By on March 3, 2010

Here’s TTAC’s and the web’s only complete guide to Toyota’s gas pedals (so far), with tear downs, pictures, analysis, explanation, the shim fix, and commentary, all consolidated into one portal:

Part 1: Exclusive: TTAC Takes Apart Both Toyota Gas Pedals: Tear down of both the recalled CTS pedal assembly and the non-recalled Denso pedal assembly. Note: Assumptions and conclusions in this initial tear down lack the more complete understanding of the importance of the friction arm aspect of the CTS unit.

Part 2: Toyota Gas Pedal Fix Explained – With Exclusive Photos: Describes Toyota’s proposed fix for the recalled CTS gas pedal assembly, with detailed photos and graphics. Explains the significance of the friction arm assembly and its limitations.

Part 3: Toyota Gas Pedal Fix Simulated – Friction Reduced, By Too Much?: TTAC simulates the fix prescribed by Toyota for the recalled CTS pedal assembly, and notes how the fix changes the degree of friction, and the possible unintended result. With detailed pictures

Part 4: Why Toyota Must Replace Flawed CTS Gas Pedal With Superior Denso Pedal: Detailed analysis with pictures of the two pedal assemblies, an explanation as to why the Denso design is superior, and a call for having all CTS pedals replaced with the Denso pedal.

Part 5: TTAC Does The Toyota Pedal Shim Fix:  Stop Gap Solution At Best: Toyota’s solution is carried out here with detailed pictures, the whole Toyota document detailing the fix, and our commentary.

Part 6: Toyota Floor Mat/Gas pedal Recall Includes Computer Reflash And Trimming Of Gas Pedals: Info on the details of the floor mat/gas pedal interference recall.

Part 7: Toyota Recall  Creates Unintended Accelerator Consequences: As predicted in Part 4 (above), the CTS shim fix reduces the carefully designed amount of friction required for comfortable and smooth pedal action to the point where pedal action may now be jerky and potentially unsafe.

(Thanks to you-know-who-you-are for access to these parts and info)

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79 Comments on “The Complete Guide To Toyota Gas Pedals: Teardown, Pictures, Toyota’s Fix, Analysis, And Commentary...”


  • avatar

    This is some pretty impressive journalism, guys.

  • avatar
    Philip Riegert

    Major respect. You are taking the facts and making not only a great narritive, but also educated insight into the future.

    As a Toyota employee – I support this site! So far ;)

  • avatar

    The next big piece is…..
    either what Toyotas have which design OR how to tell them quickly apart when you’re squirming under the dash to figure it out.

    My wife has a Corolla, y’know and no life insurance :(

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      CTS: Look for little silver sheet metal plates on either side (not shown in the reference photos – but they cover the bronze bushing/steel axle).

      Nippondenso: Look for 4 (four) screwheads on the left side of the assy (not to be confused with the two threaded fasteners, one on either side, that attach the assy to the dash panel.)

      The units are so different on the outside (as on the inside) that you can’t help but recognize the difference between them.

  • avatar
    chuckR

    After Secretary LaHood told us to park our Toyotas and hide under our beds, it would be nice to have a ‘What are the odds’ estimate – how many incidents divided by the estimated total number of miles driven in affected Toyotas. This could be compared to odds of other adverse outcomes.

    I don’t have a Toyota, but if I did, I’d drive it just to spite him. Needs to be fixed, but on any given day, what ARE the odds?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      If I recall, it’s about on par with being struck by lightning.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Is that the “never strikes twice (1x/ever)”, the “Roy Sullivan (7x/35yr)”, or the “Empire State Building (23x/yr)”?

      Odds are also against dying in a car … so why do we wear belts?

      Regardless of odds, if it happens to you, then probability = 1.

  • avatar
    Britlass

    Paul N – my husband, who is an aircraft mechanic for a major a/line, was really impressed with your analysis of the designs of the 2 pedals. I hope that this pedal issue is the problem behind UA, but have a niggling feeling that it could be the pedal and/or some other funky electronic/ sensor type malfunctions at least in some of the cases. As a nurse I do realize that my niggling feelings are pretty meaningless however!! I tend to prefer the idea of the driver operating a car mechanically rather than a computer essentially operating a car. However technology doesn’t go backwards and we are probably stuck with the computers. Aircraft are even more computer-operated than cars (although UA may be less of a problem in the air than on the road possibly??). Wouldn’t it be a nice luxury to have the equivalent of a flight recorder box in cars to track when and why these UA’s occur??
    Will still drive my new RAV with its denso pedal and hope for the best, with my hand hovering near the gear stick ready to flip into neutral. Glad I didn’t trade in my old minivan either – a back-up may be handy. I couldn’t have picked a worse time to buy my 1st Toyota – figures.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      hey lass, interesting observations, thanks. A couple of comments, in aircraft, don’t think in terms of UA being the issue, although it could be (eg pulling into gate), think instead in terms of an uncommanded engine deceleration or control surface change (e.g. flaps on one side of the craft retracting during climb-out, like AA191 (different reason but same result)); Re. your new Rav4, just remember “that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”!

    • 0 avatar

      Someone told me one day. Pedro the reason there are more plane accidents now days is because of computers. Before they could override malfunctioning systems and still drive the plane…. I agree that the acelerator should be a wire not a sensor. If the Toyota accelerator got stuck it could have been fixed by a simple spring. But I suspect they are not telling the whole story (surprised?).
      Things like power steering systems that don’t have a direct link to the driver trhu a shaft really scare me.And I always have said that ABS if for people that never bothered to really learn how to drive or drive too fast too close (as I said can’t drive well).
      I am pretty sure today’s cars have a way for forensic scientists to access data. Just like airplane’s “black boxes”. Hey a black term that is actually positive…LOL.
      Well. Very good and informative article. I also enjoyed the comments from all readers.
      Regards
      Pedro Talavera.

  • avatar
    segfault

    The pedal teardown could inspire a new method of reviewing vehicles–focusing not just on the driving experience, but also on the good or bad engineering behind a design.

    • 0 avatar
      Contrarian

      The automakers already do it for Competitive Assessment. In fact, my current car has an HVAC control that my team reverse engineered for a CA in 1996.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Sounds like we need a bigger garage. And can we tell the manufacturers to come pick up their car in pieces, ’cause I like taking apart a lot more than putting back together?

  • avatar

    Contrarian,

    I find that fascinating. Can you tell us more about CA? How extensive are the automakers’ teardowns of other vehicles? Do they really get into small component parts? DIs this for engineering assessments and/or to make cost analyses? To get ideas?

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    I think Toyota is in big trouble here regardless of how the facts come out. The folks running Wash DC these days are powered by trial lawyers and the UAW. Two constituencies eager to have Toyota skewered and fried.

