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 ...
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.