By on January 29, 2010

Kudos to Edmunds Inside Line for throwing up pictures of two Toyota gas pedal assemblies. The recalled unit, made by CTS, is shown above in a 2010 Camry. The non-recalled Denso-produced unit is after the jump.

As you can tell from these pictures alone, the differences between the two units are obvious, and based on superficial analysis alone, the Denso unit appears to be of much higher quality. If any of TTAC’s Best and Brightest has the means to obtain and tear down each of these units and provide us with side-by-side images, we will happily provide a generous bounty for any photographs that shed more light on the differences between these two units. Drop us an email at editors@ttac.com, and we’ll get back to you post-haste.

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118 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: CTS Versus Denso Toyota Pedal Assembly Edition...”


  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    About the only thing that I notice externally between the two is that the pivot point on the Denso unit for the pedal lever has a much stronger end support. But only until the unit is disassembled will you be able to see where the difference in quality and design lays. Never the less wouldn’t the difference in the parts still have to be approved by Toyota?

  • avatar
    TomH

    The differences are obvious in the picture, but I’m not sure how you come to the conclusion that the Denso unit appears to be “much higher quality.”

    • 0 avatar

      Superficial snap judgement. This is why we’re offering a bounty to anyone who can strip down two units and photograph the components… only by disassembling can we understand thereal differences between the two.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      I also don’t agree that the Denso unit is necessarily of higher quality based on a visual look-see.

      As Keats, in Ode to a Grecian Urn (1819) wrote:

      ‘”Beauty is truth, truth beauty,”
      that is all Ye know on earth,
      and all ye need to know.’

      True for objets d’ art, but in the engineering arts, dimensions, tolerances, materials, BOM piece count, parts integration, DFMEA, PFMEA, CAE, DFM&A, etc. trump the cosmetic characteristics in importance (all other things being equal of course.)

      I wish I had known about your bounty … I would have gone to the local Toyota dealer and tried to get a look at these today. (I think I would have done this just for the cost of reimbursement for the parts…)

      I hope my inputs in the last days have been interesting and helpful. If think my support in the engineering analysis would have utility to TTAC and its B/B, please let me know. I’d be happy to help.

      btw, I am with Chuck on the screws thing … in addition to all the other crazy and esoteric things I been doing over the last 25 years, I worked in a Threaded Fastener Research Lab during my time in engineering university.

    • 0 avatar
      PartsUnknown

      R.W – your posts are superb, and the Keats is a nice little bonus, but this:

      “…DFMEA, PFMEA, CAE, DFM&A, etc…”

      You’re just showing off there. No one knows what in God’s green acres that stuff means. Do explain, if it is relevant.

    • 0 avatar

      Why always me?

      BOM = Bill of materials
      DFMEA = Design Failure Mode Effects Analysis
      PFMEA = Process Failure Mode and Effects Analysis
      CAE = Computer Aided Engineering (unless it’s a Certificate of Advanced English)
      DFM&A = (Product) Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (as opposed to DFS&D = (Product) Design for Servicing and Disassembly)

      Also note that Robert worked in a “Threaded Fastener Research Lab during his time in engineering university.” Which means, he screwed around, like most of us.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Thanks Bertel for the x-lation, you are right on all accounts! :O)

      Regarding the T.F.R.Lab, you are right! ;OD I also worked in a vibration lab setting, I won’t go into what we did (NSFW) there!

      Re. the acronyms, guilty as charged to 50%, and just too busy (lazy) to type out the whole stack of words for the other 49%.

      (If I am still within the edit time window) In reply to your question below, just between us, let’s just say that the shaker table had the secret nickname “Squealing Orgasmatron.” (Somepeople said that this was a holy-place because some people must have seen God as they had been known to call out to him.)

    • 0 avatar

      So you (or a member of the fairer sex) sat on the shaker, and then? Fess up!

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      I would like to see the DVP&R. Every failure mode in the DFMEA and PFMEA should have been addressed by verification (such as CAE) or validation (such as PPAP testing) before the PSW was signed back by Toyota.

  • avatar

    More fasteners does not necessarily indicate higher quality.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    Both switches look like flimsy bits of plastic. Is this what automotive engineering has been reduced to? The ‘Go’ pedal is now just a cheap bit of plastic with some wires coming out of it? No wonder so many cars these days have about as much character and charm as my toaster. Whatever happened to a metal pedal attached to a throttle cable?

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      Greed.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      Part of the answer may be cost. The biggest part of the answer are : fuel economy, emissions standards. The manufacturers go to drive-by-wire to be able to more accurately control the engine to meet these standards. They don’t do it on a whim.

    • 0 avatar
      TR4

      “cheap bits of flimsy plastic?” No sir, those are made of high impact corrosion resistant engineering grade resin!

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Come-on guys, please, the luddite-like approach to plastic vs. metal are about as useful as discussions of analog being superior to digital.

      Our lives are markedly better because we have plastic, and must not rely only on steel or wood.

      Not everything can be made of plastic (some of the industrial research projects we undertook, with the materials available at that time (~10y ago) clearly showed that, for the chassis saftey-parts our customers were considering, plastic could not be substituted for metal (either a straight substitution, or in a design specifically developed to benefit of plastic’s strengths and respect plastic’s limitations.)

      Personally, I think this part is well-suited to being designed in plastic, it can be stronger, more durable, lighter, potentially cheaper, and totally better for the application than a metal pedal assy ever could be.

      What I find interesting is the fixed-angle relationship between the lever-arm and the pedal:
      - on one hand, it prevents the fault my mom’s 69 Cougar where the steel screw holding the plastic pedal to the (steel) lever arm backed-out, letting the steel spring, in additon to the pedal & screw fall on the floor (until she got home, mom had to accelerate by putting her foot on the stub end of the lever);
      - on the other hand, I wonder about the ergonomics of a fixed angle pedal … can anybody tell me if this is comfortable?
      - in addition, I think the inability of the pedal to pivot about the lever arm,, in additon to weak spring return of the lever arm, contributed to a lack of robustness with respect to this sub-system’s ability to withstand and recover from mat entrapment as well as a build-up of internal friction due to wear that I spoke about in my analysis of potential root causes given a few days ago.

    • 0 avatar
      Sinistermisterman

      Maybe I am a luddite. It’s just I’ve always tried to maintain my own cars, doing basic repairs when things go wrong.
      I can understand drive by wire and the evolution of computer controlled fuel injection etc, but its getting to a point now where you need special diagnostic software just to work out even very basic faults. Pretty much everyone I know does not have access to this kind of software meaning you HAVE to go to a dealer which costs far more money than being able to diagnose the problem yourself. Combine this with the fact that if something electrical has stopped working then 9 times out of 10 it’s so complicated it cannot be repaired – it’s just unplugged and replaced. Anyway, Rant over. I’ll go back to my cave now.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      :O) (Apologies … I’m not trying to insult or appear condescending, just trying to be clear, and a bit humourous, in my illustrations.)

      Got lights in that cave? This situation is no different than changing a light-bulb (you don’t disassemble it to change the filiment) than in the old days when you put a new wick in your oil lamp… Would you really want to do either on a daily basis? And in many cases, it would be impossible to do this as it is done in the factory without the special atmospheres, fixtures, tools, materials or training. Maybe you could do all this, but then you would be one in a thousand (or less) with the tools and the talent to competently pull it off (think TCO).

      On the side of cars and mechanical things, despite the fun of rebuilding the carb on my old Cougar, would I prefer having to put a screw-driver in the carb-plate for the fire-breathing dragon floor-show every time I wanted to start a new car? Or have to change plugs, points and condensor every ?? miles, or oil every 3k miles, or ever change the bag in the vacuum cleaner when I could just dump the canister in the toilet?

