By on November 25, 2009

Automotive News [sub] is reporting that Toyota will replace or reshape some 3.8m accelerator pedals to reduce the risk of them becoming lodged against floormats. Toyota will also be replacing some floormats as it battles a recent unintended acceleration scare. But far more interesting than the prosaic alterations to pedals and mats is Toyota’s decision to take modifications a step further on certain affected models. AN [sub] explains:

Toyota will install a brake override system on the involved Camry, Avalon, and Lexus ES 350, IS 350 and IS 250 models “as an extra measure of confidence.” The system will shut off engine power if drivers press the accelerator pedal and brake pedal simultaneously.

Oy. More proof that it only takes a few idiots thinking their car is possessed to ruin burnouts for everyone. Well, everyone who owns a slushbox Toyota or Lexus, anyway.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

46 Comments on “Toyota Floormatgate: Autobox Burnouts Banned?...”


  • avatar

    <i>Oy. More proof that it only takes a few idiots thinking their car is possessed to ruin burnouts for everyone. Well, everyone who owns a slushbox Toyota or Lexus, anyway.</i>
    …I’d say that’s about 99.9% of Toyota and Lexus owners.

  • avatar

    Too bad about the IS, but it’s a moot point for the others. There’s a reason why parking brakes and FWD make such a great combination.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Seems like a pretty easy software fix – unless we come to find out that 5% of the population drives with one foot on the gas and the other on the brake.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The system will shut off engine power if drivers press the accelerator pedal and brake pedal simultaneously.
     
    Every car needs this, if for no other reason that to stop the legions of idiots who drive their automatic-equipped cars two-footed.  For the other who insist on doing burnouts (and I hope we’re only talking about IS350 owners, here), well, you can always neutral-drop.  :P
     
    Related note: I have a pet theory that a lot of unintended acceleration claims stem from people who drive two-footed.

  • avatar
    criminalenterprise

    Unless it’s a track car, is left foot braking (or heel-toe) all that important?

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    Like the proverbial broken clock, I was right on that day…

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/nhtsa-to-toyota-stop-lying-about-floormatgate/#comment-1559861

  • avatar
    wsn

    Proof that Toyota is not the new GM.
     
    They have a problem not entirely at their fault. They fixed it and improved the overall design.

  • avatar
    vegasgti

    Problem….loose floormats in Toyota vehicles….

    Solution….VELCRO!

    I’ve been using Velcro on floormats for many years, never a problem.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    VW and Mercedes with autoboxes already have this, and Toyota plans to implement this across the board for MY2011. I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes the next federally mandated safety feature.

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    The fact that they have multiple actions associated with this "fix" points to a lack of confidence that they know the real root cause for 100% of the events.

    • 0 avatar
      Angainor

      “The fact that they have multiple actions associated with this “fix” points to a lack of confidence that they know the real root cause for 100% of the events.”

      Like the “real” root cause matters anymore.  As long as you have idiots who can’t keep their pedals seperated and then cry “unintended acceleration!!”, the only thing Toyota can do is make it impossible to blame anything on them.  This is Designing in Self Defense and adds cost to the car just like Testing in Self Defense adds cost to our health care system.

    • 0 avatar
      Mike66Chryslers

      This shotgun approach of throwing multiple fixes at the problem means that each car only has to make one trip to the dealer.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      The pedal and floormat changes address why the pedal stuck.  The change to the brake and gas pedal programming is to safeguard if the pedal were to stick in any other situation (if you were to throw all weather mats on top of your regular floormats, for example).  Basically, they’ve built in redundancy, which is very common in the automotive and aerospace industry.  I’m sure the ECU has redundancy built into the throttle programming already, which is why something physical holding down the pedal makes more sense than some software glitch, IMO.  As my boss said one day, while countermeasuring an issue, “robots don’t lie; they do what they are told to do by the input they receive.” 

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    There was, is, and never will be any evidence that this was anything other than the nut behind the wheel doing what Darwin intended.

