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Drive-By-Wire
Posted: 24 February 2010 07:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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DarronS - 24 February 2010 06:28 AM

What is more likely here?

A) The driver panicked.
B) Every system on the car went haywire at once and moving the gearshift lever had no effect, and to top it off both braking systems failed at the same time.

I choose A.

Certainly a possibility. But if this is fly-by-wire, there’s also the possibility that there is a significant software glitch, one that wouldn’t require the same level of malfunction as would be necessary to see the same result in a completely mechanical vehicle.

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Posted: 24 February 2010 07:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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That is a valid point, but for the woman’s version to be true there would be no mechanical connection between the gearshift lever and the transmission. Given the increasing use of electronic controls in cars that is quite possible. However, no manufacturer is going to rely solely on electronics for braking, and all automobiles sold in the United States have redundant braking circuits as required by federal law. Further, the brakes on any car sold for use on public roads are strong enough to overcome the engine’s power. She could have stopped the car. It would have taken much longer than she expected, but she could have stopped.

This Toyota recall is starting to resemble the madness of Audi’s so-called sudden acceleration problem in the early 1980s. That turned out to be 100 percent driver error, but the bad publicity almost put Audi out of business. There is more to the issue this time around, but a lone anecdote from a non-expert witness is unreliable at best.

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Posted: 24 February 2010 01:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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I certainly hope it’s driver error (although that doesn’t make that poor woman feel any better.)

She claims to have put both feet on the brake as well as pulled up the emergency brake. I hear people say the brakes will always overide the engine, but can’t they “burn out” quickly? As happens sometimes when cars go down long mountain roads and people don’t downshift?

Again - this is my lack of knowledge of car mechanics causing me to have these questions…

If it wasn’t so frantic at the Toyota dealership, I’d have hung around and chatted with my usual repair guy. They know me pretty well there. I have lots of questions for them. But it was a madhouse due to the recall. The workers were all eating lunch at their desk and the phones were ringing non-stop with people making recall appointments. They’ve been working early and late shifts and weekends to ensure everyone is seen promptly for the recall. They took a few minutes to explain what they did for the recall, and to tell me to mind the floor mats, then they had to run to the next customer. I feel bad for the guys in the shop, it’s not their fault for the defect.

The guys at the shop have a running joke that my car, only one year old, has “got a curse on it” because of bad luck. I’ve been in there so much.

Right after I bought the brand new Toyota, a long piece of steel re-bar fell off a truck in front of me on the highway, kicked up under my tires and shot THROUGH the floor of the car straight up at high speed, it could have impaled me! It sounded like a shotgun. We kept pictures of it, as it was so amazing and such a freak accident.

Six months later, I was hit by an uninsured driver who was high on prescription Oxycontin, and scammed by the tow truck driver that the police called, who pulled a “bait and switch” to take it to his shop instead of Toyota. (They told me they were Toyota’s authorized body shop - a lie.)

Shortly after getting those repairs, a chunk of rock kicked onto my windshield and cracked it.

Now I just took it for the recall, and when I pulled up to the garage, the mechanic pointed out that on my passenger side, someone had taken a car key and scraped down the entire length of the car, front bumper to to the back - every panel. “That was her good side, too!” They joked. I’m waiting until spring to buff out what can be done, and the rest will have to sand, prime and repaint because the scratches are too deep to buff out.

These are all things that can normally happen to a car, I am just amazed they’ve all happened within the course of one year!  LOL

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Posted: 24 February 2010 01:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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DarronS - 24 February 2010 07:36 AM

This Toyota recall is starting to resemble the madness of Audi’s so-called sudden acceleration problem in the early 1980s. That turned out to be 100 percent driver error, but the bad publicity almost put Audi out of business. There is more to the issue this time around, but a lone anecdote from a non-expert witness is unreliable at best.

Although the story frightens me, I agree with you. I would have liked to have seen a forensic mechanic examine her car and present a report. (As I believe was done with the very tragic case of the State Trooper that died, a forensic mechanic conducted a thorough exam of the car, noting and photographing everything before beginning to disassemble everything and dig deeper.)

As I’ve said repeatedly throughout the thread, I worry that driver error will be confused with actual mechanical issues. (e.g. stepping on gas instead of brake, then blaming mechanical or electrical issues for driver error.)

