Skip to comments.The Toyota Problem: Is It Driver Error?
Posted on 03/28/2010 5:38:29 AM PDT by raptor22
Toyota chased General Motors for years until finally passing the General to become the world's largest automaker, and now...disaster. Reports of runaway Toyotas are all over the news. The ghost of 1980's Audi is haunting Toyota. Now, we have to find out if the problem is with the car or the driver.
Walter Olson at National Review and Richard A. Schmidt at the New York Times surprisingly have the same opinion: They both believe it is primarily driver error. They blame the runaway car problem on older drivers. The over-60 generation is taking it on the chin this year -- first the threat of death panels and cuts in medicare, and now this.
In fact, I believe that driver error is the least likely cause of most of these accidents. I agree with both authors that the majority of unintended acceleration claims against Audi in the mid-eighties was more than likely thanks to driver error. The sensationalized "60 Minutes" story almost put Audi out of business. However, that doesn't mean that we are seeing the same situation now.
Elderly drivers stepping on the wrong pedal by mistake is just one possibility that investigators are looking into. The list of possible culprits includes sticking accelerator pedals, out-of-place floor mats, a computer glitch, and even cosmic rays. Let's examine each of these potential causes one by one.
(Excerpt) Read more at americanthinker.com ...
No, it's deliberate slander by the socialist state controlled media.
Most cars today have some form of throttle control that the computer actually controls. I have not seen any discussion about that. It could simply be that the car's computer takes over during some malfunction and causes the car's "throttle" to go to full open.
We really have to quit with this mild speculation BS. Being overly consumed with turning every stone is insane when the plain and simple truth is that the Marxist administration wants Toyota trashed because it’s non union. End of story.
The article mentions a few important things : A tragedy (That I hadn’t heard) of a State Police officer, off duty, with his family in a loaner Lexus. Car jumped to over 100 mph. All occupants died. That’s a professionally trained driver !
Steve Wozniak of Apple had an unintended accel problem, taking him to 97 mph without being to slow it. He finally got it slowed, perhaps understanding the software and how to cancel commands. (I’m being serious.. I would immediately think to to override software instead of just screaming)
Then studies that show the “long press” of the start button taking 3.3 seconds to work in a Camry. That same V6 Camry went from 60 mph to 80 mph during that time. 3 seconds is an eternity.
These cars and their toys are getting out of hand. I blame a lot of things - not just Toyota specifically.
I think there’s too much technology involved these days.
When it isn’t malfunctioning and siezing control from the driver, its allowing the driver’s mind to wander away from the road. Same with trains and planes.
Now’s the time to get a Toyota for 0% interest for five years, no money down. I just did.
Why won’t Toyota release the black box info and the code to read it. That would settle the arguement.
You got that right.
Forcing people into smaller and smaller vehicles by mandate and brow beating them has resulted in people driving vehicles that are physically incompatible.
I've had difficulty with my size 13 feet also hitting the gas pedal at the same time as the brake on even large SUVs’.
Perhaps for once we should examine the facts and the truth before we drag CEOs’ in front of the most corrupt, lying and disgusting group of morons ever assembled in one location.
Is It Driver Error? even CNN did a report that most of the run away cars happened near high voltage grid systems most cars have shielded computers might be the problem.
People have been stepping on gas instead of brakes for decades . Suddenly its the factories fault!
I cannot claim to be any type of expert in this area, but I have been responding to car accidents for over 20 years as a professional firefighter. I am no big fan of Toyotas, the only foreign car I have owned in my life was a little Mazda GLC. But I would tend to question whether Toyotas have any worse safety record than any other brand of automobile. This reminds me of many other primrily lawyer based auto safety scares... tipsy Suzuki Samaris, Chevy trucks that explode, Firestone tires causing roll-overs... in the end they all turned out to be mostly hype.
I wouldn’t necessarily blame driver error, although in my experience many persons blame their car after they screw up. Many of us have had a throttle stick on us during our driving experiences. I know I have. Most persons who have had it happen managed to deal with it without getting in an accident. In the 67 Ford of my youth, all I had to do was turn the key off. In most newer cars the safest option is to shift the car into neutral which is what my wife had to do in her old Plymouth.
The tragic accident with the Law Enforcement Officer most likely could have been avoided if he would have shifted the car into neutral. And by the way... if you accidently shifted it into park the pin won’t catch until the vehicle is almost stopped which most the time won’t actually cause an expensive repair. When I took drivers education, part of the course dealt with mechanical malfunctions and emergencies.
We can argue about why the cars accelerate, but we then have to argue about why they never put on the brakes.
Primary power wires generate strong magnetic fields. Most shielding--and car electronics goes through extensive interference testing--is designed to protect against electrostatic and electromagnetic fields, but is less effective against low frequency (60 Hz for power) magnetic fields. You need to remember a little physics to undertand the difference. I suppose it's worth looking into.
Give the the computer another input besides braking an interrupt command. Set the cruise control and turn off cruise.
