By on April 8, 2008

crash2102307.JPGI'm sure many TTAC readers will recall the great Audi 5000 "unintended acceleration" legal turmoil of the mid-80's. The legal/media feeding frenzy set Audi sales back by a decade, despite the fact that every case of "unintended acceleration" was found to be caused by human, not mechanical error. Well, those bastions of quality journalism, the Detroit Free Press and Motor Trend blog, are trying to resuscitate the media frenzy, only this time Toyota's to blame for people mistaking the accelerator for their brake pedal. Apparently the NHTSA has received 33 complaints that Toyota Tacomas are driving themselves off the roads, and has launched an investigation into the 2006-2007 model years. "Toyota has said to us they've found nothing wrong with the truck and it's our fault," says one "victim." "They're basically calling us all stupid." Of course, after a crash nobody wants to take responsibility for the fact that they may have hit the gas instead of the brakes, but what is motivating this investigation has nothing to do with the facts of the individual cases. No, the investigation is being spurred by the fact that only four "unintended acceleration" complaints have been logged against non-Tacoma pickups in the period that 33 were logged against the 'yota. "If there were truly human error, there would be a proportional distribution across models," says Clarence Ditlow, head of the Center for Auto Safety in Washington. "It's very difficult to explain how some makes and models have higher numbers of complaints than others absent some flaw in the vehicle." Yes, but it's very easy to prove that your brakes are more powerful than your engine. In fact, if a TTAC reader out there has a Tacoma, perhaps they would do us the honor of standing on the brakes while mashing the accelerator for a few seconds. This should prove fairly simply that "unintended acceleration" is possible only when you are not actually on the brakes.

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86 Comments on ““Unintended Acceleration” Rears Its Ugly Head...”


  • avatar
    Mud

    I know exactly what this is – these vehicles are coming to life and attacking their owners. It was all foretold in the 1997 movie Trucks.

    U-Turn, U-Die!

    • 0 avatar
      smsgtretired

      I was just a skeptical about this as everyone else until it happened to me. Sitting at a stop, foot on brake, transmission in drive. Our 2008 4Runner (Not on recall list) accelerated on its own for about 800 feet. After dodging a bunch of cars and guardrail and getting it straight, pumping brakes made it return to normal. About the only thing that standing on the brake and opening throttle proves is: (1) the vehicle does not have a throttle override when brakes are applied; and (2) once you are caught by surprise and apply brakes after moving forward takes a bit more to stop the vehicle. Toyota says it is unable to duplicate our incident or get a fault code to verify that it happened. I do not know what causes this, but I am reading that it can happen to all of these throttle-by-wire vehicles. I don’t believe Toyota has discovered why it happens and apparently don’t have the computer tools to detect it afterwards. I do know that if it happens to you then you become a believer real quick.

    • 0 avatar
      smsgtretired

      One more thing. What I really hope happens here is that throttle overrides be required in this throttle by wire technology. A company in Californis claims to have developed it. If I can get it, I will have it put on our 4Runner at my own expense.

  • avatar

    I can supply you with a picture of a 2007 Toyota Tundra doing said action, if that might be beneficial for some ever-doubting readers.

  • avatar
    Orian

    A picture or a video?

    A video would be so much better than a picture…

    But yeah, the US is full of people that do not want to take responsibility for their own actions.

  • avatar
    Ajax

    I have a 2007 Tacoma, and while I can’t say that the thing has ever taken off on me, it did take me by surprise a couple of times before I got used to it.

    AC on, foot on the brake, and when the compressor cycles off, the incremental power available from the decreased accessory load will surge the truck forward if you’re not firm on the pedal.

    I don’t know about you, but generally I just keep enough pressure to make sure the thing is stopped, not all the way to the floor. Just takes some getting used to is all.

  • avatar
    kevinb120

    “Toyota has said to us they’ve found nothing wrong with the truck and it’s our fault,” says one “victim.” “They’re basically calling us all stupid.”

    Sometimes the truth hurts…

    If its any indication based on my morning commute, over 90% of people on the road could easily fall into that category..

    • 0 avatar
      Chris Lake

      You sumed it up perfectly. I drive route 128 and the southeast express way in and around Boston Ma. It is a wonder why the death count isn’t Higher?

      I am a firm believer that 99% of this is caused by out right human error, including the fact that many have their floor mats wedged up aginst the pedals. Ask any Car Wash attendant about floor mats.

  • avatar
    crackers

    Are there any standards for the horizontal placement of the brake and gas pedals? I could see a problem if they were fairly close together and a driver operated the vehicle with big work/snow boots. This happens to me with my Honda Accord at the beginning of the winter season when I start wearing snow boots.

  • avatar
    Hippo

    Lots of people belong in a bus. These people belong in a short bus.

    They coincidentally all are owned by 2.x sales people and suffer from this condition the day before they are repo’d.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    We’ll know this is serious when 60 minutes does a ‘report’ on it.
    Then again, with the rise of the net and the Dan Blather fiasco, perhaps they’ve learned their lesson.

  • avatar
    lewissalem

    33 complaints. Out of thousands and thousands of owners. OK. Thank you Freep for that hard hitting piece.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Worry not, dear ToMoCo fans. If it is a problem, rest assured, Toyota will fix it quickly and effectively.

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    If this issue fails to gain traction in the media, please contact Stone Phillips at DateLine NBC. After rigging Chevrolet pick-ups to blow up on impact, Stone is ready to tackle Toyota.

  • avatar
    Busbodger

    I always wondered how a spring loaded throttle body (Audi) could open itself beyond a little extra engine speed to accommodate the load of the a/c compressor.

    Now we’ve got fully electronic throttle bodies with electric motors incorporated into them that control idle speed and a full range of throttle movement for the cruise control. In some cars there isn’t even any connection between the gas pedal and the throttle body – it’s all electronic. Now it is possible (and unlikely) for engine speed to race away.

