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Smith's testimony on Toyota acceleration glitch
Old 02-23-2010, 08:50 PM   #1
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Smith's testimony on Toyota acceleration glitch

I'm sure most of you have heard Mrs. Smith's testimony today. I have no doubt that she actually did experience a malfunction on her vehicle. But I'm inclined to think that she exaggerated the story greatly.

- I don't believe Toyota has implemented "shift by wire for the transmission" on the vehicles with the reported problem. If I'm right, then she must be making up story about shifting into all gears including reverse.

- She was accelerating up to 100mph with no control whatsoever, yet she found time to call her husband? That's pretty hard to swallow.

- I watch the BBC TV coverage of her testimony twice and didn't not hear her say anything about applying the brake! Wouldn't that be the first thing one does when a vehicle is going faster than desired?

What did I miss?

Sam
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Old 02-23-2010, 09:01 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam View Post
I'm sure most of you have heard Mrs. Smith's testimony today. I have no doubt that she actually did experience a malfunction on her vehicle. But I'm inclined to think that she exaggerated the story greatly.

- I don't believe Toyota has implemented "shift by wire for the transmission" on the vehicles with the reported problem. If I'm right, then she must be making up story about shifting into all gears including reverse.

- She was accelerating up to 100mph with no control whatsoever, yet she found time to call her husband? That's pretty hard to swallow.

- I watch the BBC TV coverage of her testimony twice and didn't not hear her say anything about applying the brake! Wouldn't that be the first thing one does when a vehicle is going faster than desired?

What did I miss?

Sam
I thought I heard her say "she had both feet on the brake"---Also, I thought a sure fire way to stop the car would be to shift it into reverse. There should have been a lot of banging and clashing of metal. Slam it into park, turn the key off, emergency brake. I can't believe the car did not respond to these actions.
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Old 02-23-2010, 09:08 PM   #3
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I heard it too and her testimony was very compelling. You bring up some good points. Thanks for this. You have given me pause to think this issue through a bit more before forming an opinion.
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Old 02-23-2010, 09:22 PM   #4
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I thought I heard her say "she had both feet on the brake"
You might be right. The BBC TV News coverage I watched must have skipped that portion.

So did she try the emergency brake?
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Old 02-23-2010, 09:22 PM   #5
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I thought I heard her say "she had both feet on the brake"---Also, I thought a sure fire way to stop the car would be to shift it into reverse. There should have been a lot of banging and clashing of metal. Slam it into park, turn the key off, emergency brake. I can't believe the car did not respond to these actions.
I suspect panic set in and her recollections probably don't match actual events. There was a sort of similar incident with MIL last August. She was out with several of DW's family and she lost control of her electric chair which "accelerated" and crashed into a wall causing her to break her ankle. She said it took off and nothing she did would stop it. DW's family said they tested it immediately after, many times, and in their tests every thing they tried caused it to stop immediately. (it only has a top speed of 5mph, but with MIL's bad bones, was all it took break the ankle).

Also, we have owned 2 vehicles that had throttles that jammed open - one in 1979 and the other in 1984. The first was a problem with the throttle cable and the 2nd with a faulty sensor. The jammed throttle in each car happened multiple times with both DW and myself and although scary when it happens we were always able to overcome the issue by stepping hard on the brake. Sure, the stopping distance is reduced even when turning off the engine (loss of power assistance, but the brakes still work).
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Old 02-23-2010, 09:24 PM   #6
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I did not believe her testimony. The only way I could imagine this to be possible, would be if accelerator jammed and at the very same moment, coincidently the gear shift lever became completely unattached.

I suppose that is possible, but she also did not seem like a very believable person to me.

Like Alan, I had a problem with a jammed accelerator in 1980 (give or take a year or two). In that incident, it was a Dodge van. However it didn't seem to affect the gear shift and it didn't cause me to wreck the van.
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Old 02-23-2010, 09:28 PM   #7
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Most Lexus cars these days come with a key-less push button starter switch (the car reads an IC chip in the key fob in your pocket). I wonder if this is a situation of "everything fails at once" including the push-buttion start-stop switch....nah, I doubt it.

