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View Full Version : Toyota stuck accelerator highway horror? Or highway hoax?


corsair23
03-10-2010, 12:43 PM
Toyota stuck accelerator highway horror? Or highway hoax? (http://www.fumento.com/weblog/archives/2010/03/toyota_stuck_ac.html)

I wondered about the validity of the story and seems more are starting to question it as well...I wonder if when Toyota inspects the vehicle they'll find the brake pads are completely gone or not? IIRC the owner claimed he burned the brakes down to nothing and was at the point where it was metal to metal contact.

"On the very day Toyota was making a high-profile defense of its cars, one of them was speeding out of control," according to CBS News (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/03/08/eveningnews/main6279727.shtml?tag=currentVideoInfo;videoMetaInfo) and a host of other news outlets.

"It was a pretty frightening Monday afternoon for a driver in San Diego. The California Highway Patrol said the driver of a Toyota Prius [James Sikes] called 911 around 1:30 p.m. to say the car's accelerator was stuck and he couldn't slow it down . . . .At one point the car was traveling at 90 mph.

"The Highway Patrol responded. To get the runaway car to stop, they actually had to put their patrol car in front of the Prius and step on the brakes. The car eventually stopped near La Posta Bridge, but the whole event lasted for about 20 minutes."

Evening news broadcasters had a field day expressing their horror.

Nobody thought to point out the rather suspicious timing, coming at the height of the media madness over Toyota's accelerators. There's been only one similar incident, in which a driver called 911 and the incident ended with his entire family being killed. In fact, some analysts think the entire Toyota frenzy can be traced back to that one incident.

During those 20 minutes, Sikes had the presence of mind to take out his cell phone and place an emergency call but it didn't seem to occur to him to put the car into neutral? When interviewed afterwords on video (http://cnettv.cnet.com/driver-perilous-prius-experience/9742-1_53-50084644.html) he never mentioned it. Presumably when directly asked he will say he tried and it didn't work.

Couldn't he push the stop button? First reports said it didn't work. We were told "he couldn't slow the car down."

What about the brakes?

"I was trying the brakes...it wasn't stopping, it wasn't doing anything and it just kept speeding up," Sikes said (http://www.ksro.com/news/article.aspx?id=2005361). He added he could smell the brakes burning he was "pressing the pedal so hard."

Somehow the sticky acceleration problem also caused other completely unrelated systems to malfunction.

Or as one comment posted to a version of the story put it, "As an old automotive/equipment maintenance specialist I'm baffled... I cannot understand why brakes, ignition and everything fails at the same time the accelerator sticks!!!"

Either Toyota is now producing cars that would make an old Yugo shine, or something is terribly wrong with this picture.

Then I found this report (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2010/03/08/state/n180104S16.DTL&type=printable), stating "A patrol car pulled alongside the Prius and officers told Sikes over a loudspeaker to use the brakes and emergency brake. After the car slowed to about 50 mph, Sikes felt safe enough to turn off the engine and coast to a halt."

So it never occurred to Sikes to put the car into neutral, he chose to not hit the stop button, and he said that the brakes alone were worthless alone, but were effective in combination with the emergency brake. Certainly the emergency brake alone couldn't have brought the vehicle from 94 mph to 50.

All of which would make one extremely suspicious except for this one vital fact.

We KNOW people would never pull a stunt just for publicity. For example, we know the "balloon boy hoax" (http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/10/18/colorado.balloon.investigation/index.html) did not occur in October. A tearful family did not express fears that their 6-year-old boy could be inside a runaway balloon and did not appear on one national TV show after another insisting it was the God's honest truth - until they were forced to admit they just wanted to be on the teevee.

No, clearly this man's accelerator was stuck.

Even if perhaps what made it stick was his foot.

chtucker
03-10-2010, 12:51 PM
I think it is bunk...

I wish I was in the market for a newer car.. I heard that Camrys at auction are cheap..

Heck I would buy a new 4runner at 0% with cash if I was looking..

Corbet
03-10-2010, 01:12 PM
I still call BS. People should know how to stop a car with ignition off, neutral, ebrake, stand on the brakes. Combintaion of some/all at same time. I find it hard to believe a patrol car brakes can stop the patrol car and "run away" Prius without a problem but the operator of the Prius can't do anything with its brakes. I wish I still worked at the dealership so I could go test some of these theories on actual cars in inventory. I never hit the stop button on a test drive to see what happened.

chtucker
03-10-2010, 01:16 PM
I still call BS. People should know how to stop a car with ignition off, neutral, ebrake, stand on the brakes. Combintaion of some/all at same time. I find it hard to believe a patrol car brakes can stop the patrol car and "run away" Prius without a problem but the operator of the Prius can't do anything with its brakes. I wish I still worked at the dealership so I could go test some of these theories on actual cars in inventory. I never hit the stop button on a test drive to see what happened.

