BusinessWeek’s Scathing Review of Toyota Congressional Hearings

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BusinessWeek contributor Ed Wallace wrote an article titled “The Toyota Witch Hunt” that is a must-read for anyone following Toyota’s unintended acceleration debacle. Here are some of the highlights:

Wallace has uncovered information that contradicts the testimony of Rhonda Smith (below) who claimed her 07′ Lexus ES350 accelerated out of control despite her every effort to stop the vehicle. Smith claims that the vehicle would not stop no matter how hard she hit the brakes, and that shifting into any other gear – even reverse – would not stop the car. For many, Smith’s testimony was heart-felt and compelling. However, both the facts of the investigation and statements that Smith has given in the past disagree with her testimony.

Rhonda Smith 2007 Lexus unintended acceleration

Rhonda Smith's testimony about her 2007 Lexus ES250 and unintended acceleration left out the fact she had two floor mats in her car - one on top of the other.

When Smith’s accident occurred, NHTSA sent an investigator to her home to try and determine the cause of her problem. By Smith’s own admission, her Lexus had two floor mats installed – one on top of the other – and NHTSA determined this was likely the cause of her problems. In 2007, Smith commented negatively about the way her floor mats were installed, which would see to indicate she believed the mats contributed to her experience.

Smith’s other claims – that she tried applying the emergency brake and putting the car in reverse – did not match the facts. Applying the emergency brakes would have locked up the rear wheels (the ES350 is FWD), leaving tell-tale marks on the tires. However, no tire damage was found. Smith’s claim that she tried reverse is laughable – if she really believes that happened, she was clearly flustered. Shifting into reverse and highway speed would have destroyed or severely damaged the engine and/or transmission. While Smith was undoubtedly scared, her testimony last week shouldn’t be given a great deal of weight.

Wallace also comments about David Gilbert, the associate professor of automotive technology at Southern Illinois University. Gilbert’s testimony was sponsored by Sean Kane, the “safety expert” who reluctantly admitted to being paid by attorneys bent on suing Toyota. More importantly, Gilbert claims to have found a problem with Toyota’s system in less than 4 hours, yet he hasn’t shared his findings with Toyota, nor has he agreed to demonstrate the problem he’s found in front of Toyota engineers.

Sidebar – Wallace doesn’t mention this in his article, but we’ve learned that David Gilbert isn’t in fact an engineer. His Bachelors and Masters are in “Industrial Arts Education,” and his PhD is in “Workforce Education and Development.” They’re worthwhile disciplines for sure, but it seems that electrical engineering would be more pertinent to the issue at hand. What’s more, the Automotive Technology program at Southern Illinois University is frighteningly lacking in engineering classes. This isn’t to say that the program isn’t valuable, but it’s hard to believe that Gilbert is more qualified to test vehicles than NHTSA, Toyota, or Exponent.

Wallace closes his article by saying:

…let the mechanics and engineers do their jobs and either find the fault or give everyone a reasonable explanation for what happened. The only problem with that suggestion is it’s already been done. And no one wants to accept the conclusions

Wallace is yet another independent voice that believes “Recallmagedeon” is a farce. Toyota has problems, but electronic throttle controls that suddenly accelerate out of control aren’t one of them.

Read Ed Wallace’s bio.

Filed Under: Auto News

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  1. herb says:

    So if Gilbert is not qualified but actually did find the problem that would be funny. Certain vehicles will not let you shift into reverse when at a forward speed. I have on a 1992 truck shifted it into reverse due to a sticking throttle, it just locked up the rear tires. It still drives fine to this day with no transmission or engine issues. Was there a warning on floor mats on how to install them? Was there anything saying do not install floor mats on top of other floor mats? I know should be common sense but then you have the non common individuals.

  2. Mickey says:

    The thing is Gilbert didn’t really find a problem that would exist on a vehicle. His so called test was faulty. He knows it. Mr. Gilbert needs to stay in his field he did his studies on. If MIT tried it already how does this guy think he could do better. Exponent will come up with an answer. I bet you if the answer falls on the mats no one will believe Exponent. As I mentined on other threads how come thay haven’t went after the 2008 VW Passat who admitted to unintended accelleration caused by their ECM. It’s a pure witch hunt. Jason if they aren’t going to put in the smart pedal in the Tundra’s again that tells me the Tundra had no issue to begin with. Also I still have both the carpet mat and Toyota’s weather mats in my truck. They don’t come off the hook until I pull them off to clean. I can show you a picture where my heal has almost worn through the rubber mat since I got them 2 months after I bought the truck.

  3. Mickey says:

    Jason as usual you’re on top of things. Great find. You got to love the non engineer status Gilbert has. I guess next he will try out for mythbusters.

