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EARLY TESTS PIN TOYOTA ACCIDENTS ON DRIVERS

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010
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The U.S. Department of Transportation has analyzed dozens of data recorders from Toyota vehicles involved in accidents blamed on sudden acceleration and found that the throttles were wide open and the brakes weren’t engaged at the time of the crash.
driver error

According to the Wall Street Journal, the early results suggest that some drivers who said their Toyotas and Lexuses surged out of control were mistakenly flooring the accelerator when they intended to jam on the brakes. The findings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) involve a sample of the reports in which a driver of a Toyota vehicle said the brakes were depressed but failed to stop the car from accelerating and ultimately crashing.

The findings appear to support Toyota’s position that sudden-acceleration reports involving its vehicles weren’t caused by electronic glitches in computer-controlled throttle systems, as some safety advocates and plaintiffs’ attorneys have alleged.

The data recorders analyzed by NHTSA were selected by the agency, not Toyota, based on complaints the drivers had filed with the government. Toyota hasn’t been involved in interpreting the data.

U.S. House Committee Has May 6 Hearing To Further Examine Toyota And Unintended Acceleration

Monday, April 19th, 2010
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The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations has scheduled a May 6 hearing “to further examine Toyota’s inquiry into potential electronic causes of sudden unintended acceleration.”  

In preparation for the hearing, Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and subcommittee Chairman Bart Stupak, D-Mich., sent letters Friday to Jim Lentz, president/COO of Toyota Motor Sales, and Paul Johnson, president/CEO of Exponent, Inc., seeking additional information about Exponent’s work for Toyota.

Toyota retained Exponent, a leading engineering and scientific consulting firm, in December 2009 to help the company evaluate reports of unintended acceleration in Toyota and Lexus vehicles equipped with electronic throttle control systems. Exponent’s preliminary work showed no problems with the throttles.

Lentz testified before the same subcommittee Feb. 23. Other Toyota executives testified before a different House panel Feb. 24 and a Senate committee March 2.

Toyota said in a statement Friday it was “more than willing to meet with the committee and discuss the ongoing testing related to our electronic throttle control system, as well as the steps we are taking to improve our quality assurance processes. Nothing is more important to us than the safety and reliability of the vehicles our customers drive.”

NEW TOYOTA RECALL WEBSITE AIDS CONSUMERS

Friday, January 29th, 2010
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A new website dedicated to providing update information about the most recent Toyota recall has united Toyota owners from all over the country who are looking for answers to many of their questions. toyota-floor-mat-recall-2-copy

 With millions of Toyota vehicles recently recalled, Toyota owners are turning to this website to find Toyota recall update answers to their questions and express their feelings and opinions with fellow consumers.

The dedicated Toyota recall website, http://www.toyotarecall.org, is an independent, consumer to consumer website that is not affiliated with Toyota or the government. It was launched as a way to collect the massive amount of questions and answers that exist online and bring it all to one simple destination for consumers.

The website provides an outlet for Toyota owners through various forums through which consumers can share their comments, opinions and experiences. Current forums being discussed now include:

One of the most active areas of the Toyota recall update website is the Q&A section where an outpouring of emotions and frustration has been seen.

One consumer wrote in, “Me and my family’s lives are not worth it. In the interest of public safety, none of these cars should even be on the road. The question is whether Toyota is going to do the right thing and allow people out of their contract or is it still going to stonewall everyone and claim that they’re going to work it out.”

Another consumer posed the question, “What is a consumer to do when the dealerships tells me that a letter will be sent out sometime next week/next month to address this problem? Do we keep driving this death trap?”

The website demonstrates visible anger and frustration on the parts of millions of Toyota owners.  Toyota owners who would like to share any information they have received can take part in the online forums by visiting http://www.toyotarecall.org/

Consumers who would like information from Toyota directly can call the official Toyota Customer Care phone number at 1-800-331-4331.

TOYOTA TAKES PRECAUTIONS,REPLACING 4 MILLION ACCELERATOR PEDALS

Thursday, November 26th, 2009
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Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday it will take precautions and replace accelerator pedals on about 4 million recalled vehicles in the United States because the pedals could get stuck in the floor mats.

As a temporary step, Toyota will have dealers shorten the length of the gas pedals beginning in January while the company develops replacement pedals for their vehicles, the Transportation Department and Toyota said. New pedals will be available beginning in April, and some vehicles will have brake override systems installed as a precaution.”The safety of our owners and the public is our utmost concern and Toyota has and will continue to thoroughly investigate and take appropriate measures to address any defect trends that are identified,” Toyota said in a statement.

The recall includes 3.8 million vehicles, including the 2007-10 model year Camry, 2005-10 Toyota Avalon, 2004-09 Prius, 2005-10 Toyota Tacoma, 2007-10 Toyota Tundra, 2007-10 Lexus ES350 and 2006-10 Lexus IS250/350. Toyota officials said about 4 million vehicles would be covered, including new cars and trucks sold since September and others manufactured since the recall was announced.