    • 0 avatar
      ASISEEIT

      No not fried and skewered just held to the same standard! and as far as fried and skewered goes Toyota is doing a fine job all by themselves by not addressing the customer complaints in a timely manner! Hell people are dying!

  • avatar
    ekaftan

    I taught the brake, neutral, engine off, scenario to a coworker today. He could not believe the brakes would overpower the engine and how easy it was to control a runaway accelerator….

    If anything, we can use this publicity to teach something…

  • avatar

    As with every situation, there is more at play than just the pedal.

    The pedal (and it’s varying designs) are one part of the engine management/ignition/drive/braking systems. The information and data they send to the “fly by wire” system, must be analysed by an electronic contol unit (ECU)BEFORE it sends the information to the fuel injectors and so on.

    In most makes of automatic gearboxed cars, WHEN the foot brake is applied the engine management brain, sends a signal that overrides any information it gets from the gas pedal, thus stopping the engine from “racing”. I understand Toyota is now considering adding this feature to their software.

    SO while the gas pedal, may seem to be the culprit, it actually may be the symptom of a poorly designed “system” without enough safety overrides, the same overrides used by Toyota’s competitors.

    The other piece of this which really puzzles me is, in all cars, the brakes are designed to be more than capable of overcoming the engine. In fact Car and Driver magazine has completed a test, using a Camry which shows exactly that. So that suggests to me, that the brake function has either been hindered OR rendered completely non functioning. But seeing as this is a hydraulic system, unless it is also Fly by wire then it should work, even if the ABS portion became inoperable. IF it were a fly by wire design (which is rare for braking systems. Mercedes gets hammered for their attempts at it) then would it be possible to assume the the Electronic control module and software have lost their minds? I welcome comments and knowledge on this thought.

    • 0 avatar
      ASISEEIT

      Look Bruce with all your facts about possible design flaw(s) and safety overrides and how Toyota’s competitors use safety overrides you’re not leaving any room to bash UNION WORKERS! Hell from what I read on this website the UNION has been the cause of every/any problem with G.M. and Chrysler! It’s not bad design! It’s the “BLOODY UNION WORKERS”! (Excuse me!!) How could I have forgotten Toyota ISN’T UNIONIZED?

  • avatar
    vortex0606

    Toyota needs to step up to the plate. Clearly this is a design flaw and will make the cars unsafe in the future. They need to replace the peddle and put it behind them. TOYOTA customers have the power to do this by complaining about the peddle feel and lack of confidence that there vehcle is “truely” safe again.

  • avatar
    K.T. Keller

    I still believe the problem is not a mechanical one, but an electrical one. The throttle position sensor would be suspect as well as the ECM or inherent firmware. How many sticking “gas pedals” did we ever have with carburetor equipped vehicles??? I can’t recall any recalls.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Believe me, as a connoisseur of the NHTSA recalls database, I can tell you that stuck carb/throttle-body cables caused regular recalls due to a multiplicity of failure modes (detailed in an earlier posting of mine here on ttac.)

  • avatar
    prosumer

    Audi faced something relatively similar in the past. A good article on this is here: http://www.examiner.com/x-37585-Austin-Audi-Examiner~y2010m2d5-Audis-Unintended-Acceleration

  • avatar
    psycosmyth

    Had the dealership check the Camry this morning. I had already identified the unit as a Denso model but I wanted to hear the tech explain the “fix” for the sticking issue. I was happy to hear that the fix for my car was what I had expected from the floormat recall. They plan to trim the pedal and cut out the carpet/padding under the pedal and install a filler plate. This is to provide safe space for the floormat in case it slips under the pedal. I can confirm that the pedal was lodged against the mat, it was quick wits that said “pull the pedal up” and prevented an accident. As for the CTSA pedals, I am wondering if there really is any problem at all. The number of US/Canada made Toyotas with the Denso pedal is greater than the media leads us to believe. I have contacted CTS and they are overwhelmed. I work for a major Toyota supplier and have never suspected the company of scapegoating to save face. I will continue to follow GOOD media such as this site. I am new here but I am very impressed at the great journalism I have read. Thank You!

  • avatar
    rrjmaier

    Hello,

    I hope my question doesn’t sound too stupid to you but as somebody who has rarely driven an automatic (and that was more then 15 years ago) I was wondering if one of you could clarify some thing for me.

    There are reports that cars (toyotas) have accelerated out of controll an crashed at high speed due to the accelertor pedal beeing stuck in full throttle.

    Why do these drivers not simply put the car in neutral which is easy with a manual transmission, but is this possible in a modern automatic ?
    Alternatively, turn the key and kill the engine (although that requies a level of clear headedness which i suspect some dont have in such circumstances).

    Also, are breakes not strong enough to decellerate a car even with engine at full throttle?

    Sometimes when I go through a deep puddle, or ford, I step hard on the accellerator and break at the same time tto heat up the disks to dry them off and I find that I can easily counteract the power generated by the engine although I have to admit that I only have a 75 kW engine ( and NO its ot a Toyota – its a Skoda Fabia).

    The discussions on the engineering problems in the pedal design and the images are very informative and authorative

    Thanks in advance for your comments.

    Regards
    Robert

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Yes, the solution is to put the transmission in neutral. It appears many have forgotten this, and some new shifter make this somewhat confusing.
      Yes, the brakes are more powerful, but should not be pumped repeatedly because it might drain the stored vacuum in the power brake booster. They should be applied once, and continuously.
      Yes, turn off engine. In some new cars, that can be confusing, like having to hold down on the start/stop button for more than three seconds.
       

  • avatar

    Take the plastic wear pieces and look at them under a powerful microscope. You are looking for smooth continuous plastic (good virgin plastic) or something that looks like the surface of the moon (made in china or re-molded or contaminated). The root cause of design failure may be contaminated plastic causing mechanical joint failure due to friction rather than -only- a bad design. Try around 1000x to see if the plastic is ‘pitted’.

  • avatar
    jkarren

    Has anyone driven a “fixed” Toyota yet? I wonder if there is any difference in the feel of the accelerator. Bringing in my 2010 Rav tomorrow for the new part…

  • avatar
    wartysea

    I’m a retired chief engineer who worked with fbw aircraft flight and engine controls. All were at least dual redundant for fault detection. These dbw sensors are not redundant therefore failure modes and effects are more critical.

    I now own two Toyotas both having Denso pedal assemblies. Based on the reported faults I’m glad they are not CTS.

  • avatar
    M. Report

    Way, way back in the Day, Henry Ford sent an engineer
    on a Junkyard survey, to see which parts of his cars
    broke most often; One part never broke, so Ford had it
    de-engineered. The more things change, the more it is
    the same old thing all over again.
    There is one place where one is _perfectly_ safe,
    but is cold, dark, and lonely there.

    P.S. If this had happened to a Government Motors design,
    would the claim be that the system had worked as designed ?