  4. danny says:

    Thumbs up! Good find.
    I’m assuming the Lexus she was driving was a front wheel drive?. If so, you’re absolutely correct on the massive black mark she should have left on the road. I don’t care how fast she was driving, the rear skid marks would have been there. As for the reverse or parking gear, mythbusters proved a crown vic would not be affected at all by this. Also, the crash involving the CHP officer and the infamous 911 call, didn’t the guy at state that he had personally read the actually nhtsa report and it confirmed that there were multiple mats on the driver side.
    Furthermore, I’m leaning to your side of the fence regarding Gilbert. Even though i know that any vehicle can be manipulated to do SUA, how “real” world are these applications. Most of these reports are newer vehicles primarily driven on paved/concrete decently maintained roads. My previous analysis regarded the extremes of trucks on farm roads and logging roads where you’re luck to come back with your oil pan intact.

  5. Rich says:

    Statically the number of complaints vs the number of recalled vehicles is a such a diminutive percentage that its more than likely no one can duplicate the problem. Factor in cases of driver error and the precentage is even lower. With that said, there a strong possibility this mystery may never be solved. Opportunist like Gilbert appear when an issue has this level of media attention. One thing is for sure, Toyota has recieved their wake-up call!

  6. Ken says:

    I watched Mrs. Smith while she was testifying. It sure seemed strange to me that anything and everything she claimed to have done did nothing to stop this possessed Lexus. Some excellent points were made in previous posts; setting the emergency brake, which is cable operated, where are the skid marks and flat spots on the rear tires. After 6 miles they should have been worn to the wheels. Both feet jamming on the service brakes. Unless I am mistaken, the brakes are hydraulically operated from the master cylinder which has a push rod coming from the brake pedal. After 6 miles of standing on the brakes, the pads would probably be down to metal. She never did say, to my recollection, that she attempted to put it in park. But I would think that if she did at 100 mph, there would be transmission scattered on the road.
    She did say the cruise control light was on during all this. Just does’nt make sense.

  7. Jason says:

    herb – Good question – I think the mats have a little warning label, but I’ve never really looked at it…so I don’t know.

    Mickey – I forgot about MIT’s testing – good point. I think Toyota declined to install the smart throttle / smart pedal on the Tundra because of the truck’s powerful brakes and the fact that a few truck owners like to apply the brake and the throttle simultaneously…but that’s just a guess. It could be that Toyota feels the Tundra has no problems…but they DID put in on the Sequoia, so who knows.

    Danny and Mickey – I can’t claim finding this one. Doug sent me a tip (thanks again Doug).

    Rich – True – the stats are pretty clear this problem is minuscule.

  8. Mickey says:

    Jason the weather mats Toyota sells does have a small warning on them to make surer they are hooked, and not doubled with any other mat. Then thanks Doug. We are all here together for a reason and I for one am tired of the Railroad job Toyota has been getting. Granted a wakeup call was needed but now Canada’s aprliment wants to do the same as Congress did. This has gone past ludicrous speed.

  9. John F says:

    It seemed a little far fetched for everyone to think this women was on the up and up.
    E-brake pulled and no skid marks??????
    Put into reverse and the thing still drives????
    I wonder how much the Administration paid for that load of crap

  10. Mickey says:

    Just look at her tax return………

  11. Justin says:

    Interesting read. Doesn’t pertain to the SUA, but provides insight on how Toyota has been conducting business regarding safety and recalls.
    “In sum, the Biller documents indicate a systematic disregard for the law and routine violation of court discovery orders in litigation. People injured in crashes involving Toyota vehicles may have been injured a second time when Toyota failed to produce relevant evidence in court… Moreover, this also raises very serious questions as to whether Toyota has also withheld substantial, relevant information from NHTSA.”
    “We’re not sure how the alleged SUV rollover info is relevant to unintended acceleration, but the bigger picture may be that congress is looking into whether Toyota has a history of hiding evidence that could potentially paint the company in a bad light.”

  12. Jason says:

    Justin – Don’t understand why you’re quoting a congressman as to what the Biller documents indicate. That’s hardly evidence. By the way, there’s a defense attorney in Texas who has said the Biller documents are “disappointing beyond belief.” You can read all about it here:;tc=yahoo
    From the article: ‘Tracy, however, said Toyota showed him “a mirror set” of the documents over the last several days, including company e-mails, letters sent to government officials and internal testing documents. After the review, Tracy said, he had no option but to drop the suits. “I cannot prove my case” based on the documents, he said…Mike Michels, a Toyota spokesman, said Wednesday that the automaker is “absolutely pleased” with Tracy’s decision and declined to comment further. Toyota has dismissed Biller’s allegations as “inaccurate and misleading.”‘

  13. Justin says:

    Jason: Posting it, since it is more “potentially damaging” evidence against Toyota and how they’ve conducted business. Congressman Towns believes there was misconduct, and Biller still has an active lawsuit, believing there was misconduct. Sure we had one lawyer (Tracy) drop his suit. Doesn’t mean there is or isn’t evidence in the 6K documents that a judge may or may not finding damaging. Just more pieces to the puzzle.

