Prius Acceleration Hoax?!

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Prius Acceleration Hoax?!

Post by AndyH » Mar 18 2010 4:42pm

Forbes Magazine 12Mar10

Toyota Hybrid Horror Hoax
Michael Fumento, 03.12.10, 01:37 PM EST
Exploring an overblown media frenzy.

"On the very day Toyota was making a high-profile defense of its cars, one of them was speeding out of control," said CBS News--and a vast number of other media outlets worldwide. The driver of a 2008 Toyota Prius, James Sikes, called 911 to say his accelerator was stuck, he was zooming faster than 90 miles per hour and absolutely couldn't slow down..."

"In fact, almost none of this was true. Virtually every aspect of Sikes's story as told to reporters makes no sense."

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Re: Prius Acceleration Hoax?!

Post by DaveAK » Mar 18 2010 5:37pm

That was my initial impression too. I didn't buy it from the get go.

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Re: Prius Acceleration Hoax?!

Post by dnmun » Mar 18 2010 9:59pm

what is so amazing is that these people never turn off the ignition, never put on the emergency brake, never shift to neutral, that cop going out of control for 15 minutes before he wrecked and killed his family is just proof of how stupid cops really are without a gun.

this guy in the prius drove down the freeway like that for half an hour, and on the phone at 95mph!!!!

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Re: Prius Acceleration Hoax?!

Post by liveforphysics » Mar 18 2010 10:15pm

The E-brake wouldn't stop it(over heats at freeway speeds in seconds), and would very likely cause a wreck if they pulled it hard enough to lock the wheels in the sort of clown-ass driver that can't figure out to put it in neutral.

They always tell drivers in runaway cars not to turn the key off because they are afraid of steering wheel lock, which DOES set in a lot of american cars at the first click back on the key, but I've never seen a Japanese car that can't have the key turned back 1 click into the accessories position, and not have steering wheel lock set.

Put it in neutral. The worst that can happen then is the engine eventually has bearing or valvetrain failure from over-rev (who cares), as your coasting to the side of the road with full control of everything.

When you build your own intake manifolds and ITB setups or other throttle body setups, you have throttles stick once in while when things bind up or return springs vibrate off or whatever murphy wants to throw at you. It's happened to me a number of times, in heavy traffic, and in cars that are extremely powerful, yet I've never felt it put me at any risk, because the solution is so simple. If you're not driving a car with an auto-tragic transmission, just push the clutch in. If your driving a car with an auto-tragic (like all Prius'), then just put it in neutral and coast the car to a safe place to stop, then turn the key off. The engine has a rev-limiter, it's going to be fine for 10 seconds while you pull off the road and stop.
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Re: Prius Acceleration Hoax?!

Post by John in CR » Mar 18 2010 11:32pm

...But then they wouldn't be in the news or have the opportunity for a juicy lawsuit. On the other hand, the majority of people walk around with their brain in a permanent fog, so throw an emergency on top of that and the simplest of solutions can be beyond their grasp.

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Re: Prius Acceleration Hoax?!

Post by Jay64 » Mar 19 2010 12:00am

Even if you do blow your engine from over revving it, that is a hell of a lot better then shitcanning the whole car in a horrible crash and killing your family.
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Re: Prius Acceleration Hoax?!

Post by liveforphysics » Mar 19 2010 12:30am

Jay64 wrote:Even if you do blow your engine from over revving it, that is a hell of a lot better then shitcanning the whole car in a horrible crash and killing your family.

Exactly. And I would put money on it you're not going to be be able to find a toyota made in the last 10 years that can't handle sitting pegged on the rev-limiter for 10-20seconds or what ever it takes you to pull off to the side of the road. And like you said, a harmless engine failure is WAY better than wrecking the car, which also results in the destruction of the engine anyways...

Hell, at the drag strip, it's pretty normal for my racecar to sit pegged on the 2-step at 9,500rpm for 10-20 seconds while the clown next to me is trying to get staged in something with a clutch pedal effort that weighs more than the driver. lol This royally screws up my launch at events where my only chance to purge the nitrous vapor out of the lines is during the burn-out, and then I as I'm waiting for the other guy to stage, the liquid in the lines is boiling back into vapor... lame. :(
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Re: Prius Acceleration Hoax?!

Post by mwkeefer » Mar 19 2010 12:50am

dnmun wrote:what is so amazing is that these people never turn off the ignition, never put on the emergency brake, never shift to neutral, that cop going out of control for 15 minutes before he wrecked and killed his family is just proof of how stupid cops really are without a gun.

this guy in the prius drove down the freeway like that for half an hour, and on the phone at 95mph!!!!
You might atleast assume a Cop would try to shoot the car before driving 15 minutes and crashing in the end... Those things on highway ramps come in handy too (water barrels).

someone else covered the ebrake, neutral and such... maybe it's time the auto makers add KILL SWITCHES to the "Oh Poop Handles" (as my 3yr old calls them) for just this reason?

