Toyota Unintended Acceleration Hearings Summary

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This week a congressional committee interviewed a handful of people claiming to be unintended acceleration victims, safety experts, and Toyota execs. While Toyota has focused this week on enhanced recall measures and a re-commitment to quality, the media has focused on rampant speculation.

Here’s a breakdown of all the major developments from the hearings:

1.Toyota execs actually apologized. Both Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda and Toyota USA President James Lentz offered apologies.  This may be symbolic to some, but it represents a shift in thinking at Toyota in Japan.

2. Exponent has an unlimited budget. Jim Lentz testified that:

“in December we asked Exponent, a world-class engineering and scientific consulting firm, to conduct a comprehensive, independent analysis of our electronic throttle control system with an unlimited budget”

That’s right – an unlimited budget to find the problem. Exponent is world-renowned for their skills in technical investigations and engineering. They’ve been hired by GM, Ford, the Department of Defense, FEMA, and countless other large companies and governments. Exponent was hired to investigate both the Oklahoma City bombing and the September 11th attacks. Giving Exponent a blank check should be universally viewed as a major commitment to finding any potential problems. [Read this PDF to learn more about Exponent]

3. Sean Kane works for trial lawyers.  Kane, who has been cited as a “safety expert” by the L.A Times and other news sources, reluctantly disclosed that his company’s principal source of revenue is working with trial attorneys in product liability studies. One automotive executive said that Kane is one of many “supposed safety advocates who are actually just shills for trial attorneys,” – and that auto exec works for Ford! Consider Kane’s testimony to be less than independent.

4. NHTSA is a clearing house for stupid consumer complaints. When many “experts” discuss the Toyota’s unintended acceleration issue, they often cite the number of complaints NHTSA has received as evidence or proof of a problem. However, NHTSA receives thousands of ridiculous and absurd complaints every year. Here’s just one example:

The wife of the driver in a $40,000 Mercedes SUV in West Bloomfield, Minn., complained that her husband was commuting at 20 mph on a road with one-inch of snow and turned his steering wheel but — despite new tires — the three-ton SUV slid straight ahead. “He ended up smashing the front end on a huge stone and ricocheting to a fire hydrant,” she said.

Could this account be evidence of a safety problem? Possibly. More likely, it’s just simple physics. While this isn’t meant to dismiss all of the NHTSA complaints against Toyota, it should serve as a warning that not all NHTSA complaints are equal. The volume of complaints doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

5. David Gilbert is a charlatan. Dave Gilbert, an assistant professor of automotive technology at Southern Illinois University, claims that Toyota’s electronic throttle controls are flawed because they do not “trap” an error that could cause unintended acceleration. Gilbert “proved” this by short-circuiting two throttle outputs that, according to Toyota, would be impossible to short-circuit accidentally. A noted auto journalist has referred to Gilbert’s claims and the ABC news report as potentially fraudulent, and at least highly suspicious.

What We Have Learned

No one has any proof that Toyota’s electronic throttle system is flawed, only accusations.

Toyota has demonstrated confidence in their electronic throttle control systems by giving a blank check to a world-renowned engineering analysis and testing firm.

Sean Kane and David Gilbert are experts with dubious qualifications.

Toyota execs “negotiated” their way out of a floor mat recall at some point in 2009, bragging that they saved $100 million in the process.

Congress is just as much about grandstanding as they are about finding the truth.

Comments – any major revelations we’ve missed?

Filed Under: Auto News

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  1. art64 says:

    They should have hired the Mythbusters instead of Exponent.

  2. Jeremy says:

    OOOOOOOO MYTHBUSTERS! I like that Idea. They could bust the myth then add a jet engine to the roof so it really WOULD accelerate out of control. OR they could add industrial Velcro to the pedal so it really does stick. I LIKE IT!