  • avatar
    zman

    I recently came across a website called wwww.safetyresearch.net and it covered an extensive research about Toyota vehicles going back as far as 2000 – 2010 that have has SUA (sudden unintended acceleration) all documented with the NHTSA.. They provided over a 1,000 cases of this problem on their PDF which is 180 pages long.
    This seems to be thorough research that Toyota should read and not ignore. It seems that when Toyota went to the ETC (electronic throttle control) in their cars they started having problems with the vehicles that were equipted with it. Unexplainable sudden unintended acceleration. Please everyone take the time to go to this website and view the findings there.
    Interestingly enough, I have owned two Totoya Camrys in the past. one was a 1984 Camry which I traded in for a used 1989 Toyota Camry in 1991. Both cars never had the acceleration problem. I traded in my 1989 Toyota Camry in December 2004 for a 2004 Chevy Aveo thinking it would be just as good as a Toyota. I was wrong. Good thing I purchased the extended warranty with zero deductible, it saved me a lot of repair cost in the long run, especially when the engine crashed a little about 56,000 miles. They put a refurbished engine in it.
    I now own a 2009 Toyota Camry Le that has cruise control on it. I will hesitate to use the cruise control in the future since it might be linked to some of the SUA problems mentioned in the PDF report from Safety Research..
    Please click on the link provided to go to the PDF. Thanks and I hope Toyota solves the problem od SUA forever like Volkswagen did in their vehicles. Here it is – http://www.safetyresearch.net/Library/ToyotaSUA020510FINAL.pdf

  • avatar
    K.T. Keller

    If this problem has been evident for 10 years, there is no excuse for this defect to continue; and Toyota needs to get its Japanese act together.
    If this has occurred this long, how could it be what Toyota is saying? Again, it sounds like a bug in their computer program running the ECM. I am sure there were few changes (if any) in the program since the emissions and OBD II hasn’t changed during this period. And with all the different suppliers over this period of time, it is hard to believe that this defect is related to carpets, or an accelerator pedal. Some of the comments mentioned relative to stopping a runaway “pedal to the metal” Toyota, by turning off the ignition, standing on the brakes, or shifting into neutral. It would be nice to hear what occurred after any of these things were done! This needs to be done to isolate or track down what is doing what!

  • avatar
    K.T. Keller

    Safetyresearch article is an excellent document that mentions a cost reduction in 2002 models as to the throttle position sensor. Looking at the graph of reported acceleration surges, the 2002 model showed a sky-rocketed incidence of problems. Seems to have continued after that time. Is Toyota deaf, dumb, and blind?

  • avatar
    JAQUEBAUER

    Gee, as the owner of a 2005 Prius, a 2009 Camry, and a 2010 Tacoma, I have been triple screwed by the Toy factory over this recall. Actually the Prius and Camry are great vehicles, but I have some trouble with the Tacoma, which is my vehicle. The gas and brake pedals on the Tacoma are too close together, hence when breaking my foot also depresses the accelerator, and when accelerating, the same foot is on the brake pedal. This is a major problem, that was not detected during my test drive around the dealers parking lot at idle speeds.
    This is a work truck, with the driver wearing work boots, not baby shoes. I would have thought the Toy engineers would have designed for that. (I dont have Frankenstein feet) Has any other Tacoma owners had the same problem as I ?

  • avatar
    Krimby

    This is outrageous! I just finished reading the safety research PDF. There is NO way this problem is mat related or pedal related, and yet they still are sticking by those explanations! Unbelievable! I am always so suprised when I find out I’m being lied to. I’ll take my 2007 Camry in when they notify me, but I know it’s a placebo. I have told my wife to remember the only thing that can save us is shifting into neutral. Slam the shifter forward and stand on the brakes. Good Lord!

  • avatar
    pjrfortin

    I just got off the phone with Rob, my toyota “case manager”. Wow, what a pile of poo these folks are shoveling. Toyota now says there are certain production runs of CTS pedals that are ok and certain production runs of CTS pedals that are not ok… really? This is toyota’s A game? I asked him how they were able to determine the particular production run my CTS pedal assembly and he said he did not know. I asked if there was a particular number, letter, or series of numbers/letters in the VIN that identified the particular production run of the CTS pedal… he said he didn’t have that info. (more poo) I asked him if he could get the info for me… he said no.

    So, I called my toyota dealer and asked if he knew of certain CTS pedals that were now deemed ok and others that are not and he said to his knowledge, all CTS pedals in the identified vehicles are part of the “sticky pedal” recall and he knew nothing of good vs. bad CTS pedals. Then he said something that threw me for a loop: Part of the “fix” toyots has schemed-up is to have techs in the field evaluate the recalled CTS pedal assemblies using “feeler guages” and the like to determine if the pedals are currently out of tolerances. If they are out of tolerances, they insert a shim of the appropriate thickness. If they decide the pedal is within tolerances, they do not do anything to it. Again, …realy? So now we are to understand that the vehicles toyota has identified with faulty CTS accelerator pedal assemblies are only to be given a “fix” when a tech in the service department of your local dealership says so? ….Really? Not to disparage the techs working hard day-in and day-out, but Toyota already identified the affected years and models with the defective parts didn’t they?

    This is the biggest pile of hot steamy fecal matter I have seen in a long while, save for the general condition of the US congress…. another topic for another blog. I digress. I wonder if any other folks out there are getting the same run around from toyota.

    BTW, Great website! I am happy to have found it. Keep up the good work!

  • avatar
    EvanD

    The master of this site, Paul Niedermeyer, has posted the service bulletin Toyota sent to its dealers. In it, they show that CTS pedals made in the middle of January and beyond do not require the shim. Of those that do, everyone does get a shim part that depends upon the feeler gauge gap. The service bulletin is at: http://images.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/Tech-Instructions-Preliminary-Posting-BIL.pdf .

  • avatar
    pjrfortin

    Thanks for the info Evan. I am still blown away that my dealer didn’t have the info to pass to me. Like I said, thankfully I have found this site. Makes my dealer look like a johnny-come-lateley, but at least I have the info now. BTW, can you tell me what the difference in the manufacturing is? Material composition? Were potential issues identified at that time and the “fix” quietly brought online? Makes you wonder…

  • avatar
    gardenfeever

    Do you think the reason the Feds are being so tough on Toyota is because they are the proud owners of GM and Chrysler? The media has not presented a balanced view of recalls conducted by the other manufacturers. I wonder how the Feds feel about the fact that Toyota employs a minimum of 200,000 Americans and adding them to the unemployed won’t help anyone.

    I don’t feel Toyota has handled this well from a PR stand but the media witch hunt is digusting!

  • avatar
    pjrfortin

    …Toyota employs witches now?!! Wow, this goes deeper than we ever imagined.