    But is it? I have SEEN someone confuse the pedals on a car twice. They swore they didn’t but they did. One was an elderly driver and one was a marginal skills driver.

    Will be interesting to see what turns up. Don’t the black boxes now built in cars record the last moments of the car’s hardware data?

    I agree with Orian – lots of people out there who want to blame other folks for their own mistakes.

  • avatar

    I witnessed an “unintended acceleration” event just last week. It was an old lady in a Buick, not a Toyota. I was stopping by to see a friend at his office, and standing out in his company’s parking lot I heard tire squealing in the store parking lot adjacent. A first I thought it was just some kid being a dick, but then I looked again just in time to see a white Buick come crashing through the chain-link fence and into the parking lot we were standing in. It T-boned a parked car and came to a stop. The woman driving was visibly shaken, but thankfully unhurt. She was obviously standing on the gas when she meant to be on the brake.

    –chuck
    http://chuck.goolsbee.org

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    I covered this in:
    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/in-defense-of-the-audi-5000/

  • avatar
    william442

    Obviously nobody drag races with automatic transmissions anymore.Remember “Line Lock”.

  • avatar
    jfsvo

    So if “unintended acceleration” is solely the result of “stupid” people, but 33 of 37 of all the complaints happened in Tacomas, does that mean stupid people have some natural predisposition to Tacomas?

    • 0 avatar
      Chris Lake

      Trust me, it’s all in the numbers. How many tacoma’s are out there? What is the demographic mix of the drivers. Toyota has done a great job of building wonderfully reliable cars and trucks. Just because someone may fall into a “stupid catagory” doesn’t mean that they don’t want a Tacoma? You don’t have to spend a lot of time comparing vehicles to come to the conclusion that Toyota builds feature ladend cars and trucks with a ton of value.
      My experience on the road over the years had me wondering why in gods name was the car that almost caused a collision or had done something realy dumb was a Toyota Camry? Since I feel that all of us will in act some moment of dynamic dumbness while driving at one point or another, the likely hood that they are in a Toyota of some kind is higher than average. They are the number one car in America.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    “I can supply you with a picture of a 2007 Toyota Tundra doing said action, if that might be beneficial for some ever-doubting readers.”

    How do you supply a picture of acceleration?

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    I suspect this is the same as the comment I hear every winter:

    “The brakes locked up and I hit this patch of ice and the car accelerated right into the car in front of me”

    No dear, it didn’t.

  • avatar

    I thought it was just YO to slang Toyota, since that’s what people with Toyota trucks do by erasing the front and afts words to get the centered YO.

    God I hate that.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    “So if “unintended acceleration” is solely the result of “stupid” people, but 33 of 37 of all the complaints happened in Tacomas, does that mean stupid people have some natural predisposition to Tacomas?”

    Please, 33 of the presumably thousands of complaints were from Tacoma owners. This does happen from time to time, throttle cables get rusty, floor mats get bunched up etc. It does not mean there is a design flaw. Usually though, it’s driver error. I had my throttle stick wide open once because the pivot on my pedal had caught the top of a Husky Liner floor mat right after I had floored it to pull out into trafic, took me about a second and a half to realize it and turn off the key. Panic is what did these people in.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    jsfvo,

    Good one.

    I would bet there is actually a marginal design flaw in the ergonomics. Nothing anyone will likely ever prove, but it’s likely there just the same. Some factor of the angles and distances involved with the wheel, seat, pedals, floor, door, and tunnel. Someone should get full measurements of all the “victims” as well as their actual shoes. Send it all to a bunch of folks at a good university and let them have at it.

  • avatar

    So if “unintended acceleration” is solely the result of “stupid” people, but 33 of 37 of all the complaints happened in Tacomas, does that mean stupid people have some natural predisposition to Tacomas?

    Or, the Toyota greenwashing device installed in all of their vehicles has caused them to turn stupid.

  • avatar
    Darth4114

    When I was at a “Taste of Lexus” event, I witnessed an individual experience some “unintended acceleration.” Parked right in front where people switch drivers, the genius of a man forgets to put the car in park in an IS350.

    Door open, left leg out of the car, he notices the car move, and proceeds to step on what he thought was the brake pedal with the right half of his body still inside the car. Needless to say, he misses said brake pedal and slams on the accelerator in its stead. Car launches forward and collides into the back of a GS350 doing maybe between 5-10mph.

    Thankfully this man didn’t blame his accident on a faulty brake pedal, though one might extrapolate from his actions that had 50+ people not witnessed him do that, he would blame the ordeal on the car and not himself. (Those darn Toyotas….well…in this case a Lexus)

  • avatar
    meocuchad

    I’m going to have to unfortunately take a page from Lutz’s book:

    This is a crock of shit.

  • avatar
    meocuchad

    I’m unfortunately going to have to take a page from the book of Lutz:

    This is a crock of sh|t.

  • avatar
    offroadinfrontier

    I’d like to know the percentage of these “33″ that have the 5.7L engines. Something tells me that said people don’t understand what low-end torque means, and probably shouldn’t be driving with enough torque to launch into space.

    Reading the link to the “In Defense…” article, pedal differences seem very likely. A few reviews I’ve read comment on the closeness of the pedals, especially compared to Domestic pickups. It’s very reasonable that certain drivers are having trouble adjusting (not to say that they are “too close,” but maybe that some are just used to pedals that are too far apart for even an ogre…).

  • avatar
    jfsvo

    Please, 33 of the presumably thousands of complaints were from Tacoma owners.

    tankd0g – Why presume when it says right in the article …

    “…only four ‘unintended acceleration’ complaints have been logged against non-Tacoma pickups in the period that 33 were logged against the ‘yota.”

