By on January 29, 2010

Toyota knows how to fix the sticking gas pedals, says today’s Nikkei [sub]. Nobody will go publicly on record, and nothing will be announced before the NHTSA has approved the fix.

According to the Nikkei, Toyota applied for NHTSA approval for a “selective spacer,” or shim that would be inserted into the gas-pedal assembly of the affected cars. The shim would increase the tension in an internal spring and should prevent the accelerator from remaining in a depressed position, say Nikkei’s sources.

Once approval is received, production of the shim could begin in a week, and dealers would have their parts a week later. If it really comes down to a shim, there are machines that spit out gadzillions in the blink of an eye.

Until the NHTSA has given its approval, nobody at Toyota will break cover. “We have got some options that are going to address the issue,” said Toyota spokesman Mike Goss. “I can’t confirm what the fix is.”

Both CTS, the supplier that makes the gas pedal units for Toyota, and Toyota itself said no electronics are at fault.

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36 Comments on “Toyota Found Fix For Stuck Pedals...”


  • avatar
    A is A

    The recall arrived to the U.K.: http://blog.toyota.co.uk/toyota-accelerator-pedal-recall-in-europe

    “Toyota will implement a recall in Europe for this matter. The details of corrective action and implementation will be communicated directly to customers with vehicles potentially affected”

    (Translation from PR Doublespeak: If we think your Toyota is not affected we are going to tell you nothing about the matter. Hush, hush. IMHO they should send a letter to ALL Toyota customers with potentially affected vehicles saying: “Dear Toyota customer…in case you notice this and that in your accelerator lever do/do not do this and that”)

    “The models and exact number of potentially affected vehicles is under investigation.” (Translation: We -Toyota- do not know which cars are affected. How reassuring.)

    “Whilst this condition is rare we advise customers who have concerns to contact Toyota GB Customer Relations (0800 1388744) for assistance ahead of the recall instructions being issued.”

    Fantastic. So the “assistante ahead of the recall instructions” is ONLY for customers “who have concerns” and care to call to a thelephone number.

    These next lines really, really raised my eyebrowns:

    “A running change in production using different parts has already been implemented model-by-model in the European production. Therefore there is no need or intention to stop production in Europe.” (IMHO the real reason is that there is no NHTSA in Europe).

    Toyota.es (I happen to be a Spanish Toyota owner) says nothing about the matter. Yesterday the matter was aired in Spanish newspapers and even in prime time Spanish T.V.

    Toyota.es failed to answer the email I sent them two days ago. They even failed to send me the customary automated email acknowledging that they received my email (the email interface at Toyota.es was specially inept).

    OTOH I am not specially worried. My (yes, it is electric) accelerator works fine, as always. And my 2004 Avensis D4D is as solid and deeply satisfactory as always.

    In case of trouble I know I must stop driving my car ASAP, and in a worst case scenario I know all I must do is to put the stick in Neutral.

    But -frankly- I expected a more serious attitude from Toyota. I am somewhat disappointed.

    • 0 avatar
      A is A

      Update: They finally answered me from Toyota.es

      Toyota Spain tells me in a letter that they are trying to figure out if my Avensis is affected by the recall or not and they will let me know ASAP what is going on. Big deal.

      The icing on the cake is that the letter includes am admonition about if I really need to print the letter with a “Stop Climate Change” logo. It does not tell if they refer to Global WARMING Climate Change or the Global COOLING Climate Change. In my life I have known both ways, and I preserve (as a curio/relic) scientific mags till 1983 warning me about the impending glacial age about to cover the world.

      The “Global WARMING” fad started in 1988.

      WAR IS PEACE
      FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
      IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

      …and CLIMATE CHANGE IS GLOBAL WARMING AND GLOBAL COOLING.

  • avatar
    Disaster

    The shim probably addresses two issues. Since Toyota says this is a “wear” issue, with older pedals, it is possible the spring is wearing into it’s stop…causing a loss of spring force (pedal return force.) This washer would push the spring back somewhat and increase the pedal return force. It is also made of a more durable material than the original surface and therefore won’t wear like the original surface did.

    1. Compress spring and increase minimum spring force.
    2. Stop spring stop wear so the spring force does not decrease again.

  • avatar
    naserrou

    This whole thing is very strange to me. I calibrate Diesel engines for a living and have had experience working with Denso, Delphi and Bosch ECU systems. In all these there is a fail safe mechanism that cuts all torque requests from the engine when the brake pedal is pushed, even if the accelerator demand is 100%.

    I can not imagine that Toyota has not go this on there EU market cars, especially not the diesels. Its a very very basic safety net, and easy to implement.

    If you own a toyota and are worried, try left foot braking heavily whilst your foot is on the accelerator (assuming you have drive by wire). The engine should cut out imediatly. It does on all the diesel engine projects i have worked on.

  • avatar
    pgcooldad

    I’m sure I have a few of these in my Nuts-n-Bolts Toolbox. Wait, I can start my own Toyota accelerator pedal repair business … need to pick up a couple more boxes of washers at the Nut and Bolt Supply House. Man, I’m gonna rake-in the cash, there are millions that need repair out there.

