Friday, March 12, 2010
Controversy rages over 'runaway Toyota' story

The story of a “runaway” Toyota Prius on a Southern California interstate Monday has since raised a lot of controversy. The driver in question, Jim Sikes, told his story to CNN's Ted Rowlands. He said he was unable to stop the car as it went over 90 mph and called 911 for help.


iReport car reviewer romanmica has been especially interested in this story. He often shares videos of the many test drives he takes, and his honest opinions on each car and how it handles on CNN iReport, but this time it was a little different. Using an “unscientific test,” romanmica wanted to see how easy it was to stop a runaway Prius (needless to say, don’t try this at home). Check out the video above.


“I tested the car on a very seldom-used road and of course made sure that the car would stop in a safe distance,” romanmica told me. “I wanted to show in a very straightforward manner that while the technology may be somewhat new and different, the way you stop the car is very much the same” as a traditional car.


As for Toyota, they told CNN earlier this week that they were investigating the incident. There is also a brake feature that U.S. safety regulators are considering for all cars.


If you would like to weigh in on this issue, especially if you own a Toyota Prius yourself, feel free to chime in here.

220 Comments
March 12, 2010
Click to view Bachheadman's profile

Very nice report. Your video should become mandatory driver's training for everyone on the road. Anyone who doesn't know how to put a runaway car in neutral and use the brakes shouldn't be behind the wheel in the first place.

 

As for the electronic throttle controversy, the NHTSA should mandate a failsafe (independent redundant system) brake override. This is a no-brainer. Why debate it any longer.

March 12, 2010
Click to view videopage's profile

I think the acceleration problem should be investigated using police detective procedures.

First, I'd like to know if the subject vehicles had cruise control that might have inadvertently kicked in.

I'd also like to see a list of every parts manufacturer who supplied items for each of the complained-of vehicles.

If there is a coincidence of part suppliers, I would like to know exactly what parts they supplied for each of the problem vehicles - and if the same part appears on more than one vehicle, I'd make it a 'part of interest.'

From personal experience, I know that a speed typist can inadvertently hit a key that when combined with another one, will do something to the screen that is unintended. Can that be possible with a vehicle?

A light bulb either works or it doesn't: that's the way it is with electrical things.

I would think that either a car accelerates on its own, or it doesn't.

There might be some combination of things that a driver does, at a certain speed, that makes the acceleration kick in... and those combinations are not infinite in number... let the testing begin.

March 12, 2010
Click to view rsherw0001's profile

I would like to see you floor the accelerator, bring the car to about 60mph and then while still depressing the accelerator, see if you can stop the car with brakes.

March 12, 2010
Click to view mrlexus's profile

it is real simple to stop a speeding Toyota.  Hang up your cell phone and shut off the ignition.  Leave car in gear. Transmission will help slow car down.  Stand on break pedel.

March 12, 2010
Click to view pvduffy's profile

Both very good comments and I agree totally. What I do not get with Jim Sikes story in the "runaway" Prius is he was afraid to put the car in neutral because he did not know what the car would do is a little suspicious. He would rather continue speeding in a runaway car and call 911?! I know people react in crisis situations differently but this guy to me seems to be just looking for a nice cash settlement from Toyota or he is just an idiot.

March 12, 2010
Click to view WMesser58's profile

My only question is does this apply to the camry or corolla I have friends that just bought both and if not what would be the procedures to stop these cars.

March 12, 2010
Click to view TundraTRD's profile

Oh my god, did you really ask that question? I am so happy someone finally posted how to stop a car from accelerating. This method will work on any vehicle. Anyone that doesn't know how this simple concept works should retake a driving test. The media is getting a frenzy and placing the blame on Toyota. Sure Toyota is at fault for the pedal issue, but the drivers of these accidents gaining media attention should also be at fault for not knowing what the N on the shifter column stands for.

March 12, 2010
Click to view skip1973's profile

Romanmica,

 

Thank you for the report. Having said that I could not agree more with you that it is an unscientific test and this at the very best.

 

Two thoughts immediately came to mind after watching your video, and that is you are making two serious assumptions:

 

(1) You are assuming that the software accepted the command to go to Neutral;

 

(2) You are assuming that the same software accepted the commands to brake. The brakes in the Prius are "by-wire" and as such are controller by the software.

 

If the systems software does not accept those commands one had better hope that they're not going 60MPH and approaching a traffic jam with nowhere to go save into the back end of a Tractor-Trailer.

 

Last I knew, Toyota was denying that there existed any software issues and this despite a wealth of evidence to the contrary (cf: SIU). I believe that Toyota, whose products I have purchased for years, will eventually capitulate.

 

In any event thank you for taking the time to prepare this video. Sadly, many have already walked away from their monitor believing they're all set should their Prius suddenly accelerate.

 

TundraTRD: "This method will work on any vehicle". Not true. If the issue is a software problem it will not - REPEAT NOT - "work on any vehicle" if that vehicle is channeling driver input to a computer controlled system. It will however work on, say, a 1969 Pontiac...

 

Admin

WhatAreYouListeningToRightNow.Com

 

March 12, 2010
Click to view Rover316's profile

I know how to stop a Toyota.  Just don't buy one.

March 12, 2010
Click to view artfulhome's profile

This story sounded fishy to me from the beginning. Why would you let your car accelerate to over 90 mph before taking action to stop? You would have the presence of mind to call 911, (at 94 mph!), but NOT to just put the car in neutral, or stomp on both the brake and emergency brake, or shut the car off? It sounds to me like someone looking for some attention and a payoff, sorry. I have a Prius. My husband is worried, hearing all these stories, but for me, it just doesn't add up. I guess we should just be happy that there wasn't a kid in a balloon involved.

March 12, 2010
Click to view BrightGeorge's profile

As you've already admitted this was a pretty unscientific test and it's doubtful you've recreated a "runaway" Prius, just a normally operating Prius where you stomp the accelerator to the floor. 

 

As both an experienced software developer and a Toyota hybrid owner (Camry) I have the suspicion that the issue isn't a mechanically stuck accelerator - which would have resembled the scenario you created.  With all the complex drive-by-wire systems involved (accelerator, gas/electric balance in the CVT, cruise control, ABS, VDIM, VCS and TRAC) it seems possible that a unique, unpredicted and untested set of conditions puts the car into an unbalanced, uncontrolled state of acceleration.  Since the gas, shifter and brake pedal are all just inputs into the engine control system, it may do no good at all to let up on the gas or step hard on the brakes if the ECS is in an 'out of bounds' state.

