Print 70 comment(s) - last by kmmatney.. on Jul 19 at 1:15 PM

Driver error cited as cause of fatal crashes in 74 of 75 cases

Toyota, once lavished with praise for its reputation for quality and reliability, took more than a few blows to the chin earlier this year due to concerns of sudden acceleration. The company began recalling many of its popular models – including the Camry, Tundra, Corolla, Highlander, and RAV4 – to replace “sticky” gas pedals.

However, after examining data from 75 fatal crashes which were blamed on “sudden acceleration” due to faulty electronics, the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has come to the conclusion that only one incident was not related to driver error. The incident in question is the high profile crash involving a CHP officer driving a 2009 Lexus ES 350. The vehicle accelerated uncontrollably due to improperly installed floor mats which trapped the accelerator pedal. The crash resulted in the death of four people including the officer.

The NHTSA concluded that the other 74 crashes were a result of driver error -- specifically, drivers were mistaking the accelerator pedal for the brake pedal, according to the Wall Street Journal.

"In spite of our investigations, we have not actually been able yet to find a defect" with Toyota's electronic throttle control said NHTSA associate administrator for enforcement, Daniel Smith.

"We're bound and determined that if it exists we're going to find it. But as yet, we haven't found it."

The NHTSA hasn't completely cleared Toyota, however. The agency still notes that improperly designed floor mats and sticky accelerators that were slow to return to the idle were to blame for some crashes. Toyota itself acknowledged these finding back in January. However, phantom electronic gremlins causing Toyota vehicles to suddenly lose their minds appears to have been tossed out of the equation.

The sudden acceleration drama resulted in the U.S. Department of Transportation fining Toyota $16.4 million for deceiving officials about the widespread nature of stick accelerator pedals. There are also over 100 pending lawsuits against Toyota regarding sudden acceleration.

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Nothing new
By knutjb on 7/14/2010 3:33:04 AM , Rating: 2
The same kind of thing happened to Audi All driver errors. The cars brakes and gas pedal could be held to the floor and the car would not move, drivers wanted to blame someone else for having driven over their kids by pushing the wrong pedal.

As for Toyota's quality rep, I was never that impressed. I know people who have a false sense that the cars are without fault. They didn't go in to get little things fixed but would rip other peoples cars with the same problems. Toyota really isn't any better than other makers and I think most people can see that now. For me, Toyota is analogous to Apple, a good product at a premium price. Though I remember a 2000GT in red going through Goleta Ca, that was the last time a Toyota impressed me.

RE: Nothing new
By superflex on 7/14/2010 12:06:54 PM , Rating: 2
If Toyota could only get rid of the awful LCD displays for the radios, instrument panels, etc. they might not look so damn cheap. Polarizing sunglasses make their displsy impossible to read.
I'll put the reliability of my 2004 Audi A4 up against any Toyota. Not one problem in 6 years of ownership. I chipped the ECU at 35k with an APR Stage 1+ boosting the horsepower from 170 to 235. I replaced the tires at 40K and voluntarily replace the timing belt at 75k. Everything else has been covered by Audi.
My stealership would sometimes put me in a Toyota loaner while the A4 was being serviced. The Prius and Corolla loaners were embarassing to drive and even the Avalon was not up to snuff.

RE: Nothing new
By kmmatney on 7/19/2010 1:15:28 PM , Rating: 2
I have a 1999 Camry, while my co-worker has a 1998 Audi A4. We bought them about 6 months apart, and they are both still running great, although my co-worker has spent quite a bit more money on routine maintenance over the years. In fact, I didn't spend a dime on anything (except for tires, battery, etc..) until 2009, when I finally had the timing belt and EGR valve replaced. So the cost of ownership has been much lower for the Camry.

On the other hand, the Audi has held up great - the paint job still looks perfect (my Camry has some rust spots) and everything still works great on the car. My Camry has a few issues - mostly electrical problems (power seat doesn't go back and forth, and clock and cig. lighter no longer work). I'm willing to put up with the issues - I paid it off in 2001, so like not having a car payment.

So I can vouch for the Audi's reliability, but it does cost more money to keep things running smoothly, compared to the Camry. Of course, the Audi is much more fun to drive.

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