Print 37 comment(s) - last by Hyperion1400.. on Feb 10 at 10:16 PM

A Congress-ordered investigation by top auto, mechanical, and electronics experts found that driver error was to blame in most cases of Toyota vehicle acceleration. There was no link to electronic defects found.
"There is no electronic-based cause for unintended high-speed acceleration in Toyotas" -- Ray LaHood

Like a blockbuster trial, the verdict of Congress's probe into unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles was eagerly awaited.  Engineering experts at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NASA, Department of Transportation piled through mounds of test data on thousands of vehicles.

Today, Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood released the official verdict: "There is no electronic-based cause for unintended high-speed acceleration in Toyotas."

Toyota, the world's largest automaker by volume, recalled 8 million vehicles over the last year due to problems with the floor mats and electronic accelerator pedals.

What the report found was that the only causes of unwanted acceleration were the previously identified ones -- physical problems with the accelerator pedal design that caused it to stick in place and loose floor mats that could jam the accelerator or brake pedals.  These problems were independent from electronic braking glitches that were affecting Toyota Prius hybrid vehicle. 

The report vindicated Toyota's electronic controls, which have been used in Toyota vehicles since 2002.  The news sent shares of the Japanese automaker's stock 4.5 percent upwards. 

The problems left Toyota's image badly stained.  The issues were suspected to be to blame in 89 acceleration-related deaths.  However, only a few of those were definitively substantiated to be due to the sticking pedal or sliding floor mats.  In most cases, driver error was to blame.  In at least one case the driver appeared to be faking the acceleration to try to sue Toyota. 

Toyota has already paid $50M USD to the U.S. federal government for failing to bring them to the attention of federal regulators, despite being aware of them.  With state and local lawsuits, the automaker could face an estimated $10B USD liability, according to a Reuters report. 

About a year ago, President Akio Toyoda paid Congress a visit to personally apologize for the problems and cover-up.  He stated he was "deeply sorry" for these issues.

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Sticking Pedal
By btc909 on 2/8/2011 4:06:02 PM , Rating: 5
I test drove a 2009 Camry Hybrid that had a stuck pedal. I had to stick my foot under the pedal to get the pedal to unstick. So this article rules out an electronic issues, ok but this article doesn't directly focus on the actual causes, floormat issues & a sticking pedal due to bad design / manufacturing. More of a half arse mention of the actual reasons.

RE: Sticking Pedal
By CZroe on 2/8/2011 4:41:12 PM , Rating: 2
I had a sticky throttle cable in my '81 Toyota Celica that caused me to get stuck at WOT while driving (pushed in the clutched and turned off the ignition). Also, this is where it all started when that police officer and family died in the runaway Lexus. You know what I said when the Prius went out of control here in San Diego? "The dude is lying." I beat the news outlets by days. Take it for what it is (sample data) and don't let your experience alone prejudice you (too small a sample size).

RE: Sticking Pedal
By Fracture on 2/9/2011 4:17:48 PM , Rating: 3
Also don't let unrelated anecdotes about a '81 Celica that most likely had throttle-by-wire and not the electric version in question prejudice you either.

It seems unfair that Toyota could be on the hook for $10B for a non-issue hyped up on collective belief.

RE: Sticking Pedal
By CZroe on 2/10/2011 12:50:13 AM , Rating: 2
That was exactly my point. Despite my experience, I didn't hold it against them and was immediately distrustful of the faker's claims despite all the news agencies failing to use the word "claimed" and saying it out-right happened as the faker said.

RE: Sticking Pedal
By ebakke on 2/8/2011 6:26:36 PM , Rating: 2
That's because the floor mats and sticky pedals were already recognized and fixed by Toyota. They accepted fault, issued a recall, and moved along. On the electronics, however, Toyota vehemently defended itself against wild accusations that went largely unchecked. The article doesn't go into great detail about the other two issues because, well, there's no story there anymore; it's old news.

RE: Sticking Pedal
By ebakke on 2/8/2011 6:27:59 PM , Rating: 3
* by largely unchecked, I mean that people freely bashed Toyota and the news media ran the story over and over and over, without any actual evidence that it was the cause.

RE: Sticking Pedal
By Souka on 2/8/2011 7:03:54 PM , Rating: 4
I liked an article I one of those car mags (Road and Track I think) showing the Prius and othe simalar cars braking capabilities vs engine power...

