By on March 8, 2010

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113 Comments on “Braking News: Runaway Prius Saved By CHP – Video...”


  • avatar
    Log

    I’m just speechless.

    • 0 avatar

      I’M NOT !

      My Ford shares have a FRONT ROW SEAT to the DEMISE of TOYOTA.

      This is PERFECT.

      In fact, I think we should invest in Hyundai because with their latest line of cars undermining Camry sales.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      My Ford shares have a FRONT ROW SEAT to the DEMISE of TOYOTA.

      Real pity, then, that Honda is the main beneficiary.

      This is what the legions of baying GM fans (no, not you Flashpoint) don’t seem to understand. It’s also why this isn’t a conspiracy against Toyota by the government**. Ford and Hyundai are doing well because they make reasonably high-quality product that’s often well-marketed, but among Toyota intenders it’s Honda who usually plays second-fiddle.

      If they’re not buying Toyota, then they’ll either wait, or go with the Other Historically Reliable Choice. They might consider Hyundai or Ford as a distant third, but the American Wards of the State are not on those consumers’ radar.

      ** or if it is, it’s a stupid one.

    • 0 avatar
      wolfw1

      I believe that is unproductive text.
      Should you be interested in a more productive approach, please read my posting at – or nearly at – the end of all these postings. It definitely is on the next page.
      Under the name wolfw1

      Hope many of you read it!!!!!

  • avatar
    mattmr2

    I dont understand, where were all these issues/run away cars prior to the toyota recall circus?

  • avatar
    65corvair

    Don’t you mean “Braking News”?!

    Doesn’t the transmission have neutral?

  • avatar
    poohbah

    A PRIUS overpowered the brakes? Really? Is this really happening? I have lots of questions.

  • avatar
    Cynder70

    Did the Prius have the recall performed on it? How did the brakes not work?

  • avatar
    educatordan

    So the brakes on a Crown Victoria can stop both the Crown Vic and a runaway Prius? Hmmmmmmmmmm…. but then I knew that because I’m a Car and Driver subscriber and read their test. :P

  • avatar
    Dr Strangelove

    The two cars seem unscathed – the Prius can’t have hit the police car very hard.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      This is a well practiced maneuver: the cop gets in ahead at speed, and then slows both down. They’ve even stopped runaway trucks this way.

    • 0 avatar
      poohbah

      You were spot on Dr Strangelove. It appears the video report was a bit deceptive. The article I found said the two cars did not touch until they came to a complete stop.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      I’m glad he didn’t have to resort to that; but it has been done, including a famous case in the sixties when a cop stopped a runaway school bus.

    • 0 avatar

      The officer never helped the Prius slow down. From an Edmund’s story:

      “Finally, contrary to the news report shown below, the CHP officer never helped the Prius slow down. The official CHP report says the officer’s car never came in contact with the Prius until the two cars were stopped on the side of the road. So in other words, the driver of the Prius eventually came to a stop all by himself.”

  • avatar
    Beta Blocker

    65corvair … “Don’t you mean “Braking News”?! …. Doesn’t the transmission have neutral?”

    Not only that, does the car have an ignition switch? Or is the entire car Drive By Wire (DBW)? Hey, if most cars have transmission position levers and also ignition switches, but most of today’s motorists are just too inexperienced as drivers to know either to shift into neutral or to else turn off the engine, maybe 911 operators can take advantage of the fact that most drivers seem to have cell phones in their car and can call 911, thus allowing the operators to instruct them to shift into neutral or to turn off the engine.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      Good lord it’s gonna get to be like those stupid movie cliches of talking down a plane. “Ok, now I want you to look to the right… Do you see the lever between the seats? Good now I want you to grasp it firmly…”

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      The transmission is “by-wire” and the ignition switch is a pushbutton that requires you to hold it down for three seconds.

      I’d like to hear the details on this. The Prius has got to be one of the easiest cars to shift into neutral. I can flick the transmission into neutral with my fingers without taking my hands off of the wheel. Yes, I’ve practiced recently for obvious reasons.

    • 0 avatar
      poohbah

      MCS: Have you tried shifting into Neutral at wide-open throttle? Just curious.

      The print report said this vehicle wouldn’t shift into neutral.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      I’ll have to try. To be honest, the weather has been getting nice here in the Northeast and I’ve started to bring out the fun cars from winter hibernation, so I probably won’t use the Prius until next week sometime. Although on second thought, I can’t drive the other cars at 90mph and have an iron clad excuse to get out of the ticket.