    This sort of thing can happen to any manufacturer at any given time, so I agree with Mr. Feever on that. But I think most people are just as disgusted when any mega-corporation, beit Ford, microsoft, or (insert name here) has worked into its master-plan an “acceptable” number of defects, mishaps, and even tragedies. I own my own small business and I would be out on my @$$ if I relied on bean counters, odds-makers, and overpriced lawyers to keep me in business… Then again, if it can work for Ford, Boeing, and yes Toyota, then maybe that IS the way to do business after all… Wait, maybe those guys are on to something here!

  • avatar
    EvanD

    pjrfortin: Since Toyota started using a redesigned CTS pedal last January and the shim fix came out within weeks, my guess is Toyota/CTS have been working on this problem for quite a while — way before the recall was announced. Paul Niedermeyer has evidence that Toyota changed the friction arm material once before in 2007 indicating that the stiction problem on the accelerator pedal is not new. (See: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/why-toyota-must-replace-flawed-cts-gas-pedal-with-superior-denso-pedal/ )

    Toyota says the new pedal and shim fix are both effective (and permanent) solutions to the stiction problem. They never specifically said the pedal uses a shim. My best guess is that some of the shapes and/or materials of the parts used in the new pedal were redesigned to eliminate stiction. (Using the shim as an additional part would just add cost.) So far, I haven’t read whether there is a different “feel” between the new pedal and the shimmed pedal.

  • avatar
    K.T. Keller

    It will be interesting to watch what will come out of this. I personally believe this fix is a joke and will further erode Toy’s credibility. I wonder if they will flash new firmware into the ECM while the vehicle is in the shop for the phony fix. I’ll say one thing about the old Chrysler Corp.; they never issued a phony recall fix to my knowledge.

  • avatar
    rockford_il

    Just read the Toyota PDF…good work in 2 Languages.

    Seems like lawyer bait to add these notes (if anything goes wrong after the “fix”).

    NOTE:
    Do not clean out any debris caused by wear; this may trap
    debris in the pedal causing future malfunctions.

    ACCELERATOR PEDAL HANDLING NOTES:
    • DO NOT drop: DO NOT reuse an accelerator pedal that has been dropped. Avoid vibration and shock. *To be performed only by a Licensed Technician.

  • avatar
    pjrfortin

    Hmmmm…. Does this mean the pedal needs to be replaced after a fender bender? How will I know if a “shock” to the delicate accelerator pedal was too traumatic?… I am just about to rip out the engine and computer brain of my wife’s camry and drop in a chevy small block with good ol’ carbeuration and connect a cable to it from my bottom-hinged, barefoot shaped, aftermarket accelerator pedal!! ARRGGHHH!!!

  • avatar
    K.T. Keller

    To the best of my knowledge there has never been a gas pedal (accelerator) problem causing a recall of this magnitude with the Big 3. My ’46 Dodge Pick-up with 217.76 cid flat-head SIX is extremely simple, gets excellent gas mileage and No stinking computer system to screw things up. We’ve gotten way too complex with autos, and with the EMP lurking in the future, everybody with the new stuff will stop and be stranded without warning.

  • avatar
    CATTALE

    Paul, I stumbled accross this site last week and learned more about the whole pedal thing in detail in 5 mintues than listening to the on-again-off-again Toyota corporation big wigs and national news. Thanks for the excellent photos, details, and blogs on this topic. My questions is this: IF THE “FIX” DOES NOT WORK AND THERE ARE MORE RUNAWAY INCIDENTS, WITH BOTH TYPE OF PEDALS DOES THAT POINT TO THE REAL CAUSE WHICH COULD BE THE COMPUTER ISSUE?
    Thanks to all who have contributed to this site. I have a 2009 Corolla with a Densco pedal and VIN# that starts with a “J” which is not on the recall list.

  • avatar
    pjrfortin

    I own a 63′ ford f100 292 y-block, a 68′ chevy G10 sportvan shorty painted up like the authentic mystery machine refitted w/ a 292 straight six, 60′ and 68′ beuhler turbocraft jet boats with chrysler 318′s… I agree, all pretty user friendly and easy to understand. Just like my bride. She likes the new stuff, hence the toyota camry… at least she did. The mystery machine is looking prettttty good lately! My stock is at an all time high, too! I think the toyota debacle could end up being a nice shot in the married arm after all. whooda thunk.

    Love this website and blog!

  • avatar
    jkarren

    You might want to read this: “Regulators Hired by Toyota Helped Halt Investigations” at Bloomberg:
    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=atXvi2msqPOM

  • avatar
    pjrfortin

    jkarren, Thanks for the linkto that compelling article. It seems to me that all these, so called “investigations” are focusing on the mechanical aspects of the isolated components. I have yet to hear or see any of these investigations discuss how they have tested or evaluated the computer control systems on these vehicles.

    Is there a way to do that? Can an independent agency or third party get into the grey matter of these piles of crap and see actual code and test parameters and variables? If not, then why? …Oh, let me guess… “Proprietary information is contained within the programming and its divulsion would give competitors an unfair advantage and illegal access to the patented software, or firmware , or freakin’ underware, for chrissake!”

    Sort of like saying “We, Toyota, have installed a mystical crystal orb that controls your car. So, only we, Toyota, can look into it and see if you, the lowly driver, has done something to piss Fujimooshoo, the God of Toyota safety, off… If you have had no problems, then Fujimooshoo is pleased. If you end up a smoking pile of twisted steel, then it is only because you angered Fujimooshoo and incurred his wrath!”

    I think Fujimooshoo actually owes me money, now that I think of it…

  • avatar
    K.T. Keller

    Any of you people on this blog will have to realize ONE MAJOR MATTER; when you buy a modern car with an “Engine Control Module” or engine control computer; you bought the modern car, YOU DID NOT BUY THE SOFTWARE! I think the majority of people do not realize this fact!
    The software (firmware) REMAINS the property of the auto manufacturer, even though the vehicle with the computer was sold.

  • avatar
    pjrfortin

    Ahhh, I see… The fujimooshoo force is strong with Obi Won Keller…

    Just making light of the posts, no offense intended. However, it is good to know. It does make sense that Toyota or any other “modern car” manufacturer would not want to include their mystical crystal orbs as part of the sale of the car. I am curious what other unknown things are going on with them… Does it record data? Is that data retreived by technicians at 30k, 60k 100k “scheduled” mainainance visits? Is that data transmitted and stored in a data base deep within the toyota death star? What info is recorded? was there somewhere in the fine print of the sales agreement when I purchased the camry that would explain this? Is the Evil Empire even legally obligated to disclose that type of info?

    OK, playing the star wars thing a bit heavy, but the questions still stand. Also, seems like a goldmine of an opportunity for aftermarket ECU’s to be manufactured, marketed and sold to folks who want nothing more than to return Toyotas crystal orb back to them. Also, there would be a visceral pleasure in ripping out a “company” brain and replacing it with completely “tweakable” brain that could be plugged into your own laptop.

