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Toyotas Suddenly Accelerate; Owners Up In Arms

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the off-to-a-bad-start dept.

Transportation 1146

cyclocommuter writes "Some Toyota owners are up in arms as they suspect that accidents have been caused by some kind of glitch in the electronic computer system used in Toyotas that controls the throttle. Refusing to accept the explanation of Toyota and the federal government (it involves the driver's-side floor mat), hundreds of Toyota owners are in rebellion after a series of accidents caused by what they call 'runaway cars.' Four people have died." The article notes: "The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has done six separate investigations of such acceleration surges in Toyotas since 2003 and found no defect in Toyota's electronics."

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Carmakers lie (1, Offtopic)

loonwings (1519397) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973486)

BMW insists there's nothing wrong with their electronics even though every single one of their cars indicates 4-6 MPH over true speed.

Re:Carmakers lie (4, Interesting)

Ark42 (522144) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973504)

You get more MPG if the odometer is tied to a speedometer that is calibrated to show a higher speed, and thus greater distance traveled.

Re:Carmakers lie (0, Redundant)

loonwings (1519397) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973526)

I don't believe the odometer is tied to the speedometer; GPS data indicates 4-6 mph less than the speedo reads, but the mileage covered is always accurate. Still, the MPG indicators seem to be a bit high too. Fucking Germans. If the rest of the car wasn't amazing I'd be pissed.

Re:Carmakers lie (2, Insightful)

Ark42 (522144) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973606)

My Hyundai nearly always shows 3mph higher than my GPS. My GPS always agrees with the street-side radar things that flash your speed at you exactly. I never actually compared the long distance odometer readings to actual distance traveled to figure out if the speedometer needle is just aimed a few degrees too far to the right, or if the calibration of the axle rotation to distance traveled is just slightly off. I suppose it could be either one, but it's less evil to think that auto manufacturers just want you to drive slower and saver by tricking you into thinking you are going faster than you actual are that it is to think that they are trying to inflate their MPG figures.

Re:Carmakers lie (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29973756)

Look at that a fucking Jew winning by throwing $100 million at buying democracy. Be prepared for nationwide decay where Jews have the best jobs while gentiles are dying in the streets. Good job you fucking kike hippies and you stupid spics.

Re:Carmakers lie (1)

Lakitu (136170) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973794)

Every odometer I've ever had was tied to the speedometer. How do you think they work? I even knew someone who disconnected the speedometer on a German made car in order to keep the mileage down. On the highway you could judge your speed by the number of RPMs, and use normal judgment otherwise.

Perhaps your GPS is in error?

Re:Carmakers lie (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973508)

Thats a feature. I am sure the fuel tank indicates low as well.

Re:Carmakers lie (1)

loonwings (1519397) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973594)

Most, if not all, fuel gauges in recent cars indicate lower than actual.

Re:Carmakers lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29973770)

Maybe I'm misreading this, but it's higher than actual. As in they hover around 3/4 tank and then drop like a stone until maybe 1/4 tank.

And Honda was busted for slow odometers (i.e. better fuel economy and longevity)

Re:Carmakers lie (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973788)

    Some cars do that because of the shape of the fuel tank too. Mine has a float in it, but the bottom of the tank is smaller than the top, so the first quarter tank is larger than the last. It's still fairly close. It's good enough to estimate my travel distance on an Interstate at a fixed speed (when that's possible). Just below empty still leaves 2 gallons though. :)

Re:Carmakers lie (1)

jaavaaguru (261551) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973548)

I've had a couple of cars that did that - based on a GPS unit's opinion of the actual speed. The car i have now says it is going at the same speed that the same GPS unit says. The two cars that got it wrong were in Europe and the other is in the US.

Re:Carmakers lie (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973590)

You should never say "every single one" when there is a counterexample sitting in my driveway.

Besides, I doubt that every single BMW ever made indicates 4-6 MPH when parked.

Re:Carmakers lie (1)

loonwings (1519397) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973642)

I'm more willing to say 10% higher than indicated, but there seems to be a little bit of a curve. Also, I tend to concentrate on the road when in the lower echelons of speed. :P

Re:Carmakers lie (3, Funny)

Lakitu (136170) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973832)

The BMWs I can remember all indicate 10 mph while parked.

(the scale is from 10 mph to 160 mph)

Re:Carmakers lie (1)

Fotograf (1515543) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973630)

every car in europe does it. it is made to cover difference in accepted tires and measurement error (against speed radars etc) and yes, traveled distance is affected by that too

Re:Carmakers lie (1)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973744)

Maybe your tires are just low on air.