 

Fortunately the Parking ("Emergency") Brake isn't part of the ECS and it is likely to slow your car down.

March 12, 2010
Click to view Lafondle's profile

Why would a person even want one of those under powered appliances anyway? My refrigerator is more stylish and doesn't try to kill me.

March 12, 2010
Click to view TundraTRD's profile

I am referencing simple mechanics and know how. You should always attempt to place your vehicle into neutral to disengage the engine from the transmission, electronic faults aside. The fact that the gentleman in the Prius along with many others that don't know how this procedure works is much more unnerving than the Toyota issue.

March 12, 2010
Click to view skip1973's profile

BrightGeorge: Absolutely. Well put.

March 12, 2010
Click to view tony46c's profile

I suspect that most of these "runaway Toyota", "mysterious acceleration" stories have their origin in people mistakingly hitting the accelerator pedal instead of the brakes. And of course you inevitably have all kinds of people trying to cash in.

 

Many people have forgotten the story of the "runaway Audis" in 1989. It was concluded that this was also a case of mistaking pedals. And it can happen, especially when people are in a hurry, panick, etc. Not Audi's fault and I think in this case also not Toyota's fault.

March 12, 2010
Click to view Tom11's profile

skip1973

Why are people not reading more than the first sentence of an operating manual ????

From the Toyota Manual:

The braking system is a "brake-by-wire" design. When the brake pedal is depressed, a computer sends a signal to the regenerative system to begin to slow the vehicle. If the pedal is pressed further, the standard hydraulic brakes are operated. Front disc brakes are teamed with rear drums, and an anti-lock system (ABS) is standard.

 

Not to mention the emergency break which is purely mechanical.

My goodness, why is it so difficult to understand that there are hundreds of nerds behind wheels of Toyotas and thousends behinds all other brands.

Poor toyota has an issue with one floormate in a Camry and a unbalanced switch from regenerative braking to standard braking in the Prius.  Thats not good but nothing different from all other manufacturers.

Now the problem is that any jerk can report "ballon priuses" to take off and don't come back and they get prime time on CNN and any other media.

Poor America what is happening to you.

March 12, 2010
Click to view tony46c's profile

I've owned several Toyotas and they are much better manufactured than GM, Ford, Chrysler, etc. (not to mention Korean cars which are in a lower level altogether from the US cars). 

 

This witchhunt is really becoming crazy, especially since it's now coming out that ABCNews doctored their footage to make Toyota cars seem unsafe. This is really weird and dangerous.

March 12, 2010
Click to view popcornfx's profile

While the regenerative braking system of the Prius is complex, contrary to what some have said here, the Prius DOES NOT have drive by wire braking.  Every passenger vehicle (not large trucks) sold in the US is required by the DOT to have hydraulic brakes.  These are required so that with no power the car can still be stopped.  Unless the hydraulic system loses fluid or has air in it, these will stop the car without power.  The guy in the video proved it when he shut the car off and was still able to stop it.  He said the ABS didn't work but the brakes still did.  So please don't say this was a computer glitch in the car.  The only glitch was between the Runaway Prius driver's ears.

March 12, 2010
Click to view bignose's profile

If I am recalling the circumstances of this runaway Prius, the driver was standing on the brake and he attempted to put the car in neutral, push the power button, etc. Did not work for him. Now granted, panic may have set in and he might not have reacted correctly. But it does not sound like a stuck accelerator pedal problem.

 

But it is my opinion that at least some the runaway problems that drivers have experienced are being caused by a bug in the "drive by wire" software or firmware, or perhaps a malfunction in one of the myriad computers that are present in this vehicle.

 

And as a matter of disclosure, I own and drive a 2005 Prius and love my car and my wife drives a 2008 Prius and loves her car as well.

March 12, 2010
Click to view Tom11's profile

The driver claimed he was standing on the brakes.

The brakes are hydraulic, they will work if you indeed stand on the paddle. Push button switch and neutral shifter are both taking three seconds to acknowledge your intends. So you need to keep cool for three seconds even if you have real problems with the car caused by whatever you want to imagine.

March 12, 2010
Click to view Tom11's profile

sorry for the typo: pedal of course not paddle.

 

March 12, 2010
Click to view MathPirate's profile

I have a 2007 Prius that I've owned for three years and it wasn't until this overhyped recall scare that I found out how to shut off the car or put it in neutral while in motion.

The maker of this video glosses over how he's doing it, but it's not completely straightforward.  Look at what he does.  To put it in Neutral, he doesn't shift to "N".  He shifts to "R".  Shifting to "N" by itself while you're in motion does nothing because of the way the shifter joystick is configured.  You either have to hold it at N for several seconds or shift it to R to get it in neutral.  Then, to turn the car off, he holds down the power button for three seconds, like it's a misbehaving computer.  I glanced through my Owner's Manual the other day and saw no reference to that being an override.  Neither one of those things are going to be going through your mind while you're in a blind panic of a runaway car.  If you don't know what's going on, both of those things are going to scare the living daylights out of you and make you think that the car isn't responding to ANYTHING.  Both the power button and the way neutral works are probably considered safety features, so you don't accidentally shut your car off while you're on the freeway and reaching for the radio, although they are definitely poorly designed and poorly documented.

As far as the emergency brake goes, if you're flooring it, you will move, even with the E-Brake on.  That's not a Prius thing, that's not a Toyota thing.  I've never owned a car where the emergency brake would fully stop the car.  Admit it, you've driven a couple of blocks with your brake engaged now and then.

So, the driver of the runaway car probably did try to apply the emergency brake, shift to neutral and turn the car off, only to have it not respond to either one of those, either.  At that point, faced with a car that isn't slowing down and isn't responding to attempts to slow it down, that's probably when the driver called 911.  You would too.

BTW, hitting "P" should put it in neutral, as well, however no one is going to think that shifting to reverse or pressing park will put the car in neutral.  If I were in a runaway car, my instinct would tell me that putting the car in park or in reverse while I'm going 90 would only make the situation worse.  Even knowing exactly how it's supposed to work, I hesitated to try it at only 10 MPH.