    • 0 avatar
      platinol2003

      poobah, don’t know about prius but with my 2006 avalon cruising at 80, i applied full throttle and shifted into neutral without any problem

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Here’s a picture of the Prius transmission lever.
    http://z.about.com/d/cars/1/0/E/m/ag_07prius_shifter.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      I’ve done an experiment with an ’05 Prius, there does seem to be an interlock between the transmission and the throttle control, putting it in Neutral at highway speeds seems to lock out the throttle. Can’t speak on the newer models though. The ‘B’ is for engine braking, similar effect as to putting an old-time automatic into low gear.

    • 0 avatar
      1996MEdition

      I experimented with my GF’s 2010 Prius this weekend at about 40mph. You can’t just knock the shift lever to neutral, you have to have to depress the brake pedal then knock the shifter to N. Pretty simple. I also tried to shut it off by holding in the start button for 3 seconds….worked! This eased her fear, especially after I made her follow the same process.

      In my opinion, this should be a standard procedure for the sales person to instruct a buyer for any drive-by-wire car.

    • 0 avatar
      john.fritz

      A tranny shift lever only a mother could love.

    • 0 avatar
      bsoft

      At least on the 2004-2009 Prius, you can absolutely shift into neutral without using the brakes or any other controls, even with the gas pedal floored. The engine shuts off and the car slows down.

      I did this about an hour ago.

  • avatar
    poohbah

    I’m not a Prius aficionado, Is this the all-new 2010 involved (that had a braking recall) or the 2nd Gen model?

  • avatar
    mattmr2

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35769069/ns/local_news-san_diego_ca/

    some more details, to many questions right now. And no answers and im sure the media will decide the answer before we get any facts anyways sooooooooo carry on.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Tin whiskers. Or demon possession.

  • avatar
    poohbah

    http://www.sdnn.com/sandiego/2010-03-08/local-county-news/runaway-toyota-prius-stopped-on-i-8-by-chp-another

    Highway Patrol personnel caught up with the blue car near Kitchen Creek Road, and one officer pulled up alongside and used his loudspeaker to talk Sikes through the process of slowing down by using his emergency brake and then turning off the engine.

    The officer pulled in front of the car as it decelerated and rolled to a stop and put the rear bumper of the squad car against the front end of the
    Prius.

    “The vehicles did not touch until after they came to a stop,” Pennings said.

    Radio traffic indicated the driver was unable to turn off the engine or shift the car into neutral.

    Read more: http://www.sdnn.com/sandiego/2010-03-08/local-county-news/runaway-toyota-prius-stopped-on-i-8-by-chp-another#ixzz0heBtBPWG

  • avatar
    forraymond

    Dang, they have got to find out what is wrong with those cars. I am on the road too often to have to put up with unpredictable cars as well as unpredictable (and distracted) drivers.

  • avatar
    mcs

    It wasn’t the Crown Vic that stopped it. It was the brakes, the parking brake, and… (drum roll) turning the engine off.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gc_pIFqke7WxQovY3MnhcyIYiLgwD9EAS1L00

  • avatar
    CatFan78

    Interesting, the CHP officer told him to use his brake and it slowed down. Bet we find it was human error, or floor mat issue.

    Even if you want to believe Toyota has these issues, how could it happen in some many different models across so many years. Each model has its own electronic control version. Each generation has a different version. I find it hard to believe Toyota or any manufacturer could have this across so many different models and years. Only common thing is user error.

    At least Toyota dispatched a field engineer to investigate. We should know pretty soon if something obvious.

    Also seems that the more news of this happening, the more reports we get. Almost a self fullfilling prophecy.

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    I’ve seen this episode of CHiPs before. Remember when Baricza had to use his Dodge Monaco to stop a truck barrelling down the highway with no brakes? Good stuff.

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    Contrary to published reports, the source of the instructions received by the driver was not a CHP officer speaking through a loudspeaker in an adjacent car.

    As we all know from the Rhonda Smith incident, it was the voice of God.

    Jeez, Paul…how can you guys ever expect TTAC to have journalistic credibility if you can’t get the facts of divine intervention right?

  • avatar
    Juniper

    OK I don’t know why he couldn’t stop it or shut it off. But why did it run away in the first place? It probably has a Denso pedal and I doubt it has winter floor mats in San Diego. This is a long way from being understood.