  3. BobG says:

    This whole things is taking on the characteristics of a political witch hunt. There has been this hatred of Toyota, just bubbling under the surface for a long time, that is now spilling over. Be it from the fact Toyota manufacturing plants are non-union, or fans of the “big three” perceive Toyota as the enemy who is putting their favorite car company on the ropes, or a combination of both. I, for one, will continue to support Toyota, regardless of all this BS. I will continue to buy Toyotas until my own personal experience of ownership should cause me reason to buy something else. I still own my first Toyota…a “Taco” I bought in 1995, and it has given me nearly 15 years of trouble-free service. I also owned a 4Runner, which we recently traded for a Tundra. Both of those have also been absolutely trouble-free. Prior to Toyota, I owned vehicles from the “big three”, and let’s just say, I was always on a first-name basis with the mechanics at the dealership. People can say what they want about publications like Consumer Reports, but my own experience has proven out the high reliablility ratings they had given Toyotas, as well as the below average reliability ratings they had given to the “brand x” vehicles I had driven previously. There…..now that I have vented, I feel better. 🙂

  4. mk says:

    What a witch hunt on Toyota. Get the nooses ready to be snugged nice and tight. Maybe I can complain to NHTSA on both of my tundras having an awful terribly bad smell coming from the vents ONLY while A/C or Defroster is on and will immediately go away when I shut either off and just run vents only, not AC or defroster. It comes and goes, but when it comes back, it is awful and almost makes me want to jump out of my new tundra while driving or pass out. Can you say another recall or TSB in the near future? Maybe NHTSA will listen because the toyota dealer thinks I am making it up which is 100% not true. Ask my kids or my wife and they get very upset when we take our 30K tundra for a drive and the stink comes thru the vents choking us to death!

  5. Jeremy says:

    Sounds like a fault in the lower cooling chamber of the plasma core. Bring it into the dealer and see if you have code from the enviromental system. it may read as PICNIT or ID-10-T.

    OK, I am done razzing you. Put the vent on and make sure it is set to recir. The other button by the ac button, looks like a arrow pointing at itself. see if the smell comes through then. If so you know WHERE the smell is coming from (The recirculating part of the ac). If it smells so horrid it is probably organic…think mold or a dead critter.

  6. Joe Smith says:

    BobG and I have the same experiences and draw the same conclusions. It’s getting scary now…

  7. Justin says:

    There are two problems with the hiring of Exponent. First off, the representatives at the committee hearing against Lentz, tried to persuade the hearing by saying that using Gilbert (ABC interview showing possible SUA) was a conflict of interest because they paid him $1800 for his research. But we are to think its okay for Toyota to give Exponent an open check book and not call that a conflict of interest as well? To me, they are both being paid and you can’t consider one or the other more of a conflict of interest. Also, there are ties between Exponent and Toyota’s legal counsel, as described in the below article. That could be construed as a conflict of interest.
    ****
    “They might be more persuasive if the firm hired to do the testing, California-based Exponent Inc., didn’t have ties to Toyota’s legal counsel; if contacts on the issue between Toyota and U.S. regulators weren’t so extensive; if Toyota’s top American executive in the United States, James Lentz, hadn’t testified the day before that Toyota’s fixes had “not totally” fixed the problem.”
    http://www.detnews.com/article.....z0gZ4bSyYQ
    ****
    On the ETC not being flawed. Well, until Toyota can provide documents and proof that there is no possible way the ETC could be flawed, we will continue to see these reports. Gilbert showed us a way. Some experts call this a fraud; other experts say it’s clearly possible. So who do we believe? Toyota because they said so, after deceiving the public on the SUA issue for so many years? Or a guy who conducted research on his own, testified under oath, and has no reason to side one way or another?
    ****
    I’m sorry, but this entire article is simply trying to portray everyone else as the bad guy, rather than trying to get to the bottom of the problem and making Toyota accountable for their problems. Guess just another pass the blame type mentality.
    ****
    BobG: Like you, people can say what they want about Consumer Reports and these other magazines. My experience with a certain domestic brand differs greatly from what they report. So am I to believe CR by what they say, when my experience differs? Or when they automatically recommend the Tundra/Camry, then have to backtrack and remove that recommendation because they didn’t test the vehicle fully?
    ****
    Dang. The committee is doing what they’re doing in the name of public safety. Call it a witch hunt; I call it a simple investigation, to get to the bottom of the problem. Toyota has deceived us for years on said issues, so don’t you think the committee should take a stance to ensure all information is disclosed?