  • avatar
    jthorner

    Doesn’t Toyota have a data-logging black box in it’s vehicles? Most new vehicles keep a snapshot of performance information in the computer from the moments before and air bag deployment. That data should answer the gas pedal/brake pedal question.

  • avatar
    Ralph SS

    Not sure if anyone else has taken you to task over “…despite the fact that every case of “unintended acceleration” was found to be caused by human, not mechanical error.”

    I believe the conclusion was that mechanical defect could not be proved or duplicated and thus, “absense of proof is proof of absense”.

    Just seems that one would want to be cautious here.

    • 0 avatar
      Chris Lake

      I agree!
      There needs to be a more scientific approach to this! We need black box info, and comments from any quilifed witnesses. If there is someting wrong with the car we need to know. Right now we are in the court of the press who is only interested in ratings.
      I am guilty of favoring the Human Error side if this debate due to my jaded lack of faith in half the laim brains that drive a car.

      Unfortunately I have not heard much in the way of any “Proof” from either side.

  • avatar
    abr2

    OK, guys, here’s how unintended acceleration can work, especially in an older vehicle. Most fuel injection vehicles out there have what’s known as an “IAC” (idle air control) valve, a little solenoid that advances the throttle whenever a load (such as a/c) is placed on the engine. Over time, some of these valves can fail, leaving little pieces of rubber or other debris inside the metal solenoid valve. This can cause the valve to stick and actually pull the throttle cable wide open. Remember those old, old cars with vacuum wipers? What happened when the throttle was pushed wide open? Right, the wipers stopped. Why? No vacuum at the manifold. Now, power brakes are mostly controlled by- wait for it- vacuum! There is a tank on the master that “stores” some, so that supposedly the car or truck will stop at least once before the vacuum runs out. But, with age, some of these don’t work too well. Older, or inexperienced, or just startled drivers experience the tremendous increase in pedal pressure required when the vacuum runs out as a “failure ” of the brakes. Bingo! Unintended acceleration, inability to stop the car. Not always completely the driver’s fault, huh?

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    “tankd0g – Why presume when it says right in the article …

    “…only four ‘unintended acceleration’ complaints have been logged against non-Tacoma pickups in the period that 33 were logged against the ‘yota.”

    No, that’s not what it says, that’s what Eds summary of the article in question says. From the actual article:

    “Kronholm said his research showed that compared with the mass of Tacoma complaints, including six injuries, there were only four reports of sudden acceleration from owners of all other 2006 and 2007 pickups. His Toyota dealer found no problem, and Toyota declined to examine the truck.”

    Kronholm is one of the supposed victims, hardly a valid source.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    OK, I’ll take the dissenting point of view. It seems quite reasonable to me to examine Tacomas since in a given period of time the NHTSA recieved 37 complaints of PUs suddenly accelerating, and 33 of them were Tacomas. I would expect a general stupidity distribution to cover more makes.

    “It’s very difficult to explain how some makes and models have higher numbers of complaints than others absent some flaw in the vehicle.”

    That seemed like a pretty reasonable statement to me.

    I see no reason to immediately jump to the conclusion that these people were at fault.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    I don’t know if that picture was taken at an acual crash that was blamed on this event, but look at that left tire, that would have to be some serious idle malfunction to smoke the left tire like that.

  • avatar
    Mcloud1

    “So if “unintended acceleration” is solely the result of “stupid” people, but 33 of 37 of all the complaints happened in Tacomas, does that mean stupid people have some natural predisposition to Tacomas?”

    Here in Michigan, it seems that stupid people have natural predispositions to Chevrolet Luminas. Every time I see a Lumina on the road, it is either driving the line, or cutting across lanes, or signaling right then cutting across and turning left, etc.

  • avatar
    jfsvo

    Just for the record I believe that the “unintended acceleration” probably was the caused by human error. However, some products seem to encourage human error more than others (poor ergonomics, bad floor mats, etc) and are therefore unsafe.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    I just went over to the NHTSA web site to try to get some more solid facts than Kronholm’s “research” that states there were only 37 complaints for this behavior. Unfortunately they make it damn near impossible to do so. You have to search each model of vehicle seperately and each model has several categories that could apply to unintended acceleration, and all of them only show that were was some sort of problem with the device related to acceleration, not what actually happened.

    Yup, it’s a government web site all right.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    Incidentally, on the NHTSA site I see 7 unintended acceleration complaints and 4 vehicle speed control system related fires for the 2007 Ford F150 alone.

  • avatar
    windswords

    “If there were truly human error, there would be a proportional distribution across models,” says Clarence Ditlow, head of the Center for Auto Safety in Washington. “It’s very difficult to explain how some makes and models have higher numbers of complaints than others absent some flaw in the vehicle.”

    How does someone so stupid get to be head of a big organization?

    If the Taco’s pedals are closer together and other makes or if there is a problem with the floormats than yea, it could be something with the design, but to say it’s mechanical, or even an electrical flaw is silly, which is what Mr. Ditlow is implying. Has there ever been a case where it was proven that a defect caused unintended acceleration? Wasn’t the Audi case that their pedals were positioned differently than most other makes?

  • avatar
    kevinb120

    Well, even when you put the Ford Explorer ‘roll over’ incidents into perspective, with over 6 million sold, the rollover rate is lower then many cars and just about every other SUV of its era(first-gen 90′s Explorers). Even the Pinto was all sensationalizing a ‘problem’ that was statistically average(at worst) per units sold. But when a ‘news’ crew goes as far as to install model rocket engines to force a Silverado to catch fire in a side impact ‘investigative’ report, what do you expect to hear from the main stream media?- Whatever will sell more advertising slots….