Re:Carmakers lie (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973754)

    Actually, the details I read on this were something like 10% over the actual ground speed. The ones built for European dealerships are worse about it than the American destinations. From what I read on the matter, most European cars do it to some degree, as a "safety feature". Even though the roads are rated for a speed, it will encourage drivers of their cars to drive a little slower, and make it appear that the cars are safer (lower incidents of speed related accidents, blah, blah, blah)

    In my American car (built in Canada with parts primarily sourced from Canada and Mexico), the speedometer is dead on with the GPS, which is nice. I have my GPS mounted at the roofline on the windshield, so I only have to glance up a few degrees, rather twice as far down to the actual speedometer. Both come pretty close to the road side "your speed is" signs. Unfortunately, the road side signs fluctuate +-3mph (usually). It makes me wonder about the accuracy of radar guns. If I'm not in traffic, I usually set my cruise control, so I don't accidentally get a ticket, so my speed doesn't fluctuate (according to the speedo and the GPS).

Re:Carmakers lie (1)

maharb (1534501) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973840)

Its not just BMW that does this. I am assuming they do it so they can't be blamed for people going too fast as well as protecting their customers from speeding as often. Its not like your BMW can't go way faster then it needs to anyway so who cares. As others have mentioned car gas gauges work in the same way. Show empty early to protect the customer from running out.

Of course this generates problems once everyone finds out and decides to ignore the gauges.

Re:Carmakers lie (1)

Rising Ape (1620461) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973854)

In the UK at least, a speedometer must be accurate to within +10% and -0%, i.e. it must not underread. The obvious solution is for the manufacturers to design the thing to overread by a bit (e.g. 5%), so that any error is still likely to be in the acceptable range.

Is the law similar elsewhere?

PEBAAC (5, Funny)

jaavaaguru (261551) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973490)

Problem exists between accelerator and chair?

Re:PEBAAC (5, Insightful)

wing03 (654457) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973656)

I'd think not. It's called "drive by wire" technology. I bought an '09 Civic and the thing has a sensor attached to the gas pedal instead of the traditional wire directly to a butterfly valve. I read somewhere that if the PCM didn't think things were right, there's a failsafe "limp home" mode that trips the throttle plate to some slightly higher than idle position and disconnects the pedal and any other controls. One of the sales guys who I met in the process of buying this car insisted that the computer controlled throttle makes it more responsive and safer. Throttle by wire IMO, is fucking with the KISS rule.

Re:PEBAAC (4, Insightful)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973812)

    I have a friend with a car that has a drive by wire throttle, to facilitate the traction control. That car is now having a problem when accelerating. It's only at particular throttle positions, but it acts funny. My car with a good ol' fashion cable between the pedal and throttle body is very very reliable. If the cable goes, I can replace it fairly cheap. It's much more expensive to replace the more exotic parts.

Re:PEBAAC (5, Informative)

pandaman9000 (520981) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973818)

Throttle by wire has been proven to be extremely responsive. More importantly, it is part of a closed-loop operation, whereby the ECU can properly evaluate requested levels versus actual in pretty much everything. If the fuel line is pinched, for example, flooring it would cause devastating detonation, EXCEPT in "by wire". Once the fuel present was mismatched to the air, the ECU would force the throttle to close somewhat, regardless of pedal position. The exception is in many cases of a wide open throttle request, when some output levels like fuel overrich are ignored, and the ECU uses an internal map of what "should be going in and out, given the max power request.

It is exceedingly easy to test the Throttle Positioning Sensor in modern vehicles. In fact, your ECU probably tests idle throttle position every time you turn the key on for a while without staring the engine. The ECU will also log 'implausible signal' for TPS that get an out of range reading, or inconsistent reading throughout the range.

Note: This information was gathered while researching diagnosing my personal car, a B5 Audi S4. It is a summary, not the automotive gospel.

This sounds like people getting paid for being stupid. I do not approve, but who am I, eh?

Re:PEBAAC (1, Insightful)

DieByWire (744043) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973904)

...It's called "drive by wire" ...

and it's nicknamed 'die-by-wire'.


Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29973886)

Cruise control problem? I once drove a Chevy Caprice Classic with a serious cruise control malfunction. Engage cruise at 35mph or higher, gas pedal went all the way to the floor and stayed there until the brake pedal was pressed or the cruise control was turned off. Now granted, a Caprice Classic is not a Toyota, but IMHO it's still worth looking at cruise control as a possible factor in the reported acceleration surge problems.

Put the damn thing in neutral! (5, Insightful)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973502)

I have to say that the decline in manual transmission driving has really diminished people's driving abilities. It's one thing that the there's an acceleration issue. It's another thing to not consider putting the car in neutral when something like this is encountered.