      I love old things, I used to love to take apart everything and (mostly) fix them (better success with increasing age), bicycles, lawn mowers, telephones, wind-up clocks, locks, cameras, and electronic things, but I would I want to have to go back and use, or depend on, all those old-style things on a daily basis? This is why I keep an old car and antiques, if I get the bug to fix em I can, but I don’t have to depend on them. And in the meantime, I can benefit from ABS, ESP, CAT, MRI, VoIP, USB, eMail, (TTAC!), etc. …

      And finally, if we return to psarjinian’s fav. topic of TCO, the average person’s TCO experience would not be improve, and in fact it would be degraded, if the inexpensive components were still designed for refurbishment rather than-unplug-plug-and-play replacement. (This is the same reason why extremely complex technogies, or safety products, used in mass-market applications are almost always assembled on automated equipment rather than by hand.

      (Sorry again, if I offended anyone’s sensibilities.)

    • 0 avatar
      MadHungarian

      @tced2, then where are the MPG benefits? Many cars from 15-20 years ago got better mileage than their counterparts today.

      This also leads me to ask a dumb, but important, question. This assembly doesn’t have to mate up to any kind of linkage. It just has a wire plugged into it. Why are we having all this handwringing over how to fix the problem with the existing supplier? Why isn’t Toyota going to Denso and saying, we will pay for you to add an extra shift at your plant, give me all of these you can make at the same quality level, so we can swap them into the affected cars? And all they should be saying to CTS is my lawyer will call your lawyer.

    • 0 avatar
      A is A

      “@tced2, then where are the MPG benefits? Many cars from 15-20 years ago got better mileage than their counterparts today.”

      The mpg benefits had been used to carry the extra weight of passive safety.

      20 years ago strongest car (Volvo 700) is a tin can compared with current state of the art car designs.

      Please look at this classic video (Volvo 900 crashed against a Renault Modus):

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3ygYUYia9I&feature=PlayList&p=FC87FEE240B7D67B&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=32

      The Volvo 900 is an updated 700.

      With 20 years ago engines current cars would have single digits mpgs.

  • avatar

    Q for the B&B: What accounts for the design differences between the CTS and Denso assemblies? Perhaps more to the point, did each company submit their design for the part to Toyota for approval, or does Toyota send their specifications to each part manufacturer?

    In other words, going with the premise that the CTS assembly is cheesier than the Denso, who is responsible for its design: CTS or Toyota?

    Going even further down the line: what will be said if it turns out that an American-made and/or designed part is the crux of this debacle?

    • 0 avatar
      panzerfaust

      That was my point as well. And whether the CTS part is to blame has been TTAC’s question all along.

    • 0 avatar
      Geotpf

      The fault probably belongs equally to CTS and Toyota, IMHO. CTS for cheapening the part; Toyota for approving the design.

    • 0 avatar
      John Holt

      I think the non-committal answer is “it depends.” Toyota may have created the design and sourced it to CTS. Or CTS developed the design and it was approved by Toyota. Even if we did a teardown analysis, it won’t solve the “whodunnit” problem without knowing the supplier-OEM responsibility relationship.

      Same kind of finger-pointing like between Ford and Firestone back in the day. Good chance this will kill the CTS-Toyota working relationship if the blame-game gets heated.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Geotpf: +1, your comments reflect my thinking. I might add that some clues may come in the future if we see lawsuits, Toyota taking shares in CTS, or being licensed to use CTS technology (I was checking this today, there are several CTS patents for ePedal technology – clue would be Denso assys using the CTS shaft-mounted, clip fixated design, instead of the mutiple-screw design); or CTS being desourced, or not getting new Toyota contracts in the future.

    • 0 avatar

      First off, everyone needs to remember that the A # 1 omnibus all-purpose excuse at any OEM automaker is “it’s the supplier’s fault”. That’s how it’s always been and always shall it be.

      In this case, CTS appears to point the finger back at Toyota, saying that the product was built to design specifications.

      People have complained about past decontenting by Toyota. That’s in the parts of the car that are visible. What about in the parts of the car that we can’t see?

    • 0 avatar
      dkulmacz

      Wow. Wouldn’t it be weird if instead it turns out that Toyota released different designs to the different suppliers? The nice, non-failing design to Denso for all Japanese market cars, and the cheaper…sorry, cheaper-looking, recalled design to CTS for everyone else in the world?

      Oh, what a feeling, indeed.

  • avatar
    CamaroKid

    A better question would be, “why aren’t they interchangeable?”

    Take a look a the two pedals. The connector looks the same and the mount point where it bolts to the floor pan looks the same too…

    It looks like you could unbolt one and bolt in the other.

    • 0 avatar
      Geotpf

      That’s probably by design. In theory, they are the same part. There are some Toyota car models that are built both in Japan and in North America. The North American car would have the CTS part; the Japanese car would have the Denso part. But if somebody takes their car into service, a replacement part would have to bolt on either equally well. So they are interchangable.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    As a mechanical engineer, I’m reluctant to evaluate from an armchair.
    As EN points out, the difference will be more than skin deep. Moreover, the new design may actually be superior, except for isolated cases with aggravating factors thrown in, such as time, temperature, moisture, and usage.

    Not all cost-savings efforts result in inferior products. Consumer electronics are a good example, if you compare today’s cell phone to one made 15 years ago.

    You get a lot more car, with more features, and more safety, for the same money as compared to cars a generation ago.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      “Not all cost-savings efforts result in inferior products. Consumer electronics are a good example, if you compare today’s cell phone to one made 15 years ago.”

      That’s not completely true. Although today’s cell phone is more technologically advanced, it is built to standards that are lower than they were 15-20 years ago. Today’s consumer electronics are built to be disposable. My 14 month old phone died a couple weeks ago. The 15 year old brick still works, and will likely work when it’s in a museum somewhere 50 years from now. Yes the technology may be better, but the standard is worse. In electronics, it may as well be OK, because you can throw the new crap away every couple of years, and it still costs you less money than it would cost to build the 20 year old brick. Now this cars are not throw away items, and this cost saving really hurts the consumer in the end

    • 0 avatar
      racebeer

      I’m with you on that, MBella. The only decent amplifiers I have found to run my home surround system are ’90s era Yamaha power amps. Got a M-80 for the fronts, a M-60 for the rears, and another M-60 for the center front / center rear. These are old, damn heavy units (the M-80 weighs in at 50 lbs.), but you can’t kill them. Would probably cost a small fortune to produce today since they are basically individual mono units in the same case.

      Disposable is cheaper, but there are still quality differences to deal with. And yes, I still have a vinyl collection.

    • 0 avatar

      I can see it both ways. My stereo uses a Fisher tuner from the early 1960s that uses vacuum tubes. On the other hand, there is some remarkably good sounding very cheap equipment, particularly the amps based on Tripath’s TA-2020 chip.

    • 0 avatar
      vento97

      MBella:
      Today’s consumer electronics are built to be disposable.

      I definitely agree with that statement…

      Case in point – I wake up every morning to my trusty old GE alarm clock which I purchased back in 1980. Everything still works – radio, dual alarm, LED display, speaker, etc…

      And it has been through several power outages over the years and still hasn’t missed a beat.

      A comparable alarm clock model today wouldn’t last 1/4 as long….

  • avatar
    threeer

    One would almost have to say that the “design responsibility” rests with Toyota, although they may have done nothing more than copy the Denso and CTS prints onto their own Toyota title block. It’s not uncommon for a parts supplier to take the product requirements, develop and design the product to meet those requirements, then submit a package to the customer for their approval (from my days in the automotive world, we usually only PPAP approved based on prints with our title block…even if we knew full well that the basic print had been developed by the supplier). In the end, the approval (and thus the responsibility) does reside with the customer in such cases.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      It’s a Toyota automobile. Not a Toyota-Denso or Toyota-CTS. If you started hyphenating every supplier, then the name of the car would be very long. Toyota ultimately has responsibility. And I haven’t heard anything about Toyota pointing fingers at a supplier.

