By on February 3, 2010

We’ve gotten hold of documents relating to that other Toyota recall, the one from last fall regarding pedal interference with floor mats. Tying the floor mats to the seats was the short term fix, but now Toyota has the permanent solution. This includes cars with the Denso pedal that is not part of the sticky-pedal recall. The main features: cutting off the bottom of the pedal to make it shorter (yes, with a reciprocating saw) reworking the sound-deadening and carpet near the pedal, and most important, from our point of view, a reflash of the computer to give braking priority over throttle inputs. The documents we looked at specifically concerns Camry models with the Denso pedal. Our other report details the shim fix to vehicles with the CTS pedal, but that doesn’t describe making these changes to the bottom of the pedal or the carpet. Or is that covered under a separate recall? Almost certainly, as its inconceivable that the reflash wouldn’t be applied to both models. We’ll confirm that ASAP.

Meanwhile, the Denso-equipped Camrys will have some portion of their pedals cut off with a reciprocating saw, orbital sander, and a template and gauge (tools supplied by Toyota). Some work will be done to remove sound deadening material and modify the floor surface. And any of the older all-weather mats will be replaced by newer versions. The flat rate to dealers is 2.1 hours.

We’d like to see Toyota place more emphasis on their plans to reflash the computers, and come out with a time-table for covering all their vehicles that need this done, ASAP.

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47 Comments on “Toyota Recall Includes Computer Reflash, Trimming Gas Pedals...”


  • avatar
    BMWfan

    Great solution Toyota! So Toyota is going to give me back our car with a hacked up pedal? That will be great for resale! Here is a better solution- How about you redesign the pedal with a smaller footrest that does not stick, and give me one of those? Seems as though they might be smoking crack over in Japan. I’m normally a pretty calm person, but Toyota is really starting to piss me off! Rant over!

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      BMWfan, don’t stop now, you’re on a roll. And Paul, great picture, c’est à propos.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      If you think that’s bad, you should have seen their fix for the cracked inner fenders on the FJ Cruisers…talk about a resale value killer.

    • 0 avatar
      WildBill

      Wheeljack, that fix to the FJ was….. ?

    • 0 avatar
      superbadd75

      BMWfan, I doubt a “hacked up” accelerator will kill your resale value. I doubt most places would even notice it at trade in, nor would most consumers.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      WildBill,

      The inner fenders are not bolt-ons – they are welded to the firewall. The fix was to cut off the existing inner fenders and weld on new/redesigned ones.

      As I understand it, the instructions initially said nothing about removing the instrument panel while performing this procedure….that is until a dealer burned an FJ to the ground when the dash caught fire. So now you end up with a vehicle that has had the entire dashboard removed (rattles included at no charge!) and new inner fenders welded on then painted to (hopefully) match the vehicle….umm..no thanks…I’ll take a full refund please.

      What’s important to note here is that even though the vehicle is a body on frame design, the inner fenders are still an integral part of the crash structure – they even have stamped in corrugations designed to make them crumple in a specific way (this also is where they crack, by the way). Do you really think a hacked-up and re-assembled vehicle will perform as originally intended in a crash? I sure don’t…

  • avatar
    210delray

    When Toyota announced the details of the first recall (for floormat interference back in November), they said new gas pedals would be free for the asking, beginning the April. So you don’t have to keep the sawed-off version.

  • avatar
    sfenders

    I am really not a fan of the “reflash of the computer to give braking priority over throttle inputs” idea.

    For one thing, the simple version where it completely cuts off the throttle on any application of brake doesn’t work for manual transmission cars. Since they do still make some of those, it would therefore be unacceptable to rely on it. It is also unacceptable for any automatic version that you might want to take racing, be it autocross or whatever, which admittedly probably does not include say the Prius.