March 12, 2010
Click to view mdfarmer69's profile

Funny how no one picked up on the california guy saying "i was standing on both pedals." He immediately corrected his freudian slip by lying and stating "I stood on the brake pedal"   Hmmm,  they guy is a scam artist.  Do a little research on this scumbag.

March 12, 2010
Click to view romanmica's profile

Skip1973 and BrightGeorge,

 

As both and automotive journalist and a long time driver I have the suspicion that given rust, road conditions, poor build quality and an earth quake and "a unique, unpredicted and untested set of conditions" could lead to all four wheels of the Prius falling off....just saying ;-)

 

OK Guys sorry I'm just being a smart ass.

 

Here's what I found out happens with the accelerator pushed to the floor:

 

1) When you put the car in neutral it immediately cuts the power to the wheels from both the electric motor and gas engine. Basically the car just coasts and the brakes work normally.

 

2) When you turn off the car (after holding down the start/stop button for three seconds the car turns off and the steering gets heavy (no power boost) but brakes still work but in an emergency hard stop situation they lock up (no ABS).

 

FYI: For what's it is worth airplanes have been flying by wire for years and they are safer because of it.

 

It would seem to me that drive by wire should be no less safe.

 

Thanks for all your great comments.

 

Much appreciated!

   

March 12, 2010
Click to view Jatmn's profile

Possible computer issues besides mechanical?

 

It's a good report, but rather simplistic.  I've been in the Information Technology industry for several decades.  I have numerous manufacturer certifications and have performed repairs on laptops, workstations, servers, and storage silos.

 

On rare but still significant occasions, I have observed computers to hard-lock in the on-state with the on/off button unresponsive and temperature controlled fans locked in the full power position.  The only recourse was to physically unplug the power supply cords.  There could be several issues, hardware and software that could produce the same symptoms.  On mission critical systems, another computer would automatically take over the functions.

 

Aircraft have been using fly by wire instead of direct physical controls for years.  Unlike most auto systems, aircraft use multiple backup channels and computer modules in case the failure of one. 

 

Given the ever increasing complexity and interoperability of computer modules in autos that operate in such extreme environments, Toyota and others should not be so quick to dismiss possible computer issues and perhaps take some lessons from the aerospace industry.

March 12, 2010
Click to view doonerist's profile

Good for you for showing this, romanmica!  I suspected from the start that the guy in San Diego was just padding and documenting his case for a lawsuit against Toyota.  The very fact that he phoned 911 is suspect, but when he was asked by the dispatcher whether he had tried to put the car into neutral, or to turn it off, and he said that he was too busy steering, and too scared, etc., to do so, he lost all credibility.  He wasn't too flummoxed to phone for help and hold a conversation (I would have a hard time doing so at 90mph, whereas I would instinctively try to shift the car into neutral or turn it off if it accelerated unexpectedly).  He appeared on three news networks and was careful to mention how traumatized he was on all three interviews.  He dramatically announced for the camera that he would never drive his car again.

 

Nothing but an opportunist, in my opinion.

March 12, 2010
Click to view doonerist's profile

Bright George, here is an excerpt from a report on the San Diego NBC affiliate:

 

"Sikes said the CHP officer arrived shortly afterward and told him to use the emergency brake. He also tried to shut off the car, which it finally did, then he rolled to a stop near the La Posta Bridge in the area of the Golden Acorn Casino."

 

So it was a combo of the emergency brake slowing the car **AND** his shutting the car off that stopped the acceleration (oh, yeah: that and going up a hill).  He may or may not have actually tried to put the car into neutral (I doubt that he did), and that may or may not have worked if he did (I think that it would have worked).  But it is clear that the on/off button WORKED, was unaffected by any supposed software problem, and was an effective option for him from the time the acceleration allegedly got away from him.  He did not exercise that option until he had plenty of witnesses to his (real, enhanced, or manufactured?) drama.

March 12, 2010
Click to view framptn1972's profile

why not take VIN # of all car complaints per each type and see when they were manufactured, and what batch throttle and computer components were used... Maybe find that there was some funny buisness at a local ISO cert supplier.

 

If the VIN indicate they were from a certain manufacture date, surely there's paperwork showing who built them.

March 12, 2010
Click to view AustinTom's profile

Considering the advanced state of engineering in the world, I find it hard to believe that there is only a single car manufacturer having this issue.  For this reason I believe there is a huge cover up happening for European cars having the same issue as well (remember there are no longer any American car manufacturers as they were all bought by the Europeans.  If you don't believe me, try to find a stock symbol on NYSE or NASDAQ for GE, Ford, or Chrysler).  Insurance companies are helping to cover this up.

March 12, 2010
Click to view the5threvolt's profile

I am sorry that I have to state this, and you may think I am trolling, but you are very correct that this is not a scientific test, and your results are WRONG.

 

First, your car was not truly run-a-way. Your car was operating normally because you were accelerating on your will. That's hardly run-a-way.

 

Second, Prius is drive-by-wire. When you experience a run-a-way, that means something in the software is not working, possibly queued with garbage, not being able to process any kind of information.

That means 1) Shifting to neutral does not mean anything because the car WILL NOT process that information

2) Pressing that power button for 3 seconds does not mean anything because the car WILL NOT process that information.

 

For all those who believes that shifting to neutral and turning the power off will stop your car, it WILL NOT! I am a software engineer and when your software is queued up for whatever reason and it does not process information, only way to restart the car is through "watchdog" which basically restarts the system. From what I see, Toyota cars DO NOT WORK properly to restart their system when something does not work.

 

Therefore, I will have to tell you that YOUR TEST IS COMPLETELY WRONG AND NOT A REPRESENTATION OF WHAT YOU CAN DO WHEN YOUR CAR BECOMES A RUN-A-WAY! STOP GIVING FALSE INFORMATION TO PEOPLE!

 

@Tony46C. I think you haven't driven any Korean cars lately. As an engineer who's been looking at latest stats for recall and problems reported, reliability tests, auto reviews, I will bet my money that my Hyundai will last longer than your Toyota that you buy today.