Full disclosure: I currently drive a Lexus IS250, and have previously had 2 ES300s since 2001. Nary a whiff of any problem, of any kind with all three of them. The ES did not have the push button start-stop switch, but the IS does have it.

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Old 02-23-2010, 09:31 PM   #8
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Most Lexus cars these days come with a key-less push button starter switch (the car reads an IC chip in the key fob in your pocket). I wonder if this is a situation of "everything fails at once" including the push-buttion start-stop switch....nah, I doubt it.

Full disclosure: I currently drive a Lexus IS250, and have previously had 2 ES300s since 2001. Nary a whiff of any problem, of any kind with all three of them. The ES did not have the push button start-stop switch, but the IS does have it.

R
If you just depress the push button and hold it in for three seconds, the engine will shut off even when in motion. But really, you don't need the engine to shut off - - just shift into neutral, and brake it to a stop.

Hers was a Lexus ES 350 (at least according to the news story, which just ran on our local news while I was typing this). So, I guess from what you are saying the ES does not have the push button.
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Old 02-23-2010, 09:34 PM   #9
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I suspect panic set in and her recollections probably don't match actual events. There was a sort of similar incident with MIL last August. She was out with several of DW's family and she lost control of her electric chair which "accelerated" and crashed into a wall causing her to break her ankle. She said it took off and nothing she did would stop it. DW's family said they tested it immediately after, many times, and in their tests every thing they tried caused it to stop immediately. (it only has a top speed of 5mph, but with MIL's bad bones, was all it took break the ankle).

Also, we have owned 2 vehicles that had throttles that jammed open - one in 1979 and the other in 1984. The first was a problem with the throttle cable and the 2nd with a faulty sensor. The jammed throttle in each car happened multiple times with both DW and myself and although scary when it happens we were always able to overcome the issue by stepping hard on the brake. Sure, the stopping distance is reduced even when turning off the engine (loss of power assistance, but the brakes still work).
I suspect she crashed because she was on the phone with hubby, while driving at 100 mph, then crashed, and wanted to use sensationalization to get Toyota/Lexus to pay for the crash. Sorry but I look at all of this with a bit of skepticism.

Maybe I should just go back to driving a:

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Old 02-23-2010, 09:35 PM   #10
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I suspect she crashed because she was on the phone with hubby, while driving at 100 mph, then crashed, and wanted to use sensationalization to get Toyota/Lexus to pay for the crash. Sorry but I look at all of this with a bit of skepticism.
Ding ding ding!!! We have a winnah.....
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Old 02-23-2010, 09:44 PM   #11
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If you just depress the push button and hold it in for three seconds, the engine will shut off even when in motion. But really, you don't need the engine to shut off - - just shift into neutral, and brake it to a stop.

Hers was a Lexus ES 350 (at least according to the news story, which just ran on our local news while I was typing this). So, I guess from what you are saying the ES does not have the push button.
Absolutely agree with you, but it seems people can't even figure that out. I wonder how many other cars/brands get stuck accelerators and the drivers can't seem to find a way out of their sticky situation by putting the car in neutral or turning off the ignition...

As to whether or not it was a push button ignition, it all depends on the year. I don't know when they started with the ES, but they are push button now. My last ES was nearly 6 years ago.

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Old 02-23-2010, 09:48 PM   #12
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I suspect she crashed because she was on the phone with hubby, while driving at 100 mph, then crashed, and wanted to use sensationalization to get Toyota/Lexus to pay for the crash. Sorry but I look at all of this with a bit of skepticism.
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Ding ding ding!!! We have a winnah.....
There was no crash reported. It was something like this: "After 6 miles, miraculously the vehicle was stopped." I'm paraphrasing of course.