  8. Jason says:

    Justin – I wholeheartedly agree that Toyota has been lying to the public for a while. They knew about the floormat issue last year and “negotiated” their way out of it. They don’t get a pass on that, and the $2 billion+ they’re going to lose is the price they pay. If we could see some management firings, that would make me happy as well.
    ##
    As for hiring Exponent, I might agree with you were it not for the fact that *everybody* has hired Exponent at one point or another. Did you read the PDF that showed all their work? They’ve worked for every major auto manufacturer, governments around the world, insurance companies, non-profit safety teams, etc. I agree that any time money changes hands there are bound to be conflicts, but Exponent has a lot to lose if they kowtow to Toyota and fudge their findings. As big as Toyota’s contract with Exponent may or may not be, it’s a pittance compared to the work they do around the world. Exponent is a top-notch independent investigative company – check out that link.
    ##
    The fact that David Gilbert got $1800 doesn’t bother me – it’s the way that he went about reporting his “findings” to Toyota and ABC that bother me. Toyota has a standing invitation to both Gilbert and ABC to replicate their test in front of cameras with Toyota engineers present. My guess is that Gilbert isn’t interested in that opportunity, and *that* makes him a charlatan. If he takes them up on it and is vindicated, I’ll be the first guy to admit I was wrong.
    ##
    The committee hearings raised some good points, and I was happy to see Toyota’s exec team sweat, but I disagree that these hearings were much more than theater. Tearful testimony and proclamations of corporate misdoings are all fine and good, but the hearings uncovered nothing. The best thing that came out of the hearings, in my opinion, is that Sean Kane admitted he’s working for some product liability attorneys planning to sue Toyota.
    ##
    Why is everyone still “looking” for the answer? We *have* the answer – there’s nothing wrong with the electronic throttles, Toyota’s floor mats and pedals got stuck sometimes, about 20 gas pedals got stuck because of a very minor design mistake, and the rest of the unintended acceleration claims are likely to be human error. That’s what the story has been all along – the rest is just here say.
    ##
    Last point – it’s not incumbent upon Toyota to prove their system works. Ford’s F150 had the 2nd highest number of unintended acceleration claims in 2008, yet no one is demanding that Ford “proves” their electronic throttle systems are safe. Instead, people are just assuming that the pedals are too close together…but if that’s true on an F150, why can’t it be true on a Toyota too? http://blogs.consumerreports.o.....rd-gm.html

  9. Jason says:

    art64 – Good idea!

    Jeremy – The world NEEDS more jet engine testing. 🙂

    BobG and Joe Smith – This definitely has a political aspect, but I think it goes the other way too. Toyota hired former NHTSA employees to lobby on their behalf (technically legally, but definitely suspect), and Toyota has hired some pretty heavy-duty lobbyists to work on their behalf. I’m not saying that you’re wrong of course – Bart Stupak would love nothing more than to see the end of Toyota USA – but this hearing is just a small piece of the puzzle. I think that Toyota’s political connections are part of their problem. If they hadn’t hired those ex-NHTSA guys, they might have settled this issue a long time ago.

    mk – Jeremy’s advice is great. Sounds like mold to me, and I hope it’s not a critter. Febreeze in the vents works, as does making sure they’re always closed before you turn off the engine.

  10. Justin says:

    Jason: Agree 100% on points 1 and 2. Point three, we don’t know Gilberts intentions, so I can’t say whether he is willing or not to work with Toyota to duplicate the issue he discovered. I can’t see why any working professional such as Gilbert, would put himself in the spotlight and provide false claims. Ruining his professional reputation clearly wouldn’t be worth the $1800 or so dollars he’s being paid. Agree on point 4, for the most part. The hearings uncovered nothing, other than proving Toyota put profits ahead of safety for many years. And so what is Sean Kane is working for an attorney planning a liability claim. He still needs to provide factual evidence to support his case. If his evidence is flawed, what does he have to gain from this?
    ****
    Yes, we are still looking for answers, which even Lentz admitted. We have no concrete evidence that the ETC is or is not the problem. We have circumstantial evidence from both sides, but need further research before we make a conclusion either way. And please, I do not for one minute believe of the 2K plus case, only 20 were a mechanical issue and all others were driver error. That may be Toyota’s story all along, but not the story of those consumers purchasing their products that experienced these problems first hand. So again, Toyota covered up this issue for years, why should we automatically believe their story now without a complete investigation and verifiable proof showing all the facts? I’m sorry, but as many times as Toyota denied a customer’s complaint, only to be found out to be lying in the end, doesn’t carry much weight with me. It’s like my 13yr old daughter now. She’s a lying fool, blames everyone else for her mistakes and only takes accountability for her actions when caught red handed. Everything that comes out of her mouth I have to take with a grain of salt due to her prior actions. I must use this same mentality in regard to Toyota.
    ****
    And sorry, that CR report doesn’t take into account all SUA occurrences, only those complaints that lasted 1 second or less. That was the determination that Toyota and the NHTSA decided to use when investigating. Here’s a link to all SUA’s for 2008, no matter length of duration. This shows a HUGE difference in the total number of occurrences than that which CR is projecting. Also, I have included 2009 stats for you.
    ****
    “In the 2008 model year, Toyota vehicles received 176 complaints of vehicle speed control, followed by Ford with 44 and Chrysler with 25. In that year, Prius had 31 complaints, followed by Tacoma with 28 and Camry with 25.”
    ****
    “In 2009, Toyota received the most complaints that year — a total of 130 for Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles. Ford and its Mercury brand received the second-highest with 14, followed by General Motors and Honda vehicles with 9.”
    ****
    “Among Toyota vehicles in the 2009 model year, the Camry led the list of models with 52 complaints, followed by Corolla (17), Tacoma (16) and Prius (13). The AP found eight of the top 10 vehicles with complaints over vehicle speed control were manufactured by Toyota.”
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/201....._recall_us
    ****
    Toyota had 4 times the complaints as Ford in 2008 and nearly 14 times the number of complaints in 2009, and Ford was #2 on the list. If Toyota is receiving that many more reports than the 2nd guy, there is clearly more items wrong than simply driver error. And who says they haven’t investigated into the issues with Ford? Their systems are easily read by your average consumer, including NHTSA, where as Toyota only has 1 dealer in the entire US that can read their black boxes.