March 12, 2010
Click to view fischman's profile

I have a feeling this 'runaway' story of Jim Sikes is going to turn out a lot like the 'flyaway' baloon boy. More information is going to be made about Jim Sikes. Stay tuned.

March 12, 2010
Click to view the5threvolt's profile

I re-read my post and it sounds too harsh.

I apologize about that.

 

Anyways, better solution is to pull an emergency brake when all fails, which I hear is mechanical. Of course, you might have to worry about some serious damage to your car, or your car catching on fire, etc.

 

I apologize again for some harsh sentences.

March 12, 2010
Click to view mastersmith's profile

How the hell did that guy reach down to the padel and try to pull on it. If he do that, there is no way he can see over the dash board. Hell, when I drive i can even touch my shoe without lift it up a little. I think the runaway prius guy planned the whole thing.

March 12, 2010
Click to view Barbiedoll1's profile

I believe the guy..America is buying everything from countries that hate us, who is to say that the computer system in these cars do not have viruses to purposely harm Americans.  Managment only cares about there bonuses and know about glitches and do not cares. I currently am watching the management at my employer collect millions of dollars from exercising stock options and bonuses as they offshore more and more jobs..knowing that the offshore company is causing major errors..increasing its audit risk...yet..they are offshoring more..hmm..they dont care that they are hurting people, destroying the company and destroying America..they will be rich..and for some odd reason, the press isn't reporting this, Americans think we will magically recover? How? Engineering, HR, IT Accounting Finance, manufacturing customer service jobs are disappearing? America..start defending your jobs!

March 12, 2010
Click to view birdbaby's profile

Here's what happened.  Mr Sikes got caught speeding by a highway patrolman and used this as an excuse to get out of a ticket.  How else could a highway patrolman get to him that fast when he was going 90 miles an hour?  HELLO!!!!  I have a 2010 Toyota Prius and the ONLY problem I have had with any deal with Toyota is working with the slime Finance Manager at New Bern Toyota in North Carolina.  Toyota makes a quality product, but they hired an idiot for that position!

March 13, 2010
Click to view Jatmn's profile

Perhaps Mr Sikes is “Nothing but an opportunist”. Maybe yes, maybe no.  What of the rest?

 

The California Highway Patrol officer Mark Saylor and three members of his family who were killed in a Toyota also apparently didn't (or couldn't) put the car into neutral and turn it off.  Listen to the 911 tape.  Also “Nothing but an opportunist”?

 

Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak is also among Toyota car owners who say their vehicles accelerate unintentionally. His 2010 Toyota Prius can unintentionally accelerate to as much as 97 miles  per hour when he uses cruise control to increase his speed, he said in an interview.  Perhaps Woz is also “Nothing but an opportunist” and maybe he is also technological challenged, unable to correctly operate his car.

 

The point is, there is a growing amount of evidence concerning a deadly problem...  See my previous post.

March 13, 2010
Click to view Sforce's profile

Anyone who dies in a car accident by not putting the car in neutral, kinda deserves it.

March 13, 2010
Click to view interlopert's profile

Rule of law, freedom of expression/speech/press, human rights, personal liberty are some of the  fundamentals of any democratic society and the US is the very symbol of that. In order to protect our rights and uphold the spirit of the constitution, each and every citizen has a resposibility to make an effort to be well informed about the issues that effect us all. Similarly, the press/media has the  vital responsibilty of providing responsible and accurate information for the public at large. It is worrisome to see that the media as a whole is moving away from responsible journalism and becoming more inclined towards sensationalism as has been demonstrated by this TOYOTA WITCHHUNT and this ridiculous Prius hoax clearly perpetrated by a con artist(SIKES). I am deeply disappointed that CNN for it's part has not given enough coverage regarding the hoax(it's all over the internet)particularly since it(CNN) so eagerly participated in reporting the purported runaway Prius story. 

March 13, 2010
Click to view Jatmn's profile

Sforce and interlopert

 

I totally agree with your right of free speech.  You have the right to accuse and deny a growing body of evidence.

 

The5threvolt, a computer professional, is correct.  There is a very good possibility that with a run-away, the system is locked up and cannot be turned off or even put into neutral. The controls simply will NOT respond.

 

Thanks to redundant systems in aircraft, when (not if) a critical system fails, another takes over.  Redundant systems and fail-safes are being fought by the auto industry just as they fought seat belts and airbags. 

March 13, 2010
Click to view lennoxvale's profile

Personally, I believe that your have proved one of two things (of course I already knew how to stop the Prius or any other car before you ran your test!):

 

1. The guy who let his Prius run away is just plan stupid.

 

2. The guy was planning his future lawsuit against Toyota.

 

I recommend that he go with option 1, as this may limit his own liability!

March 13, 2010

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March 13, 2010
Click to view jayman419's profile

The guy in California who said he "didn't want" to put the car in neutral was committing a scam. His 2006 Prius is not involved in the recall, and his back payments made him want to get rid of it. It was Balloon Boy at 90 mph, nothing more.

 

Any of these techniques could have helped him, or really anyone who's problem is a foot (of any origin) placed firmly upon the gas pedal. In fact taking that foot, whoever it may belong to, off the gas pedal would help in any scenario described in this simulation.

 

But this is useless in regards to the new Prius' problems, and I wouldn't bet my life on any of these things working if you're in one that's running away. Jamming your foot on the accelerator is not the same thing as a computer glitch, and so far it's been (almost) impossible to duplicate the glitch.

 

But if you look at the fun the Woz was able to have with his cruise control, things start to make sense. Either we have a case of hundreds or even thousands of people who are too stupid to put the car in neutral and apply the brake, or we have a car that is not responding to people's attempts to do these things.

 

People are too much of a variable. Stupidity is difficult to quantify, but I tend to think odds are fairly good that selecting people randomly could result in an entire subgroup of idiots. But in this case we're not dealing with a random sample. We're dealing with people who are concerned enough about the environment to spend their money to improve it, and comfortable enough with new technology that they are willing to experiment during their daily commute.

 

That's too close to call, so instead we should look at the one variable that has remained constant.... the vehicles themselves.