I remember the “Audi scandal” - that one news report that was not backed by much evidence almost destroyed the company. Only now, years later, has the company recovered.

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Posted: 24 February 2010 01:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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Ouch Jules! Sounds like you should get that car an exorcism! LOL

Seriously, glad you’re OK. That’s terrible.

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Posted: 24 February 2010 02:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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dougsmith - 24 February 2010 01:40 PM

Ouch Jules! Sounds like you should get that car an exorcism! LOL

Seriously, glad you’re OK. That’s terrible.

Maybe I should put some holy water in wiper fluid, so I can give it a spritz of demon-be-gone every once in a while.  LOL

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Posted: 24 February 2010 02:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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Jules, I think you’ve used your allotment of bad luck on the Toyota. You should have a safe reliable car for years to come. (How’s that for a logical fallacy?)

I’m still having a hard time believing the woman who testified before Congress shifted her Lexus into reverse and didn’t scatter engine and transmission parts all over the road. Maybe Lexus uses sensors and a computer receive signals from the gearshift lever. As it stands, though, I need more information before making up my mind.

However, I did witness a Toyota with a sticking throttle last week. I was at a bookstore buying a text for my English Comp class. After walking out the store and getting into my car I saw a woman pull up two spots to my right in a five or six year old Toyota Camry. Just as she was about stopped the car jumped the curb and hit a large support post on the corner of the building. Luckily the woman standing on the sidewalk smoking a cigarette was behind the post, but she almost peed her pants anyway. The driver barely spoke English, and was obviously distressed. She kept asking me what to do, and wanted to know if she should try to move her car, which aside from the damage was pretty well wedged between the support post and a parking block. The other witness and I convinced the driver to call the police and leave her car where it was until a tow truck arrived. I left after giving the police a statement.

If the woman had been driving an Audi I would have dismissed this as driver error, but she was in a Camry and was decelerating, so she most likely had her foot on the brake when the car accelerated. The right front fender was badly damaged, and the headlight was shattered. Luckily no one was injured.

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Posted: 24 February 2010 03:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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DarronS - 24 February 2010 02:43 PM

Jules, I think you’ve used your allotment of bad luck on the Toyota. You should have a safe reliable car for years to come. (How’s that for a logical fallacy?)

Love it!  wink

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Posted: 24 February 2010 11:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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DarronS - 14 February 2010 11:21 AM

There is no excuse for turning people loose in two-plus ton machines unless they have the knowledge and experience to handle their automobiles in emergencies.

Good points DarronS.  It would be better if courses like that
were mandatory.  A course in basic automobile mechanics/electrics
would be good too, so that people can get to know the parts well
enough to understand what they can and can’t do.

I took a course that touched on some of the emergency handling,
it was a motorcycle class from an organization called ABATE.
It was great, very educational.  In a whirlwind weekend course
they started people from the ground-up, we started by walking the
motorcycles around the training area, then riding them while a
partner pushed them, and lots of lecturing before even starting
the engines.  By the end of the course they had us riding in
tight circles just inches from the rider ahead, figure-eights
with five other student riders, and riding over 4x4 inch wood
boards, stopping practice with front and rear brakes separately
and combined.  The course was well done.

──────────────────────────────

On Rhonda Smith’s testimony from that “Consumerist”
article… she’s talking about the cruise control accelerating
the car… That is what cruise-control is made to do, when
you engage the cruise-control you choose to give-up control of
the accelerator pedal
, her testimony makes it sound like
that is a surprise to her.  She’s talking about a Lexus, why
is it that every time I hear about this Toyota problem it is a
different model of car?  When they make a different car model,
they typically design all new parts, one problem wouldn’t occur in
two different models, each made with different parts.  This story
is getting a good amount of hyperbole, I wish they’d start nailing
down some facts.  Ms. Smith sounds less than technically savvy
to me, I have a hard time accepting her overwhelming cascade
of failures.  If she needed a god to slow her car down to 35
mph (a perfectly ordinary cruising speed and not an emergency
in cities), then I think she needs to learn more about driving,
she should not need any god to stop her own car.  Didn’t she even
disengage the cruise-control?

I am sad that she had a rough time, testimony sound very
frightened, but I’m not confident that she acted to reduce the
danger of that situation.