  11. Justin says:

    A good post by a fellow I know regarding Dr. Gilberts testimony.
    ****
    Here is a link to Dr. Gilbert’s testimony:
    http://energycommerce.house.go.....;Itemid=73

    Here’s what I gathered from the three disparate sources (Gilbert’s testimony, Toyota’s response to the ABC News report, and Inaba’s comments this afternoon):

    1) What Gilbert did was a -single- fault. As in, it did not require -two- failures to defeat the system.

    Quote
    “With the two APP sensor signals shorted together through a varying range of resistances, all four Toyota vehicles tested thus far reacted similarly and were unable to detect the purposely induced abnormality.”

    By varying the resistance of the fault, he was able to manipulate the response. When Dr. Gilbert induced what I would assume was a straight short (sending the carrier voltage from one sensor to the other with minimal resistance), the throttle valve immediately snapped wide open and no error was returned.

    (p.3,4 Gilbert’s testimony)

    Now, these sensor circuits are -on the same chip- and are powered -by the same power supply-, so it is well within the realms of possibility that they could be shorted together as part of a certain edge condition of normal wear and tear.

    IMO, Dr. Gilbert’s testimony was damning to Toyota.

    2) Toyota carefully included this caveat in their press release:

    Quote
    “In other words, he had artificially introduced an abnormal connection between two otherwise independent signals coming from the accelerator pedal sensors.”

    The obvious implication here is that what Gilbert did intentionally could not happen in real life. Given the proximity of the sensors and their shared power supply, I find that a completely unwarranted conclusion.

    3) Inaba today called Gilbert’s actions sabotage (his words).

    What this suggests to me, is that the idea of INDUCING a fault runs contrary to Toyota’s standard engineering tests.

    Now, I could be completely wrong here, but I have my doubts.

    If the Toyota testing regimen included lab tests that simulate extreme edge conditions, I find it impossible to believe that they would have missed this diagnosis.

    However, if their response to an induced short is to call it sabotage, and to say that the condition was ‘artificially induced,’ well, it suggests to me that they are not in the habit of butchering their electronics to test them.

    ——————-

    Folks we have not seen the last of Dr. Gilbert–or this issue.

    I think any reasonable person who saw him speak, let alone read his testimony, would be impressed by his command of the subject, and by his absolute refusal to grandstand, to play politics, or even to take potshots at Toyota.

    The guy’s a tenured prof, for cryin’ out loud. If you went to college he’ll probably remind you of one of your favorite instructors more than anything else.