    It’s just sad that we no longer have the societal huevos to tell these meat puppets that it most certainly WAS their fault. And that if one doesn’t have the presence of mind required to shift into neutral, turn off the ignition, or use your damn foot to unstick a throttle, you have absolutely no business on the f’n road. Period.

    Ugh.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    To make a burnout you still can use the hand brake… in WWD cars.

  • avatar
    wsn

    A new problem may arise.
    When I drove on uphill in a stop and go traffic, my autobox car would slip backwards when I release the brake if it’s too steep. If I switch to gas pedal quickly, I may depress the gas too much and hit the front car. My solution was to hold on to the brake with my left foot and thus I can depress the gas with my right foot slowly and release the brake with my left foot slowly.
     
    But with this new design, my approach may not work properly any more.

  • avatar
    carlisimo


    wsn, I’m with you. I usually drive stick, but it applies when I drive an automatic too: on hills, I need to be on both pedals at once (or on all 3). Especially when I’m parallel parking in San Francisco!

    This brake override thing is a dealbreaker for me because I parallel park on hills relatively often.  Unfortunately, it’s becoming more and more common… I guess I should learn to use the handbrake, but I’ve never gotten the hang of it.

    • 0 avatar
      MadHungarian

      Since we are already talking about cars that are controlled by massive amounts of software, I would think we could tweak the software to allow simultaneous throttle and brake input in certain low speed situations. 

      Although I must say this is starting to feel like those situations where your doctor prescribes a drug to counteract the side effects of another drug.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    wsn, I’m with you. I usually drive stick, but it applies when I drive an automatic too: on hills, I need to be on both pedals at once (or on all 3)

    This brake override thing is a dealbreaker for me because I parallel park on hills relatively often.

     
    It won’t apply to manual-shift cars, only automatics.

  • avatar
    Ralph SS

    At the risk of being added to the idiot list, the story that keeps coming up as the primary catylist of this issue involves a California Highway Patrol officer at the wheel of a Lexus.  It would be safe to assume that he was trained in high-speed pursuit and dealing with emergency situations.  To write him, and many others off as idiots, and as being responsible for this mess, is childish, irresponsible, and cowardly.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      I read that story. Someone in the vehicle had enough time to make a cell phone call during the event. If there was that much time, why didn’t the driver shift the car into neutral or turn it off? It doesn’t make sense.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Ralph,
      I am glad to see someone else with some sense around here.  If Toyota didn’t have a bad pedal design, no one would be talking about this.  It would have never happened.
      Who cares about burnouts in a autobox anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      Mark out West

      Just because he’s a peace officer doesn’t mean he’s smart.  And yes, he was an idiot if somebody in the car had time to make a phone call.  Can you explain why he could not place the car into neutral?  Thought not.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    Also, while we are talking about it.  Where is the story about the Tundra spare tire recall story?

  • avatar
    rnc

    CNN just said that the new pedals will not be ready until april, so until then they are having the dealers just cut off the part of the current pedal.  That along with the “zip-tie” floormat fix and I imagine there are a couple million really pissed off Toyota/lexus customers right now.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

     To write him, and many others off as idiots, and as being responsible for this mess, is childish, irresponsible, and cowardly.
    As soon as someone, anyone, comes up with *any* way that “unintended” acceleration can occur, 0ut of  nowhere, and leave NO physical evidence, then I will happily acknowledge it could be something other than operator error. 30 years since this became an excuse for operator error, and I’m still waiting.

    There is only ONE potential exception to this rule, and that would be in a 100% drive-by-wire throttle scenario. Even then, stand on brakes, turn off ignition, put into neutral.

    The data? Every single time one of these ‘accidents’ has occured,  the conclusion is ALWAYS the same:  There is no problem with the car. There is no evidence the driver applied the brakes at all. There is no evidence the driver tried to switch off the ignition.  

    CHP has a percentage of incompetants behind the wheel, just like any other group. (Google up the Ill State Patrol guy who killed a couple girls in a head-on last year. Talking on the phone, 110 MPH, when he shouldn’t have even been rollin’ code. And there’s hundreds more just like that. )

    Ralph, it’s human nature. When one does something stupid (and we all do) and there’s a way to blame the machine, well dammit, that’s what’s gonna happen. Doesn’t make it correct, doesn’t make it factual. But it does become the excuse.