-Mike

PS: My rear disc failed today on my 26" at 47mph going downhill and towards a MAJOR HIGHWAY intersection on the RED... guess I know what it's like to own a Toyota?
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Re: Prius Acceleration Hoax?!

Post by DaveAK » Mar 19 2010 10:30am

California freeway right? I thought doing anything less than 95mph was dangerous.

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Re: Prius Acceleration Hoax?!

Post by enoob » Mar 19 2010 12:00pm

John in CR wrote:...But then they wouldn't be in the news or have the opportunity for a juicy lawsuit.
Thats the nail on the head there.

If you don't know how to shut down your vehicle should the motor run out of control you should have your licence revoked after being given the appropriate traffic tickets for the shit head stunt you just pulled.

If you take control of a vehicle you are responsible for knowing how to operate it . <thats a period

I hold a class 1 drivers licence and can legally drive anything roadworthy, my view of the whole subject is that most people lack respect and have become complacent with cars . piloting thousands of pounds at more than 40mph loaded with lots of loose personal items and screaming kids mere feet away from other multi-thousand pound projectiles takes a certain degree of awareness and thought. If your not prepared to take the moment or 2 it takes to familiarize yourself with safe operation of a vehicle then you should not be getting in it never mind driving it.
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Re: Prius Acceleration Hoax?!

Post by FeralDog » Mar 19 2010 12:40pm

Sayonara, suckers さようなら
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Re: Prius Acceleration Hoax?!

Post by vanilla ice » Mar 19 2010 1:01pm

This is two separate issues. Could Toyota have handled this better? Of course. Have other car makers had similar problems and handled them just as badly? Yes, and there will be many recalls in the future, just like there always has been.

But if you don't know to shift into neutral when your accel gets stuck, you shouldn't be able to get a license! Duh. We need to reform our dmv tests.

Luke.. make those fools stage first! :)

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Re: Prius Acceleration Hoax?!

Post by FeralDog » Mar 19 2010 1:27pm

But if you don't know to shift into neutral when your accel gets stuck, you shouldn't be able to get a license! Duh. We need to reform our dmv tests.

Tell Grandma, in the event of a catastrophic automotive failure you will do the following sequence of events in the following order, IF , subsection "C" instructions prove invalid, then apply separate remedial action too the applicable lever and .... Oh, and can you take Uncle Floyd to the hardware store on your way? :lol:
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Re: Prius Acceleration Hoax?!

Post by vanilla ice » Mar 19 2010 1:39pm

F yea! My parents will learn to shift in to neutral, maybe kicking and screaming.. but trust me they WILL LEARN to shift in to neutral when the gas pedal gets stuck, IF it is the only way they will pass the test to keep their license. There's nothing pilot level about knowing this. At least put it in the damn written test.. Like somebody mentioned, when you get in a big old multi-ton contraption there are some responsibilities above and beyond what you have just walking around. Maybe not as much as an airplane, but driving still isn't no joke.

You know I had a old toyota truck that stuck about 1/2 throttle on the freeway once when I was teenager. It was because of a half ass stereo wiring job. A big frigging 4awg power lead jammed the throttle open. Anyway, I knew enough back then to handle it just fine. Zero panic. Seriously every-licensed-body should know this. Its not that complicated.

If it turns out some of these newer electronically controlled transmission cars won't allow you to shift into neutral while accelerating, that's a different story and that needs to be changed..

BTW this has been going around.. you may have seen it- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZ4PtafRB9c

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Re: Prius Acceleration Hoax?!

Post by AndyH » Mar 19 2010 4:46pm

FeralDog wrote:Yep.
Likely the whole Toyota safety issue is the fault of the victims, er uh, drivers.
I mean , its not like the President of Toyota will even need to apologize...
The article didn't suggest that ALL the acceleration problems were bogus, only this specific, well, hoax was a hoax.

As for recalls, Ford and GM still hold the records for most vehicles recalled, most deaths, and houses and garages burned down - but I don't see folks from either company called to Washington DC to testify, much less apologize.

History repeats itself? Check this out from 2007 - Audi 5000 Unintended Acceleration Debate.

-Drivers hurt people or themselves
-Press highlights the 'problem'
-'Investigations' 'prove' car at fault in spite of police reports to the contrary
-Automaker's reputation beaten in the market
-Lawyers appear and class-action suits run rampent
-National Highway Transportation Safety Administration report takes forever...but finally proves driver error

Toyota's working thru stages 4 and 5 now. :wink:

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Re: Prius Acceleration Hoax?!