    Just another of my Walter Mitty ambitions I’m afraid.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    reminds me of the inanimate carbon rod

    ‘in rod we trust?’

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    (As I noted in my entry of the previous item posted here on ttac.)

    The field repair (in this case shim), is the quicker, cheaper alternative to a full repair-and-replace field-action, however, it also means that the repair will only be as good as the worst mechanic in the Toyota system who performs the repairs (who has to disassemble the pedal assy and properly reassemble with the shim*, shaft, clips, screws, etc. installed and properly seated and/or torqued.)

    Is this fix is for a) all recalled CTS assys in the field, or b) only for those that don’t exhibit wear, that is, if an assy is worn past a certain point, is the worn assy discarded and replaced with a new assy? And who, having what special training, using what criteria, will determine the “repair or replace” question, and then perform the repair operation?

    The devil is in the details. (It will be interesting to see photos of the wear pattern in an afflicted assy, as well as the TSB for the repair action.)

    *Oops … I had to edit this because I forgot to install the shim in my “virtual” assy above (and no, although it does illustrate the point, I really did forget to install it in my list!)

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      That would apply to any repair, though, even a complete replacement of the pedal assembly. Excepting EEPROM programming, there’s no way you could ever guarantee any work at the dealer level.

      Any repair, warranty, recall or otherwise, is going to suffer for the technicians on the ground.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      There are millions of cars to be reworked. If the mechanics are 99.99% accurate in applying the recall, then 1 in 10,000 cars will either not be fixed or could have a new defect.

    • 0 avatar
      Exfordtech

      In a dealership, technicians are paid on a flat rate system. A given repair pays x hours regardless of how much time a technician actually spends in performing the repair. Repair times are usually based on the amount of time a technician of average skill requires to perform a given task using a time study of that task. In most instances such as recalls and TSBs paid for under warranty, the manufacturer is very unlikely to be generous in the amount of time alloted, especially for a recall of such a volume as the one facing Toyota (although I can only speak from my 20 some odd years as a Ford tech). Inevitably, a tech is faced with losing time (say the time alloted is .6 hr and it actually takes 1.2 hr) or cutting corners. I think a field repair of a shim has an enormous potential for disaster. I don’t want to characterize all techs as being unscrupulous, but enough exist that any repair short of assembly replacement would be dangerous.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      Why on earth would Toyota repair these at a dealer level? Makes no sense. What you do is send out a couple dozen refurbished units to each dealer, whose mechanic unscrews the old assembly, pulls off the wires, and takes the “new” one and reverses the procedure to install. Then the dud units are shipped back to a central repair depot, where people who have been trained to fit the shim properly rebuild the assembly. These refurbs are sent back out to dealers.

      Rinse, lather, repeat.

      Can’t imagine that 20,000 untrained Toyota mechanics would be asked or expected to do this fine work in the typical dealer bay with the consequences of failure writ so large.

  • avatar

    Robert: The dealers would absolutely ADORE this solution. The workshops would be filled from here to eternity.

    “And since the car is already here … how about those brake pads?”

    • 0 avatar
      Stingray

      I guess this is a good time to begin a “Toyota authorised service shop” business.

      I remember your post from some days ago, and I guess people will have to take the cars to fix more than once, which will piss them, etc…

      I hope for their own good they do this right. If not, their image will certainly suffer.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      If Toyota is smart (and willing to bleed some more money) a free oil change “while you’re there” is probably not a bad idea.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    This kind of repair leaves too much space for mistakes and more problems.

    Yes it’s the cheapest. No, it doesn’t look like something an automaker “should” do.

    Can these people do better than strip-ties and washers?

    Torque? HA!. Robert, really, do you really think field service people will give a damn for the torque the bolts on that plastic box must tightened?

    Are we sure they have the tools for doing that?

    As you gringos say… inquiring minds want to know.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      So what’s the alternative? Ford’s cruise control recall is still behind on production and that’s been years.

      CTS’ production rate was something like two or three orders of magnitude below the need to fill this recall in a year. Even if you brought Denso in to fill the need, you’d still need to invest serious capital (and time) to ramp up production (eg, building factories, tooling, getting people, etc). You’d also have to stop production of new vehicles (oh, hi, did you like your cash flow?) in the interim.

      This is not like patching software: there are serious logistical and financial barriers to “doing the right thing”.

    • 0 avatar
      Stingray

      The alternative? good question.

      However, I consider this to be a band-aid solution. Not a definite one. Really, who assures you it will solve the problem permanently?. Hopefully does.

      You can’t compare apples to apples this recall with the Ford one. This is a safety problem in a part that affect the functioning of the car. You can deactivate the CC unit/wires (to avoid the shot circuit that would cause vehicle fire) and the customer will still be able to drive normally and safely its car.

      In this case, is a component that cannot be disconnected without affecting the function of the car. The car WON’T move if the accelerator pedal doesn’t work. The defects are different. And in Quality in this industry, they’re “taxed” and treated differently. The Toyota’s one is safety “S”, the other one may be a “A” or “B” depending on each manufacturer’s standard.