Re:Put the damn thing in neutral! (4, Insightful)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973530)

because everyone is always so clear headed when their vehicle suddenly accelerates for no clear reason,and\or has the time to calm down before they collide with something.

Re:Put the damn thing in neutral! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29973554)

The case the media is portraying constantly had enough time to call 911 and ask for help.

Neither driver nor emergency responder thought of this solution that really should be second nature if you've had THAT much time to react.

Now, other cases may have been less lucky but for that specific case its kinda darwinistic.

Re:Put the damn thing in neutral! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29973636)

It would be second nature to put the vehicle in neutral if the driver has ever driven a stick-shift for a reasonable period of time. Since anyone who can't drive a stick is automatically a pussy, they get no sympathy =)

Re:Put the damn thing in neutral! (2, Insightful)

luftrofl (1212770) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973678)

because everyone is always so clear headed when their vehicle suddenly accelerates for no clear reason,and\or has the time to calm down before they collide with something.

I apologize in advance if you're NOT being sarcastic. That should be one of the first things that comes to mind- close to but before or after using the brakes depending how fast the driver recognizes the cause of the sudden increase in speed. If one isn't "clear headed" enough to get out of a situation like this, then one shouldn't be driving.

Re:Put the damn thing in neutral! (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973732)

Absolutely. It's driver's ed 101. If your car is accelerating on its own, put it in neutral and brake. Sure, one can come up with a scenario where you don't have time to react before you hit something, but that apparently wasn't the case with this story.

Re:Put the damn thing in neutral! (1)

Known Nutter (988758) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973922)

Shifting to neutral, steering, and braking in a coordinated fashion seems like a simple operation until you throw the iPod, cell phone, coffee cup, navigation unit, screaming kid, makeup, and stupidity into the equation.

Re:Put the damn thing in neutral! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29973762)

If you're not cleared-headed enough to handle this situation you're not capable of driving period.

Re:Put the damn thing in neutral! (2, Interesting)

Predius (560344) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973596)

With Toyota Hybrids, the gearshift lever is just a switch for all positions other than park. Flip it all you want between R, N, D, B and all you're doing is asking the ECU to alter what it does with the 'synergy drive', it doesn't change any gears.

I've played around a bit with my Highlander Hybrid, it does some odd stuff... Put it in Park or Neutral, give it gas, and it'll fire up the gas engine and rev it a bit? Floor the brake pedal, give it some gas, and again, it'll rev the gas engine but not transmit any power to the wheels?

Re:Put the damn thing in neutral! (1)

Stupendoussteve (891822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973658)

This is so people can feel important when they rev their noisy engine and/or signal a street race. Unfortunately it doesn't sound like the Highlander includes the automatic throttle feature.

Re:Put the damn thing in neutral! (2, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973728)

With Toyota Hybrids, the gearshift lever is just a switch for all positions other than park. Flip it all you want between R, N, D, B and all you're doing is asking the ECU to alter what it does with the 'synergy drive', it doesn't change any gears.

If that's true for N, I smell a lawsuit. Neutral had always meant "physically disconnect engine from wheels". Are you absolutely sure you're correct? I wouldn't ever drive a car in which this isn't true.

I've played around a bit with my Highlander Hybrid, it does some odd stuff... Put it in Park or Neutral, give it gas, and it'll fire up the gas engine and rev it a bit? Floor the brake pedal, give it some gas, and again, it'll rev the gas engine but not transmit any power to the wheels?

What's strange about it, and how does it prove your point? Now if you gave it gas on Neutral and it'd drive, then yeah...

Re:Put the damn thing in neutral! (4, Funny)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973822)

Are you asking us questions or what? I want to take those as statements of fact but it's like you're teasing us with some inappropriate punctuation or something.

Re:Put the damn thing in neutral! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973896)

With automatic transmissions these days there is this legacy behavior whereby at idle on level ground with no brakes applied the car will creep forward slowly. So now if you want to cross the road you have to dodge creeping cars. I think the default should be for gentle braking with no pedals pressed. With hybrids and electric cars it should be safer to cross the road when there is a queue of nominally stopped cars.

Re:Put the damn thing in neutral! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29973688)


Re:Put the damn thing in neutral! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29973850)

Neutral?? Just stomp on the goddammed BREAKS. You know they fix acceleration issues with deacceleration.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29973516)

Well, looks like regardless of whether or not the problem is electronics or floor mats, people still go with the things they don't understand. Regardless of whether it's bad floor mats or electronics, it's still a design issue and Toyota. Poorly designed floor mats that trap the accelerator pedal are no worse than malfunctioning computer systems if the end result is that you end up in a flaming wreck or plunging off a cliff (that's from tfa).