  12. BobG says:

    Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying Toyota, the corporation, is pure as the driven snow. I’m sure some questionable backroom deals have taken place, and Toyota’s response to these issues has not been, shall we say, the best. But hey folks, this is life in the corporate world; especially a corporation of this size. This is not the first time a decision was made based on what is best for the bottom line. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this was a perfect world where this sort of thing never happens….but unfortunately it is not, and it does. But I guess my beef is, the media and our government has seized upon this as if this is some horrific occurence that has never happened before. My hope is, now that a precedent has been set, that ALL the auto manufacturers will be held to this new standard, and THEIR feet will be held to the fire. But we know that is not going to happen. Wow! Two vents in one day. Now I’m really happy. 🙂

  13. Jason says:

    Justin – I think we’re mostly on the same page, but I’m simply not impressed by the number of complaints. First of all, I genuinely believe Toyota owners are more likely to complain about little things than most brands. Having worked at a few dealerships, I can tell you that the Toyota customers were very, very picky compared to others. Partially this is because they are an older and typically wealthier group with higher expectations, and partially this is because Toyota always brags about the best quality product in the world…inviting complaints. I’m not saying that other brand owners don’t complain, but take it from me: it’s worse at a Toyota store than it is at a Ford store, and miles apart from any Dodge or GM store. Only Honda owners approach the level of pickiness that Toyota owners are known for (first-hand experience, take it or leave it).
    ##
    Secondly, I’ve been reluctant to make this point because it’s sort of offensive, but here goes: the average Toyota driver is about 10 years older than the average driving American. It might sound like “ageism,” but I think it’s fair to say an older person is more likely to put their foot on the accelerator unaware that it isn’t the brake pedal. Again, I have no proof, but I think it’s an interesting point. If you combine these two points, it’s easy to see how Toyota’s complaints could be inflated.
    ##
    Third, we’ve got independent testing taking place, and so far no one can prove anything is wrong. By the way, Toyota clarified Lentz’s statement saying that he mis-spoke.
    ##
    Gilbert might be looking for his 15 minutes of fame, or he might be looking to establish himself as an expert, or he might just be a genuinely concerned guy with no agenda. Really, none of that matters – he’s been invited to replicate his results in front of TV cameras with Toyota engineers present. If he *really* had the public’s safety in mind, he wouldn’t hesitate at that opportunity…which is why I believe him to be a liar. If he shows up and proves Toyota wrong, I’ll be glad to take it back.
    ##
    The public keeps demanding the “answer,” but we already have it. A questionable gas pedal/floor mat design that customers mis-used + a sticky old friction plate + driver error = all the legit complaints.
    ##
    One last point: Kane’s testimony helps his clients because it got Toyota in front of congress. Kane was the guy who was feeding the L.A. Times all of this info months ago…he helped get the ball rolling.

  14. Jeremy says:

    If you short the 2 sensors to each other that would be a DOUBLE fault. ABC bypassed the entire pedal system. This is a result that would require either an idiot SHORTING THE 2 SENSORS OUT LIKE SOME SORT OF IDIOT or a set of circumstances that are statisticly improbable, Think 1:1,000,000,000

  15. Ken says:

    I have a very admirable story to tell about Toyota.
    Back in 2000, my wife owned a 1990 Camry which she had purchased from her mother. At that time, we had been going together only a short time. I noticed that every time I was around that car I smelled a very strong odor of gas. I crawled under to investigate, and found what I thought was a dry-rotted gas return hose from the tank to the filler neck, as there was a drop of gas at the connection of the hose to the tank. I went and got a new hose, gathered tools, and returned underneath. While taking the hose connection loose, I found the source of the leak. The solder joint for that connection at the tank had failed. I tightened the clamp back up without replacing the hose, and stopped there.
    We decided to contact Toyota. I was told that could be a potentially dangerous situation. I concurred. I was then advised that I would be contacted by Toyota in a day or so. I fully expected to be told “sorry Charlie, but that car is ten years old and you need a new gas tank, so start digging.”
    Such was not the case at all. Toyota called and told me to go to my nearest dealership and make arrangements with them to have the tank replaced, at no cost to me whatsoever. I thought I was hearing things. But it is true. From that day forth, Toyota has had my respect and admiration. I could’nt get a new paint job on a ’90 model Dodge pickup, less than two years old, when the paint started coming off of it. All I got from Chrysler was crap, from the regional honcho, paint , pickup and all.
    Toyota has my loyalty.

  16. Jason says:

    Jeremy – That’s what I’m saying! 🙂

    Ken – Cool story – thanks for sharing. I’ve seen them do a lot of amazing things too. They’ve definitely got my respect, despite all of this recall business.

  17. Sidney says:

    There is a drain hole that is clogged in the assembly under the dash causing the smell. So Ford had this issue in 2008 and nothing happened. Here is what I think, apparently some owners make a big deal out of it along with other things.