Post by dnmun » Mar 19 2010 5:00pm

i don't know what to tell you if you don't instinctively turn off the motor when it races out of control. i don't think any amount of schooling can overcome that. maybe you have to ask a wife of mother if its ok, but that is a serious handicap to overcome.

the guy never put on the brakes like he pretended. the black box already has been released, he just jimmied up the whole thing and was too stupid to know the black box would prove him a liar. i never believe a word of what a cop says. they lie for a living.

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Re: Prius Acceleration Hoax?!

Post by auraslip » Mar 19 2010 8:57pm

My understanding is that the transmission lever is fly by wire. So even if you do put it in neutral the computer gets to decide if it wants to.

Also the brakes are fly by wire (not the e-brake), and the car has no key switch but an off button you have to hold for three seconds.
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Re: Prius Acceleration Hoax?!

Post by liveforphysics » Mar 19 2010 9:11pm

dnmun wrote:i don't know what to tell you if you don't instinctively turn off the motor when it races out of control. i don't think any amount of schooling can overcome that. maybe you have to ask a wife of mother if its ok, but that is a serious handicap to overcome.
On a very large amount of vehicles, this sets the steering wheel lock. Likewise, even on a japanesse vehicle, going 1 click further by mistake will also set the steering wheel lock.

Turning the key off should NOT be the instinctive reaction unless you KNOW your car has a non-locked accessories position, and you can be certian to only move it 1 click.
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Re: Prius Acceleration Hoax?!

Post by auraslip » Mar 19 2010 10:09pm

As I just said though; the prius does not use keys.

It uses a fob that the car can detect, and a giant stop/start button.
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Re: Prius Acceleration Hoax?!

Post by spinningmagnets » Mar 20 2010 9:39am

At first, the accelerator-pedal-sticking stories were about the drivers side carpet sliding up and jamming the pedal on. It was a cover story until Toyota could investigate deeper and come up with a strategy. (full disclosure: I am a BIG Toyota fan)

The problem (finally confessed)is that since 2002, there are several models of Totyota that have an electronic throttle-body controller. This means there is no cable between the pedal and the engines intake control. The pedal tells the computer what you want, and then the computer sends a signal to the intake controller (throttle-body?). Before you scream too loudly, I believe the Chevy Corvette (among others) has a similar system (yes? anyone?).

Back in the late 1970's I had a 1969 Honda 750. It was the first year, and I recall that because I got it cheap because the carbs had been stolen. When I went to buy a used set, the throttle wasn't right...because the first year they only had an accelerate cable, and a spring-return (to idle), which apparently would occasionally stick on "full throttle".

From the second year on, they had two cables. One to accel, and one to pull back. Even with carb return-springs, the second cable prevented a stuck-on condition. I like older cars and motorcycles a lot, and I have definite opinions on "the way it should be". The one car I regret having sold the most is a 1963 Falcon.

Even though I liked it, I was upgrading. I separated the front and rear brakes (a fluid leak would lose all 4 wheels with the stock master cylinder) and I installed front disc brakes. I was about to install a shoulder belt (it only had a lap belt) and a head-rest (for whiplash from a minor fender-bender).

I like electric door-locks, because they still allow a manual back-up operation. I hate electric windows because so far, whenever they fail, its hard to get the window closed until I can get the time to fix it right. The electronic throttle controllers that don't have a cable are a BAD design. This problem invites jokes about how Microsoft would design a car (as a van full of kids is about to crash into a tree)...

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Re: Prius Acceleration Hoax?!

Post by enoob » Mar 20 2010 12:09pm

its interesting how much attention this kind of thing gets .

despite my post before make no mistake i am not saying ALL the responsibility rest with the driver, if a manufacturer is producing unsafe gear and telling us its perfectly good then lets crucify them . Ill help dig the hole for the cross.

But how much should we the end user take our selves ? through simple choice we demand that company's build them cheaper faster and lighter every year.

To demand that a corporation take our safety first and profit second is naive at best .
If big brother was actually looking after us they would never have allowed unibodys on the road till full frame passenger cars were all taken OFF the road.

the diesel truck i have is "fly by wire" for throttle and exhaust brake. both scare the junk outta me and when the lease is up ill be going back a year or 2 to get full control back. fly by wire may be good for a jet that has an ejection seat but for a vehicle ? no thanks .

As a user of a "wired" truck i make the choice to use it or return it for something i FEEL is safer . to ignorantly drive it around telling myself and others that if and when it goes ill just sue the shit outta dodge is rather stupid. I made the choice to buy it , keep it and use it . The responsibility is now mine to make sure i can handle it should it have a problem.
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Re: Prius Acceleration Hoax?!