    I think I’ll give the project to my fourteen year-old… He should have it ready for next weekend.

  • avatar
    zman

    Here is some more information that may get Toyota back in the graces with potential future buyers. I hope it pans out for people like myself that were on the recall list for my 2009 Toyota car.
    I hope they recall my car as well regarding this. I already went to the dealer and had the shim put in my pedal recently.

    see : http://blogs.cars.com/kickingtires/2010/02/toyota-to-add-brake-override-system-on-all-new-cars.html

    Toyota will roll out a new brake override system on all 2011 models, beginning with the redesigned 2011 Sienna minivan this month, followed by the 2011 Avalon sedan. In April, which is when the automaker begins building certain 2011 models, “the plan is to start upgrading all new Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles coming out of the plants with this upgrade,” spokesman Curt McAllister said. The brake override system cuts engine power and allows braking even if the accelerator pedal is depressed.

    While the system will be new for several Toyota models, a number of automakers have adopted brake override systems — some for as long as a decade — as a last-ditch measure against unintended acceleration. All Toyota hybrids already employ the system, Toyota says; the company says as part of its ongoing recall for floormat entrapment, which was announced in September 2009, it will install the brake override systems onto all model years of the Toyota Camry and Avalon and Lexus ES and IS models included in that recall. The company has not added the brake override system as part of its remedy for the 2.3 million vehicles recalled last month due to sticky accelerator pedals, and there have been “no discussions on upgrading [other] vehicles already on the road,” McAllister said.

    The 2011 Sienna minivan, which hits dealerships this month, is the first all-new model to include it standard. We’ve pulled together a Q&A below.

    Is there a specific date after which all Toyotas will have a brake override system?
    No. Rather, all 2011 models will have the system, Toyota spokesman David Lee told us. With the exception of the redesigned 2011 Sienna, which arrives this month, other 2011s should trickle onto dealer lots beginning in April. By late in the year, nearly all Toyota, Lexus and Scion models rolling off the factory line will be 2011 models — and thus include a brake override system.

    Will Toyota install the system on any 2010 or older models?
    No, except for the 2005-2010 Avalon, 2007-2010 Camry and Lexus ES, and 2006-2010 Lexus IS models under the current floormat recall. Although the retrofit is a software upgrade, there are no current plans to install it elsewhere — even among models under the sticking accelerator pedal recall. However, those vehicles “are under study at this point,” Lee said.

    How does Toyota’s brake override system work?
    It’s an electronic system that engages when both accelerator and brake pedals are depressed, then the system cuts engine power: “When the vehicle is moving and both the gas and brake pedal are pushed at the same time, this software forces the vehicle to respond to the brake only,” Toyota explains in its recall FAQ. Lee said it will work under all conditions — not just in extreme situations — so those who drive with a left foot on the brake pedal will have to learn not to do that.

    How widespread are brake override systems?
    They’re widespread but not universal. According to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, brake override systems — called “smart pedals” within the auto industry — are employed by Chrysler, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen/Audi and Nissan, although not all of those automakers’ cars have them. Hyundai is reportedly installing smart pedals across its entire lineup this month, and Ford plans to roll it out across its lineup, as well. General Motors installs it on certain models, too.

  • avatar
    K.T. Keller

    Just don’t let that “fourteen year old” get caught reverse engineering it. It could be devastating to YOUR pocketbook since he is a minor!

  • avatar
    MC-7 Rusty

    Some won’t like my simple solution to this problem—fix the basic design flaw of an electronic accelerator pedal–use a standard, proven, aircraft cable type, mechanically-connected throttle cable! Pitch the “drive-by-wire” b.s. electronic rheostat nonsense! KISS—Keep It Simple-Smart! The Prius should be renamed the “PRY-US”, as in, “they’ll have to PRY US out of it after it crashes!” I have a 2008 Toyota HILUX SRV 3.0-liter 4-cyl. (yes, it’s a big 3-liter, variable-vane-turbocharged, aftercooled FOUR-Banger DIESEL!) 4×4, four door “double cab” turbodiesel pickup. This true truck gets an awesome 35+ MPG on the highway at road speed! Lotsa torque and power(170+ horsepower). It ‘lugs back’ to nearly 1200 rpm before downshifting on grades, and keeps right on climbing steadily, even in overdrive. I got mine in Central America, and it resides in Arizona now, drawing looks and attention everywhere it goes. The Hilux looks so much better than the same class newer Tacoma or the over-rated Tundra, (and it comes with ALL the U.S.-mandated D.O.T safety equipment, too!); the factory hood scoop on the HILUX SRV is fully FUNCTIONAL, not FAKE! Why these awesome, clean-burning, ultra-efficient diesel HILUX trucks are not sold in the U.S. is because the “gas pig” V8s would never sell, with these smooth, quiet, very rugged turbodiesel HILUX trucks offered for sale as an available vehicle alternative! The rest of the world can buy Toyota Hilux turbodiesel trucks…and the U.S. gets STUCK with T-100s, “gas job” Tacomas and Sequoias! The Toyota Land Cruiser “PRADO” is the full luxury, 3.0-liter 4-cyl. turbodiesel-powered equivalent model and brother to the gasoline-only U.S. LEXUS(FYI, still a TOYOTA vehicle, just a LOT more expen$ive) and Toyota Sequoia SUV models! Now you know! Once you see and drive a newer model (2007-up) turbodiesel Hilux, you’ll want one for yourself! ;-)

  • avatar
    pjrfortin

    So, I wonder… Who exactly would know if I yanked an ECU from a vehicle and tinkered with it? I look at it this way: If Toyota or any other (explative) car manufacturer leaves “their” stuff in the car I just bought, then I say, finders-keepers. Nuff on that.

    When I was at Edwards AFB, I had a lot of friends that worked at NASA, Ames Dryden. They are always testing cool stuff! Anyhoo, They were putting mods on an F-18 for some sort of test and my friend told me that even if all the electronic crap goes kablooey, there are certain critical control surfaces that have a true mechanical connection to the pilot. He muttered something like “Its called, mech-mech, off-off… I don’t know for sure, but the point being, even in a car, there are certain functions that deserve redundancy -and not a redundant backup that is prone to the very same failures as the primary system. i.e. an electronic drive by wire system that is backed up by another electronic system. Seems like common sense, but someone a lot wiser than me once said of common sense :The name “common sense” is deceiving… It would be correct only if the sense was indeed common.” Looks like Toyota is helping to make that point.

  • avatar
    pjrfortin

    …Redundant backup…Is that redundant? hehe.

