You get in your car and start it up and try to push the gas pedal and it doesn't move. Perhaps it comes free with a bit of coaxing, or force, but, over time, this problem is certain to get worse.
Or, far more frightening, you're on the freeway and push the pedal to pass a slow moving truck. When you take your foot off the pedal it doesn't come back up and your car goes speeding down the highway.
Having a sticking gas pedal can be a very dangerous situation and you shouldn't drive your car if you're experiencing these kinds of problems. However, it may be an easy fix once you figure out why it is sticking. The gas pedal to throttle connection is actually quite simple. The pedal acts as a lever that moves the throttle cable in and out. The throttle cable pushes a small lever that opens and closes the throttle. Any problems with the gas pedal is certain to be in one of these three parts.
The first step to diagnose the cause of a sticking gas pedal is to remove the breather so you can get to the carburetor or the throttle body on a fuel injected vehicle. Once the breather is removed you will be able to access the cable linkages. Disconnect the cable from the throttle. You can now move the throttle manually to see if the problem is there or if it is in the cable or the pedal.
If the throttle moves freely the issue is most likely somewhere else. If the throttle is the location of the problem you will want to clean that. Depending on whether you have a carbureted or a fuel injected vehicle you will want to make sure you get the appropriate spray cleaner from your parts dealer. Fuel injector cleaner won't get all of the stuff that might be causing problems on a carburetor but carburetor cleaner will leave residues that can damage a fuel injection system. Follow the steps for cleaning the throttle linkages, depending on the type of system you have, until they operate smoothly without any resistance.
There is also a spring on the throttle that helps the throttle close when your foot is lifted off the pedal. Make sure that this spring isn't loose or damaged as this can allow the throttle to stay open when you let up on the gas pedal.
If the problem is somewhere other than the throttle, the next thing to do is disconnect the cable from the pedal. You'll have to crawl under the dash and find where that link is. Once that's disconnected check the pedal to see if it moves smoothly. Check for debris or anything in the pivot at the top of the pedal or anywhere else that might interfere with the pedal operation. Even some carpet fuzz can make the pedal not operate properly. If the problem is in the pedal you most likely can clean that up and get the pedal to operating properly.
While you're under the dash you should also check to see that the spring that is attached to the pedal isn't damaged or loose. Like the spring on the throttle, problems with this spring will prevent the pedal from coming back up when you lift your foot off the pedal and will leave the throttle open.
If the pedal and the throttle are both working right and you're still having problems then you should replace the cable between them. Your auto parts store or the dealer should have the cable available. It might be a bit tricky to remove the old cable and thread the new one through the firewall but if you've verified that is the problem that's what you'll need to do.
Since many of these operations will vary by vehicle it might be a good idea to have a service manual for your specific model. The most common ones in the United States are published by Chilton and Haynes. For this type of work either should be suitable.
If your gas pedal is sticking you need to take care of the problem as quickly as possible. This isn't something you want to take chances with.