 

Because everything... EVERYTHING in this car is computer controlled. There is no direct physical way to cut power to the computer. There is no direct physical way to cut power to the engine. There is no direct physical way to force the brakes on. When you put in your key, it unlocks a big button that suggests to the computer you are ready to drive or ready to shut down. Supposedly, holding in that button resets the computer. If you've ever had to deal with a BSOD by flipping the switch on the back of the box, you know how useful the button up front is.

 

But the Prius doesn't have "a switch on the back of the box"... While driving a Prius, you are only offering suggestions to this computer. When you press the gas pedal, or the brake, or even physically move the gear selector, all you are doing is asking the computer to analyze current conditions and make the best decision it can in regards to your suggestions. Something as minor as a bumpy road can increase your stopping distance significantly, and that's on a Toyota that is functioning perfectly.

 

That computer HAS to be in charge of the engine and the transmission and the brakes or they couldn't guarantee their mileage, which they only do by switching between gas and electric power, recapturing energy from the braking systems, and trying to keep the engine within the narrow power band of maximum efficiency.

 

The only reason these cars have a direct physical link between the steering wheel and the axles is because federal law requires it.

 

That's not conclusive either. But let's go back to the beginning. This all started back in Feb. because people complained about the brakes. So Toyota put in a computer patch to fix the brakes. Now suddenly cars are accelerating out of control. Where's our most likely point of failure?

 

I say it's pretty obvious. In my opinion, there are only two ways to fix this:

1)A proper software patch, which will probably be cheaper for Toyota, but if Feb's attempt is any indication, not 100 percent effective, or

2) equipping all vehicles with a kill switch to override the electronic controls, which would be 100 percent effective but would basically require a major rebuild on thousands of cars.

 

Which way do YOU think Toyota will approach this problem?

 

For the record, I don't own a car. I don't work for Toyota or any of it's competitors, and I really don't care how you spend your money or your time.

 

Just don't rely on this guy's report if you do own one of these cars, because he's only going to get you killed.

March 13, 2010
Click to view OldFart57's profile

I am getting sick and tired of all these "out-of-control" stories.  I grew up in the era of carburetor's.  Back then things got stuck in the carburetor, throttle linkage fell off, and springs broke.  I like everyone else back then took driver's ed which covered this topic.  If someone wants to write a real story they should compare today's problems back to the 50's and 60's.  I think they will find today's problems are minimal.  Today's problems are caused by driver's with absolutely no common sense, poor education, and too many lawyers trying to get rich quick.

March 13, 2010
Click to view MDMick's profile

I had wondered if turning the Prius off or shifting into neutral was somehow blocked at high speeds - much as turning the key to "lock" in most typical cars can't be done if you're not in park.

 

This is amazingly simple. But I remember a sign on a coworker's wall: "When you're up to your neck in alligators, there's no time to think about draining the swamp."

 

If you're behind the wheel, it accelerates, and you're heading for a close wall, group of people, etc. I guess you're in the same boat.

 

On the other hand, there's that guy who was flying down a highway or interstate who had time to call 911 but never thought of the on switch or gear shift!

March 13, 2010
Click to view pdlane's profile

I drive one of the first 2004 Prius to arrive on the East Coast.  I read the Owner's Manual which has the instructions for controlling a run-away engine.  I tried the recommendations.... moving the transmission to Neutral and depressing the Power button for in excess of 3 seconds while on a track not a public highway while doing 100mph..... It works...

 

My recommendation is that before a dealer turns over a car to a new owner that the new owner be made to read the Owner's Manual...

 

Now that Toyota has given the NHSTA black-box read-out equipment we will begin to see how many of these run-away incidents are driver error.... In this context... remember the similar problem with the Audi ...???

 

For an excellent analysis I recommend the Popular Mechanics article on the subject....

<http://www.popularmechanics.com/automotive/how_to/4347704.html>

March 13, 2010
Click to view Moses123's profile

CNN and other news media should perform a better evaluation and analysis of a story before spending too much airtime reporting on it. The story line should have been more like "man takes advantage of Toyota situation to display his lack of driving skills".

March 13, 2010
Click to view FastBoat's profile

The media did the same thing to Audi years ago with sudden acceleration. It all makes for good drama in the press. If all else fails, these drivers need to just step hard on the brake. Full throttle acceleration will not override the brake system. Believe me, the car won't like what you're doing to it. But it will stop.

 

It's amazing what auto companies have to design for in these days of litigation. You try and make it idiot proof and they just invent a better idiot. Sikes is looking for Toyota cash. Or as was said, busted for speeding. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 13, 2010
Click to view Rockblot's profile

In the early 80s, I used to own a Celica GTS Coup. If I was using Cruise Control and if a nearby Semi driver keyed his mike, it would cause acceleration issues with my car, and that's when cars had fewer electronics. They should explore insufficient shielding issues, what high power signals might have occurred in each accident area, and whether those signals overrode the electronic systems.

March 13, 2010
Click to view JAB62's profile

He forgot the first step. Hang up your d**m cell phone! Step 2 is to put the car into neutral. I may be mistaken but I don't beleive the Prius has a mechanical linkage directly to the transmission. Shift by wire as it were. If that is the case it might not go into neutral if there were a malfunction with the computer. The same goes for turning the car off. That button he pushed is not an E-Stop where contacts are forced apart by a mechanical plunger so again if the computer has an issue... Maybe that's what Toyota needs is a big red E-Stop mushroom button on the dash. That'll look attractive, but it would work if it breaks the power feed.

March 13, 2010
Click to view SBaircraft's profile

In general... I believe people should be required to learn how to drive before being issued a drivers license. The current licensing requirements are a joke and 40,000 Americans die in cars each year. As a leading cause of accidental death, we need to raise the training and licensing requirements.

 

 

March 13, 2010
Click to view JodiN's profile

Welcome to Number One Toyota......its' unfortunate that this is the way the world treats the biggest car maker.  There are lots of horror stories, but the media has taken this one and ran with it...did this NEVER happen before this year?  THAT seems weird to me!