As I said earlier, I do believe she experienced some sort of glitch. But her story was to "sensational" to believe.
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Old 02-23-2010, 09:51 PM   #13
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There was no crash reported. It was something like this: "After 6 miles, miraculously the vehicle was stopped." I'm paraphrasing of course.

As I said earlier, I do believe she experienced some sort of glitch. But her story was to "sensational" to believe.
I did read in another article somewhere that the car "slowed just before it crashed". Don't know which is correct...

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Old 02-23-2010, 09:51 PM   #14
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It is easy to panic. It took me a while to figure out how to stop that Dodge van when the accelerator jammed years ago. Scared me to death!

I heard on the news that it crashed but not head on. Maybe it crashed into some Jersey barriers on the side or something.
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Old 02-23-2010, 10:12 PM   #15
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Find it a bit far-fetched that while trying to deal with a car that suddenly accelerated to 100mph, experienced a complete loss of throttle, brake and transmission controls that she could find time to call her husband on her cell phone..."hi honey, how is your day going?.. it seems like I have been going 100mph all day..say, could you get me a phone number off the back of the phone book?."
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Old 02-23-2010, 10:20 PM   #16
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But what if what she says is true ? How many people called their loved ones on Sept.11 while there plane was on a suicide mission ?
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Old 02-23-2010, 10:29 PM   #17
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Find it a bit far-fetched that while trying to deal with a car that suddenly accelerated to 100mph, experienced a complete loss of throttle, brake and transmission controls that she could find time to call her husband on her cell phone..."hi honey, how is your day going?.. it seems like I have been going 100mph all day..say, could you get me a phone number off the back of the phone book?."
Good one!
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Old 02-24-2010, 12:20 AM   #18
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I did not watch much TV leave alone the above testimony. However, I got more and more curious about this problem, hence searched the Web and found the following excerpt.
"I put the car into all available gears, including neutral," she recalled about her fruitless attempt to slow the car down. Ms. Smith says she even put the car into reverse, in which position the gearshift remained as the car quickly reached a speed of 100mph.

After putting both feet on the brake and employing the emergency brake to no avail, Ms. Smith began to think that her only choice was to run her car into the guardrail, if only to save the other drivers on the highway.


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- I don't believe Toyota has implemented "shift by wire for the transmission" on the vehicles with the reported problem. If I'm right, then she must be making up story about shifting into all gears including reverse.


My newest car is a Nissan 2003 SUV with an old-fashioned transmission mechanical lever. I have no interest in new-fangled automotive "stuff", and just now found a picture of this shift lever on the Web. It doesn't look like a mechanical lever to me, but an electronic joystick on the dashboard. Would someone please elucidate on how this fancy-schmancy thinggy works? Isn't there an electronic, or gasp, a computer or microcontroller between this "driver input device" and the electronically controlled transmission? Shouldn't the driver be held responsible if she did not "update" the software, or rather firmware, to the latest Service Pack?

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Old 02-24-2010, 06:58 AM   #19
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Most new transmissions, regardless of type of knob, lever or push-button are electrically shifted via solenoids under the control of one or more computers. The programming will not allow certain modes unless particular speed conditions are met, regardless where you put the lever.

Unless you truly have a fully mechanically controlled transmission. I recently discovered this by looking at some 1994 Jaguar control schemes.

On my 1999 Suburban the shifting of the tranny (4L80E) is computer controlled.


Regarding Mrs Smith, she called on her blue tooth enabled cell phone, presumably voice activated.

As a benefit of retirement I watched the full hearing online, and will today as well. (So what do I do all day) I absolutely distrust media sound bytes, they rarely convey the full message.

If you want the exact testimony: Toyota Recalls, Panel 1 - C-SPAN Video Library
She was the first one to speak, so you can get her exact words.
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Old 02-24-2010, 07:12 AM   #20
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NW-Bound - that is the gear selector on a Prius...fully electronic. When you change directions, you just point the joystick forward or back and it automatically pops back to the central position.

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