Not necessarily. The black box records what the vehicle does, not what the driver does. If the accelerator pedal electronically controls the acceleration, instead of the old fashioned mechanical linkage, it would show the same results if either pedal was pushed to the floor, or a failure of the electronics told the computer the pedal was to the floor.
The computer data from all the cars systems is carried on a common data bus. A short circuit or failure of any component on the data bus could affect other systems.
“Is It Driver Error?”
]Double Hell no!. I have been driving a Prius since they were introduced. Never had a problem. Not one.!
The new 2010’s have a unique cruise control however, Unlike american cruise controls, holding up or down on the cruise lever for more than 3 seconds the unit will advance 5 mph and continue to increase 5mph as long as you hold it up or down.
Most american cars just execrate until you let go. I have mentioned this to the dealer and they were unaware of this change. It is in the manual however; but who ever reads the fine print. Toyota should make this new change in really bold print.
That said, they are the greatest cars since the NSX.
Another example of our tax dollars at work propping this azzhole up.
Hmm. Come to think of it, I haven't seen the Toyota Tundra pickups or Land Cruisers mentioned in connection with these problems.
Magnetic fields play hell on chips if any pc board has a wiskering problem the fields may cause a problem.
The cure for Toyota is to knuckle down to Bozo the -resident HMFIC and get “unionized” ... the problem goes away!
Two squirts of WD-40 in the accelerator channel during normal maintenance solves the run away problem.
“Braking Results” Post
Looks like the Car and Driver study. Driver error for sure.
The problem with using the brakes is that you only have one shot at it. You have to put the brakes on hard and bring it to a full stop. If you’re indecisive about it, the brakes overheat and lose their effectiveness.
Most cars today have some form of throttle control that the computer actually controls. I have not seen any discussion about that. It could simply be that the car’s computer takes over during some malfunction and causes the car’s “throttle” to go to full open.
Yes, that is exactly what it is.
I too was amazed to see very little discussion of this possibility.
How do I know?
Happened to me, in 1982, in one of my 3 Audis that I owned at the time since I liked them;
I was driving along a quiet rural road at 35 mph and suddenly the car just took off at 80+ mph - I was NOT stepping on both pedals, the cruise control just suddenly kicked in and the car took off at very high speed; quite surprising;so I stood on the brake pedal with BOTH feet and the accelerator pedal was released i.e. popped back up ... you could hear it pop up. ... actually, happened to me twice with my Audi 5000, twice in 8 years of ownership, but not my other two Audi cars.
I didn’t sue anyone. Didn’t even report it. Figured if it happened again I would just stand on the brake pedal with both feet and solve the problem myself.
I had purchased the Audi 5000 brand new from the dealer in Redondo Beach / Palos Verdes, where I was living at the time.
...if any pc board has a whiskering problem the fields may cause a problem..
Yeah, but whiskering is evident on post-accident microscopic examination. I find it hard to believe that the chips in cars that accelerated haven’t been through a thorough inspection. Maybe they have, but I haven’t heard anyone mention it.
Also, one would expect any whiskers to be distributed throughout the affected chip, so that it would malfunction in a variety of ways. Most wouldn’t result in uncontrolled acceleration—rather, the unit would exhibit a bunch of different failure modes. In that case, you’d expect the control system to have a reputation for general unreliability, which I don’t believe it has.
You haven’t been paying attention. The police officer that crashed the Lexus loaner panicked. They had the wrong size floor mat in the car and it was upside down. It became wadded up around the brake and accelerator and caused the problem. All the driver needed to do was put the transmission in neutral and pull over to the side. He didn’t.
“The problem with using the brakes is that you only have one shot at it. You have to put the brakes on hard and bring it to a full stop. If youre indecisive about it, the brakes overheat and lose their effectiveness.”
Actually, if you use your brakes, your car will stop, regardless of accelerator setting. The only thing ineffective about brakes is that they do not work when they are not applied.
“Figured if it happened again I would just stand on the brake pedal with both feet and solve the problem myself.”
Why do you think they want you to use “both feet”?
It’s because you’ll have to take your other foot off of the accelerator to accomplish this.
My mom has a 2009 Camry and while driving the car slips into neutral easily (as a test, no accelerator issue). Maybe I am missing something, but how could a Highway Patrolman not put it in neutral?
I guess it is easy to second guess after the fact and not in the situation...but still...
The brakes will stop the car but you have to stomp them hard and bring the car to a stop. If you push them a little bit, then let up, then push them again, then let up, etc., the brakes will overheat and lose their effectiveness. You have to decide you’re really going to do it and then do it.
One of the car magazines did an article on this. They tested a 6cyl Camry and a V8 Mustang and in both cases found the brakes overcame the motor. However, they pointed out that if you didn’t do it right — i.e. if you didn’t decisively bring the car to a stop — the results might be different.
