Toyota Recall — it is about time!!

What is the matter with Toyota? Their cars have a serious problem and it is much worse than they are telling the public.

In the Fall of 2006 I rented a Toyota sedan from Hertz and drove that car across country, from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic coast. TWICE that car had what is now being called unintended accelerations. The first time it happen I was stopped and my foot was on the break and the car suddenly started to charge forward. I held my foot firmly on the break and put the transmission into neutral. This happened in Nebraska in a place where there was no traffic. What it felt like to me was the car suddenly jumping into speed control, like when starting out after stopping and if you put the car click on resume the car will charge ahead. That’s what it felt like.

For then on when I stopped I kept my foot firmly on the break and my hand on the gear shift knob. Which was a wise decision because in downtown Paducah, Kentucky it happened again. This time there was traffic. Suddenly the car started to lurched forward. Something in the electronics CLICKED — as if the resume on the speed control was activated. I heard the click and felt the response of the car. My foot was on the break pedal and I pushed as hard as I could and shoved the car out of gear. Even with my foot on the break ready to respond to the unintended acceleration the car went forward about two feet, into the cross walk. Thankfully no one was in front of the car at that moment.This was no slow acceleration or creeping forward that cars with automatic transmissions do. The car would have accelerated very fast, certainly far too fast for a busy intersection. This was the strangest experience I’ve ever had.

To this day I can recall in detail where I was and traffic and the feeling of that car almost out of control, had I not been ready to respond as I did. I’ve heard that same clicking sound in my Honda, when I press the resume button of the cruise control often I can hear an electronic “click” sound. The Honda has never had an unintended acceleration.

The rest of the trip to North Carolina was uneventful — but I never trusted that car.When I turned the car into the Hertz rental lot I made sure to tell the attendant about the flaw in this car. I had assumed that was a unique problem with this particular car. I’ve always wondered if it happened again to someone else.

Now I’ve learned that this problem been happening for years and that people have died. The two “causes” that Toyota has found are pure BS. They claim that the floor mat get stuck or that the pedal is faulty. NOPE. That is not what happened with the car I was driving, because both times this happened I heard the click of the electronics. I didn’t have the radio on and I could hear the sounds of the car. My foot was on the break and the car started moving forward — FAST — except that I was able to stop the forward motion by throwing the car into neutral and pressing the brake pedal as hard as I could. (Note — the time the unintended acceleration happened in Kentucky the car was started a few blocks from where the incident happened,  after having been parked for two hours. At no time was the cruise control activated, because of the frequent stop signs and stop lights and the slow in town speed. This is a case of the car operating on its own, without any input from me. Since this car had malfunctioned before I was ready for a repeat.)

In my opinion the problem is one of the toughest to diagnose — it is an intermittent problem that happens randomly. I drove that particular car for about 4,000 miles and only twice did the unintended acceleration happen.

Oh — also my dad was a top jet aircraft mechanic and he worked family cars as well. You learn about sounds that cars make when your dad is the mechanic. Also my dad was a flight Engineer in the Navy and he also worked on the plane he flew in. His crew’s lives depended on his mechanical ability. The plane that he maintained for years is now in a museum on a Navy Base in the San Francisco Bay Area.

On the return trip I wasn’t driving a Toyota.

I wonder how many other oral reports have been discounted by car lot attendants and others because no one knew that this was a wide spread problem with Toyotas?

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2 Responses

  1. Update from cnet.com
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-13924_3-10446502-64.html?tag=nl.e404

    The Prius also came under scrutiny this week after Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak claimed that he had been experiencing sudden acceleration in his 2010 Prius because of an alleged “software” glitch.

    Wozniak’s claim, valid or not, underscores questions about Toyota’s electronic systems raised by less-famous consumers. In a well-documented case detailed in a petition to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), Jordan Ziprin claims that, in 2005, when backing out of a driveway near his home in Phoenix, his 2002 Toyota Camry XLE suddenly accelerated and slammed into a utility box.

    He did not have his foot on the gas pedal and the car accelerated under its own accord, Ziprin claims. This appears to be an electronic glitch: an issue very different from the mechanical defects cited in the accelerator pedal cases that Toyota is trying to address now with its recall.

    “The problem began with 2002 Toyota and Lexus vehicles,” Ziprin said in a phone interview. “That was the year that Toyota introduced electronic throttle control,” he said. (Toyota introduced it selectively prior to 2002, but first used it on a large scale in 2002.) Reports of unintended acceleration jumped after drive by wire systems were adopted, according to a review by the Los Angeles Times of thousands of consumer complaints filed with the NHTSA.

    Toyota, at least publicly, is saying that it has found no evidence of electronic problems. “We have not found any evidence of an electronic problem that would have led to unwanted acceleration,” said John Hanson, national manager of environmental safety and quality in Toyota’s communications group. “That doesn’t mean that we’ve written it off. We are aggressively investigating any claims.”

  2. Here’s another case —
    New Evidence of Runaway Toyotas May Help Imprisoned Camry Owner

    http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/RunawayToyotas/toyota-acceleration-problems-new-evidence-imprisoned-minnesota-toyota-camry-owner/story?id=9903455&page=2

    This man is in jail and the criminal may be the car.

    Anyone who has the frightening experience of the car seemly acting without any action by the driver to accelerate the car (unintended acceleration) — is damned lucky to have escaped unharmed.

    My cure for the car’s computer trying to take over was to reboot the computer — the ignition key was turned off and then on. The first time this happened I was out in the middle of nowhere and no cars nor pedestrians were in sight.

    The second time this happened — I had rehearsed what I would do if the car’s computer tried to take over. So I acted on my plan — and put the car in Neutral plus turned off the key in the ignition and restarted the car.

    How awful for the man (Lee) in this story:

    The family of the people killed in the accident have joined in the effort to re-examine the evidence and seek Lee’s freedom.

    “I was angry for a moment, but when I came to my senses and thought about it, I didn’t understand it,” said Quincy Adams whose son and grandson were among those killed. “I can’t believe that a guy with his pregnant wife, a kid in a car seat, his father-in-law and a brother-in-law in the car, would purposely be speeding up this ramp like that,” said Bridgette Trice, whose seven-year old daughter later died from injuries suffered in the accident.

    She said the news stories about Toyota’s problems led her to reconsider what happened in the accident that killed her daughter.

    “Maybe there is something to what Mr. Lee said was going on with him in his car, that he couldn’t stop, that he tried his hardest, and the brakes, that his car wouldn’t stop,” said Ms. Trice.

    “He’s never wavered on his story that his brakes were bad,” she added.

    “Now that we know what we know, I promise you there are jurors out there, in the criminal case, that are just shaking their heads saying finally something makes sense,” said Bob Hilliard, a lawyer representing the family of the people killed in the accident.

    Hilliard says Toyota has many questions to answer about this case.

    “I believe that Toyota sat on its hands and watched as a man who did not have any conscious part of this accident was tried in a criminal court and sent to jail for eight years,” said Hilliard.

    I can’t help but wonder if that rented car misbehaved again?

    When my Toyota rental car started to accelerate while both feet were on the BRAKE peddle, the acceleration was so strong that the brakes would not have stopped or over ridden the force of acceleration WITHOUT shoving the gear shift into neutral AND turning off the ignition key.

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