  • avatar

    Attention, Toyota PR department: Stop what you’re doing (you’re doing a piss-poor job of it anyway) and immediately focus on DISCREDITING THIS INCIDENT.

    This reeks of desperate opportunism on Sikes’ part… or blinding, stupefying ignorance. Either should be exposed for what it is.

    • 0 avatar
      Jerry Sutherland

      Rob et al-I’m the last guy to buy heart and soul into media hype, but denying that anything is wrong with Toyota’s accelerator is just as bad as flavor of the week journalism.

      Two things spring to mind- more than a few people have ended up in the back of ambulances wearing freshly minted toe tags thanks to mischievous Toyotas and…so far we haven’t seen a run on similar reports involving other vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      vww12

      SUTHERLAND:
      Remember when this country was running in circles dead afraid Alar on apples was going to kill us all?

      Just because Toyota Highlander mats were improperly installed on a couple of Lexus, plus hundreds of loons claiming their car is possesed, it does not mean rational people need to panic.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Denver

      Bzzt. Sorry wrong answer. In PR terms, this is “blaming the victim”. You’re not allowed to blame the victim even if it really IS the victims fault. See smoking, obesity, etc. Here’s the key – in any interaction between a big evil corporation and the “little guy” , the “little guy” is right, even if he isn’t. You have to bow down and sincerely apologize to the victim, as Mr. Toyoda already did. Those are the rules of the game and if you refuse to go along, then the media will REALLY pound the sh*t out of you for being evil, arrogant, covering up, etc. . If Toyoda has been defiant and said – “there’s nothing wrong with our cars – you Americans are a bunch of idiots who can’t even figure out how to put your car in neutral” he would have been lucky to escape with his life.

    • 0 avatar

      …But Jack, that kowtowing by Toyoda has gotten them nowhere. Toyota the company is still firmly in the crosshairs of our media, and the feds/GM owners.

      I’d argue Toyota has nothing to lose by calling a spade a spade here… and I wonder if a “shut up, morons!” PR policy wouldn’t earn them some additional sales, even.

      I know we’ll never see that, but one can dream.

  • avatar
    criminalenterprise

    Toyota’s PR department must be on the edge of nervous breakdowns by now.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    So when will Toyota provide a full data dump of any and all information stored in said Prius’ computer systems? I don’t for a minute believe that a sophisticated computer controlled system like the Prius’ drive-train doesn’t have any internal data logging.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    After reading all these reports about Toyota’s unintended acceleration I’ve narrowed it down to about two reasons:

    1. Mechanically, there’s actually something wrong with Toyotas and it needs to be fixed.

    2. The majority of this country’s idiots drive Toyotas. Note that I didn’t say all Toyota owners are idiots.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnAZ

      I think you may be onto something with point number 2.
      Apparently the idiots are still buying Toyotas.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      I agree with point #2 as well. I was talking to a friend the other night. He owns a 2009 Highlander and his wife has a 2009 Corolla. He was telling me that his wife says that the gas and the brake pedals are too similar on her Corolla. So when I hear things like that, all I can think of is Audi from 1985. Toyota drivers aren’t car enthusiasts. But they sure do like appliances. I don’t think Toyota can win. When you sell cars to people that don’t like driving cars, things aren’t going to turn out well.

      As for the Prius, the guy says he won’t drive it again. So Toyota should take that thing and dump every bit (and byte) of data from it. If they find it wasn’t the car’s fault, I say they should go ahead and publicly call him a moron. If it was something with the car, FIX IT so I don’t have to keep hearing about this sh1t. It was shown on the news parked somewhere with caution tape around it. I think the crew from Fox’s Kitchen Nightmares might have been involved with that.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    I’m not sure if this stinks but it definitely smells. There are a lot of stupid people that drive.

  • avatar
    alexndr333

    Looks like the media gets to file this one under, “You just can’t make this s**t up, folks”. As for me, I’m wondering if it’s possible that Toyota’s marketing has really sorted out and sold to that part of the population that doesn’t understand anything mechanical or electrical about cars. I’m talking about the “check your brain at the garage door” crowd. If so, who ever is left then must know something about the cars they’re driving. These folks don’t drive Toyotas and therefore must drive Hondas, Nissans, Fords and GM’s. This says something, but I’m not sure what (except, be careful what you wish for, Hyundai.)