    And no, there are no exact standards for pedal placement other then humans have feet at the ends of their legs so they are placed somewhere under the steering wheel. Just about every mid-rear engine sports car, like the 911, have the pedals offset to the center of the car(i.e. the brake is ‘normally’ where the gas pedal would be) due to the front wheel intrusions. Its very noticeable the first time you jump in one but you get used to it. And smaller vehicles with large RWD drive trains like the Jeep Grand Cherokee have the pedals shifted to the outside to make room for the tunnel. The GC in particular is quite easy to hit the gas by accident if you are not used to it.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I see no reason to immediately jump to the conclusion that these people were at fault.

    Because absent brake failure, a car’s brakes should always stop an accelerating car. Always. Hit the gas and brakes simultaneously from a dead stop, and that vehicle should not move.

    As some have noted, though, there could be ergonomic issues that make some cars more prone to human error than others. Without knowing anything about the specifics in this case, pedal placement would be a good place to start looking for issues. Floor mats can be another culprit.

  • avatar
    windswords

    kevinb120,

    I hear you on the Jeep GC. There have been several news accounts about GC’s crashing at tunnel car washes because the attendent hit the wrong pedal when trying to pull the vehicle out to the towel drying area.

    But again this is not a defect and I don’t think the manufacturer should be held responsible, unless the government wants to mandate the placement and function of all the control mechanisnms in a vehicle. Wait I better not give the politicians any ideas.

  • avatar
    kevinb120

    I have sold cars for nearly 10 years and have been in easily over 50,000 vehicles including trade-ins, used vehicles, wholesale junkers and new cars, and that’s a good point PCH, some people have extremely dangerous AutoZone floor mats that don’t fit and bunch in the footwell, as well as lots of loose soda bottles and other trash that can definitely roll out from under the seat and get caught up in the pedals. After the car flipped all they remember is that they were on the phone, lighting a cigarette and driving with their knee, and the next thing they knew the car couldn’t stop and was out of control.

    Not to mention people driving with high-heels, flip-flops and crocs or giant over-sized platform shoes with hiking treadpattern soles and god knows what else wrong. Hell just this morning I was following Mrs Makeup ‘n Breakfast in traffic that had half the tire of her car hanging over the edge of the pavement several times at 60mph among other idiotic movements.

  • avatar
    DrBrian

    abr2 I doubt the idle valve is even a tenth of a WOT.

  • avatar
    jfsvo

    Incidentally, on the NHTSA site I see 7 unintended acceleration complaints and 4 vehicle speed control system related fires for the 2007 Ford F150 alone.

    Ok, not sure what the F-150 has to do anything but I’ll play along. Search NHTSA for 2006 Tacoma for Vehicle Speed Control issues. You’ll find 30. The 2006 F-150 has 6. Considering the vastly different production numbers between the Tacoma and the F-150 doesn’t this indicate that there may indeed be a problem?

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    “Ok, not sure what the F-150 has to do anything but I’ll play along. Search NHTSA for 2006 Tacoma for Vehicle Speed Control issues. You’ll find 30. The 2006 F-150 has 6. Considering the vastly different production numbers between the Tacoma and the F-150 doesn’t this indicate that there may indeed be a problem?”

    The article states there was only 37 complaints TOTAL for 06-07 pickups and that 33 of them were Tacomas. That is obviously incorrect. Look up all the F series pickups, B series mazdas, all the Nissan, Chev and GMs and you’ll see this load of crap is “experienced” by just about everyone with a steering wheel. The rash of recent Tacoma entries is probably due to BS articles like this one.

  • avatar
    TexasAg03

    Someone brought up a story of a woman hitting the accelerator when she meant to hit the brake. This reminds me of a local story.

    An elderly man in my town ran through the local Dairy Queen TWICE; same man, same building, same spot. He was parked on an incline (the car was pointed uphill) against a 3″ raised sidewalk (like a short curb). He claimed, both times, that he thought the car was in reverse.

    Since he was about to back DOWN a hill, my question was, and still is, why was he pushing that hard on the accelerator? This always seems to be the case. I just don’t push that hard on the accelerator or brake when I am negotiating a parking lot.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The article below is not about the Tacoma, but it helps to identity what may be a problem here, too. Some excerpts are below:

    Toyota to recall floor mats in 2007 Lexus, Camrys

    Toyota Motor Corp will recall “all-weather” floor mats used in 2007 Lexus ES 350 and Camry vehicles due to complaints they can slip forward and trap the accelerator pedal, U.S. highway regulators said on Wednesday.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also urged drivers of other Toyota vehicles, including the Prius and Avalon hybrids, to check the accessory mats to ensure they are properly installed.

    The recall involves more than 30,000 mats for the ES 350 and more than 24,000 for the Camry.

    Highway safety investigators concluded there was no defect with the product. The problem occurs when the all-weather mats, an optional feature, are placed on top of standard mats. Stacking prevents the top mat from being secured properly, allowing it to slip forward and possibly cause unintended acceleration.

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/tnBasicIndustries-SP/idUKN2626974420070927

  • avatar
    kevinb120

    Well it just so happens I have an 06 Tacoma on the lot and went and drove it around the parking lot. Gas pedal is thin and very close to the carpet on the right edge(not centered between the tunnel and brake pedal), brake is slightly higher 2″ square and quite close to the gas. Toyotas typically have lousy little pedals in general. There’s about 6 full inches between the brake and the clutch pedal pads, so its odd they are so close.

    I have size 10 dress shoes on and could still heel-and-toe it easily if it were a sports car. A clumsy foot with floppy or numb(thick soled) shoes could easily sit on the right edge of the brake pedal and ride the gas at the same time. So its just poor pedal placement if you’re not paying attention. Brake pedal sits just high enough that a foot can also get trapped on the gas under the brake pedal. But this is not that uncommon as a lot of vehicles have crappy setups. On a 1-10, I give it a 2 on design.