      Toyota also has “approval responsibility” since it is their automobile.

    • 0 avatar
      Lumbergh21

      Totally agree; the responsibility lies with Toyota whther they designed the part in-house or simply approved a CTS design. When a civil/structural engineer stamps plans for a house and that house’s design is found to be faulty at some later date, the engineer who stamped those plans is 100% responsible for the damages, even if it was some lacky in the firm who actually performed the calculations and drafted the plans. The lacky will likely get fired, but legally – and IMO morally – the engineer who approved the plans is responsible for any damages. CTS may be “fired” for providing an inferior product, but Toyota is 100% responsible for damages incurred by end users caused by a faulty design.

  • avatar
    golf4me

    You’re welcome, TTAC. In everything I’ve read, it’s Toyota’s design.

  • avatar
    CamaroKid

    Yes “design responsibility” rests with Toyota. But you are thinking like an engineer. Now think like a liability lawyer. CTS Corp. Makes pedals for Honda, Ford, GM, Nissan and MB. A liability lawyer will ask if CTS Corp knew that here was a problems with the Toyota pedal design since clearly they are experts in the manufacture of drive by wire pedals… And regardless of how they answer that question they are screwed.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    The automakers submit the part requirements to the suppliers, the suppliers build the part and bid for the contract, the automaker selects a supplier.

    If the automaker then decides to ‘slightly modify’ the design, the supplier, having low-balled the bid to get in, can, and often does, really jack up the price. Believe it or not, automakers PAY for the tooling for a part, once it is agreed on. So the carmakers have to project the volume–more volume means higher tooling costs.

    Then the supplier, together with engineers from the automaker certifies the “parts are approved for production” (PAPP).

    For the gas pedals to be consistent with Toyota’s vision of lean manufacturing, they would have to be interchangeable–in other words, I should be able to swap a Denso for CTS gas pedal in a given car.

    If I can’t do it at home, Toyota can’t do it in the plant. They would have to plan for TWO distinct parts that would take up TWICE THE SPACE on the assembly line. They would have to COMMUNICATE to the worker which pedal goes in the car going down the line, whether on a build sheet, or a flashing light next to the part. This is all WASTE–it adds cost, increases the likelihood of making a mistake and shipping a defective car, and it adds nothing to value of the car!

    It would add value, if one cost more because it had some feature, say some circuitry, that enabled it to operate with cruise control, for example. But if they both do the same thing, why would Toyota have 2 suppliers? Maybe CTS could only make so many gas pedals, and Toyota chose Denso to take up the slack.

    In any case, even if identical, two part numbers are a hassle, more work than handling one part number, which again is waste.

    As far as the gas pedal assemblies, it appears that the Denso, with 4 screws, may require more labor (cost) than the CTK. However, I think in most situations 4 screws are likely to work better than snapping together, hence you get what you pay for. But as someone said, without tearing down the parts, we really don’t know.

    Also, in either case, I doubt either of these parts is serviceable.

    As Tced2 replied to Sinistermisterman, electronic throttle bodies provide better control, hence the “drive by wire” gas pedal, as they take lots of inputs from the computer as well as the gas pedal and translate that into air (and fuel and rpm) for the engine.

    However, I agree with Sinistermisterman. My fuel-injected 86 GTI has a throttle cable…if it fails, it’s a lot easier and cheaper to fix. The car has excellent driveability, and it is not a polluter.

    ALL the automakers are now in business to make money by making cars, vs making cars to make money as a few were once (like Japan, Inc in the 70s, BMW thru the 90s, Ford’s model T). So they promote power windows, locks, a lot of relatively frivolous creature comforts, rather than in making cars more serviceable. Just think of how solid and pleasant AND ECONOMICAL a 49 Ford with some updates, or an 85 VW Golf, or 65 GM mid-size, or a 70 240Z or Corolla would be with some tweaking and without the energy-robbing frills. German cars used to have more of that philosophy–if it didn’t save fuel or add speed or longevity, the left it off….but few people like me would buy these cars, lol

    • 0 avatar
      YotaCarFan

      “For the gas pedals to be consistent with Toyota’s vision of lean manufacturing, they would have to be interchangeable–in other words, I should be able to swap a Denso for CTS gas pedal in a given car.”

      Japan-made and US-made versions of the “same” model of car often have different parts with different part numbers that are not interchangeable. This is especially the case with subcomponents of parts from different suppliers. I know b/c I’ve seen this in their factory repair manuals, which show separate diagrams & part #s for each version. When I used to buy parts for my ’92 Camry, the first question I got at the parts desk was “is it US or Japan made?” to ensure I got the right part.

      “As far as the gas pedal assemblies, it appears that the Denso, with 4 screws, may require more labor (cost) than the CTK. However, I think in most situations 4 screws are likely to work better than snapping together, hence you get what you pay for. But as someone said, without tearing down the parts, we really don’t know.”

      The only way to know which is “better” is to have access to specs and test results. The snap-together covers on the CTS part likely are not required for proper mechanical function; they look like covers for where the electronic sensor is and the pivot was inserted into the plastic housing.

  • avatar
    thalter

    Another Mechanical Engineer here. I would call it a draw (or too close to call) without a full disassembly.

    The CTS housing appears to be welded (or perhaps a single casting), which could theoretically make it more simpler, more reliable (and less expensive) than the Denso unit. Or the CTS fasteners may just be on the other side. Impossible to tell.

    The Denso unit is definitely bigger, which could indicate a beefier pivot point and return spring. However, many things affect the spring rate other than size, such as steel grade, hardness, etc. Similarly, the CTS pivot point may be smaller, but could be of a superior material (steel vs. plastic, for example).

    • 0 avatar
      chuckR

      Another (mostly) MechE in agreement. My car’s e-pedal is held in place by a slot into a tab on the floorpan and one torx head screw into the ‘firewall’. Cable plugs into the top of it. No big shiny bolts in evidence anywhere on the fussy-looking pedal body.
      Three bolts on a split case (Denso) do not a better product guarantee. Design for Manufacturing and Assembly analysis – DFMA – suggests that more parts and more fasteners is more individual things that can go wrong. Well, it suggests a lot more, too. Look beyond the outer case. Like redmondjp’s software equivalent of a Black Swan.

    • 0 avatar
      Nicholas Weaver

      Assuming there are no fasteners on the other side, the CTS unit is clearly cheaper to make on the case side.

      And its also clear that the Denso unit was NOT built to be as cheap as possible, because a cheap-as-possible unit would use snap-together components.

      The question is, in the cost-cutting on the CTS unit, was other things sacrificed as well? It may be true that fewer parts == more reliable, but that might be countered by cheaper == less reliable in the sum total of things.

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    As an engineer who has worked in vehicle component and system design, I am following this issue very closely. Drive-by-wire is nothing new and heavy (class 6-7-8) diesel trucks have been using it since the mid-1990s without these kind of issues. My 1996 Passat diesel has throttle-by-wire as well.

    I wanted to add here that before any of these throttle pedal designs was put into production, they had to have hundreds of hours worth of validation testing (millions of cycles of pedal operation under varying temperature, humidity, dust, and so on) performed on them, and in some cases manufacturers will even do real-world field testing (say on a vehicle fleet that they have access to) before a part is approved for full production. It’s an onerous and expensive validation process that often takes several months to complete, to ensure the suitability and reliability of the design for the product’s intended use.

    I’m not doubting that a tiny percentage of these (CTS-supplied) pedal units may have a sticking problem under certain circumstances.

    I’m not doubting that in some cases, the floormat has caused the pedal to stay down. I think the floormat recall is appropriate, but let’s face it, the same issue could occur on almost any make of car, not just on Toyotas.