  • avatar
    Aqua225

    I would imagine that if you separate every single control in the car from every single system it controls in the car, by millions of lines of software, well, you get what you get when it goes wrong.

    For the people who don’t believe these drivers know what they are doing: I call them future pilots of the shortest doomed flights of their lifetimes, or perhaps the fastest (de)acceleration they will every experience.

    Who said these cars have brakes stronger than their engines? If Toyota said it, I would just count it as more faking from them. I drove a quite underpowered Yaris a few weeks ago, and it was one of the things I checked. You could jam the brakes to the floor, and the motor would easily turn the wheels. That’s a 1.6L 4 cylinder with 106hp in a car that weighs so little, it made my baby SUV feel light. That a Lexus with 300hp or better couldn’t? BS.

    Even worse, Toyota at best could only claim that with a car that was not moving. The brakes first have to dissipate the kinetic energy of the car, before they can even begin dealing with the power being placed on the drive line by the engine. Don’t buy it at all…

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      Well… The Yaris is a 1.5, and no, if you jam both pedals to the floor at the same time (in an automatic… which is almost always the transmission of choice for unintended accelerators) the car won’t move. I’ve tried it… errh… just to see if it was any good in the quarter mile… Your car either has an exceptionally strong 1.5, a freakish 1.6 TRD unit mistakenly installed or your brakes aren’t up to snuff.

  • avatar
    Aqua225

    And this does point to software, btw. Prius braking systems are controlled by computer, so that the computer can route as much power back to the batteries as possible, without compromising the braking force it applies to the wheels. It makes perfect sense that if the ECM goes into a fault mode, that it also no longer can correctly direct the mechanical braking system to check in.

    I also find the smug folks here talking about the e-brake —- the e-brake DID NOT STOP THE CAR. It assisted, it took a CHP officer to assist the complete stop. How funny people ignore things… it’s more than likely without the cop, it would have roasted the e-brake and sped back up. Brakes do overheat and fail.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, but the parking brake did the trick.

      Distracted as I am, I started many a car and drove around in it with the parking brake on. Only when it felt a bit sluggish or the smell of burning friction material alerted my nose did I notice the parking brake.

      On that Prius, the regular brakes didn’t work – well, they worked alright “he could smell the brakes burning” – but they wouldn’t stop the car.

      With a police officer present, the parking brake and “a steep upgrade” stopped the car.

  • avatar
    hotjazz

    Maybe I am just too dang jaded but I imagine it went something like this…

    Prius driver: “Well will you look at that, this thing actually CAN do 90! Bill owes me 50 bucks! Ha ha… Oh crap, are those police lights behind me? Dang! Wait this is a TOYOTA Prius… uh… I can’t slow down, right? Yah. That’s the ticket. Maybe they won’t give me one if I just wave my arms and look like I can’t figure out how to stop this thing?”

    • 0 avatar

      It’s about time Toyota PR gets “in front of the story” and turns that into hard sales.

      Buy a Toyota and fight that ticket!

      Caught in the radar beam of a speed gun? Picture taken by a red light camera? Not a reason for concern – if you drive a Toyota! Keep going! Simply call 911 and tell them your car is speeding out of control. Eventually, a police officer will catch up with you. Follow the instructions of law enforcement for bringing your vehicle to a halt. Remember: This works only in a Toyota! So get one now. Operators are standing by.

    • 0 avatar

      And for the law abiding citizen who would never speed or run a light:

      Buy a Toyota and become a celebrity!

      Want to join the ranks of the rich and famous? Now YOU can use a proven method that has been a secret until now: Buy a Toyota! Drive it along the freeway. Then press “9” “1” “1” and “DIAL” on your cell phone. Operators are standing by. Tell them you cannot stop your car – and it is a Toyota. Remember that all-important phrase. You MUST say “it’s a Toyota.” You will become the star of FREE press conferences. Your will be on NATIONAL TV for FREE. Magazines will offer you money for EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS. Publishing companies will BID FOR THE BOOK RIGHTS. Toyota will offer you a new Toyota – FOR FREE! You may even receive an all expense paid trip to the NATION’S CAPITAL, and be on NATIONAL and INTERNATIONAL TV again. More than 500,000 Google hits guaranteed – or your money back. Remember: This works only in a Toyota! So get one now.

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      You missed one, Bertel:

      Buy a Toyota and never worry about resale value again!

