By on February 28, 2010

A quiet Sunday. Time to fire up Google and put in “Toyota AND [cause OR reason].” We come up with ample explanations why Toyota is not called Toyoda.  Or why Peiping turned into Peking, and then into Beijing. What about the causes of sudden acceleration? Let’s see what we find. (If you have other things to do on a  Sunday: We find a lot of questions and no answers.)

ABC News, 11/25/2009: “However, safety expert Sean Kane said the recall doesn’t address hundreds of runaway Toyota cases he has uncovered where owners insist floor mats cannot be blamed. “What concerns me is that this recall still doesn’t get to the root cause of the non-floor mat sudden acceleration cases,” said Kane, who heads the firm Safety Research & Strategies. Overall, the firm says it discovered over 2,000 Toyota sudden acceleration cases involving 16 deaths and 243 injuries. An ABC News investigation revealed that many Toyota owners are in rebellion and have refused to accept the company’s explanation for their sudden acceleration incidents. “

Reuters 2/1/2002: “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reviewed the automaker’s plan to install new parts in existing accelerator systems or replace them entirely. “Toyota has announced its remedy and based on its current knowledge, NHTSA has no reason to challenge this remedy,” the agency said in a statement. No deaths or injuries are suspected in cases of sticking pedals, the government said.”

Injury Law Blog & News, 2/23/2010: „Of the 2,000 complaints of sudden acceleration, just 5 percent blamed a sticking gas pedal. No government investigation of sudden-acceleration problems in Toyota vehicles has identified a sticking pedal as a potential cause.”

Toyota’s Pedal Recall FAQ, undated: “The issue involves a friction device in the pedal designed to provide the proper “feel” by adding resistance and making the pedal steady and stable. This friction device includes a “shoe” that rubs against an adjoining surface during normal pedal operation. Due to the materials used, wear and environmental conditions, these surfaces may, over time, begin to stick and release instead of operating smoothly.”

Carquestions.com 1/30/2010: Drops Toyota pedal in bucket of ice water, bakes it, finds no fault. Issues a call to send in pictures or videos of faulty pedal: “How is it that we cannot get a picture of one of these pedals with so many people complaining? It just doesn’t make sense.”

Techxplore.com 2/18/2010: “Mechanical failure is easier and more transparent to diagnose than an electronic problem. The average garage mechanic might miss out checking the computer micro-processing failures. Service centers usually replace the whole defective unit without some serious investigation on the cause. The management, dealers and mechanics have difficulty in diagnosing rare unpredictable failure in their electronics. The average driver does not really know also the exact problem when their cars computer or electronic gadget malfunctions. It’s hard to check wiring failures, damaged circuit boards and programming in modern cars. Thus, proving that Toyota recall as due to faulty electronics and auto computer system failure might be a difficult task.”

Ron Hart in the Walton Sun, 2/27/02: “ Congress dragged Toyota, kicking and bowing, to Washington to testify in one of the indignant show trials they so love. I wish they would subpoena themselves and bring Congress before a Senate hearing, under oath and under the hot lights of TV cameras. Then we might get to the roots of most problems in America: Too much government intervention, confusing rules, and second-guessing politicians.”

The Korea Herald, 2/13/2010: “Many observers suspect something other than safety concerns behind the harsh response of the United States to Toyota’s recall. To former Kia Motors chairman Kim Sun-hong, the U.S. reaction to the Toyota problem is an act of “killing the chickens to scare the monkeys.” This Chinese proverb illustrates the cruel yet effective tactic of killing one to tame a hundred: As monkeys misbehave in the treetops, annoyed humans violently kill chickens in front of the monkeys. From fear, the monkeys get silent and tamed. Some even fall out of the trees.”

Charlie Rossiter in Associatedcontent.com 2/07/2010: “Now, with the tragedies around the Toyota sudden-acceleration problem, I am reminded once again of how limited driver’s education is for preparing people to drive. It breaks my heart to think that most, if not all, of the tragic deaths that have occurred because of sudden unexpected acceleration could have been avoided if the drivers had only known that putting a car in neutral means that a stuck accelerator can do nothing but race the engine—it can’t accelerate the car. Knowing that simple fact and acting upon it could have saved their lives. It makes me wonder how many people know what to do if their brakes fail. I doubt that many youngsters coming out of drivers ed classes realize that if they shift to a lower gear, even with an automatic transmission, they can slow the car. Would they think to gently try the emergency?“

CNN Money, 2/26/2010: “Up until last month, you’d think there was no need to worry about angering the Japanese. But now that our best and brightest in Congress have done a wonderful job of verbally undressing the CEO of Toyota Motor in front of the entire world, are we biting the other hand that feeds us? ‘We have to be the dumbest borrower around. It’s pretty remarkable. We don’t want to alienate Japan,’ said Haag Sherman, managing director with Salient Partners, an investment firm in Houston. Japan held approximately $768.8 billion in U.S. Treasurys as of December and China owned $755.4 billion. Those numbers were just released last week. ‘$750 million times 2 is a much bigger problem than $750 million times 1,’ said Keith McCullough, CEO and founder of New Haven, Conn.-based investment research firm Hedgeye Risk Management, about the possibility of our two biggest creditors losing interest in our debt. ‘It won’t matter if Bernanke doesn’t want to raise rates. The market may do it for him.’”

Norfolk Daily News, 2/4/2010: “Wrecks involving old cars are a lot like wrecks involving any newly recalled Toyota: far more often than not, the cause is not mechanical. The cause is the driver, and there’s no recall procedure for that.”