  • avatar
    MC-7 Rusty

    On the i-net some time ago was a revealing little story about an aircraft…a brand spanking new, zero-hour bird that was being delivered in Toulouse, France’s AirBus Industries factory, to an Arab airline. The flight crew accepting the aircraft for delivery did not follow the flight preparation and takeoff configuration settings instructions (hhmmm),and they TOTALLED this brand new AirBus by making several serious operational mistakes, without ever leaving the ground! The computers aboard the planes today control so may things…but you cannot always design for sheer stupidity. The AirBus was destroyed when it slammed into a large jet blast barrier at the factory, after the disabled onboard computer released the brakes, which had been holding the jet back due to improper/incorrect flap settings, with the four jet engine throttles wide open at full takeoff (“firewall”) power! The crew yanked the fuse that went to an onboard alarm which had sounded to notify them of the incorrect takeoff flap settings, etc! The photos shown say it all…the ruined AirBus jet’s forward fuselage broken up from the powerful impact. Betcha some flight crew folks don’t have rumps anymore, if they even lived. Tsk, tsk, tsk!! Toyota can easily go back to a throttle cable attached on the engine end to a TPS sensor quadrant mounted on the intake, just like they, and most others, have long done since the advent of modern integrated ECM engine maneagement/control systems. Cheap, easy and a far, far SUPERIOR “fix”! Let’s force them to design long-lost simplicity and rock-solid reliability into these new vehicles. Screw all the hyper-complicated, interdependant b.s. that makes these new cars such a major expense and headache to service and understand. Just my view!

  • avatar
    The7

    Today I discuss with a friend (both of us in EE) about the “friction parts” of the CTS pedal.
    The grooves and the shoes are made of “plastics” which is a very good insulator. If one piece of plastic is rubbed against another plastic, a very high static voltage will be generated ( concept of a well known high voltage generator).
    This static voltage could be the order of 10000V and it may migrate to the pedal input signal. As a consequence, the input of the ECU will see a “high voltage glitch” and WOT may occur (or the ECU goes “death and down” temporarily or permanently).

    To prevent this HV generation, the material of the grooves and/or the shoes should be conductive material (conductive plastic ?) and the postion (hall-effect) sensors be electrostatic shielded.

  • avatar

    The whole debate going on here about too-clever-by-half drive -by-magic automotive gear has been raging for some 10-15 years in the commercial aviation industry where the two contenders are:

    = AirBus, the control of whose planes has been largely the design creation of French software engineers who are exceedingly clever and who, in many ways, design the control logic with the attitude that they know best (and better than the pilot). All in all, their work has been impressive, but, as always, no one can think of everything, and there have been many cases of pilots being the exasperated to panicked captives of a design logic that forget something. Like the thrust reversers (having them deploy in midair can be fatal) that couldn’t be used until there’s weight on the landing gear….but when you land hot in a rainstorm, the brakes don’t work (hydroplaning), the plane won’t slow down, not enough weight ever shows up on the LG so the thrust reversers never were deployable and the plane ran off the end of the runway with the pilots cursing all the way. Or the case with a hideously bad down-draft, but the control logic wouldn’t allow the pilot to pull out enough because to do so would bend the wings, never mind that the alternative was a crash. Or Air France 447, whose control logic went insane when the pitot tubes froze up and told the central computer that there was no air speed whatsoever.

    = Boeing does it differently. Their design tells the pilot when it think things are wrong or very bad, but allows the pilots to override.

    Guess which plane I’d rather fly in?

    • 0 avatar
      PeteMoran

      @ SD

      Your Airbus generalisations do not fit these two Boeing examples;

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AeroPeru_Flight_603

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birgenair_Flight_301

      Plus a Boeing 777 that dived wildly off the West Australian coast en route to Singapore some years ago.

  • avatar
    pjrfortin

    … I dunno, a king air?

  • avatar
    pjrfortin

    …maybe a Jenny? how about a gulfstream?…

  • avatar
    pjrfortin

    …Twin Otter?

  • avatar
    pjrfortin

    … Twin Otter?

  • avatar

    Well, actually a Pilatus Porter, the closest thing to a flying 6×6. It was relative to one of them that the downburst pullup and flyout scenario was mentioned….the pilot was flying one of them over an Australian forrest region (maybe the Southeast?) in a thunderstorm…and flew out of downburst at 4-5Gs of pullup. He landed with a bent wing spar…and branches in the fixed landing gear…and the comment was that with an Airbus, the wings wouldn’t have been bent but the plane would have crashed.
    This controversy has been brewing for 20-30 years over in the risks of computing newsgroup…
    http://groups.google.com/group/comp.risks
    The index from the latest digest will give you an idea:
    UI fix freezes NYSE, affects 975 stocks
    False positives galore in SARs
    DC Metro – only kills average of 1 customer each 3 years
    GPS Control Software Glitch: NANU Issued (
    Radiation Offers New Cures, and Ways to Do Harm (David Hollman)
    Warning: Your Cell Phone May Be Hazardous to Your Health
    Driver watching laptop movie kills woman
    It depends on which bus you take
    Driving and walking through buildings
    Re: Teleportation via Skyhook
    Re: Extending TCP/IP into space

  • avatar
    MC-7 Rusty

    I like the little ‘Kitfox’! The ‘brain’ in that plane is between the pilot’s ears, where it belongs! Sweet and simple, rugged and fun to fly…pull back the power to idle, and kick the rudder all the way to the stop either way…it just settles and slips easily, without trying to drop a wing or go into a spin! Great 6 to 1 Vne to stall speed ratio. 36-gal optional fuel capacity and a 3.5 gph fuel burn rate at 90-knot cruise! What’s not to like? ;)

  • avatar
    K.T. Keller

    The problem is the obsession with the computer. It is doing too much these days and the complexity is killing the industry. In the old days, engineers were engineers that designed machines and structures with fundamentals such as physics and mathematics. Today we have “Computer Science” which is basically a keyboard puncher who uses goooooogle to find the phony wikipedia, and all answers found on the Internet are immediately God’s spoken word! Many of these people couldn’t add without a calculator, and they are now engineers! Bring back the teachings of math, physics, chemistry, and maybe the slide rule and stop this computer obsession in design. The Chevrolet Corvair was the first car to be designed with a computer (vacuum tubes), and it was finally proclaimed by Ralph Nader as “Unsafe at Any Speed”!

  • avatar
    pjrfortin

    To bring the discussion back to cars… I am not a Ludite; I don’t fear technology. What I fear is any corporation’s unnatural amoount of power stemming from excessive greed. My point: Cars during the first 65-70 or so years of production were mechanical things. If you had a set of mechanics tools, a little time, a lot of patience , and a decent set of troubleshooting skills, you could fix just about anything on/in your car. The golden ticket for manufacturers was to always find ever more clever ways to take that ability away from the owners and transfer it to the dealer. I mean, there is a reason that 70% of a dealership’s profits come from the service department and not the sales of new cars.