      Simply wrap it around a pole when you’re finished with it, and nobody will be the wiser.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Seriously, who wouldn’t play that card. You go blowing through a speed trap at 130mph in your new FT-86 and you know their going to come after you – so what do you do? There’s an excuse for that. Get a text, you glance down for just a second, and there you go into a ditch. No problem, there’s an excuse for that.

  • avatar
    mcs

    New information. As usual, the most of the media has this wrong. The real story in the San Diego Tribune and the AP are a bit different and shed a bit more light on what happened.

    For one thing, it wasn’t the cruiser that slowed him down. It was a combination of parking brake, brake, and shutting off the engine.

    He also tried pulling on the pedal and adjusting the floor mat.

    http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/mar/08/chp-helps-stop-runaway-prius/

    I’m kind of curious about this incident because the cruiser was awfully close. Do the math, the Prius was moving at up to 90 mph and the cruiser caught up with him. Was this really a case of the guy knowing he was going to be busted for speeding and pulled the Toyota card?

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    You’d think Lt. Howard Hunter of all people would know how to handle this. Oh wait, that’s James *Sikking*. My bad.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Funny – the Prius model/year shown has rear drum brakes – seems to me that the drums would have been overheated by the driver using the service brake, rendering the parking brake practically useless.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Thats a Candadian Auto Workers built Crown Vic. We felt we were not contributing enough to the UAW, Democratic conspirecy.

    Hiring a CHP officer was hard enough,then we had to find a stunt driver,and get a camera crew together. If that wasn’t enough of a challenge,try getting a Pruis up to 90 MPH.

    This conspirency stuff ain’t no walk in the park. Popular opinion has us as,fat.lazy,overpaid,uneducated slobs. But with the help of our Liberal/Democratic friends,look what we pulled off.

    • 0 avatar
      moedaman

      My father was a UAW member. He and a lot of other UAW members that I knew weren’t “fat.lazy,overpaid,uneducated slobs”. But a large percentage of UAW members are. And the union leadership spends more far time protecting the guys who should be fired instead of addressing the issues of the non-lazy. That’s why my father told me not to get a job with the big 3.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @Moedman I certainly didn’t mean any disrespect to your father,or his friends.

      If your new to TTAC, I’m the resident domestic fanboy/union supporter. With 13 years UAW, and 23 CAW I’ve earned the right to beat up my own people.

      There is a big school of thought here at TTAC, that believes,this whole Toyota thing was dreamed up by your President and the UAW.

      Fact is, that Toyota is responsible for the whole mess media circus and all.

      The “we hate the domestics, and worship anything,that is not” crowd refuse to get thier collective head around to the fact that Toyota has screwed this thing up from the word go. And the UAW and the President had F.A input.

    • 0 avatar
      moedaman

      mikey, I get where you’re coming from. A lot of people on this site have noticed that Toyota quality has slipped over the last few years. But Toyota, as well as other companies have their kool-aid drinkers. Although Toyota probably has more than their fair share of them.

      My father was very anti-UAW and anti-GM by the time he passed on (he was 64 and never got to retire, factory work and a 2-pack a day habit will do that to a person). So you certainly have the right to make fun of the UAW/CAW.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Aqua 225:

    Since my Legacy GT with a turbo engine at full blast in second gear will EASILY stop when braked and the throttle held down, may I suggest that using more than your little toe on the brake of the Yaris might have yielded results more similar to mine?

    Also see the March 2010 Car and Driver where a V6 Camry was easily braked to a stop with a wide open throttle.

    Your suggestion that people who believe the brake is more powerful than the engine will meet their doom is incorrect. The opposite is true, IMO. Get another Yaris and try it again. In fact, try it on any car.

