The Obama administration either decided that Toyota has been sufficiently maimed and weakened to give its wards of the state some breathing room (a theory rising in popularity amongst some conspiracy buffs), or Toyota has definitely found the definitive cure for UAS (unintended acceleration syndrome). Be it as it may, the NHTSA has approved the shim fix, says Reuters. If the Wall Street Journal got it right, recalled Toyotas may also get a re-flash, and a feature amiss in most American cars.
Toyota said in a statement late on Saturday that it had reviewed the pedal fix with NHTSA and was finalizing details. According to Reuters, “the remedy being readied by Toyota and its accelerator supplier, CTS Corp, involves a shim, also called a spacer that will be placed in the accelerator to keep it from sticking.”
Also, “approved” may be too strong a word. NHTSA regulators don’t “approve” a fix (which would mean they would be responsible for it), but they can reject the approach if they consider it inadequate.
NHTSA did not reject the approach. Our in-house teardown staff and the B&B mostly think the shim is a placebo measure.
In the meantime, UAS spreads faster than the swine flu. Toyotas are recalled in Israel, China, and points east. PSA recalls 100,000 Peugeot 107 and Citroen C1 models made at a factory in the Czech Republic where the French group and Toyota jointly make cars. Ford halted production of some full-sized commercial vehicles in China because they contain the same CTS pedal. UAS seems to be contagious.
Injuryboard.com, home of ambulance chasers, asks an inconvenient question: Why does Toyota “not utilize cheap and effective ‘smart pedal’ technology in its vehicles?” Smart is actually a bit of a reach. With this technology, which shouldn’t cost much more than a bunch of lines of code in the ECU, the engine goes to idle if the brake pedal and gas pedal are pushed at the same time. Which corrects the most common cause for UAS: Pilot error.
Lo and behold, that feature might come: “In its most recent recall, Toyota further proposes a software change to allow a foot on the brake to close the throttle of runaway cars,” writes the Wall Street Journal. Does your car have such a feature? According to Injuryboard, if it’s a recent Mercedes-Benz, a BMW, a Nissan, an Infiniti, an Audi, or a Volkswagen, it most likely does. If it’s a U.S. car, a Volvo, or a Honda, most likely it does not. Wait, some Chryslers have it, say the ambulance chasers.
Expect recalls of all cars without that feature. Finally: Jobs!