  • avatar
    jfsvo

    The article states there was only 37 complaints TOTAL for 06-07 pickups and that 33 of them were Tacomas. That is obviously incorrect. Look up all the F series pickups, B series mazdas, all the Nissan, Chev and GMs and you’ll see this load of crap is “experienced” by just about everyone with a steering wheel. The rash of recent Tacoma entries is probably due to BS articles like this one.

    Admittedly, I didn’t look through all of them. But for the F-150 almost all of them (of the 3 under the Vehicle Speed Control cagegory) were something like the following actual excerpt…

    …PULLED UP TO A STOP STREET STEPPED ON BRAKE PEDAL AND ACCELERATOR PEDAL AT SAME TIME AND ALMOST BROADSIDED ANOTHER VEHICLE.

    Whereas, the Tacoma ones (of the 19 under the Vehicle Speed Control cagegory) were more like…

    …BEGAN TO SLOW DOWN TO APPROX 15 MILES PER HOUR THE TRUCK WOULD NOT STOP AND BEGAN TO ACCELERATE ON ITS OWN. I TRIED TO STOP IT BUT COULD NOT CONTROL THE VEHICLE.

    But I’m sure all the complaints are the result of a conspiracy against Toyota.

  • avatar
    kevinb120

    I’m not a Toyota fan at all but objective as far as looking at vehicles for what they are or are not. But with pressure on the brake, if the pedals are wet or your foot is just more then 1/2 to the right side it will touch the gas under moderate braking. Again, there are other vehicles with similar poor placement for no reason. A lotus Elise or Miata has this as well but it is for the intention to heel-and-toe, so clumsy shoes are a huge no-no for these vehicles in the first place.

    But for a mid-size pickup it is fairly poor design considering the real estate available in the footwell area. However, it is what it is, and most likely operator error over the vehicle spontaneously accelerating, whether its just the lame design, clumsy shoes, lack of coordination, an empty pepsi bottle or Tweety Bird floor mats..

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    jfsvo : First of all, what kind of idiot submits a complaint about his own feet to the NHTSA? :), but check 2007, the 7 I mention are virtually identical to the Tacoma owners claims.

    So does that mean the F150 has the same flaw? It think it does: the driver.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    But I’m sure all the complaints are the result of a conspiracy against Toyota.

    Not a conspiracy, just people who don’t understand automobiles.

    Try this — take a car, any car. Hold the brake to the floor. Then, hit the accelerator while keeping the brake pedal to the floor.

    I don’t care what kind of car it is — if the brakes are working properly, the car will not move forward. Period. Doesn’t made what kind of car it is or who built it, it isn’t going to budge.

    It is certainly possible for an engine to race. But there is absolutely no way on earth that the motor should be able to override a working set of brakes.

    If these drivers are claiming that they were on the brakes, then they are (a) mistaken, (b) lying, or (c) victims of brake failure. There are no other options. If an investigation suggests that (c) did not occur, that leaves the other two options.

    That doesn’t mean that there isn’t an ergonomic problem or that the design shouldn’t be changed. However, you can bet that the drivers were not braking, as they claimed.

  • avatar
    kevinb120

    F150 pedals are much larger and further apart, but many of the drivers have muddy boots or are trying to look up an appointment address and drink coffee at the same time. So probably the same thing, at 90 feet per second people(many with below par coordination in the first place) feel its ok to not pay attention for spans of seconds at at time…It probably doesn’t matter what you do as far as design goes.

    I have accidentally gotten dumb footed on the track trying to heel-and-toe or just general working the pedals hard and get the brake-gas mixed up or slip off the brake onto the gas for a split second and its quite scary, even when paying hyper-attention to the road and vehicle even with 200′ of runoff on the side of the track. With any sort of distraction on a narrow two-lane road, even at 30mph you could be flipping through a ditch faster then you can look up from the Ipod screen in your lap.

    This quote JFSVO posted:

    …BEGAN TO SLOW DOWN TO APPROX 15 MILES PER HOUR THE TRUCK WOULD NOT STOP AND BEGAN TO ACCELERATE ON ITS OWN. I TRIED TO STOP IT BUT COULD NOT CONTROL THE VEHICLE.

    Sounds EXACTLY like someone accidentally with their foot on both pedals at the same time(or the right edge of the brake), panic sets in, you press the ‘brake’ harder, and you are either on both or just the gas.

  • avatar
    hwyhobo

    @jfsvo: some products seem to encourage human error more than others (poor ergonomics, bad floor mats, etc) and are therefore unsafe

    Absolutely. While shopping for a car in the past, I have seen ones with footwells so cramped, I rejected them outright for that reason alone. They were clearly not designed for people with size 13 dress shoes. In some I could not even heel-toe the pedals without catching the top of the footwell in the process. :|

  • avatar
    jfsvo

    tankd0g – I have already acknowledged that these problems are probably the result of human error (or possibly the combination of human error and the engine lurching problem that seems prevalent on the Tacoma – see below). My point is that these events seem to be disproportionate to the Tacoma … not that they don’t ever happen to other manufacturers. The question is why do so many Tacoma owners have this problem. I don’t actually believe that Tacoma owners are stupider than other drivers (as I factiously suggested earlier) so there must be some actual explanation (floor mats, VSC, pedals too close together, etc). Perhaps the following is the explanation.