    In other cases, I am certain that pedal misapplication (esp. among elderly drivers) is to blame. It happened to me in a 1971 Ford during a minor traffic accident where I was SURE my foot was on the brake, and I couldn’t figure out why the engine was racing and my vehicle did a 180 spin/burnout after hitting the other car. I only figured it out later after the shock of being in an accident had worn off. There were rubber burnout tracks on the road after the accident. So I know it can happen!

    But I don’t see these throttle assemblies as the smoking gun for this sudden acceleration issue, I really don’t. There have been too many reports of drivers who have checked that their pedals were not stuck down while their vehicles were still accelerating (or at least they have stated that they have done so, either by looking at it or by using their toe to pull up on the pedal).

    If one is cruising down the freeway with the transmission in overdrive, the throttle is only open a small amount, maybe 15-20%. Even if it sticks at this point, the vehicle is only going to stay at that speed, not suddenly go to full-throttle.

    If the sticking pedal assembly is the root cause, this means that the pedal had to be depressed to at or near full-throttle to cause the type of situations that have been reported. So we need BOTH the driver to mash the pedal down AND a sticking pedal assembly for this to occur. This doesn’t jive with most of the incident reports that I have read.

    I still suspect that a software or electronic issue is the root cause, and one which may be very difficult to pinpoint because of the difficulty in duplicating or replicating it under lab conditions during which the right parameters are being monitored (ECM input/outputs, memory stacks, bit settings, flags, etc).

    My own $.02 is that Toyota is still grasping at straws and is throwing CTS Corp under the bus on this issue. I’d like to believe that just by replacing the pedal assembly everything will be OK, but what happens if in six months from now another car full of people is killed and that vehicle has the “new, improved” pedal assembly in it? Back to square one?

    • 0 avatar
      SpottyB

      As an automotive engineer myself (although I have never worked on pedals, etc at a component level) I would be very curious to see pictures of a CTS part that is being called faulty – was in a vehicle that exhibited unintended acceleration. I realize these will probably never be seen by the general public…

      Just looking at the two designs from these pics it appears as though the CTS design pivots on the arm itself. I have a hard time believing this would be the superior design to the Denso unit which appears to pivot inside the housing (the whole arm). Again, all conjecture given the many inputs for the design. Also, for the life of me, I cannot figure out how Toyota’s magic washer will fix the problem by looking at these pictures.

    • 0 avatar
      Lumbergh21

      That is what happened with my mom, and the reason that I don’t doubt it when she stated that her foot was definitely on the brake and not the gas. In both instances, she was sitting at a red light, when her engine began to race. Since her foot was on the brake, she was able to hold the car at the stop light. This leaves the possibility of her foot being on both the gas and the brake pedal. I tried that myself, and in her Corolla, it is no easy feat to depress both pedals with the same foot. Even after contorting my foot to depress both pedals, I wasn’t able to get the rpms above 3000, and my mom said they got much higher.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Good points, all.

      I’m also interested in what’s going on throughout the cable, and especially at the other end – at the actual throttle interface.

      My stuck throttle cable experience (described in another thread here) involved frozen water inside the cable sleeve itself, on a new 05 xB.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Lumburg: If your mom is of the vintage of my parents (1927 & 1934), then is is possible they used both feet to drive? I noticed that my folks in this generation never quite knew what to do with their left foot after the clutch pedal disappeared … In Driver’s Ed., they told us not to use the left foot for the brake, the risk of “riding the brake” was too great causing brake-fade & -wear, as well as removing the key indicator to the following car that you are stopping (brake lights). For nearly 32-years, I have been trying to break them of the too-footed habit and have succeeded to 99%.

      This would have to be a consideration in any in-depth analysis of UA, that people over a certain age, under certain circumstances, might return to an old habit 1% of the time, even though 99% of the time they never used two feet (and would swear up and down that their 1-footed driving style was not 99% of the time but 100% of the time.)

      gslippy: regarding the other end of the cable, pls bear in mind that it is nigh impossible that any of the cables connected to the ePedal terminate on the engine … these are signal wires, and they likely go to an ECU first (and perhaps power-supply) then through another harness to the engine (I’d be willing to pay Bertel a beer if I am prooved wrong here.)

    • 0 avatar
      Montross

      You’re right on about the electronics. If you look at descriptions of the drive-by-wire system on the Lexus, which had the system first and the first reported problems, they state that there is one computer chip at the pedal assembly and a second at the carborator. The stated purpose of the second one is to prevent uncontrolled throttle opening if the first one malfunctions, which is an admission that it can happen. With a jillion gas pedal depressions in all the drive-by-wire cars on the road, it is mathematically possible to have simultaneous malfunctions of both.

    • 0 avatar
      Telegraph Road

      “But I don’t see these throttle assemblies as the smoking gun for this sudden acceleration issue, I really don’t. There have been too many reports of drivers who have checked that their pedals were not stuck down while their vehicles were still accelerating…”

      I agree. In the well-documented case of the Avalon driver who managed to drive his vehicle back to a Toyota dealer at wide open throttle ( http://www.leftlanenews.com/toyota-avalon-displays-unintended-acceleration-without-floor-mat.html ), the “dealer sent out a tech who verified that the floor mat was removed, and pushing the gas pedal had no effect on the acceleration. The dealer was unable to stop the wide open throttle and was forced to shut the vehicle off.”

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @Robert.Walter: You know, I didn’t realize we were talking about drive-by-wire in this case. !! I thought the connector at the top of the pedal assembly was for an idle switch or something.

      Here’s an excellent video describing the problem:
      http://www.autoblog.com/2010/01/29/video-in-depth-look-at-toyotas-sticky-accelerator/#continued

      My only experience owning a drive-by-wire car was an 02 Passat, and I hated it – terrible throttle response that the dealer couldn’t improve. I understand some reasons for e-throttles, but give me a real linkage or cable any time. But in this case, the problem lies with a bushing apparently, which could affect any type of throttle system.

      As for the recall, I feel bad for the poor mechanics who have to crawl under the dashboard on all these cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      What’s the mechanic’s share of 100 USD/hr labor charge? Product and process engineers (and buyers doing their resourcing game) practically guarantee job security for dealer mechanics! If Toyota (or any other OEM) were ever reach the axis on the reliability graph there would be a few mechanics looking for jobs…

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      redmondjp: “If one is cruising down the freeway with the transmission in overdrive, the throttle is only open a small amount, maybe 15-20%. Even if it sticks at this point, the vehicle is only going to stay at that speed, not suddenly go to full-throttle.”

      redmond: I generally agree with you, but consider this add-on to your scenario:
      0. pedal is sticking but driver doesn’t yet know it;
      1. driver lifts foot off accelerator, taps brake, cancels cruise setting, but car maintains speed, now driver realizes that car is not decelerating despite foot not on accl pedal;
      2. hits brake, no reaction;
      3. hits accelerator, one or more times, but in so doing pedal angular displacement of the pedal is increased (= acceleration);
      4. pedal does not return to idle;
      5. bad and tragic things happen…

      **********

      In writing the above scenario, it made me wonder … if there is just a passive sensor system in the ePedal assy that measures angular displacement (and possibly its rate or rate of change), but nothing to hold pedal in the displaced position when, for instance, the cruise control is on and the driver takes his foot off the pedal, would the system be programed with the assumption that the ePedal would in every case return to the idle position? (a proper Sys-FMEA or S/W-FMEA would say ‘not necessarily!!’ and counter-measures would be built into the system)

      But if the wrong basic assumption is built into the system-safety design, then would internal friction, or mat-entrapment, possibly confuse the system and lead to “unfortunate consequences”?

      I would like to hear other’s thoughts on the a) add-on scenario, and b) the scenario below the *****s.

    • 0 avatar
      YotaCarFan

      “But I don’t see these throttle assemblies as the smoking gun for this sudden acceleration issue, I really don’t. There have been too many reports of drivers who have checked that their pedals were not stuck down while their vehicles were still accelerating (or at least they have stated that they have done so, either by looking at it or by using their toe to pull up on the pedal).