    • 0 avatar
      Frozen_Canuck

      Try some older cars. I have had several cars with stuck gas pedals – 57 olds, 74 VW, 85 NewYorker, 92 Crown Vic. With the some you can shift to neutral but shutting off the key does not always stop an over revving engine and in many old models the steering wheel locks and you lose vacuum on the brakes so you have no brakes of any use. On some it is hard to turn the key back on to get the steering wheel lock off without having the engine kick back on – even in an automatic. As for braking, some of the old cars with drum brakes couldn’t be stopped once the brakes got hot. I had a wild 6 or 7 mile ride down a hill with the engine turned off in the 57 olds and the emergency brake on and the foot brake held on with both feet and both hands on the steering wheel bent nearly double – had no idea that plastic was so flexible. It didn’t stop till we ran out of hill. My dad sitting beside me turned the engine on intermittently to charge up the brake vacuum reservoir. The Olds was a stuck throttle cable, the VW was ice in the throttle tube back to the rear engine, the New Yorker was god knows what cause the turbo blew up and they fixed it under warranty, the Crown Vic was cruise control and cycling the key stopped it. But you have anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes with reduced control. With the Olds, I had about 5 or six minutes to discuss options with my parents and fortunately we made all the corners till we ran out of hill. All well maintained cars of a different era, some mechanical and some electronic. In my cases I was able to disengage the engine by going into neutral or depressing the clutch. The Olds was interesting because the steering wheel lock was disengaged at the Accessory switch – because if you turned the key to the “on” position over 40 mph, and shifted to “Drive” the hydromatic transmission would engage and start the engine. Can you still push start these new automatics? If so, might be hard to shut them down.

  • avatar

    Something smells bad about this incident. From the newspaper linked above: “Niebert said he instructed Sikes to put the car in neutral and hit the emergency brake and the floor brakes simultaneously. This, plus a slight incline, helped Sikes slow the car to about 50 mph.”
    So for almost 30 miles the driver didn’t try to put it in neutral? The driver was braking, even the brakes smelled bad, and it didn’t help, but when the policeman told the driver to step hard on the brakes the car slowed down? The emergency brake would have very little effect.

    • 0 avatar
      SkiD666

      You can’t shift into neutral at highway speeds in a Prius without stepping on the brake at the same time, the driver might not have known this.

    • 0 avatar
      bsoft

      I don’t know where you keep coming up with this crap. You absolutely CAN shift into neutral (at least on the 2004-2009 model) at highway speeds without using the brakes.

      It works on my 2007 Prius. It works on my Mom’s 2006 Prius. It works every time, gas pedal floored or not. I even did it again earlier tonight to demonstrate to my friend that it works (we were listening to the radio and the acceleration story came on).

      I also tried overriding the accelerator with the brakes. From 70mph, with full throttle acceleration, it wasn’t even close. Even moderate brake pressure stops the acceleration.

      Pushing park? It puts the Prius in neutral if you’re going fast. Trying to put it in reverse? Neutral if you’re going fast.

    • 0 avatar
      platinol2003

      skid666, but his ffet should have been on the brakes to begin with, so just shift into neutral. this is bogus

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    I see a glimmer of hope. After ABC News reported this on “Good Morning America,” there are numerous comments on the show’s website (beside my own) from viewers who aren’t completely convinced that this guy’s story is 100% legit.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      When someone tried this with his Vel Satis, Renault sued him for damages.

      Anyone know what came of that?

      Side note: the Vel Satis is the car I’d wished we’d gotten in lieu of the A34 Maxima.

  • avatar
    the_gamper

    Perhaps it is time to return to manual transmissions. Depressing the clutch should take care of all unintended acceleration issues. As for the current event, I certainly wouldnt rule out a publicity stunt or trying to avoid a speeding ticket, but I suppose I wouldnt rule out electronic gremlins either.

    They had the driver being interviewed on NBC’s Today show. Seemed fairly sincere. In any event, what goes around comes around. The Toyota brand simply couldnt stay unsoiled forever with the volume of cars they are selling.

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      Perhaps it is time to return to manual transmissions.

      Nice try, but ain’t gonna happen.

      Too many legitimate physical reasons why drivers need them, especially with a small number of young soldiers returning from war with leg amputations. The “manual-only” market would last until the mainstream media ran a story about how Johnny came marching home and couldn’t drive a car because we don’t allow automatics,

      Add to that people like me with a bum left knee, and you see my point. Personally, I prefer a manual and could own/have owned/will own one (as a second vehicle), but sometimes I’d rather trade a lack of pain for the ability to drive.

      In addition to the shockingly large percentage of drivers who can’t drive a manual, you’d also have to overcome a relatively spotless 70-year track record of safe operation by automatics. Good luck with that.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      Manual transmissions and hybrid power-trains don’t really mix.

  • avatar
    adonasetb

    can’t be toyota has to be driver error

  • avatar
    Turbo60640

    Expect to see this “harrowing” footage playing on endless loop. It’s the media’s vertitable nail in Toyota’s coffin.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    One of the problems with this story is the use of the parking brake. The Prius has one of those ‘ratcheting’ foot parking brakes where you step on it once to set, then step on it again to release. It doesn’t have any kind of hand release like the ones with a lever between the seats.