    It’s when the excuse become something beyond the (wink, wink) “my throttle stuck“, that we have a real problem.

    What’s cowardly is allowing this charade to continue. There is not a single AT car produced in the last 40+ years that can overcome fully applied functional brakes from a stop. Not one. None. Simply. Not. Possible.

    Even the crappiest of crap boxes have more braking HP than engine HP. Pushing that brake pedal hard is going to slow your car down. Even if the throttle is floored. Even if your going 70+MPH. 

    I will grant that if you have some HUGE performance machine, AND your brakes are about to go Tango Uniform, you might, (MIGHT) not stop completely. Of course there would be easily detectable visual forensic evidence of this.  But, once again, gives plenty of time to hit neutral, turn off engine.  

    The facts have been 100% clear since the Audi 5000 debacle.  If it could happen, it would require multiple systems failures that would be readily identifiable post-incident.  Every single time, the car is examined, and there are no failures. Other than driver error.

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      In the San Diego case, the car was seen with flaming brakes which indicate that the driver did try to brake, but maybe too late or not enough early into the acceleration.  That car has a start button, which only turns the car off if held for 3 seconds.  It was a loaner car, so the driver may not have known that.  Being a dealership loaner car was why it had doubled-up floor mats that got stuck under the pedal to begin with – they often put all-weather mats over the carpet mats to protect the latter, despite Toyota’s instructions never to use two mats at once.
       
      You can blame him for not shifting in to neutral.  Maybe automatic drivers forget that neutral exists, or never learn what it’s for.

    • 0 avatar
      rnc

      Actually I thought that they had proved that the car in question at full throttle, at speed, with the throttle stuck that the brakes did give without stopping the car?

      People can talk about what they would do in situations, it’s not until you are in that situation that you find out (kind of like an armchair quarterback vs. the quarterback with 4 300lb guys trying to flatten him), real easy to say turn it off, put in neutral, etc.  At speed, in traffic, throttle sticks,  people in the car yelling, brakes fail, on/off button doesn’t turn the car off.  You just don’t know (maybe just alittle disoriented/confused at that point).

    • 0 avatar
      Ralph SS

      “The facts have been 100% clear since the Audi 5000 debacle.”

      Perhaps a quick read of this is in order.

      http://www.safetyresearch.net/2009/07/20/sudden-acceleration/

      He who knows he knows, knows nothing.  He who knows he knows nothing, knows.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    State troopers, for all that they get better driver training than most of us (at least in my state of WA), are still not immune from making incorrect decisions behind the wheel.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    There is always a gap between what drivers do and what they should do, it seems. An illustration: Where I worked our group had a vehicle we used to do our job. One of the drivers always set the emergency brake when he parked even though the work area was all level, and everyone else just left the pickup in Park. The problem was that he never set it hard enough to keep the truck from moving when the next guy got in and drove off without checking the e-brake. So after a short time we had a vehicle whose emergency brake didn’t work at all.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    Actually I thought that they had proved that the car in question at full throttle, at speed, with the throttle stuck that the brakes did give without stopping the car?
    People can talk about what they would do in situations, it’s not until you are in that situation that you find out (kind of like an armchair quarterback vs. the quarterback with 4 300lb guys trying to flatten him), real easy to say turn it off, put in neutral, etc.  At speed, in traffic, throttle sticks,  people in the car yelling, brakes fail, on/off button doesn’t turn the car off.  You just don’t know (maybe just alittle disoriented/confused at that point).
    OK, if you let the car get over 100MPH, then it is entirely plausible that you will not be significantly slowed by brake application before they fail.
    And yes, there are scenarios in a 100% drive-by-wire vehicle that this could actually be beyond the driver’s control. (The first time in history the excuse could actually be true.)
    But c’mon. If a struck throttle is an event that would do anything beyond momentarily startle a driver, they probably shouldn’t be on the road. 
    Average people process steering and/or braking decisions in a fraction of a second to avoid crashes. Everyday. Everywhere.  If you can’t get your head together enough to stick your foot under the pedal and lift it up, turn the ignition off, and/or put it in neutral in the span of 10-15 seconds, you have no idea what you are doing in a car.