I got a recall notice from Toyota saying the floor mats caused the acceleration problem. My thought, "huh?" The floor mats are held in place by two hooks attached to the floor carpet and go through the rivets in the floor mat. I even used a thick rubber mat on top of this, because of all the snow we get. One season ruins carpeted floor mats. Never had a problem, couldn't see how their could be a problem here. Ignored the recall.
You’re an engineer so I’m sure you recognize that this is an energy problem. Brakes can only dissipate so much heat before they become ineffective. A single episode of extreme braking with the accelerator floored is not beyond their dissipation limits. But apparently repeated episodes where the car is not fully stopped is. Or let’s say that the car wants to go 100mph but you ride the brakes for several minutes keeping it at 70mph because you’re panicked and don’t know what to do. That is a huge amount of heat accumulating in the brakes — enough to make them become ineffective. So the moral of the story seems to be that you must bring the car to a decisive stop the first time.
Figured if it happened again I would just stand on the brake pedal with both feet and solve the problem myself.
Why do you think they want you to use both feet?
Its because youll have to take your other foot off of the accelerator to accomplish this.
Uh, there was no one wanting me to use both feet.
Believe me, the car just zoomed from normal cruising, driving speed, to top speed- or at least it tried to.
I chose to use both feet to keep from going 100 mph on a 35 mph road.
I stood on top of the brake pedal.
I don’t know about all the others as I was not there.
I read all the stories about granny mistaking one pedal for the other.
But that is not what happened to me, twice. I was not trying to park. I did not panic.
Steeping with tremendous force on the brake pedal made the car’s computer release the accelerator pedal.
Others have reported the same.
Most cars today have some form of throttle control that the computer actually controls. I have not seen any discussion about that. It could simply be that the car's computer takes over during some malfunction and causes the car's "throttle" to go to full open.I'm going to agree with ray here and explain why.
I know about this in "hermetic" military electronics, but do dendrites grow well in potted ICs?
He was a “professionally trained” driver, per the article. I’m sorry for his death, but shifting to neutral is something you learn in driver’s ed when you’re 15.
Correct. Nobody can make a machine with literally thousands, if not millions (once one included electronic junctions and code) of critical elements without the machine becoming too complex to be reliable. At that point, system redundancy becomes necessary, which costs too much weight and money.
I want crank windows, manual door locks, and a stick shift. Give me a simple car that goes like a bat out of hell, handles well, stops fast, carries a lot of stuff, and gets decent mileage.
My Saturn SW2 does all that, albeit the seats suck. 35MPG at 85MPH. 200K miles with 95% leak-down compression or better on the original clutch (and I live in mountains). I can't get one any more.
Brakes can glaze over and become ineffective when a thin layer of the lining melts over on the pad from too much heat. Now this is the older type pads I am use to when I was a kid, perhaps the new pads are different, I don’t know.
A normal brake pad has more than enough friction to stop a car, I believe it is required by law (if memory serves) but if they get too hot they do degrade considerably. Back in my youth we use to do brake torques on our cars, breaking the drive tire free while holding the car still and smoking the tires until the steel belts started sparking. You had to fry your drive tire brakes to do it with a lower horsepower car, but once you did it a couple of times it got easier and easier when you slicked the surface over.
I also remember when I was on my bus going to school way back when and the brakes caught fire because the driver had the emergency brakes on while she was doing her route, it was a diesel bus with air brakes but she had enough power in the engine to override the friction.
I still can’t figure out what burned though unless the heat melted a brake line and the fluid was what was burning, all I really remember is how bad it stunk.
The author starts with the premise that driver error does not cause the crash, but then makes repeated comments showing mistakes people make while driving. Poorly reasoned article, IMO.
“We can’t be sure that the average driver in a panic situation would react the same as the experts at Car and Driver. If the driver is not applying the brakes properly...”
“A shift to neutral is your best bet, but who can say what’s going through a driver’s mind ...”
“it’s easy to see how the average driver could panic and release the brakes or take the transmission out of park...”
Brake. Neutral. Stop.
It ain’t hard, and anyone who doesn’t is committing “driver error”!
It is right up there with Global Warming ... same crowd, same mirrors ...uh ... only they aren't using the mirrors any more so you don't have to "figure it out" ... its just right there to see.
What we learned from Mr. Toyoda is it does no good to play ball with these evil uglies on a level playing field.
My Saturn SW2 does all that, albeit the seats suck.
See if Corbeau has a version of its Sport Seat that'll fit it - you could enjoy a better seat for quite a while, then when you finally sell that Saturn, you can pull those seats out and sell 'em to a Mustang or Camaro enthusiast (they get the Corbeaus reupholstered to match the '60s style interior). Those seats are designed for daily drivers and can be obtained with inflatable lumbar supports.
Seriously, if you like the car and it's in good shape, investigate the aftermarket seat options. Beats buying a newer car just to be comfortable. I have the Corbeaus in a '65 Mustang - even the wife likes them.
When Audi had the same problen I never did hear what they did to fix it?.
Most auto computers have heavy shielding to prevent computer failure sometimes they don’t get it right.