──────────────────────────────

Now I hear the journalists saying that Toyota’s problems are
electronic, the journalist are raising the spooky specter of
software bugs on my radio as I write this, more vagueness and
rumors IMHO.  I sincerely hope that Toyota engineers can get
their hands on the real problem, so that we can hear an end to
this conjecture and hyperbole that keeps being broadcast.

From the vague reports I hear, I can’t make any conclusions…
whatever the real problem is, at least it seems to be rare, for
such a popular brand I think it would be more widespread if it
was truly a design flaw, such as a software bug, or an inadequate
electrical part.  I hope that the Toyota owners are comforted to
hear that.

“In a breathtakingly candid moment, Jim Lentz, Toyota’s chief
operating officer, said that the automaker’s recalls over
unintended acceleration would ‘not totally’ prevent future
incidents.”

The web site of the “Car Talk” radio show has
some reports on Toyota’s issues.  I really don’t think that Toyta has
figured out the problem yet, they are taking an educated
guess.

──────────────────────────────

Jules, wow!  That is so much trouble for one year of driving!
I’m frightened for you.  Do stay away from trucks, my car has
been hit by debris from trucks, the small debris is bad enough,
but re-bar!

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Posted: 25 February 2010 12:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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I can conceive of an electronic failure. Usually, applying the brakes automatically disengages the cruise control. If this trigger is electronic, a small malfunction could prevent the disengagement command and when the woman applied the brakes gently to slow the car down, the cruise control responded with trying to regain speed, and surged forward.

[ Edited: 25 February 2010 12:28 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 25 February 2010 05:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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jump_in_the_pit - 24 February 2010 11:46 PM

when you engage the cruise-control you choose to give-up control of the accelerator pedal

Yes, but doesn’t applying the brakes usually “shut off” cruise control? My current car doesn’t have cruise control, but my old car did. When I was in cruise control, and I hit the gas pedal if someone ahead of me slowed down, it shut off cruise control and I had to start applying the gas manually again. Maybe the newer models are different?

Do stay away from trucks, my car has been hit by debris from trucks, the small debris is bad enough, but re-bar!

It is one of the hazards of commuting on I-95!  LOL I generally find truck drivers to be more careful than car drivers, and very professional. I think my car is just a magnet for freak happenings.  wink

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Posted: 25 February 2010 05:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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Jules - 25 February 2010 05:07 AM
jump_in_the_pit - 24 February 2010 11:46 PM

when you engage the cruise-control you choose to give-up control of the accelerator pedal

Yes, but doesn’t applying the brakes usually “shut off” cruise control? My current car doesn’t have cruise control, but my old car did. When I was in cruise control, and I hit the gas pedal if someone ahead of me slowed down, it shut off cruise control and I had to start applying the gas manually again. Maybe the newer models are different?

Actually tapping the brakes would normally disengage cruise control. As I mentioned above, it would be a perfectly good explanation.
I guess time will tell.

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Posted: 25 February 2010 03:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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DarronS - 24 February 2010 02:43 PM

<snip>

However, I did witness a Toyota with a sticking throttle last week. I was at a bookstore buying a text for my English Comp class. After walking out the store and getting into my car I saw a woman pull up two spots to my right in a five or six year old Toyota Camry. Just as she was about stopped the car jumped the curb and hit a large support post on the corner of the building. Luckily the woman standing on the sidewalk smoking a cigarette was behind the post, but she almost peed her pants anyway. The driver barely spoke English, and was obviously distressed. She kept asking me what to do, and wanted to know if she should try to move her car, which aside from the damage was pretty well wedged between the support post and a parking block. The other witness and I convinced the driver to call the police and leave her car where it was until a tow truck arrived. I left after giving the police a statement.

If the woman had been driving an Audi I would have dismissed this as driver error, but she was in a Camry and was decelerating, so she most likely had her foot on the brake when the car accelerated. The right front fender was badly damaged, and the headlight was shattered. Luckily no one was injured.

Sorry, buy why couldn’t this also have been driver error? Perhaps her foot slipped off the brake and pressed the gas?

Take care,

Derek

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Posted: 25 February 2010 03:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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This could have been driver error, Derek. Given the recall associated with this model, though, it may have been the car. We really don’t know.

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Posted: 25 February 2010 03:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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Gotcha.

Take care,

Derek

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