  14. Jason says:

    Justin – It’s very old news. Toyota had all the records sealed to keep them from the public when Biller made his claims 6 months ago, but the article I linked to says that they (Toyota) willingly shared the same documentation with another attorney. I realize it’s only one guy saying Biller’s docs are B.S., but I think it’s compelling.
    Toss in Biller’s admitted mental breakdown and other inconsistencies and it looks like a frivolous lawsuit. I expect the lawsuit will be dismissed once the court gets around to it. Read all about it here:

  15. Jeremy says:

    When we have to lower ourselves to quoting Congress it is a bad day. That or your point is too weak to be supported without the backing of retarded monkeys in suits.


    I think we should all try to get the word RECALLMAGEDON to be said on air by a major news channel. Yes, It is a self serving attempt but it would be interesting to see if we have power to push it that far.

  16. Justin says:

    Jeremy: So quoting a congressman is bad, but quoting and/or believing what the heads at Toyota say, who based on the documents released so far, have purposely decieved the public regarding multiple safety issues, is okay? True you can’t be overly trustworthy of our elected officials, but right now, you can’t be trustworthy of Toyota brass either.

  17. Mickey says:

    How about going in front of Congress as a witness against Toyota and lying there Justin. Is it okay for Rhonda Smith to mislead Congress? What you’re stating is alright for one side and not the other.

  18. Justin says:

    Mickey: Who said Rhonda is lying? Maybe she’s providing the details from what she remembers. Keep in mind, we all forget little pieces or remember certain aspects of a scenerio over time.
    And no, it’s not okay for one side but not the other. I was simply pointing out to Jeremy’s response the hypocrisy in calling out these representatives, which we know are deceptive during elections, but not looking also at Toyota for acting in the same deceptive manner.

  19. Jason says:

    Justin – I think it’s fair to say that Toyota might be lying. However, I’m *sure* a politician is lying whenever his or her lips are moving! 🙂

  20. Justin says:

    Jason: Must agree with you on the politician aspect. But as of right now, I too have trouble believing anything Toyota is saying. It’s like my kids fighting saying he or she did it, when you know they are both fibbing to an extent.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Justin I do that quite easily. Called “selective rememberance” or like me selective hearing. This one you will like Justin:

  22. Mickey says:

    Well pretty easy to see that Justin. Her Lexus is front wheel drive. Now lets take her word in stating she used the emergency brake to try and stop. The flag goes up there Justin. She just like Nascar would have flat spotted the tire by pushing the brake. It would have tried and locked up causing the flat spots. Now reading the article above states that Toyota sent someone to investigate the vehicle. You will definitely feel a flat spotted tire. That person would have notice. Also she’s lucky to have a tranny anyways. Put it in all gears (Reverse), downshifting the rpm’s would have went pretty high to put it in limp mode. Justin she was used by Congress to put out their point period. Justin you know “Selective Hearing and Remembering”. Okay got your point about the Congressman. Yes we know all facts and disfacts came out from both sides.

  23. Justin says:

    And more bad news for Toyota!
    Personally, I think this should be a recall. And why did they announce the service campaign in Japan almost a year ago, but just starting here in the US? Usually when the oil pressure light comes on and the engine makes noises, that is not a good sign and serious damage is being done. If it is leaking bad enough to turn on the light, that is a pretty major leak. Ruptured oil lines can cause fires and seized engines that cause loss of vehicle control and brake interference that can lead to accidents. Not safety related, my rear!

  24. Jason says:

    Justin – The inconsistency in the work between Japan and the USA is a good point. Sadly, this is a common problem with Toyota. One region finds a problem and begins working on a fix, while another hums along with no idea. As for the safety aspects and whether or not this should have been a recall, NHTSA didn’t seem to think so.
    The second link you found is illustrative of the inconsistencies at Toyota dealers when it comes to AWA (after warranty assistance). This is a problem with all manufacturers really, but I think Toyota’s problems are more severe. Hopefully, Toyota will issue some firm guidelines to dealers as to who can get AWA and when. From my Ford days, we always had a good idea at the dealership level as to the situations where Ford would grant AWA and when they would not. If Toyota dealers had a better grasp, there wouldn’t be so many upset people in regards to the oil line issue.

  25. Justin says:

    Anonymous: Thanks for the link, hadn’t heard/seen that yet (still early), as everything was still speculation last time I checked. This is good news for Ford, but one month, and a short month at that, can’t be solely relied upon. Ford needs to continue to improve.

  26. Justin says:

    Bad news in the sales dept. for Toyota.
    Febuary 2008 Sales: Ford F-Series: 32,895 and Toyota Tundra: 5,468.
    And more bad news on the SUA front. Consumers who have had the pedal replaced/fixed, are already experiencing SUA again.
    Love this one: “The contact also states that they lifted the accelerator up and then watched it immediately go back down on its own.”