    So unless I’m missing something, they have to do some kind of more complicated version, which just means more potential things to go wrong, and possible continued driver confusion and annoyance when it could be difficult to predict exactly what circumstances will cause it to kick in and override the throttle input. Somewhat less severe than the existing failure, and maybe only a small percentage of their customers would be annoyed by it, but that’s undoubtedly a much larger percentage than those who have been directly affected by the present problem, and so in the long run I don’t see how it would do their reputation any good.

  • avatar
    grifonik

    Maybe this reflash will help cut down on those people who drive down the highway with one foot on the gas and one pressing the brake? I’m sure they’ll file complaints that the car keeps decelerating unexpectedly.

    • 0 avatar
      YotaCarFan

      While they’re at it, they can change the Avalon and Camry software to shut off the turn signal after it’s been on for over ten minutes while traveling at highway speeds.

  • avatar
    Roxer

    **IMPORTANT**

    This recall is voluntary. As in you do not need to have this done if you do not wish it to be. Those who wish to buy poor quality universal floor mats which are gigantic and slide around should probably go ahead and get it done. Those of you who have the Toyota designed floor mat properly secured in the hooks – don’t worry about it.

    Venza owners: there is an updated floor mat and carpet arrangement for you. You should absolutely opt to get this done.

    Camry/Avalon owners: buy the properly designed floor mats for your vehicle and do not worry. Is a $100 set worth more than your safety?

    And the ‘hacked’ floor mat – don’t worry. The re-shaping of it (when done properly) is actually quite nice. It only take off the thin bottom portion of the pedal which only serves the purpose of getting stuck on aftermarket floor mats.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      The recall is voluntary to the people who own the vehicle, not to Toyota. Just wanted to make sure it was clear to everyone.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnAZ

      Is the reflash of the computer also voluntary??????

      I don’t think I’m comfortable with the thought that that kid behind me on the highway in the Toyota chose not to reflash his computer so he could do some heel and toe driving.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    I’ve been wondering what the cut and grind remedial action would entail.

    I was unable to open the .pdf to see how much of the bottom of the pedal will be removed, but, based on some earlier photos I’ve seen, I have my concerns.

    As originally designed the pedal has a thick knob on the bottom of the free end of the pedal lever which is designed to limit total pedal travel (imagine it pressing into the mat/carpet as the driver mashes the pedal.) It is not explicitly clear if this is a primary or a redundant feature.

    I believe, however, that this knob is a primary feature. Why? After Paul laid-open the secrets of the Denso and CTS ePedal assys, I was pretty sure that neither pedal was designed to allow the coil-spring pair to “bottom”, where the limiting spring in the pair is allowed to reach a point where all the coils are in contact and the spring is essentially rigid.

    Risk is that if a spring bottoms, then the forces brought into the ePedal assy will begin to load the plastic components. This is the kind of situation which can cause failure due to exceeding the ultimate strength of the material or fatigue in the rigid plastic structures.

    If the designs work as I think they should, there should be travel limiting hard stops designed into the ePedal housings, which limit total travel before a coil-on-coil condition occurs. These can be seen easiest in the Denso assy, where the upper or lower surface of the pedal lever will come into contact with the corresponding features in the housing assy as the it reaches either extreme of its rotational travel (in the CTS pedal, it was less clear to me what features perform this function; perhaps its the spring cup contacting something, perhaps the hysteretic wedge feature just seating tightly.

    So anyway, that’s kind of an overview on how the system has worked up until now …

    What I am wondering is, less about coil-on-coil (because unless somebody really blew-it, that should not be an issue), and more about what happens when you take all these things (floor pan mod, sub-carpeting isolation mod, pedal bulb mod) into combination … you get what you intended, increased room between the bottom of the pedal and a mat, but you also lose something of what you had, namely a “soft” hard stop …

    If this is done beyond a critical limit, the remaining part of the pedal bulb will contact something deeper, lower, and perhaps more compliant than originally designed … and the ePedal housing, either internally, or at its mounting points on the dash panel will see stresses (new types), or stress levels (existing but increased), heretofore unseen.

    Sorry for another long write-up.