    SEVERAL PROBLEMS WITH LURCHING, SUDDEN ACCELERATION, AND HIGH IDLE. WHEN STOPPED WITH FOOT SQUARELY ON THE BRAKE (AND ONLY THE BRAKE), THERE WILL BE A SUDDEN LURCH THAT IS OFTEN STRONG ENOUGH TO OVERCOME THE BRAKE, NEARLY CAUSING SEVERAL ACCIDENTS WITH THE CAR IN FRONT OF ME. ALWAYS SEEM TO BE PRESSING THE BRAKE HARD TO STOP MOTION AND STAY STOPPED. WHEN I LET OFF THE BRAKE, THE TRUCK ACCELERATES ABOUT 100 RPM BEFORE EVEN TOUCHING THE ACCELERATOR PEDAL, AND BEGINS MOVING SIGNIFICANTLY. WHEN DECELERATING TO A STOP, HAVE HAD SEVERAL INSTANCES OF SUDDEN RPM AND ACCELERATION. THIS ALSO OCCURS WHEN GENTLY PULLING INTO MY GARAGE – THE ENGINE SUDDENLY LURCHES, AND HAS NEARLY CAUSED ME TO DAMAGE MY GARAGE. HAVE HAD SEVERAL INSTANCES WHERE BRAKING TO STOP, BUT THE ENGINE LURCHES GREATLY (SEVERAL HUNDRED RPM), I ALMOST CAN’T GET THE TRUCK TO STOP, AND HAS NEARLY CAUSED SEVERAL ACCIDENTS. I HAVE BEEN FORTUNATE SO FAR, BUT AFRAID IT WON’T LAST. ALL OF THIS IS WORSENED WHEN THE AC/COMPRESSOR IS RUNNING – THE IDLE RPM INCREASES ABOUT 300 RPM (WAY MORE THAN NECESSARY), AND ALSO CONTRIBUTES TO WORSENING THE LURCH. SOMETIMES IT SEEMS THAT THE LURCHING OCCURS WHILE DOWN-SHIFTING DURING DECELERATION. THESE PROBLEMS HAPPEN TO ME REGULARLY – AND ALWAYS OCCUR WHEN RUNNING THE AC/COMPRESSOR. PLEASE ADDRESS ASAP.

  • avatar
    Busbodger

    And this folks is why I like having a clutch. No matter what happens, it is simple to get the clutch in and the power disconnected from the wheels.

  • avatar
    kevinb120

    Why does that elaborate complaint say nothing about going to the dealer to have the ECU re-flashed or any sort of inquiry? And 100-300rpm wouldn’t make much difference.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    jfsvo : I’ve already stated that the recent increase of submissions by Tacoma owners is probably due to articles with erroneous information like the one we’re talking about. You read about this happening then you think “oh ya, I think that happened to me once” and you go to this NHTSA thing you’ve never heard of before now to submit a report.

    When 60 minutes pulled their hatchet job on the Audi, the complaints flooded in from people who were probably hoping they would get on any class action lawsuit that would get them a new car.

  • avatar
    jfsvo

    I’ve already stated that the recent increase of submissions by Tacoma owners is probably due to articles with erroneous information like the one we’re talking about.

    Except that the submissions are pretty evenly spread out over the past two years.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    Except that the submissions are pretty evenly spread out over the past two years.

    Incorrect. Late 2007 is when the myterious detailed complaints of run away Tacomas start showing up, most of them are in 2008, despite the 2006 Tacoma being on sale since mid 2005.

  • avatar
    jfsvo

    Late 2007 is when the myterious detailed complaints of run away Tacomas start showing up, most of them are in 2008

    I’m not sure where you’re getting that from but of the 19 VSC complaints filed against the 2006 Tacoma 12 of them are prior to mid-2007 and only 3 of them are in 2008. Of the 3 accelerator pedal complaints there was one in each of ’05, ’06, and ’07. Of the 8 cruise control complaints only 1 was in ’07 and the other 7 were in ’06. Were you just guessing?

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    jfsvo : Date of failure is not date of report. This is illustrated by one of the incidents: Date of Failure: January 1, 1901

    This was a big story around Christmas time in Tennesse. that’s when people started flocking to the NHTSA site.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Worry not, dear ToMoCo fans. If it is a problem, rest assured, Toyota will fix it quickly and effectively….

    Yup, just like the 3.0 v6 in my brother’s ES300 that died due to oil gelling. He was called stupid for not changing his oil frequently enough. Called a liar, too.

  • avatar
    jfsvo

    This was a big story around Christmas time in Tennesse. that’s when people started flocking to the NHTSA site.

    So because you say so I am supposed to believe this? What evidence do you have? Most happy customers that I know aren’t “flocking” to the NHTSA site to file made up reports. Of the few reports that actually have a scanned version of the complaint they show a filing date close to the incident date.

    For example:
    http://nhthqnwws111.odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/acms/docservlet/Artemis/Public/Complaints%20-%20Correspondence/2006/EVOQ/EQ-10152011-5026.PDF

  • avatar
    p00ch

    I experienced something resembling unintended acceleration in a 1988 Audi 5000 once. Upon pulling into my driveway, it was revving very high and nothing seemed to help except a full shutdown (yes, my foot was off the gas and the car was in Park). When I popped the hood, I discovered the throttle linkage, which was covered with grime had become stuck in a half-open position. A shot of WD40 and it was fine again. So, I wonder if it may have happened in some of these reported cases. However, the Audi was 10 years old at that point, so this explanation may not apply to a newer, cleaner car.

  • avatar
    dkulmacz

    Boy it really hurts when somebody calls your baby ugly. Some people will have none of that. Others will point out the flaws in somebody else’s baby.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Because absent brake failure, a car’s brakes should always stop an accelerating car. Always. Hit the gas and brakes simultaneously from a dead stop, and that vehicle should not move.

    Agreed, but we don’t know all the details of the accidents, do we? Certainly we don’t from the TTAC article. Reaction times differ quite a bit depending on age. Did each and every one of these people completely fail to use their brakes?