Reader totothedog in the (usually heavily redacted) comments section of China Daily, 2/9/2010: “Toyota Pedals Cause Power Cut at Santander. The Spanish bank has bought a string of Poodleville banks in recent months, similar to the way Icelandic banks bought Poodleville’s high street retailers. As a result, Santander which is probably on the same terrorist list as Iceland, has had several computer and power failures in the poodle state. Strangely, no such power cuts occur in Spain. The recurring faults have been traced to pedals installed in the power station which are identical to those used in Toyota cars.”

US Recall News, 2/3/2002: “Toyota recall: Four different causes. So which is it?“

Wikipedia, undated: “The 5 Whys is a question-asking method used to explore the cause/effect relationships underlying a particular problem. Ultimately, the goal of applying the 5 Whys method is to determine a root cause of a defect or problem.”

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15 Comments on “The Eternal Quest To Explain The Unknown...”


  • avatar
    vww12

    Looks like there wasn’t much reason to do any recall at all, but with the mainstream media and the politicians in full attack mode, you have to be seen “doing something.”

    If anything, attach the driver mats via clips, don’t panic, practice a couple of times how to put your automatic transmission in “Neutral”, an be on your way.

    • 0 avatar
      Runfromcheney

      I have always felt that this thing with Toyota was getting blown out of proportion by the media and the government as part of a smear to aid GM. The fact that everybody is tooting on the Corolla’s steering problems while I have heard nothing about the Cobalt, which suffers from the exact same problem, confirms this.

      The internet seems to agree. The majority of comments on the senate hearings are to the tune of, “I can’t take this grilling of Toyota seriously since the US government owns it’s biggest rival.”

    • 0 avatar
      criminalenterprise

      Does anyone really think that anyone in the federal government, aside from maybe a dozen or two mid-level guys in the Treasury, give a crap about Treasury ownership of GM? The management and workers at NHTSA have no exposure or interest in what goes on with regards to company ownership.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      @crookco: +1 (and furthermore, if the professional employees felt they were being to do things by the political appointees, this would come out.)

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      The Cobalt and G5 have been recalled.

  • avatar
    Beta Blocker

    In late fall of 1990, after two years of driving a 1988 Mercury Sable station wagon with the 3.8 V6, with about 25,000 miles on the vehicle, there were two incidents of unintended acceleration in the space of two days which were plainly not the result of a stuck pedal or a stuck throttle cable.

    I brought the vehicle into the dealer at the earliest opportunity and the technicians could find nothing wrong with it. The problem never happened again in the twelve years that I owned the car, which was sold to another party with 145,000 miles on it. I still see it around town once in a while.

    • 0 avatar
      criminalenterprise

      If you had been driving a Toyota and had this problem the instanalysts and superior drivers on the internet would let you know in no uncertain terms that you are, of course, an idiot, a dribbling retard, an incompetent driver with no mechanical chops and probably either old or an immigrant.

      Because surely they would have been able to correctly diagnose and properly react instantly to this event.

    • 0 avatar

      Also there is the possibility of recriminations for selling an obvious death trap and / or possessed vehicle to an unwitting buyer. You never know. Don’t worry, we’ll protect you identity as much as we can.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Bertel, I think the trip to the dealer for diagnosis plus 10-years and 120k miles more driving rises to the level of adequate pre-sale due care. ;O)

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    There is no need for conspiracy theories. The hearings are just a chance for polls to pontificate. The media is just piling on, as they usually do.

    It’s not helping GM (or Chrysler) to any great degree.

    • 0 avatar
      criminalenterprise

      Long term I still say Honda is the winner. Chrysler is really circling the drain. If Fiat doesn’t roll out fresh, competitive product this year it’s over for them. Looking at the Consumer Reports issue this year shows Chrysler models to be woefully inferior to every single competitor. They’d do just as well, and maybe better, to rebadge cars from China.

  • avatar
    rtx

    I watched the congressional hearings with a sense of shame and wonder. Shame on the whole legal system for allowing US Congressmen with limited technical expertise and no credible automotive experts (read “PROOF”) to be allowed to roast the CEO of ANY corporation.
    Shame on a legal system that would allow the likes of the “runaway” Lexus driver to testify without PROOF of mechanical/electrical malfunction and allow her to come up with the brilliant deduction that GOD had intervened at mile number 6 while she was CHATTING on the PHONE! It defies any form of logic to believe any of her testimony. And what of the evil Lexus?? Is it true that she sold this demon infected vehicle to a family who have NEVER experienced a problem with it in 27,000 miles?
    Why was the lady never asked about the whereabouts of this vehicle? Shouldn’t it have been “exhibit # 1″?
    Once again the legal system is to blame as her reasons for testifying were obvious to anyone with a brain in their head.
    She should resort to a slip and fall in the frozen food section of her local grocery store if she needs the money……its much easier to fake and very provable.
    I would hope that some good will come of all of this in that all auto corporations (excluding the Government owned ones) will realize that they are under intense scrutiny and raise the bar once again in safety and design as they have done so well in the past.

  • avatar
    max425

    From http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0418279/quotes?qt0478259:

    Agent Simmons: Last night at the station, you told the officer your car transformed. Enlighten me.
    Sam Witwicky: Well, here’s what I said, okay? ‘Cause this is a total misunderstanding that my car had been stolen…
    Agent Simmons: Really?
    Sam Witwicky: …from me, from my home, but it’s fine now because it’s back! It came back!
    Mikaela: Well, not by itself.
    Sam Witwicky: Well, no.
    Mikaela: Because cars don’t do that because that would be crazy.
    [everyone laughs]

  • avatar
    BMWfan

    Don’t know if these articles have been referenced here before, but they make VERY interesting reading!

    http://www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/feb2010/bw20100225_403524.htm

    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-toyota-deaths-mainbar28-2010feb28,0,2282376.story

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    Poodleville?


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