    So, theoretically, if the guy driving the Prius stomped on the parking brake to get it to work at all, it would have locked up the rear wheels and he would have had to stomp on the parking brake again, very quickly, to get it to release. At a speed of 90 mph, I can’t imagine all these actions not causing a loss of control of the car.

    I mean, the guy claimed he couldn’t continue talking on his cellphone in order to maintain control of his car.

  • avatar
    210delray

    I have to wonder if this driver was trying to cash in on the hubbub about this issue and said his Prius was out of control in order to get his 15 minutes of fame. I think Bertel Schmitt is on to something, even if he said it tongue-in-cheek.

    This wouldn’t be hard at all to do right now, and I’m sure some others have thought about it without actually going ahead with it.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    No wonder local Toyota dealers are offering the Prius for $2000-$4000 off MSRP depending on the trim level.

  • avatar

    So, who has this car now, and are they able to reproduce the problem? Or did it go away when the car was restarted?

  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    I’m no conspiracy theorist, and I do not believe this was staged at all, but jeez, it sure seems “made for tv.”

  • avatar
    turbobeetle

    Oh i just cannot wait till those Chevy Volts hit the road.

    We have not seen anything yet! They will probably be driving off on their own, with the driver not even in the car.

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    It was previously reported that a Toyota with a gated shift patern and “sport” shifting can be somewhat tedious getting the transmssion into Neutral. Now we are learning you must first press the brake pedal.

    Pushing the “Off” button for three seconds to Off the engine can take, in reality, who knows how long for the Off command to be accepted? C&D reports 3.3 seconds.

    ZERO. That’s how much of this would pass OSHA regulations. Remember these guys?? They regulate industrial equipment in a commerical/industrial application operated by trained, experienced professionals.

    • 0 avatar
      pgcooldad

      90mph = 132 ft/sec
      3.3 * 132 = 435.6 ft = 145.2 yards (almost a footbal field and a half)

      That’s just how far you travel while waiting for the engine to turn off. You still have to stop the vehicle. Lots of bad things can happen in 3.3 seconds.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Not to mention that the 3.3 second window is predicated on holding the button down the entire time. Most people are more likely to press the button in a momentary manner for less than 3.3 seconds, much like tapping a computer mouse button.

      When the engine does not shut off instantly, in a panic, they’ll simply continue to press the button intermittently, which would continue to do…nothing. It doesn’t seem like Toyota thought this one out very well.

    • 0 avatar
      CarPerson

      @ rudiger

      It has been reported that at least one automaker with a “Press and Hold” electronic Off ignition also has it programmed so that if the button is pressed rapidly three times, it shuts the down the engine.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Denver

      If your car was undergoing SUA, wouldn’t you (shouldn’t you) be pressing the brake pedal ANYWAY?

      You really don’t want to turn off the engine and lose power brakes, power steering, etc. The engine is hard to turn off on purpose.

      Try this on your car, try it on a Prius, try it on any car – floor the gas with a broomstick (to simulate SUA). Then brake as hard as you can – press down the brake firmly and hold it down, don’t pump. Use both feet on the brake if your a 90 lb. woman. And at the same time shift the car into neutral. Don’t make any phone calls (not that you’ll have time to). The car will stop in just about the normal stopping distance. Every time. So when you see all these cars going down the road for miles and miles while the driver phones for help, they haven’t done one or more of the above simple, intuitive steps. This is assuming their car has SUA to begin with, which is by no means a given.

  • avatar
    bobprivate

    umm.. maybe I’m missing something here.. but I would have turned it off.. just sayin’

    And in the ‘length of a football field’.. the engine isnt working against the brakes.

  • avatar

    “You can’t shift into neutral at highway speeds in a Prius without stepping on the brake at the same time, the driver might not have known this.”
    A guy who drives a car he doesn’t know how to properly operate…o boy! No excuse.
    If a driver can’t control his/her car for 30 miles (or even 10 miles), then either the car is demonically possessed, or the driver has some serious problems and should undergo a thorough driver training again.

    • 0 avatar
      CarPerson

      Because a perfect world does not exist, we rely on intuitive designs to keep everyone safe.

      When I bought my current car, the dealer had classes every two weeks for new buyers and drivers. It lasted about 90 minutes and covered a wide range of topics. Many handouts and displays.