    And, there is still a distribution problem. It seems odd that 33 of 37 people who didn’t have the presence of mind to stand on the brakes would be driving Tacomas. You’d think panic driven inaction would be distributed a bit more evenly amongst makes and models.

    As an aside, the engine in my Ranger sometimes ‘races’ when my foot is not on the gas pedal. I have both a brake and a clutch pedal to control the engine’s power, so no problems.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    The article states there was only 37 complaints TOTAL for 06-07 pickups and that 33 of them were Tacomas. That is obviously incorrect. Look up all the F series pickups, B series mazdas, all the Nissan, Chev and GMs and you’ll see this load of crap is “experienced” by just about everyone with a steering wheel. The rash of recent Tacoma entries is probably due to BS articles like this one.

    Actually the article says 33 of 37 in the same time period. It doesn’t actually say what the time period is. It doesn’t say what the total number of complaints is for 06-07 pickups.

    … Of course, after a crash nobody wants to take responsibility for the fact that they may have hit the gas instead of the brakes, but what is motivating this investigation has nothing to do with the facts of the individual cases. No, the investigation is being spurred by the fact that only four “unintended acceleration” complaints have been logged against non-Tacoma pickups in the period that 33 were logged against the ‘yota.

  • avatar
    schempe

    Having driven a friend’s 06 Tacoma I can say that even for a size 10 shoe the pedals are too close together. I can definitely see where the problem is. The bottom line is Toyota has a problem and they need to step up to the plate and fix it. I won’t hold my breath.

  • avatar
    shaker

    I think it’s a combination of throttle mapping/weak return springs and poor pedal placement.
    It seems that new vehicles (even with throttle cables) use an overly-agressive throttle mapping; combined with light gas pedal resistance and close brake/gas pedal placement (or wayward floor mats) could result in more “unintended” events. However, the ECU should vindicate drivers by indicating that the gas and the brake were being operated simultaneously.

    I just bought a manual-transmission 2008 Hyundai Elantra; I added an extra return spring to the gas pedal to keep me from over-revving the engine when starting out, and to give me enough throttle “feel” so that I could minimize throttle “overrun” between gears. It helped quite a bit, as my size 14 shoe/foot was hard to keep off the gas!

  • avatar
    noley

    I’ve been in cars that have the pedals too close and sure, it can be annoying, but hello, how hard is it to tell when you stepped on the loud pedal instead of the binders? Are these Yota drivers short on reflexes?

    Also, something like a too-close pedal placement is something I would think most people would notice as soon as they get into a vehicle–like on the test drive–and should become accustomed to if they decide to buy the truck. Does anyone know how long these 33 people had their Tacomas before driving them into something solid?

    But letting the poltroons at NHTSA get their mitts on this is not good. Soon we’ll have a pedal size and placement rule.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    we don’t know all the details of the accidents, do we?

    The alleged victim described in the article claims that he hit the brakes, but the car accelerated. Shades of the Audi 5000.

    I have no problem believing that poor pedal placement, bad floor mats, or even a malfunctioning throttle could contribute to driver error. If there is an issue with any of these, they should certainly be addressed. (As we can see from the link that I provided above, Toyota has recently recalled floor mats on other models for their contribution to unintended acceleration.)

    But it is simply not credible to claim that hitting the brakes caused the vehicles to accelerate. Even if the power brakes failed, that would result in the brakes working poorly, but that would not cause acceleration.

    Brake pedals are not connected to throttles, so the claims don’t make sense. It’s a bit like claiming that the car wouldn’t stop because of the song playing on the stereo. (Heavy metal is good for braking, but disco, of course, is not.)

  • avatar
    vento97

    Let’s call this issue for what it really is:

    “Unintended acceleration” is directly proportional to the number of “clueless drivers” operating said vehicle…

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Unintended Acceleration lawsuits brought us the gearshift interlocks with the brake pedal. Not necessarily a bad idea but it does make it difficult to rock a vehicle in snow. If the gas and brake pedal are too close for SOME people, how do they propose to fix that? Customizing the pedal positions? It will never fly, someone will screw that up too.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “Unintended acceleration” is directly proportional to the number of “clueless drivers” operating said vehicle…

    I wouldn’t go that far. Some designs are better than others, which means of course that some designs are worse than others.

    If the pedal placement is prone to provoke human error, then it should be changed. If the throttles are surging, then they should be fixed. The manufacturer has to take some responsibility to make sure that mistakes are difficult to make, particularly in emergency situations when reaction time counts.

  • avatar
    Wulv

    I used to be friends with a Caddy mechanic. I remember when the first STS came out, he was FLOODED with people complaining that something was wrong with their car. Multiple people were putting their cars in the ditch. A lot of people complained that there was a defect in the alignment etc. At the one dealership alone he personally dealt with over 30 people in one year complaining of this. When questioning the drivers, it all came down to having never driven a car with that much power before in the front wheels. The people that ran into the ditch, one and all, had been pulling out to pass another car. Hitting the gas on a front wheel drive vehicle with close to 300 HP, was a lot more than people could handle at the time.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    > But it is simply not credible to claim that hitting the brakes caused the vehicles to accelerate. Even if the power brakes failed, that would result in the brakes working poorly, but that would not cause acceleration.

    Agreed. However, we still have a situation in which 89% of the complaints in a given time period came from people driving one make/model – the Tacoma. If it’s just down to general stupidity, then it’s hard to explain the preponderance of Tacoma drivers. My point, mainly, is that there is no use assigning blame until after the investigation is completed. Do we know at this point that Tacoma’s don’t have brake failure problems?

    I agree with you and others that pedals too close and in the same plane are likely answers. IMO, this amounts to a design defect because the average driver isn’t interested in heel/toe driving technique.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Do we know at this point that Tacoma’s don’t have brake failure problems?