Most of these mid-sized cars put out about 140hp... the brakes? 300+ HP braking capable...

Most cars stopped from 60-0 with about 20ft more when the gas pedal was held down. I think the Nissan Altima didn't add any distance because they have a throttle cutout feature when the brake pedal is depressed. The emergency brake was also capable of overcoming the engine, but took longer and can cause wheel lockup...

That Lexus and family dying was tragic... but it really saddens me that they had time to make a phone call... DID NOT LISTEN TO THE OPERATOR when instructed to press the brake... turn off the iginition, depress the emergency brake, or lift up on the gas pedal.


RE: Sticking Pedal
By MozeeToby on 2/9/2011 10:49:13 AM , Rating: 3
One exception though, if you (stupidly) eased on the brake and held it there for a long time, you could easily heat up your pads enough that you wouldn't be able to overcome the engine even if you stomped it to the floor later. Why someone would do that is beyond me, but I suppose if you really weren't paying attention to why your car was accelerating and used the brake to keep it at your target speed you could get yourself into trouble.

Otherwise I agree with you. I was driving a old V6 that got stuck wide open and was able to safely drive it the last mile to my destination, pull into the driveway and stop at my regular parking space. And that was about 70 more HP than most of these little Toyotas have.

RE: Sticking Pedal
By AssBall on 2/9/2011 11:26:26 AM , Rating: 3
I have never had any problem shifting from drive to neutral in my Toyota, so as you pointed out, you would have to exercise considerable stupidity to be unable to stop.

I guess rudimentary knowledge of vehicle operation has never been a prerequisite for a drivers license, and that is the real problem here.

RE: Sticking Pedal
By Hyperion1400 on 2/10/2011 10:16:18 PM , Rating: 2
I say we should adopt Finland's requirements, where you basically have to have training as a Rally driver to get a license. It will weed out the idiots/uncoordinated/unconfident people and teach those who do have the pre-reqs to be a decent driver EVERYTHING they will ever need to know.

And yes, switching into neutral is so effortless it makes me cringe when I read some of these reports...

RE: Sticking Pedal
By Alexvrb on 2/9/2011 5:24:29 PM , Rating: 2
There are a lot of factors that could hurt your braking power. Worn brakes, brake fade (stuck in stop and go traffic perhaps), other mechanical/hydraulic brake problems. If you braked with the throttle stuck open and then for some reason released the brake, braking again could prove difficult with the throttle wide open, due to the lack of vacuum. But you should still be able to bring it under control, plus you can drop it into neutral.

But if the vehicle lurches forward unexpectedly in traffic, you might end up rear ending someone. The magazine did these braking @ WOT tests in ideal conditions, not on I-95 in horrendous stop and go traffic. Also, they intentionally did it, so it was IMPOSSIBLE for it to "catch them by surprise". So while there's no excuse for them not hitting the brakes and otherwise trying to bring the vehicle under control, I can see some accidents being cause by people being caught off guard in less-than-ideal conditions.

YES they looked at all the black boxes
By Beenthere on 2/8/2011 4:42:51 PM , Rating: 4
Yes NHTSA and NASA and other investigators looked at the black boxes and possible electrical interference and all four investigation teams reached the same conclusion that the electronics was not the problem. This should come as no surprise if you understand DBW operation.

It's time the people operating the vehicles be held accountable for their actions.

RE: YES they looked at all the black boxes
By walk2k on 2/8/11, Rating: -1
RE: YES they looked at all the black boxes
By Beenthere on 2/8/2011 6:05:55 PM , Rating: 3
Did you even READ the story? There were "NO computer glitches".

The engineers from NHTSA, NASA, the NTSB and other independent accident investigators spent 10 MONTHS examining every aspect of the vehicles in question including all of the black boxes and other evidence and found that the electronics did NOT produce any unintended acceleration. The evidence shows operator error not mechanical or electrical malfunctions.

For the record, manual throttle cables and brakes can malfunction just like DBW and boosted brakes or power steering. No offense intended but you're logic is seriously flawed.

RE: YES they looked at all the black boxes
By walk2k on 2/8/11, Rating: -1
RE: YES they looked at all the black boxes
By Beenthere on 2/8/2011 8:38:18 PM , Rating: 2
NO you didn't read the story being discussed here.

NO you didn't read the story your posted a link to which discusses the Prius which is a hybrid and not the vehicle of discussion.