Floor mat, really? (3, Interesting)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973520)

So Toyota says it's floor mat. But here's something I don't understand after reading TFA... all people who had that problem (and lived to tell the tale) insist that they were braking hard as the car was accelerating. If it were really just gas pedal stuck in a floor mat, then surely applying brake would force the car to decelerate regardless?

Re:Floor mat, really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29973560)

A "floored" engine can produce more kinetic energy than the braking system can dissipate.

TURN OFF THE CAR! That's what the key in the ignition is for. I remember my driver's ed teacher telling me this.

Re:Floor mat, really? (1)

dachshund (300733) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973614)

TURN OFF THE CAR! That's what the key in the ignition is for. I remember my driver's ed teacher telling me this.

There is no key in many modern vehicles. Apparently the typical push-button start system can be manually turned off, but you have to hold the button for several seconds. People who are trying to control a surging vehicle often don't realize this. In any case, I'm not sure this is a standard, so you might be unlucky to wind up in the one car brand that doesn't support that feature.

Re:Floor mat, really? (1)

jaavaaguru (261551) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973618)


And lose power assisted braking and steering, also risking the steering lock activating. For sure putting the car in neutral and applying the brakes is a better idea.

Re:Floor mat, really? (2, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973746)

You don't lose power assisted braking or steering as long as the engine is turning. If you turn an engine off as it is running full throttle I guarantee it will diesel along for a while, enough time to slow the car even without power assisted braking.

Power assist brakes have to be able to stop a car even with the engine is not turning. FHSA rules.

Re:Floor mat, really? (1)

jaavaaguru (261551) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973790)

I've been in a car that did lose both of these systems... but yes, the brakes still work... just takes more effort. And not every country has an FHSA or their rules ;-)

Re:Floor mat, really? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973830)

These were cars sold in the US. What Bolivia or Norway have for rules doesn't matter here. The cars were compliant with US regs.

Its not clear the drivers were.

Re:Floor mat, really? (2, Informative)

BoneFlower (107640) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973792)

Clicking through a couple links on the article gets you to a video on what to do.

Put the car into neutral first. Then apply the brakes and come to a stop as you would for any other serious problem with your car. Do not turn off the engine until you have come to a complete stop, or else you lose all your power assists and that is kind of bad. I've had power steering suddenly fail on me. It is not easy to drive a car in that condition, and trying to drive it in an emergency situation? Yeah, not something I'd recommend if you can help it.

Even automatics can do this. The video did note that neutral isn't used often, so people might not be familiar enough with their transmission controls to quickly find it, so check the control, find where it is and how to shift to it quickly.

Turning off the engine should basically be a last resort to be used only if the transmission won't go to neutral. You're probably out a few grand if your car is fucked this badly.

Re:Floor mat, really? (1)

Thantik (1207112) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973620)

The prius, which this affects, isn't turned off by the key. The power button also does not immediately turn off the car either. Just like a computer, if you need to cut the car off in an emergency situation...believe it or not, you have to hold the power button down for 3 seconds.

Re:Floor mat, really? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29973766)

true, but tapping the power button while going over 5MPH automatically shifts the car into N

Re:Floor mat, really? (1)

RightwingNutjob (1302813) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973776)

On every large piece of moving equipment I've ever seen, (radar dishes, telescopes, autonomous robots, etc), there's usually one (or more) BIG RED BUTTONS that, when pushed, disconnect electrical power from the system, short the drive motor leads, etc. Think long and hard about what fail-safe should actually mean for a car, but surely a good interlock can be designed to prevent these sorts of things.

Re:Floor mat, really? (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973714)

It's not the electronics. Japanese are a small people, small feet... it's poor design for big american feet. The pedals are too small and too close together. Every one of the people claming to be hitting the brakes hard were in fact, you guessed it, accellerating hard.

Re:Floor mat, really? (1)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973780)

They all floored the break. Which makes me think, being an armchair driver in a runaway toyota, is that I'd let go of the break and hope what ever the software glitch was it would be related to breaks being floored.

Re:Floor mat, really? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973796)

Turn off the car is a good idea. Another factor is that these cars have the pushbutton system and apparently, like a computer, you have to press and hold the button for several seconds to shut it off if the car is in motion. Apparently not everyone knows that.

I can see a driver who doesn't know that presuming the button isn't working when they press it quickly and nothing happens.

Really, all drivers need to have the various contingency plans in mind at all times. I've never had the runaway car, but the downshift and emergency brake contingency came in handy one night when I hit the brakes and nothing happened.

Re:Floor mat, really? (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973798)

A "floored" engine can produce more kinetic energy than the braking system can dissipate.