Although I do not drive a Toyota I have had electrical problems with my vehicle that 'can't' be explained.  Our vehicle will shut off when driving while wet.  imagine our panic driving at 65 MPH and to have the car turn off, nothing, no power steering, no brakes, nothing!  It would correct itself after a couple seconds but I couldn't imagine what would happen if I were driving on a curved road or if  Ineeded to stop quickly.  Do not be so quick to judge people, it is hard to imagine what you would do in this situation if you haven't experienced it.  Our dealership claims to not know of any one else that has had this happen, again I must wonder of ALL the same vehicles as mine out there and ours is the ONLY one?  The Toyota story is far from over (and far from unique)

March 13, 2010
Click to view rudejohn's profile

I agree most with your final statement.  It's wonderful to educate people on how to stop their vehicles in the case of an emergency; the better question is: "Why is an automaker building the first vehicles in the history of the world where we even have to worry about this?"

March 13, 2010
Click to view aaarrrgggghh's profile

I'll be Gabourey Sidibe could stop a speeding Prius.

March 13, 2010
Click to view mythoughts12's profile

Great report!  I'm off to the Toyota Dealer.

March 13, 2010
I do not like 'runaway Toyota',it is no good
March 13, 2010
Click to view FreeMan56's profile

Is there any shortage of idiots on the road in this country?

 

No.

 

Is there any shortage of people who will try and scam someone to get millions of dollars?

 

No.

March 13, 2010
Click to view Hazen's profile

This whole story is a hoax. It got national coverage because certain media outlets are totally on board with the "bash Toyota" campaign that is being orchestrated by our federal government. The only story I have been able to find on this where the reporter actually did his job is at Forbes.com under "Toyota Hybrid Horror Hoax."

March 13, 2010
Click to view jamast's profile

i have been a mechanic for almost forty years and i can assure you this problem is not new, neither is driver stupidity

i asked ten different people from 15 to 60 what they would do in the event their car "ran away"...none got it right, not one person had the common sense to just pop it into neutral..this tells me that we need to educate our new drivers better and just wait for the old fools to die off

when i was in the ussr back in the 70's you could end up in serious trouble for committing a "mechanical offense"... even running out of gas or not being able to explain or fix common problems could get you a fine

 

March 13, 2010
Click to view godfrey's profile

I guess because I have always had an understanding of how things work as I am very mechanically inclined - I naturally assume that others must know the same.  To me it just seems like common sense...I've known this since I started driving twenty years ago.

March 13, 2010
Click to view Donnkev's profile

we have a new 2010 Prius V and it is a fantastic vehicle. Great ride, powerful brakes and around 50mpg. I do wonder if smaller people who are close to the steering wheel could be (in a panic) pushing up on the cruise control stalk which is located in a less than ideal place almost under the steering wheel on the inside. Then again, it could be that the person, who I understand is heavily in debt, decided to invent a law suit.The car is awesome....we LOVE it.

March 13, 2010
Click to view MyCNN2cents's profile

I agree with Tundra TRD to a point. I doubt the driver's Ed courses teach this so it should be followed up on. You also need to ensure all of the methods will work with your vehicle. Depending on the age of your vehicle you need to ensure turning off your vehicle won't lock the steering wheel. Also if driving a manual transmission you can simply depress the clutch pedal and shift into neutral.

 

March 13, 2010
Click to view VirginiaJeff's profile

The first time I heard the report about the guy stuck at 90 miles an hour, I turned to the person next to me and said, "That guy's lying."  It reminded me of Tawana Brawley, and also the girl who claimed a black man carved Barack Obama's initials into her face: a story "too good" to be true.  Both his 9-1-1 call and his remarks to the press sounded like someone over acting.  And then there was his claim that he was afraid to put it in neutral, because it might have flipped the car.  Ridiculous.  The guy supposedly had enough presence of mind to dial 9-1-1, but couldn't bring himself to move the gear one notch to the letter "N."

March 13, 2010
Click to view davidreidok's profile

computer control of gas flow can be a good thing.  with no non computer back up, I think it is dangerous.

 

made my living off computers, now retired.

 

I do not think there is a fail safe computer program out there.  Especially when there are a bunch of inputs to be considered.

 

I drive a computer controled Toyota Tundra and do not like the computer controlled gas but that is the way things are going.

 

I feel the Congress should get off health care and pass legislation for a backup braking system not computer controlled.

 

My feeling is it is just a matter of time when conditions get right for these computer control systems to go berserk.   And, setting at a desk reading these procedures at our own pace is a lot different from controlling a run away car where a person might not be able to look down and adjust the gear shift or even hit the power button.

March 13, 2010
Click to view jesjenmom's profile

I'm sorry but when you're on an INTERSTATE and there's traffic around you plus the road has lots of curves, you do not always feel safe taking one hand off the steering wheel at 92MPH!

 

This man repeated over and over that by the time he'd reported the problem (911) he went from 60 to 90mph. I would be afraid to lift one hand too.  I might try it if there was no one coming to my rescue or on a deserted road.

 

They never said how but did say that the police helped him to stop the car. Neither the Toyota OR the police car showed any damage. How did they stop it?

March 13, 2010
Click to view sky027's profile

In one case a highway patrolman in a rented car lost control. His son in the backseat called 911 as the car raced to an intersection where the family eventually died in a crash.

Of course I thought, "turn the car off, put it in neutral," and wondered whether a trained officer would do just that but the car didn't respond--maybe there are electronic lockouts at high speeds?

I haven't heard a pointed discussion on whether this is an issue or if the operators couldn't think straight when they lost control of the car.

March 13, 2010
Click to view DzickDzock's profile

Arguing over what Sykes did to try and stop the car is pointless.  The fact is, these vehicles SHOULD NOT be inadvertently accelerating to high speeds and the fact that they do requires a solution, which has apparently eluded Toyota.

March 13, 2010
Click to view Arecibo's profile

I love all of this "maybe the computer didn't accept the command.." fear. These cars aren't running Windows. It's a distributed set of microcontrollers, each running independently, and written in low-level code. What does that mean? There's no OS that locks up. There's no poorly-written software that's an achilles heel for the entire system - and unless there's actual chip failure, which is exceedingly rare, each controller has no CHOICE but to accept commands. This software isn't outsourced to Pakistan and given no oversight; it's treated as close to engineering as humanly possible.

 

People who don't know much about embedded systems - and that's most people, so I don't fault you - shouldn't really speculate as to what's causing this, as most are coming from such an ignorant worldview as to think that your car has the same weaknesses as the computer you're on right now. It doesn't.