      If one is cruising down the freeway with the transmission in overdrive, the throttle is only open a small amount, maybe 15-20%. Even if it sticks at this point, the vehicle is only going to stay at that speed, not suddenly go to full-throttle.”

      Your second point is valid, and I agree that a mechanical failure of the pedal is not likely the root cause of unintended acceleration. I also doubt the software is at fault. My armchair theory is that moisture got into the pedal assembly or ECM terminals and made it appear to the ECM that the pedal was fully depressed. That way, even w/o the pedal sticking down, the throttle would stay fully open.

    • 0 avatar
      MadHungarian

      Just because we CAN do something doesn’t mean we SHOULD. And just because a piece of hi-tech has some alleged advantage over its low-tech equivalent, if it creates a new problem as well, that didn’t exist before, it is a legitimate question, and not Luddism (Ludditeism?), to ask if the benefit is worth the risk. These questions need to be asked about both throttle-by-wire and engine start/stop pushbuttons. Yes, UA has occasionally occurred in mechanical linkage systems. But in every case where it has, the problem is easy to identify because the failure mode of a mechanical linkage is obvious and more likely to be repeatable on testing. Every single person reading this comment knows about intermittent undiagnosable software failures because you are sitting at a computer.

  • avatar
    Mr Carpenter

    You have some interesting points, Redmondjp, and they are well said.

    I’m not a huge fan, but does anyone else recall a line given by “Scotty” on one of the later Star Trek movies? It made me chuckle at the inherent truth of it, even though it was merely a line in a sci-fi movie.

    “The more you complicate the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the pipes.”

    Anyone else here ready to go with a reborn Peugeot 404 type car – that is to say, simple, light, roomy with CNG fuel tank above the rear axle and a – gasp – CARBURETOR? The only electronics on board would be the stereo, ignition system and ABS/traction control…. maybe also the electronic controls of the (optional) automatic transmission (?)

    Can you imagine what might happen if a Chinese automaker were to do such a thing, build the cars IN the countries they sell them, AND introduce it WITH a home refuelling system (CNG compressor) for say $15,000 brand new?

    Given that the United States has a surplus of in-country sourced natural gas I daresay that suddenly, there would be a new Volkswagen Beetle phenomenon which would make the 1956-1974 era for the bug look like a footnote in auto history books…

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Nope. I’ll stick with current technology for my daily driver (and keep my driving of classic technology to my days off…)

      tomLU86: I agree with your thinking but a few comments:

      - The ’86 GTI is a great little car, but it does pollute more and all things considered is less efficient … I don’t think KE-Jetronic or any other CIS-E system is really competitive (price, space, performance, weight, durability, or ability to support other vehicle control systems) with the technologies a generation newer.

      Jetronic, great a system as it was for its time, basically (pretty precicely) metered fuel in a way similar to a toilet float (this float, however, is ~3.5″dia arm-mounted plate inside a tapered venturi neck bobbing up and down in relation to mass air flow being drawn into the engine.)

      - Although to all intents and purposes the meaning of your definition of PPAP is correct, but you have not decoded the name correctly … PPAP means “Production Parts Approval Process”, it describes a process that culmunates in a PSW (Production Sample Warrant) which the supplier submits to the customer (with varying amounts of documentary evidence and or on-site customer approval visits depending on the suppliers status, Level 1-5) and the customer’s engineering (core-engineering, also sometimes platform engineering and/or plant engineering) and quality representives “sign-off on” indicating the customer accepts and agrees the supplier is ready for production … suppliers love getting a PSW signed-off because it generally means they will get a nice lump-sum payment from the customer for the production tooling! (I know you probably know this, but I added the extra detail for the others among the TTAC B&B).

  • avatar
    KixStart

    If people are panic-selling their Toyotas (babble on other boards), an opportunity for someone looking to drive a perfectly good Avalon or Camry for cheap is to buy one at depressed prices and swap in the Denso part.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      Competition for Saab in the ludicrously low resale value stakes? Apparently it’s not that bad yet – a quick check is still showing 2002 Camrys with 70k and 2000 Avalons with 80k for the same price I just paid for a fairly loaded 2005 9-5 Arc with 58k and two years on the CPO…

  • avatar
    cardeveloper

    Another engineer checking in, and I have automotive design experience, as well as testifying in liability cases.

    I would not even attempt to review this without drawings and detail tear down.

    BUT, what I have found over and over and over again, are suppliers making unauthorized changes with consulting or even notifying the OEM. Twice in my career, I had a mfg plant make changes to my parts without authorization. One time it even lead to a recall. That’s the first place I would be looking at a minor change in processing.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Quite right. I once had a connector supplier “save us money” by reducing the gold plating on our contacts without telling us. This led to corrosion and intermittent electrical connection, and cost us lots of money and customer goodwill.

    • 0 avatar
      SpottyB

      I think if they did it without telling you it was to “save them money”…

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      I agree with the other posters here that only by looking at torn-down physical samples could anyone ever begin to make a comparative analysis, but without the drawing (and understanding the tolerances, and doing a tolerance-stack, and understanding the process and the materials) it is difficult to make a definitive call.

      Re. Unapproved sup-supplier changes to a process, I have had the same thing happen as well.

      But in addition to non-disciplined sub-suppliers, we also had too many non-disciplined colleagues in our own house … the road to hell is paved with good intention … but also by making changes not known to quality, engineering, or any of the internal stakeholders … usually somebody thought they would “improve” thru-put, or “recover” and reuse some portion of a non-conforming assy, or tampered with an over-rode a quality interlock … there is still room for improvement here, but for the most part, those days are over.

  • avatar
    a-viking

    I am new here on this site, and would like to chime in on the issue of drive-by-wire. This kind of gas pedals flies in the face of Albert Einstein’s quote “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”, which by the way is something we all should strive for. I don’t buy the premise that drive-by-wire improves the efficiency, because that is made by the right foot. I believe the underlying reason why manufacturer choose this is to one day have gas pedals that won’t respond when you want. Think On-star remote vehicle disable or intelligent highways with speed limit sign talking with each car and pedals that push back.
    I recognize that electronic and microprocessor controls have made our cars much more efficient and in certain places it makes a lot of sense, but would anybody prefer drive-by-steering to a rack an pinion or better yet synthetic vision in-lieu of the windshield?

    • 0 avatar
      Mark out West

      Electronic throttles reduce parts counts by elminating the need for a separate cruise control actuator and a slip control actuator in series with the thottle plate. Also, for cars with dual intake emanifolds, it eliminates the complex synchronization linkage.

      I have a 19-year old electronic throttle setup on a V-12 and its been working flawlessly. If it had a bowden cable and linkage (ala Jaguar) no doubt the mechanism would have worn and/or broken by now.

    • 0 avatar
      TomH

      Your question suggests that you are not familiar with electronically assisted power steering. Sure, the early versions were rough, but the same is true of any first generation technology. (Ever shift a Model-T?) The drive-by-wire throttles in today’s engines are responsible for the much of the responsiveness and smoothness (especially in start-up and damp operating conditions) of modern DEFI engines. Drive by wire is a good thing.

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    Denso makes their share of crap too. The Denso driver info display in my Saab 9-5 was replaced 4 times.

  • avatar
    1996MEdition

    When I was a product engineer for an un-named just out of bankruptcy supplier, part of my job was to perform competitive analysis. Denso was almost always the benchmark of quality. While we struggled to cut cost and make a reliable product with vibration welds, snap-fits, or plastic thread-cutting screws, the Denso products would invariably be glued or would have machine screws with overmolded inserts……a much higher quality method of fastening. I’d pick the Denso asm over CTS from history…..of course, I would also be over-ridden by the bean counters to pusue the lower cost…..

  • avatar
    1996MEdition

    Does anyone know what was used on the Vibe…..essentially a Matrix.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      CTS assy according to media reports, GM identified the issue as one of humidity and lubrication … check the recall list … 2 years of Vibe are covered (IIRC 2008 & 09).