Toyota spokesman Irv Miller said company investigators found pedal entrapment to be the major issue and the company is “very, very confident that we have addressed this issue.” Miller said Toyota has found “no reason to believe that there is a problem with the electronic control systems.”

The recall involving the accelerators was Toyota’s largest in the U.S. It was prompted by a high-speed crash in August involving a 2009 Lexus ES350 that killed a California Highway Patrol officer and three members of his family near San Diego. The Lexus hit speeds exceeding 120 mph, struck a sport utility vehicle, launched off an embankment, rolled several times and burst into flames.

Investigators with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined that an aftermarket rubber all-weather floor mat found in the wreckage was slightly longer than the mat that belonged in the vehicle, and could have snared or covered the accelerator pedal. It is also very probable that the driver was unfamiliar with the start/stop button technology and did not know how to shut the engine off.

In Japan, Toyota President Akio Toyoda called the fatal crash “extremely regrettable” and offered his “deepest condolences” to the California family.

To fix the problem, Toyota and the government said dealers will shorten the length of the accelerator pedal on the recalled vehicles and in some cases remove foam from beneath the carpeting near the pedal to increase the space between the pedal and the floor. They said owners of the ES350, Camry and Avalon would be the first to receive notification because the vehicles are believed to have the highest risk for pedal entrapment.

Toyota plans to install a brake override system on the Camry, Avalon and Lexus ES350, IS350 and IS250 models as an “extra measure of confidence,” Toyota and NHTSA said. The brake override system, commonly called a “smart brake,” will ensure the vehicle will stop if both the brake and the accelerator pedals are applied simultaneously.

Toyota also plans to make the brake override system standard equipment throughout the Toyota and Lexus lineup starting with January 2010 production of the ES350 and Camry. Most new models will get the equipment by the end of 2010.

Dealers will be instructed on how to modify the pedals before the end of the year and will begin shortening the accelerators in 2010. New replacement pedals are expected to be available for some models beginning in April and will be provided even if the vehicles have already received a modified pedal under the recall.

If a vehicle accelerator pedal becomes stuck and a driver can’t dislodge it, Toyota advises drivers to press on the brake with both feet and then shift the vehicle into neutral, which will disengage the transmission. The automaker says drivers should continue braking until the vehicle comes to a stop.

A driver can also try shutting off the engine or turning the key to the “ACC” position on the ignition. Drivers will not lose control of the steering or the brakes. But once the vehicle is turned off the driver won’t have the benefit of power brakes or power steering. For vehicles that have a start/stop button for the engine, drivers are advised to hold the button for three seconds to turn it off.

For more information, owners can contact Toyota at 800-331-4331 or the NHTSA hot line at 888-327-4236.

 

2010 IIHS Top Safety Pick Awards,Just Part Of A Story That Smells

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009
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On November 18, 2009, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) issued a news release headlined: “27 Winners of 2010 Top Safety Pick Award.” Within the release, IIHS states: “Missing the mark: Not a single model from the world’s biggest automaker by sales is represented among this year’s winners. Toyota and its Lexus and Scion subsidiaries had a strong showing in 2009 with 11 winners but were shut out for 2010.” How can this be?
 
Well, This is the first year IIHS has included its own roof strength tests, which exceed federal standards, for TSP consideration. All Toyota vehicles meet or exceed Federal Safety Standards for frontal and side impact, roof crush resistance and rollover protection. Yet for IIHS’ roof tests only three Toyota vehicles out of 38 Toyota, Lexus and Scion models were tested.
 
Toyota is confident its vehicles are among the safest on the road today and is committed to the highest levels of vehicle safety and quality.
 
In 2009, Toyota won more IIHS Top Safety Pick (TSP) awards than any other manufacturer. Toyota continues to improve vehicle passive and active safety, including improvement of past winners of IIHS TSP.
 
IIHS’ statement that Toyota was shut out for 2010 is extreme, disturbing, and very misleading! There are 38 Toyota, Lexus and Scion models, and yet, IIHS only tested three for roof strength: Camry, RAV4 and Yaris… I have to say it, with all the domestic bailouts and government control agendas in Washington presently this really smells…
 
 
While passive collision protection is very important, Toyota also provides an array of active, passive, pre-collision and collision avoidance features. The “Star Safety System” is standard equipment on all Toyota and Lexus models.
 
This article writer owns a number of Toyota vehicles mostly older and they are the most reliable trouble free automobiles I’ve owned. Also, recently while a passenger in a new Toyota I experienced a head-on collision caused by another motorist. The accident impact occurred at 50 M.P.H and the Toyota saved my life. All of the standard engineered safety features, The Star Safety System, Frame Tailored Blanks, and Crumple Zones went into action as designed preventing the damage impact from penetrating the cabin area; If only all victims  of this type of accident could be inside a Toyota….
 
The Insurance Institute’s ratings are just one of many vehicle safety and quality metrics. They do not parallel this writer’s personal experiences.

FLOOR MAT RECALL: A POSITIVE FOR TOYOTA BRAND

Thursday, October 1st, 2009
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Toyota issued a recall, instructing 3.8 million vehicle owners to take the floor mats out of their cars, trucks and SUVs.