  18. Mickey says:

    Justin as for your conflict of intrest I will considere it but you’re wrong. It’s no difference than the govt owning GM and NHTSA. As for the mag C/R of course you like it. No need to say more.

  19. maxrates says:

    I like that smell .

  20. J. D. says:

    Smells like Money and Elephant. Which, if I were in the circus, would be a very good thing.

  21. Mickey says:

    Justin if Dr. Gilbert is so good how come he didn’t see this?

    Results : 1 | All records displayed
    Make: VOLKSWAGEN Model: PASSAT
    Model Year: 2008
    Manufacturer: VOLKSWAGEN OF AMERICA, INC Mfr’s Report Date: MAY 22, 2008
    NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 08V235000 N/A
    NHTSA Action Number: N/A
    Component: ENGINE AND ENGINE COOLING
    Potential Number of Units Affected: 6579

    Check to Request Research. Submit below. Get Summary

    Vehicle Make / Model: Model Year(s):
    VOLKSWAGEN / PASSAT 2008

    VOLKSWAGEN / PASSAT WAGON 2008

    VOLKSWAGEN / TIGUAN 2009

    ——————————————————————————–

    NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 08V235000
    Summary:
    VOLKSWAGEN IS RECALLING 4,079 MY 2008 PASSAT AND 2,500 MY 2009 TIGUAN PASSENGER VEHICLES EQUIPPED WITH 2.0T FSI ULEV II ENGINES. THESE VEHICLES HAVE AN ENGINE CONTROL MODULE (ECM) CONTAINING SOFTWARE THAT MAY NOT PROPERLY CONTROL ENGINE IDLE WITH THE AIR CONDITIONING TURNED ON. IN RARE CASES, THE ECM MAY UNEXPECTEDLY INCREASE ENGINE RPM.
    Consequence:
    AN ENGINE SURGE CAUSED BY AN UNEXPECTED INCREASE IN ENGINE RPM MAY SURPRISE THE VEHICLE OPERATOR AND CAN RESULT IN A CRASH WITHOUT WARNING.
    Remedy:
    DEALERS WILL INSPECT AND UPDATE THE ECM SOFTWARE FREE OF CHARGE. THE RECALL BEGAN ON MAY 30, 2008. OWNERS MAY CONTACT VOLKSWAGEN AT 1-800-893-5298.
    Notes:
    VOLKSWAGEN RECALL NO. 24M9/R7. CUSTOMERS MAY ALSO CONTACT THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION’S VEHICLE SAFETY HOTLINE AT 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), OR GO TO http://WWW.SAFERCAR.GOV

  22. Justin says:

    Mickey: Dr. Gilbert wasn’t hired to look into the issues of VW vehicles. He wasn’t hired to look through the NHTSA database for vehicles that experience similar issues. He was hired to investigate Toyota products and compare to other makes/models to see if they could duplicate the problem. His findings, based on the vehicles tested, all the Toyota’s had the same problem without tripping a fault code. When tested on other vehicles, he stated they tripped a fault code or the vehicle went into “limp mode”.
    ****
    So I know you’re trying to make a big deal out of something that is similar, but the basis of your arguement is off, since Dr. Gilbert wasn’t hired to review VW products.

  23. Mickey says:

    Justin just stating it should be the same for all manufacturer’s with an issue dealing with SUA. As for Mr. Non engineering degree Gilbert how can you believe him when his master isn’t in the engineering side of the house. You know as well as I MIT tried to find an answer to this and this joke finds one in 4 hours? Give me a break.