  • avatar
    bmoredlj

    I can forgive a superficial snap judgement, because it was mine as well: I see five visible metal bolts versus one.

    The recent Hammer Time post “The Toyota Reality” mentioned “Front bumper clips and components were reduced from 57 to 15″ and “The doors triple seal rubber in the prior generation gave way to a single seal” in the 1997-2001 Camry.

    Fewer fasteners doesn’t always translate to cheaper quality, but in those cases it did. Perhaps penny-pinching continued in the sixth and seventh-gen Camrys.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    The attaching points to be body are the same to me. I see 2 bolts, and maybe one that is not visible because of the HVAC unit.

    The connectors seem to be the same

    The CTS unit doesn’t seem serviceable to me from those pics. If it has attaching bolts, they’re in the other side (not visible). Hence, I don’t see viable the spacer solution. I’d wait for the exploded components to see.

    The lever on the CTS unit seems to be stronger. But can’t know for sure from a picture.

    • 0 avatar
      qfrog

      I was just thinking about the lever… there might be some sort of crash safety requirement for the pedal breaking off to reduce lower leg injuries. I’ve seen failed plastic pedals levers on a couple of occasions.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Form is meaningless if material is not considered. For example, if they filled that injection mold with cookie dough (or anything else that is weak and brittle when hardened) instead of (what I would wildly guess to be glass-fibre reinforced PA6.6) plastic, you could guess what would happen the first time it was used … (besides, mice would be trying like crazy to get into the car to eat the pedal assy.)

      Re. crash safety, robust (in direction of lever travel) frangibly-tuned (laterally) pedal assys are possible, but given all the different size shoes and driving styles, I suspect the broken pedals really take a significant load before they give (this being still better than not giving)

      (note, I worked on an M&A once, where my company considered taking over a pedal box producer before becoming convinced it was a bad move … but we never got deep enough into D-D to discuss e-specs.)

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    There are several critical factors that makes it clear that Toyota doesn’t know what the they’re doing anymore. There’s a floormat issue, there’s a throttle design isssue and they design cars without cutout systems… I mean, didn’t they learn from Audi’s fiasco in the 80s? Toyota is known for disregarding important design flaws and blaming it on the drivers or the suppliers. Nevermind the engine sludge and frame rot problems that are still being worked-out. These are just the things we know about, and you can bet there are many other defects they’ve successfully managed to bury. What the hell is going on at Toyota? It’s pretty clear that their reputation for quality was limited to a very small point in history. Sometime between the early 80s and early 90s. But after the mid-90s, it’s been all downhill for Toyota.

    Plus, is anyone a little skeptical of the “quick fix” they’ve managed to whip up? I hope it’s better than the zip tie solution for the floor mats.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Most of what you say resonates with me. As a guy who never owned a Toyota (but not out of malice) I can’t speak to the personal experience of Toyota’s decontenting but I can speak to design/quality/production/remediation issues, and I was apalled when I saw the piss-poor jury-rigged tie-wrap mat solution.

      BTW, CNN here in Europe is talking about 5 minutes of every hour about Toyota … interviewing Popular Mechanics, JD Power, Toyota Europe Spokesman (“This recall in Europe is not for a safety defect, but for customer satisfaction” paraphrased recollection of the impression his comments left.)

    • 0 avatar
      YotaCarFan

      Re floormat issue: That’s operator error, with the operator being the dealership worker or customer who puts the wrong mat in the car. If you plop a rubber mat over the gas pedal of any brand car you’ll have problems… It does baffle me that they don’t have an engine cut function like some other brands. My guess is cost. The firmware should cost next to nothing, and there’s already a brake signal at the airbag computer that could be routed to the ECM for the cost of one copper wire.

      Re sludge: There was lots of discussion on the usenet way back when this issue was gaining publicity. I never saw a single person claiming sludge provide proof they’d done regular oil changes in response to the many challenges people made. So, I’m not convinced on the sludge thing.

      Re rusting frames: My understanding is Toyota is voluntarily replacing ancient rustbucket trucks after their corrosion perforation warranties expired. That’s pretty generous.

      Re the SUA & e-throttle problem: I do agree that Toyota has been slow to revise some non-safety-related bad designs and been obstinate about admitting defects exist to save money. But, being profit oriented like any company, it’s not likely they risked mega lawsuits and bad press by knowingly allowing a safety defect to exist for years. They probably figured the very small percentage of cars with reported SUA problems indicated driver error.

  • avatar
    50merc

    Wonderful to have so many informed and intelligent comments. TTAC definitely has the B&B.

    And I remain convinced that my 1931 Model A set the standard for safety engineering. Never a case of unintended acceleration. Or much intended acceleration, for that matter.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      I’m sure it’s not the only one of its era, but I like how the wet-cowl is filled with fuel, and who’s rear side is the “crash pad” of the instrument panel … under the right conditions (hyperbolically-speaking, by hitting one’s head on this thing, one could break one’s skull and simultaneously set one’s self on fire (and maybe get an imprint from the fuel gage on one’s forehead as a bonus)! ;O)

    • 0 avatar
      50merc

      Thanks, Robert, for reminding me of another advantage: the A allows the driver to multitask!

      (To be fair, I should note that Old Crazy Henry was an early adopter and promoter of safety-glass windshields. He’d seen what going through a windshield did to a friend.)

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      That dude went from genius to loon in one lifetime … he may have been an early adopter of some things in the early days, like Vanadium Steel and planetary gear-sets, but he sure was on the wrong-side of some technologies like hydraulic brakes and alternating-current.

      HF I had an amazing parabolic trajectory of genius into madness, productivity into obstruction, progress into obstruction, heavenly profits into hellish losses, social good into antisocial bad, and mental acuity into senility.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    Yeah, things were simpler in the old days. The accelerator pedal on my old man’s 1950 Packard became misshapen over the years from being pressed down harder by the driver, trying to get a little more acceleration out of the overburdened straight 8.

  • avatar
    davejay

    Back when the Audi 5000s were suffering unintended acceleration issues, someone wrote into Car and Driver asking “Regarding these instances of Audi 5000s accelerating rapidly and uncontrollably, how can I apply this technology to my diesel chevette?”

    The Avalon case really speaks to a fundamental problem with the sending unit, the gas pedal assembly itself. I have no doubt that inside there’s simply a rheostat and a spring to make the pedal spring back up, and the computer reads the rheostat to determine throttle position. Something breaking or sticking or shorting and leading to an erroneous reading would be sufficient to cause this issue; even water leaking in would do it, if such a leak weren’t successfully guarded against.

  • avatar
    frodo_17

    This is totally, 100% Toyota’s fault. They vetted the design (if they didn’t design it in house). They field tested it. They approved it. No one bought a car or truck from CTS or Denso. They bought them from Toyota. Parts have allegedly failed, people have died and NHTSA has forced Toyota to shut down 8 model lines and recall over 2 million cars in the US. They are recalling 1.8 million cars in the EU. That’s a huge problem.

    For Toyota to point at CTS is no more helpful than when Ford blamed Firestone for the Explorer rollover fiasco. In fact, I’m thinking that the attorneys for the class action lawsuit, which is undoubtedly coming, are grateful that Toyota is working so hard to point out that they installed two different grades of accelerator pedal on the same models (with the North American part being the problem one). Thus beckoning the question, why are there two different accelerator pedals on essentially the same models on different continents?

    Toyota is an impressive company that has expanded too fast and made too many mistakes in recent years. This is a colossal one and may be a harbinger that Toyota’s impeccable quality goes the way of Mercedes Benz.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Regarding interchangability, that would be a key target for purchasing flexibility and logistical/supply-chain redundancy…

    Maybe some of you remember the 6.8 earthquate that hit Japan in 2007, this quake severely damaged the plant of the piston ring supplier Riken Corp. and in so doing stopped 70% of of japanese auto production.

