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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.

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