      I’m by no means saying Ford’s recall isn’t serious.

      “This is not like patching software: there are serious logistical and financial barriers to “doing the right thing”.”

      Surely, but that’s why the many analysis/tests mentioned by Robert.Walter are done BEFORE the part goes to the assembly line. To avoid this kind of messes.

      You mention production, ramping it up, new tooling, etc. I ask, how many shifts are the supplier’s factories working?, do they do overtime as a normal basis?. Maybe working extra shifts/overtime could do for producing the extra parts.

      Can Denso adapt their desing to the CTS one?, can be the car (CTS equipped) reworked easily and safely to accept the Denso one?.

  • avatar
    Lavventura

    If I was Toyota I would starting pumping these shims out now, even if they don’t get approved by regulators, the costs of these shims are minimal and the cost in PR and image is incredibly expensive.

    So if they do get approved they can send it out immediately, overnight them to dealers, and end this nightmare as soon as possible.

    At the same time, I would also start pumping out complete accelerators in preparation in the case it doesn’t get approved. It’ll ruin JIT production, but at this point its probably a safer to hedge bets considering what’s at stake.

  • avatar
    Morea

    “We’re going to install a washer so that there is more spring tension.”

    Sounds like the words of a weekend mechanic trying to get their old car to behave properly, not the words of a high-tech, just-in-time, concurrent-engineering, continuous-improvement, muiltinational corporation!

  • avatar
    skcusmg

    Sounds like the words of a weekend mechanic trying to get their old car to behave properly, not the words of a high-tech, just-in-time, concurrent-engineering, continuous-improvement, muiltinational corporation!
    ……………………
    How should they have said it?

  • avatar
    ohsnapback

    Wow. This particular jerry-rig is incredibly surprising from the former ‘can do no wrong’ Toyota, and really further undermines their reputation for quality and precision.

  • avatar
    segfault

    “The shim would increase the tension in an internal spring and should prevent the accelerator from remaining in a depressed position, say Nikkei’s sources.”

    But if you increase the tension on the spring too much, it will fatigue and break. They could end up in the same situation again.

  • avatar
    Moparagain

    If that doesn’t work are they going to blame the washer manufacturer in Indiana?

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    I guess it’s better than a piece of string with the other end tied somewhere on the dashboard.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    You mean it is not WD-40?

  • avatar
    MBella

    Many recalls work like this. They use spacers, shims, extensions, clips, etc…

    There really isn’t a better way to do the recall. Even if they replaced the pedal assembly, what would that guarantee? Most techs will master this after performing it a couple of times, and the vast majority will be performed correctly. Obviously, nothing can ever be 100% when humans are involved, but it will be very close.

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    Robert, you beat me to the idea of a case of WD-40 shipped to each dealer…

  • avatar
    Morea

    Reminds me of the wheels weights on the Brembo calipers of early Camaro SSs.

    As a weekend mechanic myself it makes me feel not too far from the pros!

  • avatar
    skcusmg

    As a weekend mechanic myself it makes me feel not too far from the pros!
    ………………….

    Maybe better then the pros. Most of the time the simplest and most straightforward solution is the best one to use.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Mail the masses a bungee cord of the proper length per vehicle-type with a diagram indicating attachment points.

    Perhaps include article telling of multi-million paid out by Ford for failure to build car roof impervious to falling horses (obscure?).

  • avatar
    Sutures

    Honestly, this change causes a lot of engineering alarms in my little brain.

    I hope this sentence is a mistranslation or just an uniformed description of the fix: “The shim would increase the tension in an internal spring and should prevent the accelerator from remaining in a depressed position, say Nikkei’s sources.”

    (It’s nitpicking, I know, but… )
    - Tension/extension spring: if you are increasing the spring’s TENSION you are artificially shortening the spring which could result in the spring reaching its yield point and not returning to its original size. End result: more unintended acceleration events

    - Compression spring: In the statement “tension” actually means “compression”. More likely situation, however, if the loss of compression is from the spring causing wear on a mating part, we now have to worry about whether the mating part can support the newly increase spring force. If the fix is intended to adjust the spring for tight fitting parts, my concern is that the increased force will not be sufficient to overcome the worst offenders. End result: more unintended acceleration events

    - In either case the following REALLY worries me… If a stick/slip situation is the root cause of the problem, there should be an account of the issue being resolved by either prying the pedal up with your foot (I’ve had to do this on a vehicle that had a good old throttle cable) OR the issue resolved itself by a sudden shock to the vehicle (ie hitting a pothole) which jarred the pedal enough to unstick it.

    With the above bit of engineering… I hope someone leaks the TSB or recall instruction sheet. I am curious on what the “fix” actually entails.

  • avatar

    butbutbut
    I thought the problem was floor mats and idiot drivers (like an off duty trooper buying the farm with his family). There should be some ritual seppukku for this FUBAR. In the old days the president of the company would have come to your house and personally apologized.

    …and…
    repeat after me, ten times

    WD-40 is NOT a lubricant

    (except in the very short term, after which volatiles evaporate and you’re back to the status quo ante)


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