  24. Justin says:

    Yes all manufacturers should be looked at the same when it comes to any recall, not just SUA. But I do think there needs to be a spotlight on any manufacturer that has reports or complaints regarding a particular issue that is outside the industry average. In 2009, Toyota was clearly outside the norm on SUA, with over 100 complaints filed, while the #2 complaint getter for SUA in 2009 (Ford) only had 14 complaints. So in this scenario, more focus should be put on Toyota.
    ****
    I love these “he doesn’t have a degree in the field we think he should, so let’s try to discredit him” scenarios. The guy found a potential fault in 4hrs, which should have tripped a fault code like it does with other makes/models. Whether you believe it could happen in the real world or not, doesn’t matter. You are not an expert and can’t say whether or not it would or could happen. Nor can Toyoda or Inaba state it’s sabotage, as they do not have a degree in a relevant field to say whether it’s possible or not.
    ****
    Let’s use this analogy for reasoning: All electronic throttle assemblies incorporate two throttle position sensors. This is so that the car’s computer can deduce whether a fault in the system has occurred. Most systems use a pair of sensors that send very different signals. (in some sensors the voltage passed by one sensor increases when the voltage passed by the other sensor decreases and vice versa). Toyota’s system features two sensors that are powered by the same power supply and which operate almost identically.
    ****
    If you’ve ever seen movies where they show two guys with keys launching a nuclear missile, you may have seen these keys used in close proximity to each other. This is a cinematic convenience. The locks for launching missiles are located so far apart that they could not possibly be operated by the same person at once. This is a failsafe mechanism that is comparable to the way a throttle position sensor -should- work. The two sensors should be, by whatever means, so isolated that whatever compromises -one- sensor has a minimal risk of compromising the other sensor. By putting the sensors on the same chip, run by the same power supply, and working in near identical fashion, Toyota has created a system that can be compromised far more easily than other systems. Which this is in essence what Dr Gilbert did.
    ****
    And per documents supplied to the House, 70% of acceleration complaints occurred on vehicles that are not covered by either of the recalls. So if the vehicles most reported to having this SUA, aren’t included in the floor mat or pedal recall, what is the problem then? And don’t try to say that those are all driver error.

  25. Jason says:

    Justin – I read an account of Gilbert’s test that said he actually had to cause *two* faults to generate the error. First, he had to short the two pedal position sensors together using a very specific resistor. Once this was done, he had to connect the power supply to this new short circuit. SO, if you can get two wires to short together with exactly the right resistance, and then get power to this new shorted circuit somehow, you can get Toyota’s system to go crazy.
    ##
    In the words of an actual working automotive engineer “Gilbert proved that by manipulating the system just so, he could break it. But his failure mode is not something that is remotely likely to occur in the real world” http://theautoprophet.blogspot.....essor.html

  26. Justin says:

    Damn, just made a post and received and error page. Let’s see if I can restate what I just posted.
    ****
    I understand Gilbert’s test is highly unlikely in many real world applications. This may be why of the millions of vehicles sold, only .0000001% (just an example, don’t have actually figures/percentages) have been impacted by SUA. This also could explain why Toyota couldn’t find an electrical issue, since it is an event they consider to be impossible and never tested for. But this still doesn’t explain why when Gilbert conducted the same exact test on a few other non-Toyota vehicles, this short did not cause SUA and actually tripped a fault code. Is it that the other manufacturers consider this to be a potential issue, however unlikely, so they built a safety net into the system? While Toyota considers this a near impossible to replicate in the real world issue, so they didn’t build in the safety net? Just things to consider.

  27. Mickey says:

    Justin:
    I love these “he doesn’t have a degree in the field we think he should, so let’s try to discredit him” scenarios. The guy found a potential fault in 4hrs, which should have tripped a fault code like it does with other makes/models. Whether you believe it could happen in the real world or not, doesn’t matter. You are not an expert and can’t say whether or not it would or could happen. Nor can Toyoda or Inaba state it’s sabotage, as they do not have a degree in a relevant field to say whether it’s possible or not.

    Your words Justin: You are not an expert and can’t say whether or not it would or could happen.

    Now for that it’s simply he’s not an expert in that field also. Hence the non engineering degree. He’s no better than I as a shade tree mechanic. You can’t justify his findings to be an expert in his field…..

  28. Mickey says:

    Jason you hear this one. It was very quietly put out.
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35.....ness-autos

  29. Jason says:

    Justin: I think that’s a fair point (Toyota’s system didn’t catch the fault when others did), but I’m not convinced it’s a problem. Toyota’s systems have been tested by people with more experience and more education than Gilbert, and none of them could make it fail in a *meaningful* way.
    ##
    I think Gilbert’s findings are irrelevant. If the scenario he concocted in 4 hours had occurred in the real world at some point, there would be a shorted-out circuit board to prove it. Anyone can make a circuit board do strange things with a wire and an extra power lead – that doesn’t mean the board is broken.

  30. Justin says:

    Mickey: Yup, I’ve seen that GM recall. Doesn’t surprise me, being it’s the Cobalt and Pontiac G6 (sorry, I hate those cars with a passion). It was in yesterday’s paper and actually got a lot of play on forums and sites I frequent. Now it may not get as much media play as Toyota, due to being so much smaller figures (8.5M+ compared to 1M+) and the number of complaints/accidents is so much smaller than Toyota’s as well.
    ****
    Jason: Point well taken!