NO the Prius software doesn't cause unintended acceleration

So the bottom line is you have NO clue what the DailyTech article is about, what it means or the fact that there is NO issues with the Toyota models in question other than operator error.

NO wonder we have people crashing their cars and killing people daily...

RE: YES they looked at all the black boxes
By walk2k on 2/8/11, Rating: -1
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 2/9/2011 12:28:21 PM , Rating: 1
I sort of get what you are saying. But by that logic, you should not fly on any modern aircraft because they use nothing but by-wire controls. They do have redundant systems, but those are by-wire as well.

By chick0n on 2/8/2011 10:51:07 PM , Rating: 2
obviously u have no idea what exactly happen.

please try to understand the object more before you spill more bullshit out, cuz its just gonna make u look even more retarded. Thanks :)

Well Toyota still does have throttle problems.
By cyberguyz on 2/9/2011 10:27:00 AM , Rating: 1
I have taken this up with Toyota already and awaiting a recurrance. While definitely not a stuck throttle problem, I do attribute this to their 'drive by wire' throttle system .

I own a 2010 Toyota Venza. When I purchased it I was assured by Toyota that they had applied all throttle fixes to this car at the factory. I even went so far as to check the manufacture date to be sure it was covered in the factory fixes.

One day driving to work after sitting in -27c temperatures, I drove the car until its engine was fully warmed up. AFTER warmup, whenever I pused the gas pedal more than halfway down, the throttle would cut out for about 1/.3 second, then cut back in violently, then repeat every second or so. The roads were dry. Needless to say I turned right around and *slowly* made my way back home.

When I took it to the dealer later that morning, the car did not do this. As well after the dealer checked out the car's black box, there were no events registered that the car did this. Nor after checking with Toyota Canada were there any reports registered.

My only thought on this is that Toyota implemented a throttle bypass if the brakes are touched (I didn't touch the brakes but if the computer was glitching...). Frankly if I were pulling out into incoming traffic, I would be dead meat.

By GreenEnvt on 2/9/2011 11:59:11 AM , Rating: 2
That symptom could also be something like fuel pump going bad, fuel injectors, or frozen fuel line.
While it's also possible it was some computer glitch, I'd think the other possibilities are more likely.

By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 2/9/2011 12:32:29 PM , Rating: 2
It might also be the traction control system. You are supposed to turn that off in totally icy conditions so the system doesn't seek a wheel with traction non-stop. This would cause the same symptoms: apply throttle, wheel slips, stop throttle, seek wheel with traction, apply throttle, wheel slips, etc. Press the traction control button to turn it off if this happens again, or check the traction control light in the instrument cluster, and if it is blinking or totally red, then disengage the system.

RE: Well Toyota still does have throttle problems.
By Alexvrb on 2/9/2011 5:16:37 PM , Rating: 2
He said the roads were dry. But tell me again who recommends disabling TCS in icy conditions? Modern TCS operates a lot faster than you think it does. I've seen some TCS systems demonstrated. In one case they put a professional driver in a BMW test car and the vehicle couldn't make it up a slippery slope with TCS DISABLED even after repeated attempts, carefully modulating throttle and brake manually, etc. With TCS enabled it crawled right up it with relatively minimal fuss. The system is not only faster than a human, and can modulate brakes on individual wheels, but it can also detect slip quickly on a per-wheel basis.

ABS, TCS, limited slip FTW. Disable only when having fun, preferably if you know what you're doing, and preferably in dry conditions.

By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 2/10/2011 12:04:15 PM , Rating: 2
Toyota recommends turning it off on the AWD vehicles in conditions where there is ice under every wheel. I owned a 2009 Venza, and the delivery person warned me about this. Apparently their control systems get freaked out and constantly seek a wheel with traction. BMW is probably a more sophisticated system, or controls only two wheels perhaps? I don't know. I missed the dry language.

By Deathtwinkie on 2/9/2011 4:46:23 PM , Rating: 3
Clearly the blame for this lies with Obama.
Or could be Sarah Palin
Or could be because of the war in Iraq
Could be El Nino as well.

RE: Um
By YashBudini on 2/9/2011 9:54:49 PM , Rating: 2
You haven't been listening to Mitt Romney.

This, like all of the world's woes, was caused by the godless bleading heart liberals.

By bernardl on 2/8/2011 7:05:28 PM , Rating: 2
Hum... is anyone going to present excuses to Toyota the same way that excuses were demanded from them?