    Ignoring the issues of who’s design both suppliers produced, or whether Toyota or CTS had the final responsibility for proove-out and sign-off, based on the Riken experience, if flexible dual-sourcing was not already a part of Toyota’s sourcing and logistic policy, it was likely incorporated after the earthquake.

    (Note: I did not verify the following for timeline coherence) Unfortunately the ePedals were introduced ~2005 (not sure if it was Japan or N.A., or Denso or CTS, who had lead) but if the design, supplier, process and tools had already been selected and prepared, one could not reasonably expect Toyota to change existing design/sourcing patterns, but rather to incorporate the flexibility/reduncancy actions on a “running-change” basis.

    On the topic of replacement part capacity:
    - OEM’s “project” (they strenously avoid promising) an annual purchase volume which equates to an annual capacity and a peak weekly volume which a supplier designs tools and assy processes to accomodate within a standard 3shifts/day x 5days/week production pattern (suppliers also use this volume to amortize their investments and development expenses); this is known as FPV (Financial Planning Volume).
    - In addition to FPV, there is a bit of a “capacity cushion”, called CPV (capacity planning volume) this is equal to FPV x 15 or 20%, meaning 2 or 3 shifts overtime on Saturday, the goal being to be able to cover unusual short-term production peaks (for about 90 days, in excess of that, negotiations begin to add tool and assy capacity)…
    -Like other OEMs, I would expect that Toyota also pays to have CPV capacity available.

    So, what I am wondering about is given the N.A. market being tremendously down from 2007, and assuming that there is CPV capacity available, CTS should have quite a bit of open capacity.

    (I’ll leave it to somebody else to compare toyota’s current production volumes against 2007 volumes and give us a guess at how many pieces CTS could theoretorically produce for purposes beyond normal production call-offs.)

    More esoterica, I know, but perhaps it is interesting to the B&B.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Automotive News Reports that the two units are not perfectly interchangeable, in as much as they each have a different wiring harness connector, That suggests that the were not intended/designed to be routinely interchanged in production and replacement, and that it would take some sort of wiring harness adapter (at the minimum) to replace one with the other in the field.

    • 0 avatar
      YotaCarFan

      Camry switched from mechanical to electronic gas pedals with the 2002 MY.

      I understand your point about needing redundant suppliers, as was illustrated by piston ring shortages after the quake in Japan a few years back. But, redundant suppliers could simply mean one company with two factories in different geographic locations. Per the CTS website, they’ve got factories throughout the world, as does Denso. So, although having two incompatible verions of the same part reduces alternative sources in the event one factory goes offline, it doesn’t eliminate them all.

  • avatar
    drifter

    Dear Editor: Can I have my bounty?

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      No. First of all, he doesn’t take it apart, to expose the actual bearing surface of the pivot and its bushings. Since Toyota says the fix is an extra washer/spacer, that is the apparent area of concern. This guy doesn’t get that, nor address it at all.
      Secondly, we asked to see both units taken apart, to see what the fundamental difference is in their designs and materials.
      This is a disappointing video. Take that damn thing apart! The aren’t that expensive.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      Wow, things sure have changed in the last 5 years. It looks like there’s throttle position sensor (TPS) inside the bracket. The ones I worked on were outside, and were still using steel. That must be some tough plastic, like glass fiber filled nylon or something. I guess I shouldn’t be, but I’m surprised.

  • avatar
    andy.k

    This is by far(regarding most comments) the most educated discussion on this topic that I’ve seen.

    The questions that must be answered are:

    1) In regard to the sticking issuee. If the Denso and CTS pedals were both made to specifications ordered up by Toyota (as the CTS executive stated)why were different designs (and materials) chosen?

    2) Per the published statistics there are only 8 reports of the CTS pedal sticking and per Toyota and CTS statements, none of these 8 reports have been directly attributed to accidents or injuries. Other than for sensationalism, why do the madia reports infer otherwise?

    3) Why do mainstream media reports link the Lexus improper floor mat incident in San Diego to the CTS pedal recall even though Lexus is not involved in the pedal recall?

    4) Regarding the floor mat entrapment issue, why has no one investigated what the differences in design (making those models more susceptible to entrapment) between those Toyota/Lexus vehicles and all other vehicles on the road? Is there a general standard for pedal clearance from the floorboard, and do other vehicles have more or similar clearance? (I’m not claiming to have any answer or analysis on this)

    5) What are the percentages of occurrence of the sticky pedal vs. the total population of pedals and are there any acceptable tolerances or is this a zero tolerance issue. If that is the case are all other (safety related) recalls held to the same zero tolerance standard?

    6) It seems that most relevant statistics for unknown acceleration would be from documented incidents that did not cause an accident as those would seem to have more veracity. After an accident occurs documentation of the cause is more difficult and some folks might be more keen to blame the vehicle rather than accepting personal responsibility. (I am not assigning blame here just trying to isolate the numbers)

    7) Toyota says they issued a “voluntary recall”. What is the fundamental difference between a “voluntary recall” and an NHTSA mandated recall? Why does Toyota claim to have suspended sales and production voluntarily, while news reports citing the NHTSA state that the law required the stop sale?

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      All excellent questions and points, and very much mirrors my own. It’s frustratingly difficult in this day and age of sound bites and sensationalism to have these kind of questions answered, never mind even asked.

  • avatar
    Omoikane

    Didn’t have time today to look into the specifics of pedal failure/wear… I’m not a mechanical engineer…trying to put together the youtube description and some discussions I overheard today…the gap between the magnets and the sensor is fairly small…in case some axial wear develops at the pivot point it maybe possible the said gap would disappear and have the magnet on one side rub and jam against the sensor?…

  • avatar
    Shantanu

    Autoblog/Aol Auto’s did a teardown

    http://www.autoblog.com/2010/01/29/video-in-depth-look-at-toyotas-sticky-accelerator/#continued

    There you go!

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Good video, but Sam’s “turn off the engine” will be understood, or just automatically become “and remove key” in some cases which will cause the column to lock and steering to be lost … (toyota says, “turn key to accy position, but do not remove it or the steering column will lock.”)

      Because the key needs to be pulled out before the lock bolt will fire into the column shaft slot, or the lock collar slot, turning it to the lock position shouldn’t be enough to lock the column if the key is not removed.

      I’m not clear on if vehicles with the Start/Stop button have column locks, and if they do, what conditions must be satisfied before the lock bolt fires.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      He still didn’t cut it open to see how the spacer would affect it, as well as cutting open a Densu unit to compare the design. I’m going to try to see if I can get some units to cut open.

  • avatar
    Hippo

    There is a reason why one picks the cars manufactured in Japan when available. It follows that as they source parts in NA they will have the same quality issues as NA cars.

    IMO the whole thing is being blown out of proportion.
    The UAW and the CA congressional delegation holding hearings want to use ghetto extortion tactics to force Toyota into keeping the unionized NUMMI plant open so as to have a 5th column into the other Toyota plants.

    • 0 avatar
      quasimondo

      That is absurd. I’ve owned Tennesee-built Nissans, Ohio-built Hondas, and Michigan-built Mazdas and none of these vehicles have demonstrated themselves to be less reliable than whatever comes from Japan.

      Toyota is supposed to have much better relationships with parts manufacturers than Detroit. They should’ve been in a position to notice if there were quality issues much sooner than this and done something about it before they had to halt production on nearly their entire automotive fleet.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    BREAKING? CNN just reported over here 06:00 CET that the President of Toyota is apologizing to all customers for the pedal issue.