  27. Jason says:

    Justin – The Tundra’s sales figures are pretty good compared to last February…they’re only down about 7% compared to last year, and they weren’t available for sale for a few days during the month of February.
    As for the L.A. Times article – which was quickly blasted out on AutoBlog and LeftLaneNews – did you read the basis of the argument they made? They’re re-quoting the same experts from the last few articles, and they’re using 7 unconfirmed reports to NHTSA to say that there is still a problem. Ridiculous.

  28. Justin says:

    Jason: The Tundra sales of Feb 2010 are down from Feb. 2009, which were down from Feb. 08. Of course the 07+ Tundra was released at the end of Feb 07, so those figures we really can’t rely upon. I’ve never heard of a continued downward spiral as being considered “pretty good”. For the year (Jan/Feb ’10) the Tundra is already 23.7% below the same time frame of 2009, which was a bad year for auto sales. While the F-Series is up 23.9% compared to the same time last year. Heck, the F-Series sold more trucks than the GM triplets (Silverado, Avalanche & Sierra) combined. The F-Series sold more than Chevy & Dodge combined.
    Yes I read all four articles. So what if they are 7 unconfirmed cases. So what if they continue to use the same experts, Toyota continues to use Exponent. The NHTSA will look into those vehicles and find if there is any validity to their claims or not. The fact of the matter is, owners that had the recalls performed, seem to be experiencing the same problem, less than a month later. But for you or anyone to simply discount or discredit these claims, is the ridiculous piece. We’ve already seen 2K+ incidents reported, Toyota totally disbelieves their clients and Toyota not doing anything about it. Well, until they were practically forced to issue a recall. So yes, there still needs to be investigation into these claims, but it simply shows, and had been the belief of many, not just me, that the pedals and the floor mats truly aren’t the only problems.

  29. Justin says:

    On msnbc now.
    Whether anyone here takes this seriously or not, it seems that many do, especially those owners it has happened to.

  30. Jason says:

    Justin – The sales numbers for Feb. 10′ are down 4.7% compared to Feb. 09′. First of all, you have to remember many vehicles weren’t available for sale during the first few days of February (sticky pedal recall). Second, you have to consider the impact that snowstorms had on the annual sales rate. Third, a drop of less than 5% in the face of a mountain of negative publicity is pretty incredible. Ford deserves credit for having a great month, but the fact the Tundra’s sales fell 5% for the month of February doesn’t seem too bad all things considered.
    Read more here:
    I’m genuinely amazed by the fact that you or anyone else would consider 7 reports of unintended acceleration as “proof” of anything, especially in the current climate where consumers are hyper-sensitive to the issue. Show me one documented incident that’s clearly a mechanical failure not already covered by a Toyota recall. Just ONE failure (you can’t).
    All the NHTSA complaints in the world don’t matter if no one has any proof of a problem. 90% of the time, it’s driver error – experts agree on that fact. The rest of the time? How about floormats and pedals?
    People keep saying “What if,” but they have no proof. Sort of like people trying to prove that UFO’s exist, or saying that September 11th was a conspiracy, etc. The people making all these arguments have no PROOF, but since no one can categorically prove them wrong, that makes them somehow right. Ridiculous.

  31. Justin says:

    Jason: I understand being down less than 5% for Feb. isn’t bad. Then again 5% of the total for the Tundra and F-Series is significantly different number of vehicles and money. Snowstorms? Weren’t all makes/models impacted by said snowstorms? And that impacted Toyota more than Ford, how? I understand the stop in production impacting sales. Still doesn’t explain how/why the F-Series is up 23% for the year, while the Tundra is down 23% for the year.
    I’m not saying 7 incidents is proof, but it still throws a possible wrench into those people’s theory that the mat/pedal were the sole issue. At the same time, show us a documented case where it was clearly the driver, floor mat or pedal that caused SUA? Sure, they are all possible scenario’s, but so is the possibility of these 7 incidents of being true. Either way, these 7 people had the recalls performed, so no pedal or mat problem. Are you saying these 7 people’s experience were driver error? Don’t you think these people, after having the recall and knowing of the problem, wouldn’t be more aware of how they are driving?
    Well, I can’t prove that UFO’s exist, but I believe in them. I lived in Phoenix, AZ when the below event occurred in March 1997, while my best friend and I were at South Mountain in Southern Phoenix. After seeing this with my own eyes, there is no way you can convince me this was military and that there are no such things as UFO’s. To me, after that experience, they are real.
    Can’t say about 9/11.
    I don’t have evidence, but I’m sorry, I have not been convinced by any items brought forward by Toyota that says the problem is only the mat and pedal.
    “Michel Mardiguian, an engineer and consultant near Paris who specializes in tracking down electronic problems for automakers.
    “An automaker who declares bluntly that uncontrolled acceleration cannot be caused by electromagnetic interference because they have fully tested their vehicle is a liar, or naive,” he said.
    “Still, just because no one has found an electronic flaw doesn’t mean there are none.”
    “Clarence Ditlow, who leads the Center for Auto Safety, a consumer group, knows of a case of unintended acceleration in which a car had no floor mats, no sticking gas pedal and the driver clearly was pressing the right pedal because the brakes were scorched from heat.”
    “What else is there other than electronics?” he asked.

