Print 54 comment(s) - last by lyeoh.. on Mar 31 at 12:50 PM

The tail of a comet is not suspected to be the cause of unintended acceleration

Toyota has been hit hard with widespread issues with its Prius and other cars that have suffered from glitches with brakes or unintended acceleration. Toyota was forced to recall a large number of its vehicles to install new parts to prevent wear of the throttle pedal that was the cause of some of the issues.

The last headline-making bout of unintended acceleration happened in early March when police in California had to help a motorist who was reportedly unable to stop his Prius from accelerating. reports that the U.S. Transportation Department has announced that it intends to launch a pair of major investigations that will seek to determine if vehicle electronics or electromagnetic interference are to blame for unintended vehicle acceleration incidents that have been rampant recently.

The investigations will be headed by the National Academy of Sciences and the other will be run by NASA. According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the investigations will not focus on Toyota alone and will focus on all manufacturers. So far, Toyota is the most affected of the automakers and the recall to fix issues with floor mats and throttle pedals has covered 8.5 million of the automakers vehicles so far.

Since 2000, a total of 3,000 complaints including 51 deaths have been linked to Toyota vehicles that failed to stop accelerating. Toyota maintains that EMI and electronics are not the cause of the issue and that trapped or malfunctioning pedals are the cause.

"Many members of Congress think it's electronics and I heard enough of that -- not only from members but from Toyota drivers ... and so we felt we really needed to get outside experts," LaHood said. "We are tapping the best minds around." 

Toyota added, "We expect they will bring a thorough and scientific approach to their examination of the issues. Separating fact from fiction can only be good for the motoring public and the industry as a whole. We are confident in our vehicles and in our electronics. We will lend our full support and cooperation to DOT and NHTSA as they moved forward."

The investigations will reportedly last 15 months and will seek to find and address any safety issues with any vehicle on the road today in America. All possible causes for unintended vehicle acceleration will reportedly be investigated including electronics, human error, mechanical failure, and interference with accelerator systems.

According to LaHood, the department will spend $3 million on the two studies including the cost of buying cars that have allegedly suffered from unintended acceleration. The NHTSA has brought in engineers and other experts for the investigations on topics such as electromagnetic compatibility among others in an attempt to determine if flaws in vehicles on the road warrant a defect investigation. The review of the Toyota electronic throttle control system is expected to be completed by late summer reports the NHTSA.

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RE: Turn off the ignition?
By rvd2008 on 3/30/2010 4:55:57 PM , Rating: 2
Quick questions: can you tell me what happens with steering wheel if you turn off ignition? Will it lock steering? Are you 100% sure? Have you tried this before? What about Camry'10 vs Passat'01 vs Accord'08 ...? Does it matter if your car has anti-theft device or not? Do you know if your car has it?

Now imagine you are in a runaway car on a twisty highway approaching 170 km/h and repeating just one thing "I do not want to die!"

RE: Turn off the ignition?
By porkpie on 3/30/2010 7:02:02 PM , Rating: 2
"can you tell me what happens with steering wheel if you turn off ignition? Will it lock steering?"

No. And the 911 operator in question told the man it wouldn't either.

RE: Turn off the ignition?
By Hoser McMoose on 3/30/2010 9:13:30 PM , Rating: 2
Quick questions: can you tell me what happens with steering wheel if you turn off ignition? Will it lock steering?

Nope. Not in any of the Toyota's affected or in any vehicle I'm aware of.

What WILL happen is that you'll lose your power assist, which will make the vehicle rather difficult to turn once your speed is down below about 40km/h. However at higher speeds driving without power assist isn't that tough on pretty much any modern passenger car.

That being said, the BEST solution is to switch the car into neutral, turn on your 4-way flashers and slow pull off to the side and then turn off your engine.

Really it's NOT that complicated, this sort of thing is taught to every 16 year old taking Driver's Ed. Honestly anyone who can't remain sufficiently calm so as to handle this situation and/or who doesn't know how to switch their car into neutral *REALLY* shouldn't be on the road. If you can't take care of such a simple problem while driving then you'll be in terrible shape if a really tricky emergency avoidance situation comes up.

RE: Turn off the ignition?
By Pryde on 3/31/2010 2:58:43 AM , Rating: 2
Power Steering is driven off the crank.

If you put the vehicle in neutral the engine is still reving and and the vehicle would still have power steering.

If you shut the engine off and leave the vehicle IN GEAR your engine will still be rotating and only at low speed/revs you would lose power steering.

If you put your vehicle in neutral and then shut off the engine @ 170mph ... still able to steer but is very difficult ( often worse than non power assisted vehicle )

RE: Turn off the ignition?
By GTVic on 3/31/2010 4:53:01 AM , Rating: 2
On many newer vehicles the power steering is driven by an electric motor as opposed to being directly connected to the engine. Mazda cars use this system now. Either way the power steering still works.

"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings

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