That would be incorrect.

Maybe if you just press lightly on the brakes for miles, and overheat em... but if you're going 60MPH and punch both pedals, the car will stop.

Re:Floor mat, really? (1)

Rising Ape (1620461) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973920)

A "floored" engine can produce more kinetic energy than the braking system can dissipate.

I find that hard to believe - all cars I've driven have had much stronger brakes than engines. Perhaps they weren't pushing the brake pedal hard enough.

Re:Floor mat, really? (5, Interesting)

SteveWoz (152247) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973870)

I have owned many Prius's. I currently drive a 2010 one. Let's say that I'm in some place where the speed 85 mph is legal. I can nudge my cruise control speed lever and my speed barely goes up, say from 80 to 81.I nudge at again and again, up to 83. Then I nudge it again and the car takes off, no speed limit. Nudging the cruise speed control lever down has no effect until I've done it about 10 times or more. By then my Prius is doing 97. It's scary because it's so wrong and so out of your normal control. I tested this over and over the night I observed it.

It's scary because you don't think of things like putting the car in neutral when this happens. I am sure you can't turn the car off with the keyless power button, the only option on this model.

Braking does disable this scary cruise control effect. It is a natural response, so the problem is mitigated a great deal.

I have not seen this happen before so I think it's new to the 2010. I have the package which includes parallel parking assist and cruise control distance limiter.

Reproducible testcase (2, Informative)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973916)

It's very difficult to diagnose problems like these without a reproducible testcase. It sounds like you've stumbled upon one. You should talk to your dealer. Either:

  1. something is wrong with your car, in which case the dealer will fix it
  2. you've managed to reproduce a problem with your model in general, which case the manufacturer will fix it to avoid liability

Cars, floor mats and old people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29973522)

A very dangerous combination...

No fault? (1)

BoneFlower (107640) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973528)

What exactly were they testing?

Were they testing implementation of the design and build quality issues, or were they reviewing the design itself?

Passing the former by no means guarantees you'll pass the latter.

That said, are there any reports of this happening in vehicles that for whatever reason lack floor mats?

Re:No fault? software design standards (1)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973694)

Does anyone know the software design / assurance standards for automobiles? Aviation (FAA) mandates DO-178B (level A through D) for software deemed to have an effect on flight safety... is there something similar for Cars? Closest i can find is this PDF Automotive Software Engineering [pdf] [] . THis calls out what looks to be the right things, but is it mandated anywhere that system-safety through to software assurance is followed?


It's those damn HAMs again! (2, Funny)

Stupendoussteve (891822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973544)

There you have it, the HAM in the truck in the other lane rag chewing on HF about his new rig has managed to seize control of the Prius.

I for one welcome our RC Prius wielding retired overlords.


No such problem with my Prius (0)

linuxguy (98493) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973546)

I own a 2005 Prius. My wife and I have been driving it around for years and not once have we noticed a sudden acceleration. We recently bought a 2003 Toyota Sienna mini van and drove it around the country, putting several thousands of miles on it. Never noticed any sudden acceleration with that vehicle either.

This is only anecdotal evidence, but combined with all the various investigations that the govt. has done I am thinking that this is a non-issue.

Re:No such problem with my Prius (1)

Stupendoussteve (891822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973610)

Note that hundreds are reporting the story, out of the tens or hundreds of thousands sold. It is probably an isolated issue if it even exists and not necessarily easy to replicate. I wouldn't expect a single person, or person that person knew, to actually have this issue.

If it is the floormats, they are an issue themselves. It seems silly to recall a vehicle due to floormats or a gas pedal, but if need be.

Re:No such problem with my Prius (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973638)

Its the Last Bug which is always impossible to find.

Re:No such problem with my Prius (1)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973804)

"Recall" doesn't mean that they take the whole car back. It means you get a notice to come into the dealership, they fix what's wrong--i.e. replacing the overly-aggressive floor mats--and you take it away later that day. Only serious, serious recalls mean the owner giving up the car.

Re:No such problem with my Prius (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973648)

I too have an anecdote.

My 2009 Yaris has never accelerated fast enough to cause trouble either. In fact, it couldn't if it tried!

Yes, and a bunch of Audi Senile Sitizens concur (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29973550)

How many times has the Audi science been reaffirmed (answer: too many times to even mention) that shows that a bunch of old, sensory input deprived, "should not be driving" people press the ACCELERATOR instead of the BRAKE, not because of a bad design, or because of some "computer" malfunction (dear sir: the "computer" (DME) that controls the engine has NOTHING to do with the brakes, you senile retards), but because OLD FUCKING PEOPLE CAN'T FUCKING DRIVE AND PRESS THE WRONG PEDAL.