    I’d like to hear other people’s thoughts.

  • avatar
    YotaCarFan

    If the sawzall repair is optional and the owner elects not to have it done, is he/she liable for damages when he/she sells the car and the new owner crashes it due to mat problems?

    Considering these pedals were not designed to withstand the forces and vibrations of being cut down, I wonder if the pedal pruning will have a significant likelihood of damaging the internal sensors, solder joints, pivot/bearing, etc?

    Regarding the pedal having increased range of motion due to the pruning: IIRC, the middle, not bottom, part of the pedal is what contacts the firewall carpeting, so this shouldn’t happen. On the 05 Prius I used to drive (Denso pedal), I slammed the pedal into the carpet many times a day, and there was an indentation in the carpet around the midpoint of the pedal.

    I understand Toyota’s desire to get this all done ASAP to avoid more bad press injuries to customers, but these repairs really sound half-assed and unprofessional. It would make more sense to replace all the pedals, doing a phased approach (e.g., oldest cars to newest ones). If not logistically possible, they should start stamping out new pedals as fast as possible and switch from modifying to replacing pedals as soon as they can.

  • avatar
    Detroit Todd

    Toyota — Unstoppable!

  • avatar
    ExPatBrit

    YotaCarFan.

    Until I read your post about the turn indicator, I was enjoying a particularly fine Cabernet.

    It’s now mainly spewed on my keyboard. Thanks buddy.

    Avalon owners: The most inattentive drivers on the planet!

  • avatar
    zduffey

    thought many of the readers would like to know I drove a camry with the reflash factory installed monday night and found that on the third time attempting this withen the alloted time of about 5 seconds was actualy overiden the over ride meening on the third time did not cut engine power …possibly a secret for doing a stall test or burning in new pads.

  • avatar
    zduffey

    other thing that relly worries me is how many pedals might be dropped in the proccess of fixing them many times stated in on technical info pages is do not drop the pedal..will be perminatly damaged.How many techs are going to man up to thier managers and tell them they dropped it.To my understanding all a customer has to do to get the pedals replaced instead of sawed and hacked,is to call the toyota 1800 and complian a bit.

  • avatar

    The pic of the sawzall reminds me of this story that I just saw the other day:

    http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local-beat/Woman-Severely-Injured-in-Sex-ToyPower-Tool-Encounter.html

  • avatar
    Ronman

    in terms of re-flashing the computer, it would be cool if you could wire your car via USB to your PC, log on to a Toyota service site, and download the update for the OBC…that would be very handy for those who are able to do it… just like upgrading the software on you Nokia or I phone…after all when it comes to updating software how hard can it be?

  • avatar
    JohnAZ

    Does anyone know if the reflash of the computer has been blessed by the NHTSA? Is it being treated as a safety fix to the unintended acceleration problem, or is at flying under the radar as some kind of enhancement or maintenance change?

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    I think some people ae confused by the word “voluntary” being bandied about … all this “voluntary” stuff applies to the OEM, not the customer.

    The difference being that if an OEM does not do the right thing and “voluntarily” recall their product, NHTSA will make sure the recall is done by forcing a “mandatory” recall upon the OEM.

    Oftimes, the OEM knows that they are about to be slapped with a mandatory recall and they agree to do it, and then negotiate with NHTSA to have it portrayed as a voluntary action to protect their reputation.

    For a long time, I thought DOT/NHTSA’s allowance of the word “voluntary” is confusing and, as proven here by the B&B, misleading.

    I would suggest better words would be “contested recall” and “non-contested recall”, meaning both recalls would happen, with the kicker being that the contested-version comes with a hefty government fine and a negative press-release.

  • avatar
    mcs

    I noticed in the instruction document from Toyota that they are checking the voltages from the pedal after they are reinstalled. Probably part of the normal re-installation procedure, but it will be interesting to see what kind of results they get. Bad or flaky/noisy power can cause all kinds of problems in electronic equipment. Usually when I’ve dealt with intermittent inexplicable problems in electronics, bad power has been the culprit.