    Once the computer-age hit the automotive industry, this was finally a way for the manufacturers to really start winning the war for total owner dependence on them. I mean, if you are a company that produces cars, is it more profitable for any ol’ shade-tree mechanic to be able to fix it, or for that car to be sooooo complex that you have no other choice except for the dealership to fix it. I know, that question is rhetorical, but it adds to the dramatic effect!

    Now, there is nothing wrong with technology. We wouldn’t be having this great conversation without technology, but there is a basis of excessive greed and manipulation in which this gas pedal issue and nearly all other issues like it stem from. I don’t propose there will ever be a change in the way it all works. Greed always wins out over morality. -Always; it usually ends up just being a matter of time. Simply flip open a history book to verify it. But, I think there is a certain amount of peace-of-mind from being able to see it for what it is. At least for me.

    Maybe those Amish folks are on to something….

  • avatar
    vortex0606

    Electronic throttle control technology safety
    Toyota’s electronic throttle control system incorporates overlapping failsafe features that are linked to a number of sensors. If a problem occurs, the system shifts the engine to idling, or shuts it down completely. Toyota has conducted rigorous testing under extremes of electromagnetic interference, vibration and other adverse conditions, and that testing has conclusively verified that the system cannot accidentally induce acceleration.
    What about all the accidents and people who were killed tell them it can’t happen.

    Toyota has also commissioned an independent, third-party research organization to test its electronic throttle control system and it will release the findings of that testing as they become available.

    LOL can’t wait to see this test you can be assure it will be a fluffed edited version.

    Brake override system
    Toyota will add a brake override system to all future models worldwide. This will cut engine power when the accelerator and brake pedals are applied at the same time.
    GM and other auto makers have been doing this for years what took you so long Toyota this was in Engineering 101.

    On-board data recording
    Toyota will make more active use of on-board data recorders. In the event of a malfunction, these can provide information to support technical investigations and repairs.
    Again Engineering 101, just like your truck frames bending.

  • avatar
    EvanD

    Here’s a very interesting letter from the COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND COMMERCE of the House of Representatives to James Lentz of Toyota:

    http://energycommerce.house.gov/Press_111/20100222/lentz_letter_2010_2_22.pdf

    As you will see, they are very skeptical of the public information Toyota has released about sudden unexpected acceleration. The upcoming hearings should be very interesting.

  • avatar

    Regarding the CTS design, I wonder what is the process capability of the positioning of the knurled pivot? In addition, I would be curious as to whether the knurled pivot can move within the pedal side to side over time? If the knurled portion of the pivot comes in contact with either of the pivot bushings that could create pedal sticking.

  • avatar
    pungojohnny

    In January my 2003 Toyota 4Runner accelerator got stuck. I didn’t think much of it but the following week the media picked up on the issue and I started paying attention. In February I traded it in for a GMC.

    The 4Runner is not part of the recall. My real awakening was the hours that I spent on the NHTSA website reading through hundreds of complaints against the 4th generation of 4Runners that spannned the 2003 through 2009 model years. I was surprised about the number of unintended acceleration complaints that seemed to match the description of recalled vehicles, but somehow didn’t trigger a recall of the 4Runner.

    Watching Toyota’s response the past two months was my next clue. They exhibited classic patterns of denial, partial admission that a real issue existed, quickly followed by a big public apology and then let’s all put this behind us and “move forward” (so that profits are not adversely affected for too long). Well not so fast.

    Today we saw Toyota put on a song and dance in CA regarding the Prius and used classic lawyer tactics to try to damage the credibility of the driver. The guy may be a flake, I don’t know. What I do know is that I’ve seen no Toyota press conference on the other two unintended acceleration incidents from last week (New York and Indiana). The event with my 4Runner, the denial behavior of Toyota, the attack the driver mentality and the millions of dollars that Toyota is spending on happy warm advertising all compiled together create a huge red flag for me that SOMETHING STINKS.

    If you own a Toyota I strongly suggest that you visit the NHSTA and read all of the complaints against your vehicle. You can find out what model years your vehicle shares by reading Edmunds.com

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    Wow there are some Luddites here with short memories.

    Back in the day I remember driving along in a rent-a-car GM of some kind to find the accelerator CABLE was stuck. The term used to be called “binding”. Lube that cable people.

    People like to think that anything electronic is; i) MORE complicated and therefore ii) LESS reliable.

    The opposite is true, most especially for aircraft. Accidents are way down will miles travelled are way up. The difference is that the accidents seem weirder and MORE sensational but there are a LOT less of them. Example; pitot tubes, that Airbus AND Boeing handled some of the failure modes for these very badly.

    As someone who has worked in process control (software mostly) my entire career, the most grievous failure that I can’t understand is Toyota not combining available data; “Hey the guy is standing on the brake and accelerator – kill the engine power”.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    I meant to also say; great TTAC report guys!

  • avatar
    wmba

    I watched a two hour televised Transport Select Committee meeting of the Parliament of Canada last week, and a rebroadcast this past weekend. The meeting was to “roast” Toyota about unintended acceleration.

    The first and obvious thing I learned was that the various MPs on the committee were so ill-prepared that they had no idea that there was a difference between all out unintended acceleration on the one hand, and sticky pedals on the other. It’s a major point.

    Second, these MPs seemed to be deaf to the fact that, except for some 2010 Venzas, all weather floor mats sold by Toyota Canada were completely different from those sold in the USA. The Canadian floor mat is a floppy, supple affair, the US one a stiff-as-a board cheapie. The president of Toyota Canada showed them the difference. It did not sink in. All these elected types had their memory of US problems hard-wired into their brains, due to the usual parroting of US news sources by Canadian media outlets. The President of Toyota Canada might as well have been lecturing to ADD children.

    In Canada, the Dept of Transport cannot issue a recall directly. Under the current law, the manufacturer is responsible, perhaps under pressure from the government dept. So, much of the questioning involved trying to find out when Toyota knew about the sticky pedal problem, and why they hadn’t informed Transport Canada that they were working on a change to the specification, until just a couple of days before Toyota announced the recall in late January.

    Turns out that Toyota claims that they didn’t let Transport Canada know in October last year about the problem when they first heard about it, because they were evaluating the problem to see if it was valid, and then trying to engineer a fix, i.e. the shim. This is perfectly legal under Canadian law at the present, and where there is likely to be a change in the legislation. To whit, manufacturers will likely have to share information they receive from the field with Transport Canada, even if they are just evaluating whether there is a problem or not. Good idea.

    What is amazing is how convoluted a company structure Toyota has. Inabi, the President of Toyota’s North American Operations was not going to attend the hearings, because, get this, he isn’t responsible for Toyota Canada. Huh? Anyway, he did come and testify, and seemed a pretty cool guy.

    Furthermore Toyota is as hidebound as any government dept. If the local sales company receives reports of a problem from a customer or dealer, and deigns to investigate, the results are sent to an Engineering group in Japan. Every time. These “experts” decide whether there is a real problem or not, and whether anything will be done. The local sales company has no input to the matter other than the initial report.