  31. Mickey says:

    Justin thanks… I caught that one this morning. I blew it off. Yes I can’t help but agree with you on the cobalt and G6 issue. I have a co-worker I told her about her Cobalt she likes so much. She has no clue what a recall is or anything on a car. I just told her go to the delaer where you bought it at and ask them if they have the fix for your recall. Just drop it off one day and while you’re working they fix it. I would hate to see her get into an accident over it and not tell her about it.

  32. Eddy says:

    Mickey, that link you posted for the GM recall mentions JTEKT Corp. “GM spokesman Alan Adler said Monday it will take time for the automaker to get 1.3 million new power steering motors from the supplier, JTEKT Corp., and GM will notify car owners when the parts are available”. Do you know who is a partial owner of this company?

    JTEKT Corporation is a Japanese multibillion corporation created on January 2006 upon the merger of two companies: Koyo Seiko Co. and Toyoda Machine Works.

    What are the odds?? Toyoda reaching out to help other brands, but not in a good way. So DO you want the media to make a big deal of this? Since they are not pressing the issue of Toyoda or Toyota in this recall matter even though the parts are made by a company partially owned by Toyoda I think its safe to say that the media focusing on Toyota theory is just that. A theory and some people like to blame others for there issue even though Toyoda stood tall and took responsibility. In my eyes he’s a responsable man and willing to take responsibility for his company. He didn’t personally design or had his hand in the assembly line but like any good leader he took the fall for his employees and there design which overall is his. Maybe others need to stop and think about this before blaming others like the media!! Maybe he could be a roll model for some of ya!

  33. Eddy says:

    2002-Establishment with Toyota Motor Corporation, Denso Corporation, and Toyoda Machine Works, Ltd. of joint venture FAVESS Co., Ltd. for the development and sale of electric power steering. Its all in the link below.

    http://www.jtekt.co.jp/e/company/history2.html

  34. Mickey says:

    You forgot to add the Pontiac Vibe to the list also since it was made at NUMMI and Toyota is the only one there now. Since GM left them high and dry who knows a great payback. Not to mention the crappy Delco radio’s being put into Toyota from GM since 07. Never seen a radio konked out so much. As for the media I will state what was said before. They live for negative news and will do anything to exploit it even if it’s false statements. That’s why it’s called investigative reporting to find nothing but facts. Not just throw something out there to add fuel to the fire when there’s no evidence supporting what was put out.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Who let the troll in?? Back under your rock! Sabotage?? Mr. Toyoda should be pleased with ignorant owners representing his company.

  36. Mickey says:

    Are you referencing your missing name about that ignorant comment?

  37. Steve Brown says:

    It’s interesting to read all the theories and speculations of the pro-Toyota people. Poor picked on Toyota billionaires.Never feel sorry for a man who owns a plane. These people know their vehicles can cause death but choose to be profit takers instead of fixing their electronic problems.The tests by NASA were done on Camrys.They said you could stop a Camry with 112 pounds of brake pressure.I don’t doubt that but what about testing the full range of Toyota vehicles like the Tacomas or better yet the Tundras. The Tundras have 381 horsepower and 401 foot pounds of torque; they were built to tow heavy trailers.You all saw the t.v. ads for truck of the year.It can stop on a dime with 14.5 inch rotors. What if you’re passing a vehicle when your not towing a trailer and the accelerator sticks and the brakes fail?How do you hold back a charging Rhino?The most likely outcome of that scenario is that your going to crash and burn and the chp will conclude that it must have been operator error and Toyota will skate free once again.I wonder how Mr.Toyoda would feel if that crash and burn scenario involved a school bus full of kids or pedestrians on a sidewalk?Maybe he could stuff his money in his pillow at night to forget the nightmares.All of you postulators and theorists out don’t know a damn thing until a runaway happens to you!If you own a Tundra be very careful, shift to neutral if you can or turn the key off;nothing locks up until you remove the key.Be sure to thank the Creator if you survive, like I did.

    • Jason (Admin) says:

      TO ALL – If you take this type of comment seriously, be very careful when listening to politicians, door-to-door salesman, etc. They will trick you.

      TO Steve – None of the facts determined by NHTSA, NASA, M.I.T., etc. support your allegations. If you want to argue this, you should take it elsewhere.

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