  32. Jason says:

    Justin – The Tundra is down 23% for the year because they weren’t available for sale for almost 2 weeks (about 23% of January and February combined). As for snowstorms, the point is that sales figures were already likely to be down. Ford’s sales are great – I’m not arguing that they aren’t – but the Tundra’s sales are steady despite a lot of adversity. I don’t see that as bad news…but we’ll just have to wait and see I suppose.
    I’m absolutely saying those 7 incidents are driver error. In fact, I’m saying that 90%+ of incidents are ALWAYS driver error.
    Thousands of people claim to have seen Elvis alive long after his death…does that mean he’s really alive? I mean, you can’t prove he’s *NOT* alive, so there must be something to those reports….LOL. If you want to tell me that Toyota’s electronic throttle system has problems, that Elvis is still alive, that the tooth fairy exists, or that UFOs come to our miserable little planet fine by me. However, I’ll be the guy that sits in the back looking at my watch waiting for you or someone else to produce a little proof.
    EM interference actually did cause a problem with Toyota’s system…but only in an MIT lab. The MIT researchers couldn’t get the system to malfunction similarly on an actual vehicle.
    Ditlow’s story is a great place to start. Let’s get the vehicle he’s talking about to NHTSA and Exponent and let them figure it out. My guess is, NHTSA and Toyota and everyone else have already looked at that car and can’t find proof of a problem.

  33. Justin says:

    Jason: Okay, we have now gone from the 7 complaints referenced before to 10 complaints and now we have 60 complaints of surging and SUA after the recalls were performed. So are people going to continue to say it’s all driver error?
    “Adding to the doubts, the government has received more than 60 complaints from Toyota owners who had their vehicles fixed following the recalls but say they’ve had more problems with their vehicles surging forward unintentionally.”

  34. Justin says:

    Toyota owner turned away for recall, then experiences SUA 2-weeks later. At least Toyota was quick to react and is sending a tech specialist out ASAP.
    “Prius driver James Sikes said that the incident Monday occurred just two weeks after he had taken the vehicle in to an El Cajon dealership for repairs after receiving a recall notice, but he was turned away. I gave them my recall notice and they handed it back and said I’m not on the recall list,” Sikes said.”

  35. Mickey says:

    Okay Justin before you go any further. Mr. Sikes was turned away after they looked inside his car. Look at the recall. It was for the mats. He had no mat there. That was a little add lib on Mr. Sikes part. Yes maybe he had a runaway but for his part he definitely didn’t make a great case for himself. I still have to see how you smell brakes burning at 90mph. His explanation of not using neutral or shutting it off was way out of line. If he can shut it off at 50 then he could’ve shut it off at any time no matter the speed. As for the emergency brakes, I’m sure he would have flat spotted those tires.

  36. Mickey says:

    Also Justin Leftlane news has a different story than what Mr. Sikes stated on TV. Mr. Sikes stated he didn’t try to turn it off or put it in neutral because he was afraid of what might happen. If he shut it off he was afraid it would lock the steering wheel. He was afraid of putting it in neutral or reverse because it may have caused the car to be uncontrollable. Now that’s not what Left Lane news is reporting. The news states he did try to do those things. Now are we suppose to believe the news story or Mr. Sikes?

  37. Justin says:

    Mickey: Toyota hasn’t sent letters to Prius owners yet, even though they are on the recall list, as they do not have a solution to the problem on Prius models yet. So it wasn’t because he did/didn’t have a mat, it was because the dealership hadn’t received the paperwork on Prius models on how to fix them. Plain and simple. So it’s not the dealers fault, not the owners fault, but Toyota’s for going since 9/09, or was it 11/09 and still not sending recall letters or fix procedures to the dealers.
    If you watched or read the interview, Mr Sikes didn’t turn the vehicle off while going 94mph, because he was afraid he’d lose control of the vehicle, being he’d lose power steering and brakes. Not sure why he didn’t throw it into neutral though. Either way, the cops saw what was happening, and the driver experienced this problem. And you’re still trying to say this is the drivers fault? Get real! No car should EVER do this, no matter if you know how to react or not. I simply cannot believe the number of people that are trying to blame this on the drivers. Yes they should know how to react in such scenarios, but too many of these Toyota loyalists can’t accept there are problems with these vehicles. It’s like me being a Ford fan and saying “well, if he had had a fire extinguisher in the car/truck, the owner could have put the fire out rather than let the vehicle burn.”
    So what about the recent report in Harrison, NY (I believe), where another Prius took a gal for a ride into a rock wall? How about the guy who’s Camry launched him into a creek from a parking lot, landing on its roof? What about the Rav-4 that tried to enter a Dr. office? What about the lady who just recently hit a church? Bet you blame these all on the drivers as well. True, drivers need to know how to react, but Toyota needs to fix the problem, it’s as simple as that! If these were domestics having this happen, they’d be crucified much more that Toyota is!