 

Does this mean that there ISN'T a problem? No, there certainly are core issues that are being diluted by the latest wall of bandwagon-hopping, responsibility-dodging, media-whoring morons. But don't tack on your limited knowledge on the subject to help spread fear about non-issues on top of it.

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March 13, 2010
Click to view proto39's profile

I agree with brightgeorge that it's a software glitch.  Chances are that this makes various switches and sensors stop working and 'freeze'.  The only thing you can rely on at that point is to put the car in neutral and use either normal brakes or the emergency brake (lightly) to slow the car down.

 

This issue with Toyota can be laughed at or said to be overblown.  But not everybody that's driving out there knows about how to react to an emergency.  Most people drive from A to B without ever thinking of the possibility of a malfunctioning part.  A well-made and safe car has no business accelerating this way!

 

I truly doubt it's just people mistaking that the gas pedal is the brake.  Toyota knew about this issue for a long time!  I suspect that their electronic components (including software) have had corner's cut and that's why we're here today.

March 13, 2010
Click to view DCConnect's profile

Okay finally someone out of the hundred stories I have read about this is not stupid.  I cant believe the masses dont know this simple thing.

 

All these people and reporters cant be this stupid.  If a gas pedal gets stuck, you put it in neutral.  Anybody should know this.  Then turn off the key to prevent blowing the engine up.  Come on people I am only 30 yrs old and I learned this when I was a kid, and it is just common knowledge.  I learn it by my pedal sticking on an old car and thought in about 2 seconds "how do I stop this"  Well how about neutral???  I have read all these stories and nobody ever says this.  have people really become this stupid.  Thanks CNN for finally telling people this.  Monkey see Monkey do

March 13, 2010
Click to view foxfire10's profile

One of the many benefits of a standard 5 speed,just step on the clutch. I would never own a small to mid-size truck or car with an automatic.

March 13, 2010
Click to view homebee's profile

Just floor the accelerator pedal and let it get into 50 and while still accelerating, floor the brake pedal. You should have done this in the "video test", because it would simulate the situation where computer is not shutting the engine off and letting the CVT into N...

March 13, 2010
Click to view JimCA's profile

This sounded fishy from the start.  Turns out the guy filed for bankruptcy in 2008 and now is $700K in debt again, including $21K on his Prius.  He's also made over $90K filing insurance claims for "stolen" items.  And one of his web sites is "AdultSwingLife.com".  And the arms of a man of normal stature are nowhere near long enough to reach the pedal with letting go of the steering wheel and bending down below it.  Hmm....

 

March 13, 2010
Click to view DanTheRed's profile

Don't forget the obvious:

 

look for something cheapl.

March 13, 2010
Click to view hnrast's profile

A dumbbell is someone who is characterized by self-centeredness and concerned exclusively with self, as opposed to the well being of the whole. Idiocy is the natural state of ignorance into which all dumbbells are indoctrinated, and citizens in the other hand are made, through well rounded education.

 

Roman politicians indulged and manipulated the masses with bread and circus, and American Politicians aren’t any different, they indulge the cravings of the eye in order to manipulate the dumbbells into submission with beer, pot, sports, and religion. Politicians know that the dumbbells like to reproduce themselves by proudly indoctrinating their children through public education into the arts of sodomy, abortion, euthanasia, divorce, and same sex marriage.  The dumbbells awards should go to those Americans acting like helpless little children that call 911 for assistance when their car’s accelerator pedals become stuck, instead of switching the car to neutral and the ignition to the off position.

 

The dumbbells comprise about ninety percent of the population, and since they can no longer submit to a king, now they submit to Uncle Sam, and look up to the State as protector and provider, and for their healthcare needs, including the right to free abortions. Nothing will ever change since the dumbbells are as death as a door nails spiritually speaking, nothing can save them from their sorry condition, unless God intervenes by quickening their spirit. Everything the dumbbells hold dear is nothing but a trap and a snare leading them straight to eternal damnation.

March 13, 2010
Click to view swerdnase's profile

So your Prius is obviously functioning correctly. I wonder how it would behave it it were not functioning correctly. 

March 13, 2010
Click to view DaveSatan's profile

The claimed senario is that the car goes into full or high throttle, ignores the shift lever, the engine OFF command, and the braking command. And that it does it so infrequently (one in billions of acceleration actions) that it has defied replication in the lab.

 

A software glitch? I don't think so. A timing error (clock jitter) in the computer? Maybe. This can be simulated in the lab. A loose connector? This can be simulated in the lab. A cosmic ray knocking a memory bit from a 1 to a 0? This can be simulated in the lab. Any hardware defect can be simulated in the lab by a competent team of electrical and software engineers.

 

 

March 13, 2010
Click to view scottdiamond's profile

It is amazing that a 61 year-old man didn't know how to shut off his Prius. All cars came with an owner's manual. If you don't have one, get one and read it.  You will find out what your 3000 lb. death machine can do.  A lot of people don't know how to turn on their taillights. VW/Audi and GM use daytime headlights that go on by themselves, but you need to turn the switch on for the taillights. The taillights are located at the rear of the vehicle. Read the section in the manual about the warning lamps. All new cars have tire pressure monitors. When the "tire" lamp lights up, that means you need to put air into the tires. Put the manual back in the car so the mechanics can find it.

March 13, 2010
Click to view swerdnase's profile

If your desktop computer freezes and requires a reboot, does that mean you were not operating it correctly? Would it not have happened if you had read the manual?

 

All of the car's functions are controlled by the onboard computer. If this computer or code has a glitch, any of the controls could go out. There is no physical connection from the shifter to the gears. The signal for shifting to Neutral is sent from the driver's shifter-lever to the computer, then the computer sends a signal to the gear-mechanism to physically move it out-of gear and into neutral. If the computer has a glitch or locks up, it doesn't matter if the driver has put the lever into N, the car will stay in gear and continue moving. Same with the brakes. He could have been stomping on them with all of his weight, but if the computer is not receiving the signal or not sending a signal to the physical braking mechanism, it would not matter how hard you pressed them, the car is not going to slow down.

March 13, 2010
Click to view pvduffy's profile

hnrast... WHAT?