    This is why Toyota is establishing yet a further vice presidency on quality assurance, and some Center or another in Michigan to evaluate field reports closer to the market, rather than sending them off exclusively to some anonymous engineering department in Japan. This is a big change, because the Japanese tend to trust themselves, rather than locals. I mean, the overall leader in Canada, Inihari (I think) was a total lightweight in the hearing, and probably not capable of successfully running a corner store. He was distinctly bettered by the President of Toyota Canada, Stephen Beatty, and not by a little bit. I think we’ve all heard how the Japanese put low-ranking types into CEO positions in their overseas operations, so that locals never become big execs in the hierarchy of the company. (Just like GM used to put people like Fritz in charge of their overseas ops so that the company line is observed everywhere).

    Interestingly, Toyota is so stultifyingly organized that neither they nor the MPs (not surprising) even mentioned the European recall of sticky CTS pedals starting in 2008. The MPs missed that one entirely, and could have legitimately roasted Toyota on the point. Toyota knew about CTS binding well before October 2009 when they claim to have started working on a fix. I’m not surprised that Toyota Canada didn’t know about it — they are as isolated as a competitive company from the machinations of Toyota Japan, based on what I heard.

    One last thing, Beatty said that CTS engineered the gas pedal entirely on their own to meet a specification provided by Toyota Japan. They were impressed with the design and quality, because it seemed like a very good piece compared to their current supplier. Just like the initial teardown here on TTAC, the CTS seemed superior. I know from reading 20 years ago, that a tiny company in Japan engineered the Corolla’s front disc brake assembly to a spec that only gave package dimension limitations, and energy absorption requirements. Toyota lets the supplier sweat the detail.

    Now, there were only 17 UA complaints to Transport Canada, once the usual chaff had been removed from the data (i.e. twits reporting), and only ONE that was real UA, a cable equipped 1996 Camry. There were five sticky pedal reports to Toyota that they had NOT informed Transport Canada about (and what the new legislation will likely change). Of the recently repaired cars, six complaints of not fixing the problem, and joint Toyota/Transport Canada said that five were of zero import, and one in particular was from a customer who did not understand that a cold engine runs at a fast idle.

    After all this, and watching Lahood from a month or so ago going on like some guy running for election, I don’t feel that these problems Toyota is facing are anything more than poor floor mats in the USA, and some few sticky CTS pedals. No electronic problems, just the usual idiotic drivers. Once you get past the grandstanding, rhetoric, leaping around for no obvious reason, belief in magic, and the other usual suspects, it’s misapplication of the pedal, folks.

    The much smaller number of problems in Canada are because the obviously dud reports from slow-witted drivers had been eliminated by Transport Canada. The result? One dud 1996 cable accelerator in a 1996 Camry.

    Color me unimpressed by all the media hype.

  • avatar
    EvanD

    wmba:

    Thank you for taking the time to give us a realistic assessment of the SUA situation in Canada.

    In the U.S., I believe that after stripping away all the extraneous information, the Fall 2009 “horrific flap” was initiated by the wrong “all weather” mat, that wasn’t properly anchored, in a Lexus ES-350 (San Diego case). Once in the limelight and pressured to investigate more, Toyota revealed that stiction in some CTS pedals that didn’t behave properly were a concern. To my knowledge, there have been no documented reports of SUA due only to the sticky pedal.

    In 2007 NHTSA warned Toyota about a “potential” floor mat entrapment problem which was attributed to unsecured all-weather floor mats and a relatively small number of vehicles were recalled to replace the mats. By 2009, over 20 more deaths were linked to SUA and unsecured floor mats of any type were believed to be the cause. (See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/18/AR2010031805376.html .)

    From what I know, Toyota is not alone. It has more SUA reports per vehicle than other auto companies in the U.S. but Ford was only a few percent behind (~40 vs ~35) during the same period of time. The cause for Toyota, as asserted by NHTSA, appears to be the pedal-to-floor clearance and failure to secure Toyota supplied mats. After-market mats represent more of a risk on some Toyota cars than others because of the clearance problem and this plus the possibility of not securing Toyota mats caused the entrapment recall. In the case of the pedal recall, Toyota self-admitted a design flaw and agreed to fix it with the shim even though there’s no accident data attributed only to the CTS pedal.

    My 2010 Avalon has been repaired and I’m satisfied with the safety status of the recall. The pedal with the shim “feels” OK to me and the sawed-off pedal surface is not noticeable. It doesn’t look great but it’s not something you normally glance at so it’s purely a cosmetic concern. The best part of the recall is that I now have the brake override modification. The latter is a powerful peace-of-mind issue in case one of many parts in the throttle system might fail.

    My engineering expertise was in hardware design for large computers at a very large computer company. One of my responsibilities was electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) design so I know what Toyota has gone through to test their ECU. I also worked directly with Japanese engineers, as a partner, and I know they’re competent and very thorough. Consequently, I accept Toyota’s word when they say they have fully tested the ECU and there is no known problem,

    My guess is that Toyota has addressed SUA sufficiently and once the media tires of the story, Toyota will be left with the time consuming job of rebuilding their brand because they didn’t idiot proof their cars against unsecured mats and unauthorized mats. (I have no direct knowledge but overly thick and rigid Toyota all-weather mats could have been a true design error.) It’s an Audi redux that will never happen again at Toyota.

    My only remaining concern is: did Toyota truly relax quality as they grew larger and will my new car fail more often than my previous three Toyotas? Or did they just “fall on their sword” and exhibit contrition as the Japanese are apt to do when they’re in trouble? Only time will tell!

  • avatar
    vortex0606

    I am so sick of people like the person who commented above. Toyota has an issue with their vehicles that is a safety related issue and it needs to be fixed. Did the guy who commented above actually read the analysis done in this Blog? If so I guess he did not understand it too well because he is still living under the floor mat with Toyota. I work for one of the automakers and know that we would never try and ignore this issue at ANY cost!!!!

  • avatar
    S.A.E.

    Paul,,,after looking over most of the comments on TTAC it seems obvious to me that few of you understand what the shim does. Part of this is due to incorrect & misleading drawings made by Toyota ( and the A.P.). Installing the shim ELIMINATES the contact between the frictional elements which therefore gets rid of any “sticking” problem and it also ELIMINATES their frictional effects! That is why there are reports of “soft” pedal operation. I will try to explain the pedal operation… the pedal arm pushes against the spring which pushes against the rocker arm, the spring force is reacted at the other end by contact of the friction surfaces which results in drag when the pedal arm moves. When a thick shim is inserted the spring will bottom-out the rocker arm ON THE SHIM and the friction pads will not be in contact! A thin shim would of course have no effect; it’s an on or off situation…


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