The answer is: take their licenses away, NOT improve technology so they can continue their hazardous, reckless, wanton travel.

Same thing happend to Audi a few years ago (5, Insightful)

scotts13 (1371443) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973552)

And again, nothing was ever found to be wrong with the cars. Seems most of the drivers were used to American cars, and the Audi had both brake and accelerator a little to the right of the more typical position. They were pressing the accelerator instead of the brake. Fact is, in almost all commonly available cars, if you stand on the brake and on the accelerator simultaneously, the car will go nowhere. For events to have happened as described, you'd need the simultaneous failure of two unrelated systems, which both healed themselves miraculously after the event. Additionally, same as last time, there are a few unfortunate cases followed by a deluge of similar claims. I wonder why...

Re:Same thing happend to Audi a few years ago (4, Informative)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973820)

In the case of the state trooper, witnesses did report that the brakes were on fire as he went by.

I'm presuming not so much actual flames as burned up brake pads billowing smoke.

God damn it this again (3, Informative)

IICV (652597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973562)

God damn it, this again? All these "sudden acceleration" accidents are caused by morons "suddenly" putting their foot on the gas pedal. Afterwards, they say that the car accelerated by itself - and it's impossible to prove them wrong.

Re:God damn it this again (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29973724)

I saw a TV show where they interviewed people this happened to. One was on a test drive! Another recalled the smell of the brakes burning, as the motor has so much torque at 0rpm that the brakes are useless. One even put the transmission in park, to no avail. None of the stories sounded like a moron who floored it but thought they were braking.

Of course the computer systems weren't designed to diagnose a problem like this, so there is no record of things like speed vs. pedal position as there would be in an airplane. This means that the dealership runs the standard self-check diagnostics and declares that nothing is wrong with the car, so the driver must have been mistaken. But that's like taking your computer to get fixed after some software crashed. Obviously whatever caused it to crash isn't going to be around anymore, yet nobody tells the user that it couldn't have crashed!

Nobody's saying that floormats don't get stuck over the gas pedal every so often (it happened to me once), but there are other cases that floormats and wrong pedals don't explain. And those need to be investigated and fixed.


Re:God damn it this again (1)

c.r.o.c.o (123083) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973866)

I'm sure that someone somewhere is at this very moment pressing the acceleration pedal instead of the brake pedal, but your argument does not apply in this case. Then the problem should extend to all other vehicles manufactured in the world, but only Toyota has issued a floor mat recall.

So there are two explanations. Either the floor mat design is at fault, in which case Toyota is responsible and has corrected the issue (it's as simple as removing the winter floor mats from the vehicle and installing the summer ones). Very sloppy floor mat design though, because I've been driving with two sets of mats every winter since I got my license 10 years ago, and not once did the acceleration pedal get stuck to the floor. If I were the exception, the aftermarket mat manufacturers would have been sued out of existence by now.

The other explanation is that there MAY be something else wrong with the cars, and the cause is yet to be determined. One thing is certain though. If the floor mats are not at fault, more accidents will happen and some of them will happen in cars where the recall will have already been performed. I just hope no other people will die as a result.

The only reason I can be so detached from this issue is because nobody in my family has drive-by-wire cars. I actually drive a standard car, so even if my throttle decides to go insane, all I have to do is clutch in and put it in neutral. The engine may bounce off the rev limiter, but the car won't be going anywhere.

I have a 2002 Prius (1)

Cybersonic (7113) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973564)

The computer went bonkers over a year ago. All the warning lights came on, etc... I bought it in South Florida, moved several times, put 140k miles on it, and live in the San Francisco Bay Area now. I took it to the Toyota dealership here and wanted an explanation!

They kept it a few months, brought in an expert, and told me it was a faulty sensor. The on-board computer thinks the hybrid battery is dead, yet it is continuously sending out a full charge! The dealership told me the faulty sensor was embedded in the transmission housing, would require a complete replacement of the transmission (which involves removing the engine), at a cost of $7,000. To fix... a sensor.

Ugh... so I opted not to fix it, as the car works great otherwise. Kinda annoying though - as every warning indicator is always lit so I never know if anything else needs service.

I gotta admit, other than that - its never accelerated on its own - thank goodness!

Re:I have a 2002 Prius (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973644)

If you didn't want to pay a lot to fix your car, maybe you shouldn't have gotten one that was as complex and with as many specialized parts as a Prius. My wife's cousin used to work at a muffler shop in a college town. All these kids who brought their daddy's Jags and Beemers to the shop were stunned to find out how expensive parts were. That's what happens when you buy a more select brand of car.