Offcially that is a recall, but it’s more of an act out of Responsible Concern for Human Safety and a Positive for the Toyota Brand.

“Sudden Acceleration” is the reason. It turns out there have been a few cases of people suddenly accelerating out of control with some fatal consequences because the mat got caught up in the accelerator pedal.

“Sudden Acceleration” is a scary terrible phrase in the auto industry. Worse than “gas taxes” to American drivers. Or “Death panels” to people in the health care reform debate.

Audi took a beating in the late 1980s and 90s after CBS’s Sixty Minutes gave a spotlight to some trial lawyers whose clients had claimed “sudden acceleration” was to blame for some accidents. Audi issued denials. But the story dragged on. Investigations were done. But there was never any finding that a design or engineering flaw in an Audi was to blame. Yet, enormous damage was done to Audi sales and the brand. It has only been in the last five years or so that people have let the false charges of sudden acceleration drift into the archives of their memories.

Today, Audi vehicles are world class competitors to Mercedes, BMW and Lexus worldwide.

The last thing the company needed to do in this sales challenged economy was deny any responsibility. And easy for them, all they have to do is tell the owners to take the factory issued mats out of the vehicles.

Most People have to straighten out the mats in their cars from time to time because they ride up into the pedal area. It’s common sense. But assuming common sense is wide spread is a dangerous thing to do.

Now, the search goes on to see what company has the smartest mat design that prevents the problem. Then, let every automaker copy that good design, eh?

Any suggestions?

Excerpts from David Kiley

 

TOYOTA SAFETY…LOOSE FLOOR MATS SPUR 3.8M VEHICLE RECALL

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009
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Toyota to recall 3.8M vehicles over loose floor mats that could cause sticking accelerator

Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday it will recall 3.8 million vehicles in the United States, the company’s largest-ever U.S. recall, to address problems with a removable floor mat that could cause accelerators to get stuck and lead to a crash.

This Safety Recall will involve popular models such as the Toyota Camry, the top-selling passenger car in America, and the Toyota Prius, the best-selling gas-electric hybrid.

Toyota said it was still working with officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to find a remedy to fix the problem and said owners could be notified about the recall as early as next week. A Toyota spokesman said until the company finds a fix, owners should take out the removable floor mat on the driver’s side and not replace it.

“A stuck open accelerator pedal may result in very high vehicle speeds and make it difficult to stop a vehicle, which could cause a crash, serious injury or death,” Toyota Officials have said.

NHTSA said it had received reports of 102 incidents in which the accelerator may have become stuck on the Toyota vehicles involved. It was unclear how many led to crashes but the inquiry was prompted by a highspeed crash in August in California of a Lexus barreling out of control. As the vehicle hit speeds exceeding 120 mph, family members made a frantic 911 call and said the accelerator was stuck and they couldn’t stop the vehicle.

It is strongly urged that owners of these vehicles should remove mats or other obstacles that could lead to unintended acceleration.

The Recall will affect 2007-2010 model year Toyota Camry, 2005-2010 Toyota Avalon, 2004-2009 Toyota Prius, 2005-2010 Tacoma, 2007-2010 Toyota Tundra, 2007-2010 Lexus ES350 and 2006-2010 Lexus IS250 and IS350.

Toyota warned owners that if they think their vehicle is accelerating out of control, they should check to see whether their floor mat is under the pedal. If a driver can’t remove the floor mat, Toyota advises drivers to

  1. Step on the brake pedal with both feet until the vehicle slows and…
  2. Then try to put it into neutral and…
  3. Switch the ignition to accessory power.

For vehicles with engine start/stop buttons, Toyota said the engine can be shut off by holding the button down for three seconds.

In the August incident close to San Diego, the fiery crash of a 2009 Lexus ES 350 killed California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor, 45, and three members of his family on State Route 125 in Santee. The runaway car was traveling at more than 120 mph when it hit a sport utility vehicle, launched off an embankment, rolled several times and burst into flames. One of the family members called police about a minute before the crash to report the vehicle had no brakes and the accelerator was stuck. The call ended with someone telling people in the car to hold on and pray, followed by a woman’s scream.

NHTSA investigators determined that a rubber all-weather floor mat found in the wreckage was slightly longer than the mat that belonged in the vehicle, something that could have snared or covered the accelerator pedal.

 A final report had not yet been submitted in the California case.

“We don’t know what the actual cause was of that accident other than preliminary reports that have been published so it’s impossible for us to comment on that particular incident,” the nhtsa said.

In mid-September, Toyota ordered 1,400 Toyota and Lexus dealers nationwide to ensure that each new, used and loaner vehicles had the proper floor mats and that the mats were properly secured.

In September 2007, Toyota recalled an accessory all-weather floor mat sold for use in some 2007 and 2008 model year Lexus ES 350 and Toyota Camry vehicles because of similar problems.

For more information, consumers can contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s hotline at (888) 327-4236, Toyota at (800) 331-4331 or Lexus at (800) 255-3987.