      We all got to climb in a car and feel what the anti-lock system felt like after we learned how to apply this type of brake.

      Did this guy blow off similiar training or was it even offered? Did the dealer spend about 15 minutes and walk him through everything, including the Driver’s Handbook?

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      +1 CarPerson.

      While my dealers have never offered this type of class and I am glad yours does, I am surprised that pressing the brake would be a requirement to put the car into neutral. I would be that most Prius drivers don’t know this. I would also guess that most Toyota sales staff doesn’t know this either. Anyone else know if this is a requirement on any other cars, outside the HS250?

      It is interesting that Toyota would use this design. I wonder what the reasoning is for this.

    • 0 avatar
      bsoft

      Most Prius drivers don’t know this because it’s not a requirement. I have shifted into neutral multiple times with the gas pedal floored, without using the brakes.

      You can’t shift out of park (into any gear) without pressing the brake pedal. That’s the same as it is on any modern automatic vehicle.

  • avatar
    Booger99

    This is obviously a conspiracy. The Highway Patrol has it out for Toyota since one of their own was killed by a speeding Toyota, they hired an actor to fake a speeding car, called the media (which is always behind all conspiracies just for the hell of it), and then joined forces with Ford (an American company, socialist US government seeks to defeat foreign corporations and back own companies). Did I miss anything? I mean the only other alternative is that this guy is telling the truth, and that’s obviously impossible.

  • avatar
    NickR

    I yearn for the day when the media ascertains all the facts about something before breathlessly broadcasting it 24×7.

    Yes, I can hear you saying ‘Good luck with that’.

  • avatar
    TheEyeballKid

    His eyes look up and to the left while recollecting the story, he embellishes it oddly: “I pushed the gas pedal to pass car… and then it just – it did something kinda funny, it did just something kinda weird, it just jumped – and then it just stuck there” – I don’t believe a thing that guy is saying. If he’s an actor, he’s working for Toyota to discredit real victims of unintended acceleration, because he could not look more like he’s lying.

    Still, he’s got a case! I wonder if he’ll be suing Toyota after this. Hmmm…

  • avatar
    Odomeater

    I still cannot believe what I am seeing. Once mighty Toyota being reduced to rubble right before my eyes. Astounding!

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    This was the NBC lead story Tuesday night. Toyota got hit with everything NBC could pick up and throw at it. People across the U.S. will go to bed tonight with the vision of the police car blocking the Toyota. Damage was done.

    Never piss off someone who owns a coast-to-coast cable channel.

  • avatar

    Carperson: “When I bought my current car, the dealer had classes every two weeks for new buyers and drivers. It lasted about 90 minutes and covered a wide range of topics. Many handouts and displays.

    We all got to climb in a car and feel what the anti-lock system felt like after we learned how to apply this type of brake.

    Did this guy blow off similiar training or was it even offered? Did the dealer spend about 15 minutes and walk him through everything, including the Driver’s Handbook?”
    Every car comes with a nifty manual that describes how to properly operate all features of the car. There is absolutely no excuse for a driver not to know how to operate his/her own car – the system-critical components such as brakes, transmission, accelerator, etc. If this problem would happen on the way from the dealership – the maiden voyage, that would be one thing, but this was not the case.
    Either the guy is lying, or he is incompetent.

    • 0 avatar
      wolfw1

      I agree with you – partially. Please read the comment right after yours. In my life I learned that the customer is nearly always right! One exception I found in Puerto Rico. But that was one in more than 50. And I do not believe that any manual talks about runaway conditions! And I do not know if the exist or not. That this guy did not put his car in Neutral — many people loose their mind when something unexpected happens. And I found a lady yesterday who tried to put her car into neutral and claims it does not work. It works on mine!!!!
      Have a nice day – and fun! wolfw1

  • avatar
    wolfw1

    I was a techno at a computer company which often sent out a tiger team to “talk the problem away” (sometimes they actually fixed a problem). I will accept Toyota’s fix – after they take this car, (the one with the problem), one logic analyzer attached to relevant signal points, and travel 50000 Miles – or until the problem happens. During my work with computers I had too many intermittent problems which happened every other day – or once per week – to understand how easy it is to talk the problem away and how difficult it is to fix it. Engineering is afraid ot the cost involvement – and too often too proud to admit that something might be wrong. Until this is done, I will drive my Prius – always ready to put it into neutral – very carefully


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