Re:I have a 2002 Prius (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29973864)

You talk about specialized parts, but were talking about pure labor here, who should be at fault for the car requiring the entire drive train to be removed to replace a sensor?

Yet another example why you should never go to the internet for car advice, EVERYBODY thinks they know everything about cars (myself not excluded), but holding an opinion like that just proves that you've never really had any experience, otherwise you would be much humbelererer.

Now I shouldn't even be pointing this out but you do realize that your talking about a guy you knew who used to work in a muffler shop, which is pretty much the bottom of the barrel, only slightly higher than tire dicks.


Re:I have a 2002 Prius (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29973882)

A muffler shop selling BMW and Jags parts? Sounds like your full of shit.

As for the I have a 2002 prius owner, you've been feed a load of bullshit if your think the sensor for the battery is in the transmisson. It's not. I installed aftermarket batt packs in the prius. Chances are your motor winding is shorted out to the car chassie.

Re:I have a 2002 Prius (1)

garynuman (1666499) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973906)

the stupid American car i currently drive has cost much more to fix than the beemer (that i bought myself) that i drove through college... it has much less to do with the make of the car and much more to do with how new/complex it is, your average /.er would be able to find parts for his beemer online much less under the cost of the dealership and if unable to do the work himself pay a local mechanic to do it, that what i did with my late model 3 series for years and it still remains my favorite car I've ever had... just my 2 cents...

Re:I have a 2002 Prius (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973726)

The chip in my 2004 Honda Accord's automatic transmission fried about two years ago. I was driving along, up a slight incline when all of a sudden my car dropped down into 3rd gear and would "surge" whenever it tried to shift into 4th. I managed to get it home, and then to the shop the next day. Apparently some chip just went haywire, they replaced it in about an hour for around $40. I haven't had any issues since but I certainly don't trust the things very much anymore.

Hello Audi? (0)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973568)

Perhaps Toyota should talk to Audi for advice on this problem?

problems with complexity (4, Interesting)

skydude_20 (307538) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973576)

F-22 raptor - 1.7 million lines of code
F-35 joint strike fighter - 5.7 million
Boeing 787 - 6.5 million
Premium class automobile - ~ 100 million

IEEE Spectrum: "How hard should it be to stop a runaway luxury car?" []

IEEE Spectrum: "This car runs on code" []

This is why American cars are gaining (2, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973586)

With American cars, the floormats are optional and come with a big price tag. This is a safety feature to prevent exactly this type of problem.

It's exactly like when Ashlee Simpson appeared on SNL and was caught lip syncing. She knew that she couldn't sing live, so she played her auto-tuned voice over the speakers. When the playback stopped and she was shown to be faking it, she danced a little jig. American car floormat pricing is like that little jig.

Re:This is why American cars are gaining (4, Funny)

jaavaaguru (261551) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973650)

It's exactly like when Ashlee Simpson appeared on SNL and was caught lip syncing

I have no idea who that is. Can you give a car analogy instead?

no cure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29973622)

for stupid

I hate to be mean about a possibly serious issue (1)

LockeOnLogic (723968) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973640)

Isn't a stuck floor mat a far more likely explanation than a mysterious computer bogeyman? Even with a recall there would be tons of cars that never changed them out. No doubt this should be investigated, but the article seems to be nothing but speculation and hearsay.

Brakes (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973672)

From the linked article:

There have been other deaths as well, including a fatal accident near San Diego this August that took the lives of California Highway patrol officer Mark Saylor, his wife, daughter and brother-in-law.

The Lexus they were driving, borrowed from a dealer, raced out of control at 100 miles an hour before hitting another vehicle, crashing into an embankment and bursting into flames.

The car was clearly new to him (borrowed), and he could have mistaken the pedals, but since he died in the crash no one will know. They had time to make a phone call to 911 claiming no brakes?

A highway patrol officer should know how to take the car out of gear, hit the brake, pull the parking break and kill the ignition. Or even just selecting a lower gear.

The fact that non of those things were done, or they didn't work suggest to me that it was indeed the floor mats trapping the pedal when they floored it to test acceleration.

But still, full brakes will at least slow down a car under full acceleration.

Re:Brakes (1)

Mendokusei (916318) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973734)

Even better, you can shift the car into neutral while braking, or maybe even turn off the ignition and coast? I don't understand how people can't seem to think of these things. It's not like the car suddenly accelerated to 100mph in the blink of an eye; even in the more powerful cars, it still takes a few seconds to get up to speeds like that.

Re:Brakes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29973900)

Sounds like a Darwin award candidate to me.

Took out his offspring as well, which is better than most.