Post by dnmun » Mar 20 2010 12:20pm

i disagree. i think your fly by wire is safer than the mechanical link. you seem to have aquired also this hysteria that implies that toyota has some secret computer glitch that sends the engine flying out of control. luke has said clearly you should not turn off the ignition, so i think that the programmer has to include something in there to make sure the ignition turns off and the motor stops and humans can't continue to pilot this out of control vehicle down the road. a microprocessor can do that better and more effectively than can a human. i know that the airlines would never have accepted fly by wire if there was the slightest risk.

what failed on airbus 447 was the management, just like with the shuttle, the cheap pitot tubes would ice up, they knew that, the thunderstorm provoked an accident that was preventable, not because of the fly by wire, but because of failure to provide adequate airspeed indicators, backups and system back up level controls. but i do think the initial breakup there was likely shear on the tail fin during the storm that led to structural failure. jmho

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Re: Prius Acceleration Hoax?!

Post by enoob » Mar 20 2010 2:35pm

itll take more than the airline industry accepting it for me to believe its safe, airlines have multiple redundancy my truck does not.

The ecm on my truck is on the side of the engine block . really it is . a computer that controls every function of this modern truck is bolted to the side of a 200+ degree vibrator. brilliant. If id done my research and seen this before i got into the lease it would not have happened.

my 07 truck that i take good care and maintain properly has already done things with the throttle and ebrake that i did not want or felt safe with at the time. there is no question in my mind that a mechanical link would not have done the same thing and also no question that with a mechanical link i would have regained control sooner . the incident in question prompted me to install a manual fuel shut of in my truck, something it did not come with and something ANYone with experience in diesel technology would raise an eyebrow at.

till dodge relocates the ecm and provides manual shutdown i wont buy another . stated that in my emails with them .

ill have to read lukes stuff again but i think he was saying be sure not to turn ignition off all the way thereby locking the steering. and i could be wrong but i think you cant turn the ignition all the way off unless the wheel is in a certain position.

But this is something for every individual to know about there vehicle. and thats my point, not that toyota has some glitch. more that we the consumer must take some responsibility for what we do . Imo Preparing yourself for a runaway situation and having at least some idea of what to do should be part of driver training . To assume that big brother or corporate america is taking EVERY step to assure your saftey is what i call mother nature's population control.
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Re: Prius Acceleration Hoax?!

Post by AndyH » Mar 20 2010 2:52pm

I'm a bit torn about the throttle by wire/brake by wire stress. My '97 VW Passat diesel is throttle by wire. So was my '96. There's a simple switch on the brake system - If I have the brake and 'gas' pedal pressed at the same time, the engine will only rev to about 1200RPM. In this car, there's a traditional ignition switch on the column, but the steering lock isn't set until I remove the key - I can switch the engine off and move the key to any position without locking the column.

It appears that there are a number of 'uncommanded acceleration' issues with the Prius - and at least one of them isn't a malfunction exactly... Here's the setup...slowing for a turn (friction brake and regen at work). Car crosses a paint stripe (cross walk?) and one tire slips a bit. Traction control immediately disables regen. Reduction in 'brake effect' feels like 'acceleration'. Prius Chat forum members spin out of control because they might kill someone in a cross walk if they can't stop their car due to another form of 'unintended acceleration'...

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Re: Prius Acceleration Hoax?!

Post by spinningmagnets » Mar 20 2010 4:17pm

With how huge the lawsuits may become (whether legitimate or not) I don't expect to get any accurate information any time soon. However...

Every car I've had so far had brakes that could over-ride the engine and bring the car to a halt with the accelerator pressed down. Certainly there must be some cars that have an engine that could over-ride the brakes, but.... That being said, perhaps "the problem" involves the anti-lock brakes, the skid control (involving brakes)/traction control, and the engine being all controlled by an interlinked computer program.

I have been in older cars that had a rusty/gunky accelerator cable/linkage became "stickey"...I pulled the pedal back up with my toe, drove more carefully, and parked the car until I could fix it. If a computer is maxing out the accel and also disabling the brakes due to a computer glitch...WTF do I do?? So far I haven't heard of a Toyota owner that experienced the dreaded accelerator sticking; and then turned the engine off to save the day (does it work? who knows?)...

Steering wheel locks,...I don't like them (the built-in kind where when you turn off the engine, the steering wheel locks in place). They don't stop thieves, and they screw me if I'm pushing a car off to the side of the road to get it out of danger. I still like Toyotas, but in the future, one of my cars will be an older model that I can actually work on myself.

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