  • avatar
    mariel

    I bought a 2007 camry a week before the recall. I’ve been told I have the Denso pedal so I’m not part of the recall. Since no one is quite sure if the pedal is actually the problem I’m wondering if the other parts that connect to it would be Japanese parts or could they be the American parts that potentially have problems? I was told that the problem has only happened with the CTS pedals, is there a database that has all of the details to confirm this? There is a lot of misinformation being provided, they are claiming this is a pedal sticking problem but its been reported and shown by customers that the cars are taking off without the pedal being pressed. At the very least I am very pissed that I have lost quite a bit of $$ in resale value, thought I was finally buying a decent car with good resale value that would last for years when previously I have been driving chevys that were constantly breaking down. Wish I had the option to return it to the dealership so I didn’t have to take the hit. Also wondering why they are doing recalls in Europe when the problem is supposed to be caused by the CTS pedal.

  • avatar
    Hippo

    Well, it looks like just the NA pedlas are affected and not the ones from Denso, and it appears to be a fault that ocurred in a exceedingly small number of cases with higher mileage vehicles.

    The parts may well have passed inspection to spec in new condition.

    But the issue is the theatre around this, when Ford’s burn down by the dozen no one holds congressional hearings. The timing and the attioutde make the political connection obvious.

    The UAW already are going at each other, background and video in linked article
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/gettowork/detail?entry_id=56033

  • avatar
    big_gms

    I just watched the Autoblog/AOL Autos video. My thoughts:

    It seems strange to me that the pivot pin and bushing would have so much resistance that the pedal would stick, unless the return spring is really weak.

    If it does have that much resistance, isn’t there at least the possibility that the pedal would be difficult to push down in the first place? Could the pivot pin/bushing issue really cause a problem so suddenly without giving some kind of warning leading up to the event? For example: unusual noise while pushing the pedal, difficulty pushing the pedal, “gritty”/sticky feeling in the pedal when pushed, etc.

    Just my 2 cents…I could be (and probably am) wrong, but something just doesn’t add up to me. If I owned one of the affected Toyotas, this explanation and the remedy wouldn’t entirely satisfy me.

  • avatar
    eastcoastcar

    I drive an older car made in Germany. On two occasions, I turned on the ignition to start the car and felt the accelerator pedal depress all on it’s own. This was when I was paying attention, because on a previous occasion, I started the car, put it into gear and it raced off–in reverse–in a shopping mall parking lot; nothing was hit. I guessed after some thought that the cruise control electronics were at fault. Since these three distinct times, the car has not malfunctioned, so I cannot get repeatable results, but I suspect in my car that the cruise control electronics was the cause. I don’t have any idea what the Toyota issue might be, not owning one.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      It could very well be “cold throttle enrichment” function that is happening … I have also seen this charactristic… a solenoid moves the throttle linkage a bit and the cable and pedal go along for the trip … but then the pedal in your car must be connected to the throttle via a mechanical linkage.

  • avatar
    mcs

    After looking at the CTS pedal patent and what I think may have been the Denso pedal patent, I think I have a new theory about the problem. Both pedals use a magnetic field sensor to detect pedal position. Failure of this component could be causing the problem. This type of component does fail and some suppliers could be worse than others in terms of quality.

    For anyone disassembling the units, check and see who supplies the sensor. That could be another clue. Does Denso use a different supplier? It may be packaged in a chip soldered to a circuit board in the assembly.

    This theory seems to fit the symptoms better than any other theory I’ve heard. It might even explain why there may be a few Denso units failing since they may be using a better component that still fails, but fails less often. In addition to outright failure, one suppliers product could have increased sensitivity to stray electrical fields, but that sort of failure would probably be momentary – but I could be wrong. It seems to fit the “sudden full on” failure scenario better than the sticking issue.

    Anyway, it’s just a theory and I thought I’d throw it out there.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      I agree, this bears looking into.

      A few days ago, I took a look at the CTS patent too … that one is clearly a non-contacting sensor.

      I didn’t look at the Denso patent, but from what you saw, is the sensor clearly a Hall Effect non-contacting type? Could the Denso unit use, perhaps, a strain-gage type?

  • avatar
    Morea

    This all reminds me of the failures in the Mercedes Sensotronic brake-by-wire system:

    http://www.aa1car.com/library/2004/bf110412.htm

    No one seems to be advocating brake-by-wire technology anymore. (Am I wrong?)

    _____________

    Also, it seems short-sighted to make a critical machanical component (the brake pedal and actuator arm) out of plastic. Plastics are very senstive to polymerization and processing conditions (thermal history), they don’t age well, and it is hard to discern their mechanical strength by a visual check (crazing etc cannot be seen in opaque plastics). If this is a polymer-matrix composite material the problems are even greater. A metal acuator arm would avoid many of these issues.

    • 0 avatar
      panzerfaust

      No doubt other auto makers and parts suppliers are considering those possibilities so that they don’t end up in the same pickle as Toyota.

    • 0 avatar
      Morea

      Note that I am not saying plastic actuators are the cause of the Toyota situation, just that it struck me as odd that a critical part was plastic.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      And the commercial airplanes you fly on today have composite control surfaces containing plastic, and soon the Boeing Dreamliner with plastic composite construction.

      If we can’t have confidence in the basic properties of the plastic used in the pedal assembly, how can we be justified in having confidence in more complicated composite plastic materials in any new or demanding application?

    • 0 avatar
      Morea

      A) Boeing has had so much trouble with the Dreamliner that 1) it is almost two years behind schedule, 2) they had to buy the composite subframe manufacture to get control of the processing. (Specifically the joining of plastic-matrix composites.)

      B) Airframes are inspected a hell of a lot more during service than cars are. This makes it more likely failing parts will be caught in time. I propose an FAA-like federal agency that will control the inspection of all vehicles on the road at set intervals for a laundry list of possible failures including pedal assembly failures! Now go ahead and use plastics for critical mechanical components.

      C) There is legislation out there to prevent the sale (and use) of tires more than 5 years old. So we are tending in this direction already.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    I’ll mention the old 1950 Packard again, simply because it’s an example I have specific knowledge of. To get a set of points for it, we had to tell the parts guy the manufacturer and part number of the distributor because these changed quite a few times during the model year (I don’t remember how many, but it was more than two.) One wonders how such a situation could happen – I’m thinking it was because times were good, production was increasing industry-wide and Packard, being a smaller customer, had to take hind tit so to speak. Maybe their parts buyer in that area had reached his level of incompetence.
    I’ll mention another facet of this problem too. My experience in a ship repair facility taught me that very often systems on warships turned out to have been built differently than the plans showed. I’m saying BUILT differently, not jury-rig repaired or something. This was in spite of a great deal of institutional effort to make sure such things did not happen, particularly irt the nuclear propulsion and fluid-handling systems.

  • avatar
    Brazilian owner of Corolla

    My wife has a Corolla model 2009. In last september she had an episode o f sudden acceleration and a near accident in a street of our city. She was lucky to deviate to an empty avenue and managed to stop the car by pushing into neutral, pulling the park break and turning off the engine. After some days in dealer Toyota of Brasil stated that the matress provocked the incident. My wife disagreed with them.
    Now the episode is clear, the problem is worldwide. Toyota of Brasil denies that there’s problem whith cars produced in Brasil.
    The pedals of brazillian Corolla are produced by DENSO. Newspapers in my region reported four more cases of sudden acceleration. One of them led to an accident with total lose of the veihicle and driver’s light injuries.
    I think that the greatest question is if are the pedals responsible for the problem? Brazillian Toyotas have problem of sudden acceleration and use DENSO pedals!
    We are waiting for these anwers anxiously.

  • avatar
    gm99362

    I just called the parts desk at my local Toyota dealer. I asked whether a person could just buy the Denso assembly straight out and replace the CTS unit like the one in my 2008 Camry. He said that he had checked into it and the control wiring is different for the two units….although they look the same they are not interchangeable. Too bad. I’d pay the money to get it fixed right. Has anyone ever checked to see if the ECM’s are the same units between the Japanese cars and the Foriegn built cars (American built)?


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