    Beyond that, basic responsibility 101. If you don’t know how to turn the damn thing off, do us all a favor and get out the owner’s manual before you drive.  

  • avatar

    I thought this was a given on modern cars. Nissans have it, Infiniti too – and they’ve had it for YEARS. I didn’t know there were modern cars that didn’t have the double pedal lockout, I never would have guessed Toyexus wasn’t on the bandwagon.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    OK, if you let the car get over 100MPH, then it is entirely plausible that you will not be significantly slowed by brake application before they fail.
     
    I believe Consumer Reports tested this: by standing on the brakes and accelerator in several cars, they were able to haul it down to a reasonable speed, if not stop it altogether.
     
    If the car in question above had “flaming brakes”, then someone had probably been pumping them.   The problem is that most people don’t stand on the brakes, they pump them, or at least don’t stand on them very hard.  Yes, even a trained police officers can do this.  Pumping the brakes on a car with a stuck accelerator will heat the pads, rotors, fluid as well as negate your power assist, and will result in, yes, smoking brakes.
     
    It’s an easy mistake to make: most people don’t brake very hard, or brake late, or pump on and off.  This is why you’re seeing things like Mercedes’ PreSafe, that use the adaptive cruise control to detect if and how imminent a collision would be and precharge, amplify or outright apply the brakes for the driver.
     
    ETA:  Consumer Reports did indeed test this.  From 60mph they were able to slow a Venza to 10mph, so it’s likely that at over 100mph you’d take longer to do so.  I actually tried this in a rental Ford Flex a while back and, yes, it fought me pretty hard from 120km/h on down, but it did slow to a reasonable speed.  Unless Toyota has a braking problem as well as a throttle/mats problem, I think we can chalk up a good part of this to “driver doing the wrong things in a panic”—again, even trained drivers.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    “The facts have been 100% clear since the Audi 5000 debacle.”
    Perhaps a quick read of this is in order.
    Perhaps you should re-read it. Clearly states that none of the mechanical maladies that could cause the problem have ever been found. Ever.

    My fam owned an Audi 5000S back in the day. Simply put, the pedals were a bit too close for someone used to 60′s US spacing. Adjust your feet appropriately.

    As someone who has owned several Audi, Porsche, MBZ K-Jet cars (and wrenched dozens) there is no way to make a K-Jet FI system self-rev without an easily diagnosible mechanical fault. Period. None.  And that fault is almost impossible to achieve.  Feel free to call any Bosch certified tech.

    He who knows where the data is, knows how to read the data, and understands what machines can and can’t do, knows.

    As to the ‘idle air bypass’ even if it’s totally gone/broken/malfunctioning more than it ever could, it’ll raise the idle about 1000 rpm. Max.
     

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    Ralph,

    That article is mostly a fluff/op-ed piece.  What serious facts on that page do you think I’m glossing over? The only traceable failure that’s listed (and we’ve all known it for years) is the Ford throttle cable rust issue. Which, unlike all the BS claims, would be readily apparent as a mechanical failure upon inspection.

    Complaints on web groups do not statistics make. Anecdotal evidence, sure. Fact? Not until sifted and studied.  Until now, and by now I mean the last 2 years or so, there was *never* a way a car could floor itself , not stop when you stomp the brakes, AND then have all systems fully functional for a post-incident inspection. None. 

    It could happen if lotsa stuff all failed at the same time, in which case, forensic evidence would be there in spades.  

    I do agree (as I always have) that in a 100% drive-by-wire scenario with NO direct mechanical connection to the gas/brakes and/or steering, there is the potential for the computers to multifault in some HAL-like way. And kill you.