    Then again, they’re only checking voltages and not looking for noise. I’d be concerned about the noise as well – especially since cleaner power is more expensive – and we know what’s been happening there.

    Hopefully anyone looking at these issues is looking very closely at the power – especially the cleanliness of the power at those hall effect sensors in the pedal. From personal experience, since I’ve switched to suppliers using improved components (especially capacitors) I’ve had rock solid stability and reliability with my equipment. The high quality power supplies I now buy cost me almost triple the amount of the cheap ones, but long term are going to be much cheaper.

  • avatar
    gsp

    YotaCarFan. Ok that was really funny. I have not laughed that hard in a while.

    My business had a Toyota Tundra until last year. Bought a Ford to replace it. Toyota has thinned out their product too much. Examples: had a no start condition in the winter at a customers due to corrosion on the battery post clamp. It is not a solid clamp, just a cheapie stamped metal thing. Also our door armrest cracked. I did it with moderate pressure with my elbow. The plastic support underneath was so thin that my elbow cracked a round (!) hole in it. Front bumper rusted in six months. Rims rusted in six months. Front brakes replaced at 30k miles(under warranty) new rotors new calipers but they were going to put the old pads back on this new outfit. Not only is this cheap it is wrong. The reason for the caliper change was the the old ones were letting the pads shift all over the place, esp when used backing up. So the pads were actually damaged as well.

    And my parents had a 2000 ish Tercel. POC especially compared to Honda product at the same time.

    Late 80′s was their peak for quality.

  • avatar
    Robbie

    Question for the best an brightest, among all this Toyota bashing:

    Isn’t this a case of Toyota getting extremely bad press now based on an issue that happens to one vehicle in a million, with the general public not understanding that the chances of your Toyota speeding up out of control are extremely small – smaller than say, dying when crossing a sidewalk, or getting hit by lightning?

    • 0 avatar
      Roxer

      My customers are quite understanding of the fact the chances are so slim this will happen. And they are aware it is a wearing problem that will gradually occur – not suddenly. Maybe because we don’t take the news as gospel up here in Canada – who knows.

      People like to pick on #1 and it will always happen. Maybe people care so much they don’t want Toyota to turn into GM so they are giving them a hard time with no way out except what is right.

    • 0 avatar
      Monty

      Why let facts spoil a good sensationalism angle on a story involving a foreign company?

      How many people died in the Tylenol scare? It seemed like possibly hundreds at the time, based on how the media portrayed it.

      How many people perished in a Pinto in a fiery blaze? The mainstream media spun the Pinto story into a carnage of epic proportions, making it seem as if every single Pinto on the road was at some time going to spontaneously combust, and immolate thousands of innocent people. (telling contemporary scene in a movie – Top Secret, and the public took it as gospel)

    • 0 avatar
      JohnAZ

      Robbie, I cannot claim to be either the best nor brightest, but I sure have an educated guess.

      Back in 1990, Perrier customers were getting sick from benzine found in some bottles of their ‘pure mountain water’. Perrier followed a circuitous and confusing route to find the problem, publicly blaming everything but themselves. They ended up recalling 160 million bottles before finding that only a few bottles were contaminated in one bottling plant. They went bankrupt and the brand was sold.

      Maple Leaf Foods in Canada had a contaminated meat problem a couple of years back that was killing people. They immediately recalled all of their products, shut their factories, and found the cause. They reopened their business after much work, inspection and delay, and they have since regained their quality reputation and market share.

      Toyota has followed the Perrier plan.

      Too many mats, wrong mats, twist ties, driver error, confused drivers, hit wrong pedal, CTS’s fault, Japan OK – USA-boo, sticky pedal caused UA, shim=precision cut metal bar, new car production fix before customer cars, first heard Oct 09, no fail safe, told to fix vs. their idea. The list goes on.

      All manufacturers now have two paths to follow when their brand’s reputation is on the line.
      Tylenol/Maple Leaf or Perrier/Toyota?

