifter down the tab and eventually it will "fall" into Reverse.

By then I was out of the car on my front porch. I heard a clunk and turned around only to see my car backing around in circles in front of my house. Every time it came to my curb, the front wheel would catch and turn the steering wheel causing it to complete another circle. I wondered what to do, call the police? What would they do, watch it? I looked down the block and saw a car at the corner a couple of houses down. He did the same thing that the police would do, watch in awe until it crashed into a house.

When I saw the pattern repeating itself, I thought of the circus horses and ran out in the middle of the street and sidestepped with the car. My only problem was my car idled at 25 MPH (was going to take it in) and it was going around at a pretty good clip - not normal by all means. Pulling the handle of the door was not opening it as the centrifugal force kept it shut. My last effort was to put my right hand on the body and open it with my left. Since the door was going to sweep me under the vehicle, I had to make my move fast and dive into the car. Amazing how fast the brain works as I planned my strategy in one or two revolutions.

I pulled and the door opened. I dove. The backward force threw me to the floor of the car. I felt the car bounce as I was thrown around. My only thing to do was to apply pressure to the brake pedal with my left hand. The car stopped. While pressing on the brake, I reached up and turned off the key. When I knew I was safe, I slowly sat up and found my car sitting in my neighbor's front lawn, ten feet from his gas meter. He since has had it moved to the side of his house.

Started the car and drove to work like nothing happened. Went past the guy still sitting at the corner, his jaw still dropped to his chest. Okay, the last 7 words were fabricated. The rest is true.
 

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Now that sounds like the worst day ever!
 

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I forgot to add. From then on in, I never leave my car idling in Park when I leave the vehicle. I always turn off the engine when I exit. Funny, I still think about it when I get out, like when I am on a lot and get out to look at a car. That happened to me around 1985. I think I just started to trust the Park, but before I exit, I shake the selector to make sure it is seated. That was a selector on the column, so it was easier to drop into reverse than the console models.
 

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How does a car sitting there idling drop into reverse?
It happens. A family friend was nearly killed by her Lincoln when she got out to get something out of her other car, and when she closed the door, it went into reverse, and ran over her leg. Her leg got hung up somehow under the car, and she spent an hour, face down in the snow, yelling for help before someone heard her. She doesn't have a very strong voice anyway, and with the snow, and her being face down, nobody heard her. The mailman finally heard her and called 911. Her leg had been crushed and for some time, the doctors weren't sure they could save her leg. She threw a clot and almost died. She made a good recovery, but she will always have a limp.

I was doing a smog test on a Toyota Celica back about 1980, and part of the test is to measure HC and CO at 2000 RPM. The car was an automatic, and was in park, but when I revved up the motor, I saw the shift lever move to reverse, and I barely got out of the car's way as it shot backwards. Since it was a pretty gutless little car, it hit the hose that the exhaust ventilator used to keep us from choking to death and stopped, as it couldn't go over it. I finished the test, and then took the car for a "test drive", but in reality, I went to a parking lot to see if I could duplicate it, and I could! I drove it to the Toyota dealer and showed the service manager what it did, and then took it back to work and told the owners that the Toyota dealer would be fixing the car as soon as they could get it in. They came back a week later and said that Toyota had agreed to replace the transmission, at no charge.
 

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Holy smokes!!!!! A perfect circle. Would have like to see what was happening out on the highway!
 
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