    But up until this very recent development, the only random, unrepeatable, undiagnosible errors were human.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    @psarhjinian,

    Thanks for that bit of data. Didn’t have time to do F=MA calcs and comparisons, actual tests on the ground is even better. (ie, stopping car in this time/dist requires “x” braking HP, so even if engine is outputting peak HP, it will require “y” extra distance to stop – more or less)

  • avatar
    ajla

    I wonder why the IS-F and the IS-C seem to be exempt from this.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    Well, I have to say I’m staggered that the existing Toyota/Lexus ECU doesn’t already have software that detects brake application AND accelerator application. The sensors are there already, and the logic is probably pretty simple to define.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Toyota’s not the only one: when I was trying to casually test this, Honda, GM, Ford and Hyundai products all exhibited the same behaviour (eg, they’ll fight you all the way down to a stop).  From what CR says, VW and Mercedes do cut throttle on braking.  I don’t have a BMW or other European car to test, but I recall my old Saab 9-3 (the GM2800, not the Epsilon) didn’t cut back on throttle when the brake was down.
       
      I don’t know why, as you’re right that it’s mostly software work.  Either it raises the potential for malfunction elsewhere (gee, in a VW?) or there’s other drivability issues?

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Chrysler products also cut power when both brake and gas are applied at the same time and will also set a fault code for “two footed driver” to be discovered later with a scan tool. This seems like something so obvious and basic to be included in eletronic throttle calibrations/controls. Why Toyota and perhaps others missed it is baffling.

    • 0 avatar
      criminalenterprise

      I can verify that even standard transmission VWs ECU’s kill the accelerator when the brake pedal is applied.
       
      It ruins the rare times when spirited driving asks for heel-toe, but it’s not intrusive.  I think the newer models have a hill-hold feature as well if your footwork isn’t fast enough and you don’t do the old handbrake trick.
       
      Anyone who criticizes the drivers who experience this issue is failing as an empathetic human being.  It’s not always just the driver who gets killed or hurt, and to declare that they’re incompetent for not figuring out what to do in time implies that the author assumes they are competent and would figure out what to do.  Because we can’t drop you into the exact situation a la Quantum Leap, you cannot make such an assertion.
       
      FWIW, I had a car where the vacuum-driven cruise control would run the throttle up (not WOT but steady) once in a great while when it was activated and I put in the clutch before braking or deactivating it with the coast button.  I also remember a company car (a K-car) that would regularly cruise at exactly 25mph through town without cruise or touching any pedals.  There was no tach.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    Anyone who criticizes the drivers who experience this issue is failing as an empathetic human being.  It’s not always just the driver who gets killed or hurt, and to declare that they’re incompetent for not figuring out what to do in time implies that the author assumes they are competent and would figure out what to do.  Because we can’t drop you into the exact situation a la Quantum Leap, you cannot make such an assertion.

    I come from a different world. One where things can and do go wrong. I’ve dealt with stuck throttles before – once with floor mats, once with a sticky cable. It’s no big deal.I am NOT saying that a mechanical failure can’t happen. I’m NOT saying that if something breaks and it’s outside the realm of human reaction times, that they’re at fault. However, I AM saying that if your presence of mind is so far gone that you don’t know how to react to a simple situation like a stuck accelerator in a reasonable amount of time, your head ain’t in the game. At all.

    FWIW, I had a car where the vacuum-driven cruise control would run the throttle up (not WOT but steady) once in a great while when it was activated and I put in the clutch before braking or deactivating it with the coast button.  I also remember a company car (a K-car) that would regularly cruise at exactly 25mph through town without cruise or touching any pedals.  There was no tach.

    Both of the above-captioned failure conditions are easily seen, easily corrected mechanical issues. They do NOT floor the accelerator, turn it’s brakes off, then magically repair themselves after the accident.  

    Believe what you wish about the ability of the average driver to keep their cranium out of their rectum. I tend to believe that most people can, if they have just a little focus.

    But, if you punch the throttle and panic (which is EVERY standing-start ‘unintended’ acceleration incident) then man/woman up. Admit you screwed up and call your insurance agent. 

    Once again, in a car that is 100% drive-by-wire, then maybe the computer goes HAL and tries to kill you and leaves no evidence of the failure. That IS possible. But until the last coupla years, that situation has not existed.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • J & J Sutherland, Canada
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India