My 2c (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29973716)

I label drivers on the road among some of the following catagories, Mini Van drivers, Hyundia / Kia drivers, and Toyota drivers.

All of these groups I consider highly dangerous, and avoid them at all costs. Also it provides me with much entertainment when my suspicious are reinforced, usually on a daily basis.

Not a bug. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29973748)

It's not a bug, it's a feature.

Again? (1, Interesting)

Orgasmatron (8103) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973752)

Ok, repeat after me: there is no production car on the planet with an engine capable of suddenly overpowering simple hydraulic brakes.

Know what Audi's engineers found back in the 80s? They found gas pedals bent out of shape by people standing on their "brakes".

This is not "news for nerds". This is the same bullshit driver error as before, just the computers playing boogeyman are a bit more advanced this time.

P.S. This opinion is based on the statements quoted in the article. The laws of physics may not be widely known, but your car can't nullify them.

same thing happened with my old beemer (1)

margaret (79092) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973760)

and it really was the floor mat. Now I'm OCD about making sure it's in the right spot before I get in the car...

One small change to the tech specs (1)

DieByWire (744043) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973786)

$tech_specs =~ s/Drive-By-Wire/Die-By-Wire/g;

I have seen this... (5, Funny)

theendlessnow (516149) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973808)

My Geo Metro had the EXACT same problem. It would suddenly jump from 1mph to 1.1mph very quickly. They wouldn't admit the problem either. We figured it was due to having an odd number of cylinders.

"The formula" (1)

Sideshow Mark (1534481) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973856)

Maybe they sent in Tyler Durden to apply "the formula" and X was less than the cost of a recall.

Gotta be some edge case set of conditions... (0)

Trip6 (1184883) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973868)

they can't replicate.

Same thing happened with Audi 5000s (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29973876)

After a lot of controversy the final conclusion was user error.

Driver error. (4, Insightful)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973878)

I guarantee you this is another example of driver error in the same vein as the unintended acceleration that afflicted Audi 5000's years ago. If I'm not mistaken I think the problem in the Audi was that the position of the pedals was slightly off from what people were accustomed to causing them to think they were pressing down on the brake when they actually had the accelerator down to the floor. There have been a few other cars with similar issues.

I'm quite certain the problem with these Toyota's is similar. How in the hell could a car possible start accelerating on its own? And even if the accelerator is drive-by-wire the brakes are not and will likely never be. This means that if the owner got on the brakes hard they'd be able to slow the car. Even if the ECU didn't cut power when braking as some cars do, the engine won't be able to overpower the brakes. About the only possible culprit I see is cruise control, but again, that should be fairly easy to defeat.

The fact is that when some people panic they freeze up and are unable to do anything else. As with the Audi, they press the gas accidentally, the car lunges forward and they panic, pressing down harder on the pedal. It reminds me of what happened to my father years ago. He was teaching my sister's friend to drive. For whatever reason she got on the gas, started barreling towards a car and hit it. She freaked out and froze, her foot firmly planted on the gas. My father actually had to take her leg and lift it off the gas because she was completely unresponsive.

And the problem is that sometimes the issue isn't actually unintended acceleration but some other problem that gives that impression. I know of some cases, for example, where a transmission doesn't engage properly for whatever reason. The driver tries to accelerate but the car doesn't move, so they give it more gas. The transmission eventually does engage and the car lunges forward more aggressively than anticipated. The car may have a real problem, but the driver didn't respond to the issue appropriately.

People nowadays are far too ignorant about they drive. Some people barely know what they're driving, let alone how anything works. As part of driver training basic instruction on the mechanical operation of a car should be mandatory. This would allow drivers to better respond to problems and make them better informed when they deal with mechanics so that they don't get taken advantage of so easily. It's like Toyota's recall over the floor mats. Are drivers so oblivious that they don't notice their floor mats riding up under the pedals. It's not like those things slip under there that easily. Too many people seem to take driving as seriously as they do sitting on the sofa watching television. But they sure do manage to have quite an ego about what they drive.

That's why cars had ignition keys. (1)

Deathlizard (115856) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973910)

I had this happen to me once on my 1988 Mercury Grand Marquis. The accelerator got stuck under the floor mat and the car took off. Know what I did? I Put it in neutral, Realized that was stupid (since the engine was redlining now) and turned the key to off. once I pulled over, I fixed the mat, started the car and went down the road.

These new cars, with no physical ignition cutoff is a bad thing. I swear to god the auto industry wants eX-Driver [] to happen, where we got teenagers running down freeways at breakneck speeds going after rogue cars with chaff guns because some idiot in R&D was too stupid to put a big red EMERGENCY STOP Button in the cab of the rogue AI car.

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