  38. Jason says:

    Justin – I understand that there are a lot of stories, but there’s still not any evidence. The increase in reports, btw, has a psychological component:
    Here’s another blog’s interpretation of one of these stories:
    The trouble with individual accounts is that they’re almost always a little suspect. Just like the Firestone tire issues, often times the fear is worse than the problem itself…and at highway speeds, fear kills.

  39. Justin says:

    Jason: No evidence of what, cars driving by themselves? Do you really think we’d get all these reports if there wasn’t a problem? Sure I admit, some may be fraudulant, but not all. There is clearly a problem, we just need to find the problem. Is it pedals, floor mats, the ETC, software, who knows, but it doesn’t seem like the current fixes are working.
    So who are these “experts on consumer phsycology” they speak of in the 1st article, a professor of clinical marketing? Not very good representation there.
    And what does that blog mean? As much as us day to day folks here talking about it, and the other forums I frequent.
    You’re right about stories can always seem suspect. But until the person who experienced is proven wrong, then we have a he said she said issue. Drivers say X happened, Toyota says X is impossible. Guess we’ll wait for all the smoke to clear to find out the truth.

  40. Jason says:

    Justin – No evidence that this is anything other than driver error. I disagree completely that all of these complaints are “proof” there is a problem. The only evidence we have of a problem is pedal entrapment, sticking pedals, and a minor software issue on the Prius. Could one of these items be responsible? Sure. But a sensational first-person account doesn’t mean anything. The last sensational account of a runaway car in California turned out to be caused by a stupid dealership decision to install two sets of floormats in a Lexus ES…neither of which was designed for the car. The most likely explanation is always driver error, and that’s the reason that I don’t place any importance on these accounts. Most likely, they mean nothing. Show me some physical, irrefutable evidence of a problem and it’s a different story.
    You say that this is a “he said she said” thing, but it’s really not. On one side, you have some individuals with questionable accounts who claim they have had a problem. On the other side you have NHTSA, Exponent, Toyota, a Stanford professor, an MIT lab, suppliers, etc. …all of which say there is no problem. It’s more like a “some guy said this and dozens of experts said he’s wrong” kind of thing.
    Why is it so hard for you to acknowledge most of these accounts are BS? The paralells between this problem and the Firestone fiasco are blatant – we both know that most of the accidents blamed on Firestone and/or Ford were really driver error. Why do you think Toyota’s pedal entrapment and stick pedal issues are different?
    I think you hit the nail on the head – a lot of people who don’t like Toyota feel like Toyota is not getting hit hard enough for this issue…so they keep talking about it as an “ongoing issue” despite any evidence to support that perspective. To that I have two points: 1) Toyota is going to lose $2 billion over this whole thing when it’s all said and done. That’s big. 2) So what? Life isn’t fair. Toyota is able to skate away when Ford or GM or Chrysler might be crucified. So it goes.

  41. Mickey says:

    Justin wrong answer to number one question. The wife’s Prius did get her recall letter about the mats. Which is the only recall letter that NHTSA has. I didn’t say it was Mr. Sikes’s fault but he didn’t help his case by not electing to put it in neutral or shutting it off.

  42. Justin says:

    Mickey: Wow, you must be the lucky one, cause per Toyota, the only recall letters sent to Prius owners so far have been for the brakes, no recall letters sent for the SUA on Prius models yet. Again it was included in the SUA recall, but no letters issued to owners. So if Toyota didn’t send any, how did you get yours? Or was that the brake issue recall you received?
    “According to Toyota, no recall notices have been issued for the Prius yet, but the car is covered by the earlier floor mat recall”
    Jason: So we have supposed people with checkered pasts, but we are finding out Toyota has a history of hiding recalls and their checkered recent past is creeping up on them and becoming public knowledge. So are we to believe the individuals or the manufacturer? I know very few people that would put their life at risk. While it is not uncommon for many businesses to work the system and conduct shady business practices. So to me, I believe people much more when it’s dealing with their life than I believe a company that is worried about its profits.
    I can’t accept these accounts as pure BS, because not one has been proven to be BS yet. Over 60 owners who’ve had their vehicle fixed have already experienced SUA in their vehicle again. I know, I know, it hasn’t been proven, but Toyota hasn’t provided proof that their floor mats/pedals were the true problem or true fix as of yet either. So their excuse could be pure BS as well, how do you know for sure? After the Firestone tires we’re replaced on the Explorers, the reports of rollovers stopped, or at least decreased exponentially to the industry average. Now even after these Toyota’s are being fixed, they are still plenty of reports of SUA occurring well above then industry average. That’s where the difference is.
    So people who own Toyota’s and most likely bought them because of their supposed quality reputation, are now wrecking their cars on purpose because they don’t think Toyota is getting enough backlash? Please, that is a horrible excuse. I could care less how much Toyota loses or gains from this episode. They simply need to fix the cars right, the first time, and end of story. And regarding the crucified statement, yeah life isn’t fair. So why do we have so many Toyota loyalists complaining about the problem. Same thing happened back in the day to Ford on their CC switch and the Firestone ordeals; they made it through it, and have improved since. So Toyota and loyalists need to take this as a learning experience and move on.