      Choose early and choose as if your life and ours depends on it.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Maple Leaf Foods in Canada had a contaminated meat problem a couple of years back that was killing people. They immediately recalled all of their products, shut their factories, and found the cause. They reopened their business after much work, inspection and delay, and they have since regained their quality reputation and market share.

      The difference between Maple Leaf and Tylenol and this is that it is bog-standard easy to find contaminated food and drug supplies and issue a recall.

      I currently work for a chemical company. If we make a batch of, oh, I don’t know, soap or something and it accidentally had hydrochloric acid or human blood or whatever added to it, I can, pretty quickly, figure out everything that was made the same day, or from the same ingredients, by the same machines/production lines and recall them all because my system can trace the problem. It’s pathetically easy.

      What Toyota is facing is more like a software bug that, say, deleted someone’s files. Some people report it, but at first you tend to think it’s people being boneheaded. Then more people report it. Then you start looking into it, but you can’t reproduce it. Your end-users aren’t at all clear on giving you bug reports, up to and including being unable to tell you what actually was deleted, when, why, how or what they’re using. There’s nothing quick and easy like lot tracability that you can leverage.

      So what do you do? You have a few choices: wait until you can get enough information to reproduce the problem, try to figure out how it’s failing by theoretical means, or recall everything and/or start shotgunning. None of these options are particularly palatable from a PR perspective, and all carry the risk of you not resolving the real problem.

      Comparing food and drug to mechanical, electronic or software work is not really valid.

    • 0 avatar
      eastaboga

      Robbie,

      The chance of the pedal assembly actually failing is quite small, granted, but the chance of the pedal becoming pinned down for any number of reasons, say a floormat maybe, is much more likely.

      IF (and I don’t know the answer to this for certain) in a sustained brake application the computer is not reducing power, not allowing the transmission to be shifted into neutral, or not allowing the ignition to be turned off (unless the driver knows to press and hold for the start/stop button 3 seconds)….then the computer is programmed incorrectly. It was only amatter of time beofre drive-by-wire bit a manufacturer.

      I believe that if Toyota, with their reputation and good will in the marketplace, would come clean on this point they’d be in a much better position right now. This is failure mode analysis, something Toyota the Japanese OEM’s are the world’s best at! If the computer programming is the issue, not a computer malfunction, then they need to come clean now, otherwise this sordid mess will continue until the brand is damaged beyond recognition!

  • avatar
    fgbrault

    sfenders – I don’t know if they will implement it on manual transmission equipped cars, but if they do I assume that it would work like my VW (DSG) does with a 1/2 second delay. Also, on my VW I don’t think it is triggered if you start braking before accelerating.

    By the way who would buy a Toyota appliance who plans to heal & toe? :)

  • avatar
    Krimby

    I just got my 2007 Camry done. It’s Kentucky built, with the Denso pedal. It looks like they left the pedal and the floor mat alone. When I went in they asked if I was here for the GL4 recall ( something like that ) There’s nothing on my letter saying what recall it’s part of. The final receipt says I got the system reflashed and had a “Tibia Pad Assy” installed, and a “Stopper, Accelerator” installed. I have no idea what either of them are. Any ideas?

  • avatar
    JMHaltom

    Wish I had seen this site sooner. The wife has a 08 Highlander. She received a letter about the mat recalls and the accelerator problem. She contacted our local toyota dealer. They said, “come on in”. That should have been my first signal that something was up. Well she took her car in and when they had her pick it up, I bent down and looked at the pedel. Damn, it did look like someone took a sawsall to it. Needless to say we were more than a little pissed. Especially after fighting them for a year about her air-vent smell. It took about one minute to find out that this was there quick fix. We were informed that most people don’t look at the pedel and so they slide this by. They said they could order us another pedel (they have a shorter one) and install it. This is what they should have done in the first place. If anyone wants to see the quality work, my address is mltex@carolina.rr.com


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