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The media and “celebrities” are making hay over the Toyota recall issue, desperate to find evidence of electronic and software gremlins. We’re adamant in stating that Toyota needs to change their software to give braking priority over a stuck pedal, and to replace the pedals, of course. And there may well be genuine software or electronic glitches out there, but we’d like to see solid evidence of them. Instead, we’re stuck listening to Steve Wozniak’s experience with a faulty cruise control on his Prius. It’s being spun as an example of Toyota’s electronics gremlins, creating confusion and scare-mongering. As if there wasn’t enough of that already.
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has described a repeatable situation that is clearly a flaw in his cruise control, and it only happens at super-legal speeds (from slashdot.org):
My 2010 Prius has a package that includes parallel parking assist and cruise control distance limiter. In some fictional state (let’s say ‘private property’) I tap my cruise control speed lever up and the car speed increases from 80 to 81.I tap this leve again and again, up to 83 mph. Then I tap it again and the car takes off without speed limiting. Tapping this lever down has no effect. The car is shortly up to maybe 97 mph. I repeated this many times.
One doesn’t think of things like putting the car in neutral instantly.
The natural braking action does disable this effect.
Wozniak has made this very clear: this only happens (repeatedly) above 83 mph. And a tap on the brakes releases the speed control, exactly as it should. This story is getting repeated play on Jalopnik, and other sites. Interestingly, Jalop modified their original from yesterday story to “sanitize” it, removing any reference to the illegal speed, as well as removing the link to his original comments (above) that describes the situation. I guess they though that might not go down so well. Instead, it’s being shown as evidence of Toyota’s callous disregard of their customer’s safety, because Toyota won’t drop everything and give the Great Woz a personal response to his complaint.
Well, the cruise control on my ’77 Dodge Chinook camper does the same thing, above 63 mph. Perhaps it’s trying to tell me something, because the one time I drove consistently faster than that I cracked an exhaust manifold. I’m digressing, but the point is this: Steve Wozniak’s problem is not a dangerous phantom or gremlin, but a consistent and repeatable flaw in his cruise control. And since cruise control is neither necessary and can be disabled, and the flaw happens only above 83 mph, perhaps Toyota legitimately has more pressing problems on its hands and feet.
Update : Jalopnik is reporting that thanks to its extensive coverage, Toyota will be taking Wozniak’s Prius for a week’s of testing. It helps to be a celebrity and be heard.