  43. Justin says:

    Here’s some humor for everyone, and Mickey you should get a laugh outta this, you are from FL, right?

  44. Benny says:

    Since their is doubt why doesn’t he post it? So with owners going to this extreme as some are saying, all Toyota owners should have their insurance premiums raised drastically, right! How did the Prius runaway with the brake over ride feature? You know the feature that even with the throttle held down applying the brakes over rides it.

  45. Mickey says:

    Justin since I’m the lucky one I happen to have two of the letters. One for the truck and one for the Prius for the mat recall. Both or 7 pages long. From :
    Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc.
    19001 South Western Avenue
    PO Box 2991
    Torrance, CA 90509-2991
    Certain 2004 through 2009 model year Prius’s
    Potential Floor Mat Interference with Accelerator Pedal
    Safety Recall Campaign
    The same went for the Tundra just different VIN #.
    Now get off your high horse. You’re not always right.
    If Jason allows I’ll be more than glad to scan it in and place it on photobucket so you can personally read it.

  46. Mickey says:

    Also Justin case in example is the Tundra owner in Baton Rouge. Who ran into the dealership because he claimed he had a stuck pedal after complaining to 3 different service advisers. He wanted to get a new truck after owning that one for a year. Now what is the % on that happening Justin? You have some owners want totally out of their vehicles are going to the extreme to get rid of them. Wasn’t it you that stated Frod had an issue with both pedals being close and the people hit the wrong pedal and caused an accident. That Ford fixed the issue by seperating the pedals further? Can this be the same issue of hitting the gas pedal thinking you had the brake?

  47. Mickey says:

    Sorry Justin Ford……

  48. Mickey says:

    The letters are too close…….

  49. Mickey says:

    Jason take a gander on the shady story of Mr. Sikes financial past.,2933,589090,00.html
    This is the reason why we don’t jump at believing Mr. Sikes there Justin

  50. Mickey says:

    It’s also strange there Justin the CHP got in front of him to stop him but the car slowed down on it’s own then. The only time the bumpers touch was when the CHP back to it to keep it from taking off again. I’m afraid to put it into neutral. B/S Justin

  51. Benny says:

    Didn’t he put finally get it turned off, as in turned off the motor? Does the Prius have the throttle over ride system installed?

  52. Benny says:

    Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiim sorry, my key stuck!

  53. Benny says:

    Can we get a recall for that?

  54. Mickey says:

    Not that year model. It’s the 2010 model the 3rd gen Prius has that override. Mr. Sikes has an 08 model. Was afraid to put it in neutral…..Ludicrous….

  55. Dave says:

    Thanks we got the neutral thing the first time! So I take that it has happened to you in a Toyta and your speaking from experience. Or is this a armchair quartback call?

  56. Jason says:

    Justin – We’ve got the tail wagging the dog here. I don’t care about the number of complaints. I don’t care about the way the story is told. All I care about is the truth. The truth is, none of these incidents can be tied to a problem. NONE. Not one, not two, not twelve. NONE. When that changes, we’ll have something to talk about. Until then, the most likely explanation is panicked drivers.
    By the way, you’re wrong about the Firestone tire problem going away after the recall. I worked at a Ford dealership before and after that fiasco, and we had people complaining about Firestone tires long after the recall had dropped out of the news cycle. We also replaced all the Firestone tires on SuperDuty pick-ups a few months after the Explorer and Ranger. I’m sure if I look I can find people complaining about Ford Explorers being prone to roll-overs long after their tires were recalled.

