Toyota Still in Denial about what Causes Runaway Acceleration
January 31st, 2010Toyota won’t admit ECM boards are causing the problem.
by James Buchanan
Back in August, 2009, an off-duty CHP officer was driving a Lexus, which experienced a runaway acceleration in southern California near the town of Santee. One news article describes the event “CHP Officer Mark Saylor, 45; his wife, Cleofe, 45; his daughter, Mahala, 13; and his brother-in-law, Chris Lastrella, 38, were all killed in the Aug. 28 crash in Santee. Police said someone in the 2009 Lexus ES 350 called 911 just after 6:30 p.m. to report that the car’s accelerator was stuck. The car was a loaner because Saylor had dropped off his regular vehicle for service. Witnesses say the Lexus was going about 100 mph on northbound state Route 125 when it slammed into the rear of a Ford Explorer, plowed over a curb and went through a fence before hitting an embankment and going airborne. The Lexus reportedly rolled several times before bursting into flames in the San Diego River Basin.”
One of the passengers called a 911 operator, but it was too late. The driver had burnt up the brakes trying to fight the accelerator. The car was doing 120 miles per hour and only had a half mile until the freeway ended. Just ten seconds after the 911 operator was called the passengers let out a scream and all four people in the car were dead.
The correct procedure for a runaway acceleration is to put the vehicle in neutral as soon as possible and to hit the brakes. It’s OK to fight the accelerator with the brakes but only for a few seconds. If you try to fight the accelerator with the brakes for much longer than that, you will eventually burn up the brakes.
You want to push down on the brakes as hard as possible, and you also want to shift into neutral as quickly as possible. If the engine is revving at or above the redline, you should turn the engine off, although you’ll lose the power assist on the brakes and steering. One important thing to remember is that some Toyotas do not shut off their electrical systems immediately like American cars do. They stay on for a few seconds, which is why you should shift to neutral immediately since the electrical system could take a while to shut down.
After the fatal four person crash in Santee, California, Toyota announced that the accident had been caused by the floor mats. Millions of Toyota owners threw their floor mats in the trunk, and thought they were safe. Toyota should have been honest about the accident and told people they didn’t know what caused the accident and that people should be prepared to throw the vehicle in neutral while hitting the brake if their accelerator became stuck.
Not everyone believed the floor mat story. The same news article notes “Mille Miasmal knows all too well about stuck pedals causing a car crash. As she first told San Diego 6 in an exclusive interview immediately following the Saylor crash, the pedal in her Lexus became stuck, causing her own car crash. ‘The biggest concern was not to hit any pedestrians or to hit another car…Ultimately we ended up hitting somebody…’ said Mussomeli. ‘Our airbag deployed, their’s did not and they were taken to the hospital. They were badly hurt’ said Mussomeli. All involved ended up OK. Mussomeli’s husband was driving a 2004 Lexus ES330, which is not part of the recall list. Still, she thinks Officer Saylor’s death was not totally caused by the floor mats. ‘I think it is a mechanical problem and I don’t think the mat situation is going to solve it’ she said. ‘They are shirking their responsibility and blaming it on the mats…’ ”
There’s a very good chance that the runaway acceleration problem is caused by the Electronic Control Module (ECM) also known as the car’s electronic brain. Toyota however will not want to admit this because the ECM board is one of the most expensive items on the car, and replacing millions of ECM boards would be financially catastrophic for Toyota.
Toyota should have at least warned people that the runaway acceleration problem might still exist, and that it can be overcome by braking and shifting into neutral as soon as possible. If Toyota had done that, they could have saved the lives of four people in Texas, who died in a Toyota Avalon.
A second news article reports “Safety expert Sean Kane tells ABC News that since last fall, when Toyota said it had solved the acceleration problem with proposed changes to gas pedals and a recall of 4.2 million cars with suspect floor mats, more than 60 new cases of runaway Toyotas have been reported. He believes this latest recall may still not be a complete fix of a problem that continues to be linked with serious accidents and deaths. In the most tragic incident, on the day after Christmas, four people died in Southlake, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, when a 2008 Toyota sped off the road, through a fence and landed upside down in a pond. The car’s floor mats were found in the trunk of the car, where owners had been advised to put them as part of the recall.”
Removing the floor mats did not solve the problem, and now Toyota is claiming that the problem is due to defective gas pedals. There’s just one little problem with that. Some of the incidents occurred at a time when the driver was NOT stepping on the accelerator.
One story on a blog reports that a Toyota Camry experienced a runaway acceleration while the car was stopped and the driver’s foot was off the accelerator. In this case, the car was dragged across the intersection until the driver presumably killed the engine or put the car in neutral.
In order for the “stuck accelerator” pedal to make sense, the driver would have to be flooring the accelerator at the time, and there are at least three stories where the car was being driven normally or was stopped when the car suddenly went into a maximum acceleration. This strongly suggests that there is some electronic defect in the cruise control and the ECM board that is causing this problem.
Seems like Toyota is willing to blame the problem on anything-but the expensive ECM board.
Hopefully, another car load of people won’t die as Toyota continues to evade telling the truth.
Other car companies have experienced runaway acceleration. Ford had 3,000 cases of runaway acceleration, which resulted in deaths in the US and Britain in the 1990s.
It’s potentially dangerous to let the electronic control module control the acceleration, but people love cruise control, and that means letting the ECM control the acceleration. It’s an even worse idea not to have some fool-proof accelerator cut off mechanism that is activated when the brake is depressed. It would be nice to have a switch in the vehicle to turn off the ECM control of the acceleration and switch to an old style mechanical control. Maybe now some car companies will do this. Most likely there will be more problems with runaway acceleration after Toyota replaces the gas pedals. Maybe then, Toyota will finally admit it’s a problem with the ECM board.
Toyota to pay $16M settlement, California district attorney says
Published April 05, 2013
LOS ANGELES – A California district attorney has reached a $16 million settlement with Toyota Motor Corp. over a safety recall of vehicles that were at risk for unintended acceleration.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas on Friday announced the settlement of a suit against the carmaker that claimed deceptive business practices and sought $2,500 per violation under the state's Unfair Business Practices Act.
Numerous lawsuits were filed against Toyota after the carmaker's 2009 and 2010 recalls in the United States because of acceleration problems and braking issues.
The automaker has blamed driver error, faulty floor mats and stuck accelerator pedals for the problems.
Evidence to the contrary!
In a statement released Friday, Toyota general counsel Christopher P. Reynolds says the company is turning the page on the recalls to restore its reputation for safety and reliability.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2013/04/05/toyota-to-pay-16m-settlement-california-district-attorney-says/?test=latestnews#ixzz2Pm8ncZUl