One interesting question through is whether these accusations were genuine or the result of a planned plot to damage the image of Toyota. Is someone going to investigate this?

I am saying that this is an interesting question because it would help foreign companies trying to bring value to US customers hedge the risk of doing business in the country.

Another question is whether a root cause analysis is going to be demanded from all the other manufacturers whose cars were involved in deadly road accidents.


RE: Excuses?...
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 2/9/2011 12:35:51 PM , Rating: 2
I think your conspiracy theory might hold water if you investigated the product liability lawyers in the US instead. They held symposia on how to successfully bring these claims against Toyota (I think there was one in Denver after the bonehead faked a runaway Prius in CA.) In any event, this is a sad day for lawyers.

What Did They Review
By GTVic on 2/8/2011 4:06:43 PM , Rating: 1
In another report I read that they reviewed the data, black boxes, etc. Seems to be almost a statistical analysis. Did this "review" ever actually check the computer control design and software?

RE: What Did They Review
By theapparition on 2/8/2011 4:42:41 PM , Rating: 1
A whole team of government employess and NASA scientists looked at this problem for over 9 months.

So of course not, silly. No time to do that. They most likely didn't do the one thing that would have made the most sense. However, with another 38 months of funding at 3.2bil per year, they think they can get the job done.

This does not surprise me at all
By sxr7171 on 2/8/2011 9:46:42 PM , Rating: 2
I mean come on, people just plain don't know how to properly operate a motor vehicle. They can't even understand basic things like hit the brake which is pedal on the left. Turn off the ignition. Everyone gets a license because you can't really deny people the right to drive since our cities have become so spread out thanks to public policy designed to boost the automobile industry. But seriously more than the half the people who drive should not have licenses. Turning into a road onto the left lane like they own the road, scarcely being able to maneuver their cars around a slight curve in the road without getting half way into an adjacent lane. You see it every day. People can't even differentiate between an accelerator and brake these days. Someone get these people off the road and into public transit. It just needs to happen.

Is the picture off topic?
By YashBudini on 2/9/2011 9:57:07 PM , Rating: 1
Looks like 3 drivers were texting to me.

Does it matter?
By highlander2107 on 2/8/11, Rating: -1
RE: Does it matter?
By mindless1 on 2/8/2011 3:40:58 PM , Rating: 2
Does it matter? Of course it does, if we accept there was a problem the obvious next step is identifying that problem so it can be fixed.

As to whether this news was important to Y O U, so sorry but you forgot to tell anyone what you wanted to read today.

RE: Does it matter?
By Brandon Hill on 2/8/2011 3:44:11 PM , Rating: 5
I think the point being made by is that a few accidents were narrowed down to either improperly installed floormats **facepalm** or a "rogue" sticking gas pedal. The rest of them are simply driver error/stupidity (i.e. hitting the gas instead of the brake).

All this report does is put water on the flames claiming that there is some widespread software/electrical problem causing Toyotas to go crazy.

RE: Does it matter?
By Galcobar on 2/9/2011 6:29:07 AM , Rating: 2
Not sure how many people were paying attention to the news in the late 1980s when Audi went through pretty much exactly the same thing.

It took a three-year investigation by the NHSTA to conclude that reports of sudden acceleration out of park or low speed were due to driver error (primary reason was evidently a tighter pedal spacing that was common in U.S. cars at the time).

The thousands of reports on Toyota were a form of mob mentality -- or the power of suggestion. A genuine issue, the sticky gas pedals (which was a matter of a slow pedal return) and improperly installed floor mats (which required you to ignore the hooks Toyota mats use to prevent mat movement) became an idea. That idea was seized upon by anyone who had an accident in a Toyota as an explanation which absolved them of responsibility.

Human nature. We're so good at self-delusion that one woman claimed it was ageist and sexist to suggest driver error when a video showed she never hit the brakes as she drove into a building.

The Toyota defence was born. Even managed an acquittal for a man previously convicted, and his Toyota wasn't one involved in the recalls.

RE: Does it matter?
By LRonaldHubbs on 2/8/2011 3:51:22 PM , Rating: 2
You answered your own question:
The report states the cause was because of a defect in the pedal, not because of an electronic system.

If the report had ruled that the electronic system was to blame, then that would mean the mechanical fix a year ago didn't solve it, lives are still in danger, and they have to do another recall.

Try thinking next time before declaring the news 'pointless'.

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