  57. Justin says:

    Jason: Fine by me. If you want to discount all these reports (60+ since recall was fixed), that’s okay. To me though, this is a sign of a bigger issue. We’ll simply have to wait and see how it plays out.
    And yes, I remember you saying you worked at a Ford dealer. And I do remember Firestone only recalled 15 inch tires, while Ford recalled both 15 and 16 inch tires in phases. This is why many vehicles including the SD’s had their tires replaced. Heck I had my ’99 Ranger XLT Firestone tires recalled, but didn’t have the recall on my ’99 Explorer recalled since it had the General Tires that came with the Limited Edition. Never once did either vehicle feel prone to rolling over, just your typical truck sway from the higher center of gravity. So people are complaining about Firestone tires after the recall. Hmm, well what were they doing with Firestone tires on their vehicle after the recall? That whole debacle gave Ford, the Explorer and Firestone a bad name and each of those names will forever be known for that issue. Just as Toyota will most likely be remembered for this episode, even when every vehicle is fixed and the recall is in the rearview.
    I’m sure you can still find people stating the Explorer is prone to rolling over, especially compared to today’s CUV’s. The fact of the matter is, 10 or so years later the Explorer is rated the 3rd safest SUV on the road at that time (behind two Jeep models – think Cherokee and Grand Cherokee), which I’ve posted the link on one of these threads in the past. All research has found it was no more likely or prone to roll-over than any other SUV of the day. So let’s get these people in a 90’s 4Runner, Montero, S10 Blazer, which I’ve ridden in all those, and then see if they think their Explorer is any more prone to rolling.
    Mickey: I understand the reasoning behind questioning his financial past, it does look suspect. But you can’t totally dismiss this occurrence for that alone, especially since he’s not looking at a lawsuit against Toyota. Couple factors to consider. The officer that said he saw the brake lights on and the car was still moving excessively fast and not slowing. So now is the officer a liar? Toyota has yet to replicate any SUA events in the past, so why do we think they can now on Mr. Sikes vehicle? The front and rear brakes were worn down from trying to stop, like the officer stated due to the brake smell, so why didn’t the fail-safe kick, as per your article? And lastly, the officer didn’t need to stop Mr. Sikes, since he turned the car off once he got down to 50mph. Mr. Sikes was afraid he’d lose control of the vehicle if he shifted into neutral or turned it off while going so excessively fast.

  58. Mickey says:

    Lose control by putting it into neutral? As far as the brake thing you read the article. Now my position is the Prius is made in Japan. Now how come we don’t hear of any of this from Japan? The media would be all over Mr. Toyoda and in his face if they had any of these so call stuck pedals on Prius’s over there. I don’t care if the guy wasn’t planning on suing. If he wasn’t planning on suing why get a lawyer right away? I see a guy who was caught doing a fraud and the lawyer talked him out of it. CHP see’s brake lights while car is still moving. You know Justin put your foot on the brake and on the gas pedal and you have brake lights. That would be the fraud way but we know Mr. Sikes didn’t do that. Just like the Prius hitting the wall in New York. Operator error. Like I said earlier no one in Japan has yet to say something. Makes me wonder how America doesn’t claim responsibility for their actions.

  59. Justin says:

    Mickey: I don’t think throwing it into neutral would make you lose control, but I can’t speak for other peoples knowledge. If he felt that way, that’s him, not you or I. He may not be a car nut like either of us.
    Well, we’ve heard about these issues that are occurring in the UK. So it’s not isolated to the US. Can’t say why nothing is being mentioned in Japan about this.
    Brake lights are one thing, but the CHP also smelling burning brakes is another. You don’t have to believe those two accounts if you don’t want to. Why not look at all those accounts I posted on March 12th, 2010 @4:07 pm. And I have roughly 5-7 more that have occurred since I posted that reply. Not all Prius related, some are Corolla and Camry. The sheer volume is hard to discount in my eyes.

  60. Mickey says:

    I hear ya on paragraph 2 and 3. Remember Mr. Sikes stated he reached down to the gas pedal and tried to pull it up but can’t put it into neutral. Story is too hard to believe there Justin. They didn’t state he had flat spots on his rear tires which means he didn’t use the emergency brakes.

  61. Jason says:

    Justin – My points about Ford weren’t intended to besmirch the company – more to show that people are irrational. Case in point: We had a customer with a Ford Ranger that was told he could have his tires replaced sometime in late 2000/early 2001. Every time he visited our dealership for service, he was invited to get his free replacements…and each time he declined. His plan was to wait until just before the recall campaign ended so he could get as many miles out of his free tires as possible. Amazingly, the guy got a flat tire on the highway while he was “waiting”, and guess who called and bitched us out about his Firestone tires? Give you three guesses.
    My point with all of this is that consumers are often idiots. You know that, I know that, we’ve both said it many times before. 90% of the people who made claims against Ford and Firestone were morons. The other 10% weren’t morons – but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily correct. Good, upstanding citizens can genuinely believe their tires caused an accident without realizing they didn’t manage their car correctly. Everything I’ve said about Ford can be applied to Toyota – a lot of people think their cars accelerated unintentionally without realizing they had their foot on the wrong pedal.
    I’m glad we can agree to disagree! I look forward to more of your comments on other matters. 🙂

  62. Mickey says:

    I agreee Jason. Justin has brought alot to the table. He is always a great source of info either pro or con.

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