Maybe you should go to a dealer and take a test drive... insist that the salesperson let you attempt an emergency stop...

Well I think about doing it.:hill:

corsair23
03-10-2010, 01:28 PM
I still call BS. People should know how to stop a car with ignition off, neutral, ebrake, stand on the brakes. Combintaion of some/all at same time. I find it hard to believe a patrol car brakes can stop the patrol car and "run away" Prius without a problem but the operator of the Prius can't do anything with its brakes. I wish I still worked at the dealership so I could go test some of these theories on actual cars in inventory. I never hit the stop button on a test drive to see what happened.

Apparently the patrol car wasn't really used to stop the Prius afterall (based on what I just heard) even though the media reported it as such.

As for hitting the start/stop button while driving...I did that in a rental Nissan :D - I was curious what would happen. In the Nissan you had to hold the button down for (IIRC) 3 seconds and the engine would shut off...The car behaved just like any other automatic I've driven with the engine shut off (intentionally or in the case of my Durango while doing 65 pulling a popup camper downhill toward Johnson Village when the truck just quit) the steering got heavy and the brakes weren't as effective.

Oh, and the steering wheel didn't lock up (no key in the Nissan but in the case of my Durango I didn't turn the key off and remove it :rolleyes:) nor I didn't spin hopelessly out of control and crash, etc.

timmbuck2
03-10-2010, 02:02 PM
Both Car and Driver and Popular Mechanics have video of different cars at WOT where holding the brakes down stops the car with little effort and not much more space than when the engine is just idling. I think user error is to blame in most of these. The records for the last 20 years show plenty of "unintended acceleration" issues reported and it is equally spread over all makes and models and years of cars.

Putting it in neutral is pretty darn easy...did it by accident myself yesterday at 70mph. :)

pmccumber
03-10-2010, 03:10 PM
Does the Pious even have neutral? I rented one once and I just remember and "on" button and forward and backward. Maybe there was a neutral in there but I don't remember.

Hants
03-10-2010, 03:35 PM
Seem fishy that the car was accelerating but he had ability and time to call 911 and for a patrol car to catch up to him. If anything the 911 dispatcher could have talked the suspected moron through turning the key off and putting the car into neutral.

She tried to. If you listen to the 911 tape, he told her he was too busy and had to put the phone down -- almost cut her off to tell her that.

Story stinks. I smell a rat!

corsair23
03-10-2010, 04:25 PM
Does the Pious even have neutral? I rented one once and I just remember and "on" button and forward and backward. Maybe there was a neutral in there but I don't remember.

Apparently so, although I'm no Prius expert (not sure what year Prius the picture is of but it looks like the design may have changed over the years but there is still the R-N-D-B selections on all of them):

http://www.technofile.com/images/toyota_prius_shifter.jpg

Also heard a guy on the radio talking about the "B" selection

Using "B" Shift Position

The Prius uses an electronic transmission mode selector, similar to a gear shift on a conventional car. Unlike a conventional vehicle with modes P R N D 2 1 (park, reverse, neutral, drive, 2nd gear, 1st gear) the Prius has a power button, a park button, and a selector for modes R N D and B (reverse, neutral, drive, and engine-Braking).

In the course of normal driving, the driver NEVER needs to use 'B' mode (engine Brake mode). The techniques below are optional. 'B' mode is appropriate when descending long grades (i.e. descending down a mountain road), where if the driver uses the brake pedal to control the vehicle's speed, the vehicle's brake pads will overheat and fail.

In a normal vehicle, the driver handles that condition by slowing to an appropriate speed and shifting to a lower gear (2nd or 1st). This forces the vehicle to spin the engine faster than needed, "wasting" energy through vacuum losses but helping maintain a safe vehicle speed without overheating the brake pads.

In a Prius, the driver handles that condition by selecting "B" mode. This tells the Prius to attempt to emulate "engine braking" in a conventional vehicle. Depending on the vehicle's speed and the battery SOC (state of charge), the Prius will do this using regenerative braking and/or high-RPM zero-fuel-flow engine braking.

Engine braking is inefficient because it uses the engine as an air pump, converting kinetic energy into heat. Unnecessary regenerative braking is also inefficient because of energy conversion losses. (Regenerative braking is good when it replaces friction braking, but it's not as efficient as coasting at a constant speed.) Because of this, "B" mode will not recharge your batteries more efficiently than just braking and is not recommended for general driving.

Above all, it's important to understand that a casual Prius driver needs to understand NONE of the tricks described below. "Just drive it." Just as you might downshift into 2nd gear when going down a long, steep hill to prevent brake damage, you can "downshift" into "B" mode on a Prius. "Shifting" is all electronic, so the system won't let you shift in a harmful way. (Even if you try to shift into reverse when moving quickly forward, you'll just end up in neutral.)


What I don't know is, with all these electronic gizmos anymore, whether the car might just ignore what you tell it to do (i.e. shifting to "B") since there is no mechanical linkage to force your intentions on the car :confused: - I think it is a moot question for the guy in the story because per him he didn't bother to try any of this.