    The article suggests that the brakes did not fail. And as noted before, brake failure should not cause the car to accelerate. Brakes operate a hydraulic system, separate and apart from the throttle, so there is no way that the brake pedal should make the vehicles increase their speed.

    These claims all sound very much like what happened with the Audi 5000. The Audi’s problems were caused by a combination of unsecured floor mats and pedal placement that was not typical in comparison to the domestic cars that then dominated the market.

    I think that the problem is this — you have drivers here involved in accidents that indicate acceleration and probably show no skid marks. Accelerating and failing to brake under these circumstances would suggest that the drivers were 100% at fault. Obviously, that’s not great for the driver involved in these accidents. For them, blaming the vehicle becomes the only available alibi.

    Perhaps these drivers are sincere in their beliefs, but their beliefs don’t make sense. If the cars accelerated, it would have something to do with the throttle, not the brakes.

    I’ve actually been in a situation myself when a motor revved up to a few thousand RPM on its own accord, which caused the car to accelerate without any assistance from me. So I know firsthand that acceleration can occur without driver error.

    But in that instance, I was able to use the brakes to stop the car. The acceleration component to the incident was absolutely a vehicle defect that was not my fault and required repair, but the brakes were able to stop the car.

    Virtually all of these accidents involve drivers who claim that the car accelerated when the brake pedals were depressed. The odds of that being true are effectively zero. I have yet to see a single situation in which a braking system is used to actuate the throttle. Engines are often used to provide power to the brake booster, but a failure of the booster would make the brakes less effective and would not cause acceleration.

  • avatar
    offroadinfrontier

    On top of everything, auto or stick-shift, all modern cars (covering the last 40 years or so) have a Neutral gear selection as well as a parking and/or emergency brake….

    If these cars are truly accelerating themselves, as most have posted, the brakes are more than capable of stopping the car. What I want to know is this – if the car outright floored the pedal, I can understand some serious side effects (in the middle of a turn, while engine braking, etc). Under ANY other circumstance, drivers should be aware enough to adjust for slight or even moderate acceleration, IF these cars did actually accelerate themselves. More brake pressure, shoving it in N, parking/emergency brake, SHUTTING OFF THE ENGINE!!, there are ways to combat this, and you don’t have to be a professional racer to do them.

    Unless the brakes go out, the car won’t shut off, and the manual brakes (whether it be emergency or parking) go out, the car won’t shift, shut off, AND the car accelerates itself, then there is reason for these “wrecks.” Seeing how that is next to impossible… well, I guess we’ve all pretty much come to the same conclusion.

    The ONLY legitimate “unintended acceleration” I’ve read/experienced is on old, OLD cars (such as my 22 year old car) where a piece of rubber (or whatever) deteriorates, shoving something on the throttle cable. While it might be a scary situation, especially if you didn’t know about the common problem before, from personal experience, my gut reaction without the slightest hesitation was to straighten the wheel, throw it in N, gently press the brakes, and shut off the car. It took about 1 second to dislodge the pedal, another second to start the car back up, and one more second to throw it in gear. Sounds complicated, but it really isn’t. God forbid something like this happens to someone, their BASIC knowledge of how a car works should be enough to rectify the situation without getting in a wreck.

    And for those who say “hey! what if you rear-end someone in the process?” my comment; brakes work without the engine on, first off.. and second, that’s what keeping a safe distance is for (especially if you have an old car). Again, common sense prevails.

    Or it should, anyway…

  • avatar
    davejay

    “Toyota has said to us they’ve found nothing wrong with the truck and it’s our fault,” says one “victim.” “They’re basically calling us all stupid.”

    Wow, it’s the 80s all over again; I swear I used almost that exact quote from a newspaper article about the Audi debacle for a school paper back then.

    I say the following as a person who has had a floor mat in a Sentra SE-R stick the gas to the floor twice when pulling away from a light (a problem solved by clutching in, and eventually Nissan recalled the floor mats) — even when it isn’t driver error completely, driver error is likely involved in some way.

    Consider my experience — if I had been driving an automatic, I might have hit the brake instead of clutching in. If I wasn’t familiar with the car for some reason (let’s say I was used to a different car’s pedal arrangement) I might have hit the gas by accident, and since a stuck gas pedal triggered my attempt to hit the brake, of course I’d believe with all my heart that I had hit the brake without success.

    The Audi problem ended up being a chain: there was a surging idle causing cars to jump a bit under certain conditions, and the drivers (who were significantly new to the car, or not the regular drivers of the car) hit the gas instead of the brake in response. Since an experienced owner of the car might be familiar with the idiosyncratic behavior of the car, it really does come down to an unusual behavior coupled with an unfamiliar design for a particular driver.

    Similarly, the second time my gas pedal stuck, it was a yawn — I was familiar with the behavior now — but the first time was quite a wake-up call. Even though it was the floor mat, the floor mat didn’t send me careening into another car, because I was paying attention. But then, I was driving stick as well, and cars with automatic transmissions don’t require as much attention, so they’re more likely to be driven by those with shorter attention spans.

    Oh, and hey: remember those Mazda 5s catching on fire a few years back, that got traced to people shifting the transmission into manual mode and leaving it there? The cars automatically shifted into 2nd gear, and stayed there — and drivers then proceeded to drive at highway speeds with the cars redlined in 2nd until the exhaust got hot enough to start a fire. Unfamiliar behavior (the manumatic’s functionality) coupled with driver unfamiliarity (the high engine noise wasn’t a red flag.)

    So this too shall be settled, and perhaps we’ll see something good come from it as we did with the Audi event in the 80s — cars that don’t shift out of park without your foot on the brake were a direct result of that bruhaha.

  • avatar

    If its any indication based on my morning commute, over 90% of people on the road could easily fall into that category…

    Just 90 percent?

    John


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