Corbet
03-10-2010, 05:11 PM
Maybe you should go to a dealer and take a test drive... insist that the salesperson let you attempt an emergency stop...

Well I think about doing it.:hill:

Stopped by the dealership to do so today. But know one in the showroom. Did not feel like chasing down a salesperson to get some keys

Tch2fly
03-10-2010, 05:17 PM
I find it all very odd and tend to call BS

FYI I tried it on my wife's Prius and yes it will go into neutral (at least at 30 mph test speed ;) ) and yes you can hold the power button and it will shut off ( I only did it at 10 mph since the power steering is lost) not sure if there is a "hey stupid don't do that" device that would change things at a higher speeds.

B selection only works when your foot is off the gas and you are decelerating, it will make no difference to what the car does if you are under acceleration.

AxleIke
03-10-2010, 05:26 PM
Yup, this is all bull crap.

Just cases of people who can't drive.

I had the accellerator stick in my old Scout II, which was a legitmate stuck accelerator, as the throttle linkage on the carb had jammed full open. I was accellerating up a hill with the pedal to the floor, hit the top, let off the gas, and nothing changed.

I was 17 years old, I panicked. And you know what the first thing to cross my mind was? The brakes. As hard as I could push them. The brakes on that thing were crap, and it had a ton more gearing, and horsepower than a stupid prius, not to mention it weighs a lot more. It slowed the truck down A LOT. I then pushed the auto tranny into neutral, and as the engine hit redline, I was killing the motor with the key. It sucked to stop without power brakes and steering, especially on a down hill with a vehicle that weighs in with an Abrams, and 31's, but a if a punk 17 yo driving for a YEAR (as in almost no driving experience) could do that, then some dipstick in CA in a prius sure as pete could have.

Long story short, sucks that toyota had to go through morons who can't drive. Most manufacturers do.

DaveInDenver
03-10-2010, 05:43 PM
We've dumbed people down into cattle. Isaac, if all growed up is any indication, even as a kid you were less dimwitted than the average adult is now.

Hants
03-10-2010, 06:10 PM
I think we need a recall on 80's, too. My throttle has stuck twice.

1. old rusty throttle cable

2. huskyliner floor mat

In both cases, accelerating (if you can call it that ;) ) onto the freeway. In both cases, brakes worked fine to slow down, and stomping on the pedal a couple of times freed it up.

:dunno:

jacdaw
03-10-2010, 06:33 PM
Oh, and the steering wheel didn't lock up (no key in the Nissan but in the case of my Durango I didn't turn the key off and remove it :rolleyes:) nor I didn't spin hopelessly out of control and crash, etc.Apparently on start/stop button cars, the steering wheel does not lock until you open the driver door. I'll stick with my old technology, thanks.:p: Although I do miss fuel injection. A lot.

corsair23
03-10-2010, 06:57 PM
From what I'm hearing the thought is the guy is trying to pull a balloon boy hoax :(

I'm REALLY interested in what Toyota finds after inspecting the car...I can't imagine trashing my car in hopes of setting up a lawsuit against Toyota but maybe the guy just wants a piece of the pie...

jacdaw
03-10-2010, 07:09 PM
From what I'm hearing the thought is the guy is trying to pull a balloon boy hoax :(

I'm REALLY interested in what Toyota finds after inspecting the car...I can't imagine trashing my car in hopes of setting up a lawsuit against Toyota but maybe the guy just wants a piece of the pie...I heard several different sound bites of him saying he will never drive a Prius again, and one where he said he loves Toyota and would like another. Sounds like he decided he doesn't like his Prius anymore and wants a new free Toyota.

nakman
07-26-2012, 02:26 PM
Hey look everybody, now Ford gets to join in on the fun...

http://www.manufacturing.net/news/2012/07/ford-to-recall-485k-small-suvs-to-fix-throttles?et_cid=2767321&et_rid=45630282&linkid=http%3a%2f%2fwww.manufacturing.net%2fnews%2f2012%2f07%2fford-to-recall-485k-small-suvs-to-fix-throttles


Ford To Recall 485K Small SUVs To Fix Throttles
Thu, 07/26/2012 - 1:49pm
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DETROIT (AP) — Ford is recalling nearly 485,000 Escapes and Mavericks to fix sticking gas pedals that can cause crashes.

The worldwide recall affects the 2001 through 2004 model years that are powered by 3-liter V-6 engines with cruise control. It comes just over a week after U.S. safety regulators began investigating the Escape small SUV.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received 68 complaints about the problem, including 13 crashes, nine injuries and one death. A teenage girl died in the January crash of an Escape in Arizona.

Ford says the cruise control cables can snag on the plastic cover atop the engine and cause the gas pedals to stick. Dealers will replace the engine cover fasteners and raise the covers to make more room.