March 13, 2010
Click to view pvduffy's profile

I am no expert, but I don't think the Prius is running a Windows OS ;-) I would think Toyota has skilled engineers (s/w, h/w and design) for its proprietary platform. This guy is a con artist looking for a big $MM settlement from Toyota. If you read previous posts, these Prius' supposedly have a back-up hydraulic brake system... as posted by Prius owners. This guy decided to call 911 instead of even trying to put the car in neutral or power the car down.

March 13, 2010
Click to view dmuellenberg's profile

Seems a lot of people think that this was a computer malfunction and that putting the car in neutral or shutting the car off would not work. According to the report, he did not try to put the car in neutral for fear it might slip into reverse, and he thought that turning the car off would lock up the steering wheel. So he didn't even try either one, it wasn't that the computer didn't respond. In fact, after the officer showed up and helped him slow down, he did eventually shut the car off when he got it under 50 mph, so the computer was responding. I'm not saying the accelerator wasn't stuck or malfunctioning, just that he was still able to put it in neutral and/or shut it off.

 

Some people are also jumping to his defense saying they wouldn't take their hands off the wheel at that speed either, yet he was able to call 911 on his cell phone, and also claim to try and reach down and pry up the gas pedal??

 

This guy is nothing more than a scam artist and just looking for an easy pay day. Just look at his history posted in an earlier post.

March 13, 2010
Click to view Beagle812's profile

Gees, people.  Get the facts.  The Prius braking system is both hydraulic and regenerative.  The regenerative side is computer controlled.  The hydraulic brakes work like normal brakes.  With the engine/motor combination and power output the Prius has, 90 mph would be close to the top speed.  There is no way it could run at 90 mph with the added resistance of someone standing on the brakes, even if the regenerative braking failed completely.

 

Scam artist?  You bet.

March 13, 2010
Click to view interlopert's profile

Rule of law, freedom of

expression/speech/press, human rights, personal liberty are some of the  fundamentals of any democratic society and the US is the very symbol of that. In order to protect our rights and uphold the spirit of the constitution, each and every citizen has a resposibility to make an effort to be well informed about the issues that effect us all.

 

Similarly, the press/media has the  vital responsibilty of providing responsible and accurate information for the public at large.

 

It is worrisome to see that the media as a whole is moving away from responsible journalism and becoming more inclined towards sensationalism as has been demonstrated by this TOYOTA WITCHHUNT and this ridiculous Prius hoax clearly perpetrated by a con artist(SIKES).

 

I am deeply disappointed that the MASS MEDIA for it's part has not given enough coverage regarding the hoax (it's all over the

internet) particularly since it (MASS MEDIA) so eagerly participated in reporting the purported runaway Prius story.

 

It's time we demand responsible journalism.

March 13, 2010
Click to view Nohj's profile

How to stop a run a way Toyota... First ask the idiot driving the car how they got their license in the first place, i'm sure every one of the runaway Toyotas have a driver that's been in at least 1 or more accidents in their driving history...

 

Now stopping the car... IT'S THE LEFT PEDAL TO SLOW DOWN AND THE RIGHT PEDAL TO SPEED UP! MORONS!

 

Me i drive a Manual transmission car i have to do 5 things at once at least every 5 minutes of driving. I've never had an accident and i've been driving for over 20 years...

 

All these dopes that have sprung up are the worst drivers out there, and are just using this recall hoax as an excuse for their poor ability to drive a Car that DOES MOST OF THE WORK FOR IT'S DRIVER...

You have to do 2 things to drive an automatic car and they can't even manage that simple task... XD

 

 

March 13, 2010
Click to view Nohj's profile

Oh hey this just also reminded me of a cool 1980's movie called "Maximum Overdrive" look it up on youtube!

XD

 

March 13, 2010
Click to view xibo's profile

SIMPLE - You DON'T!!

Turn on your cam and follow behind.

Not too close and be prepared for abrupt stop.

Be prepared to to contact Emergency services.

If this does not work then repeat the first line.

Otherwise you can smile about how lucky you are for not driving a Toyota.

March 13, 2010
Click to view AGDoc61's profile

Actually, his putting the car in neutral did NOT affect the speed.  It continues to do 51 mph until he puts his foot on the brake.

I have a 2008 Prius Hybrid and have never had trouble with it, but trying to put it in neutral did NOT work for me.  It completely ignores sliding the shifter to neutral.

 

I also have a 2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid.  It's gear shift mechanism is more standard and looks like it would probably work better than the purely electric shifter of the Prius for dropping into neutral an emergency situation.

 

My experiments with the Prius shifter were a little bothersome but not enough so to make me worry too much.

 

As for the comments listed as Nohj above and ending XD

You say you have been driving 20 years but write like a young teenager.  Learn not to call people names and realize that plenty of people (like me) have been driving for over 40 years, never had an accident and managed to make it all the way through a post without talking down to anyone (except perhaps you Nohj) or calling anyone names.

And I'll put my "whole world" expertise up against you any day.

 

 

 

 

March 13, 2010
Click to view DMan7's profile

From what I'm reading, I gather that to 97-99.5% of the general population, cars are black boxes.  Most people don't know the basic principles of how cars actually work; complicating matters now is how mechanical and electrical/software technologies are merging, and morphing the definition of things like a 'throttle'.

 

As such, the general populace can't even begin to fathom life-saving ideas such as shifting to neutral, or just turning the car off, or simply standing on the brakes with two feet even if the accelerator is stuck.  Its because the populace doesn't know what will happen if they try; or if the technique will work (in time); or if they will just look stupid.  Add to that the 'panic' that occurs during such an unintended acceleration, and you've got a recipe for disaster.

 

Cars CAN and WILL only get more complex.  With electric vehicles coming, an entirely new paradigm will be created for electric vehicles.  The days of the mechanical throttle are numbered.

 

Two things need to happen:

1. Carmakers need to make newer cars idiotproof and FAIL-SAFE.

2. Car owners have a responsibility to know how to control their vehicles, beyond just getting in, turning it on and driving away.

March 13, 2010
Click to view pvduffy's profile

I'm glad this discussion is still going on though it's under i-reports. There are many great posts from mostly "informed" people (only a handful of idiots). I wish it was still a link under CNN's home page but it appears "Does NBC have interest in '24'?" is more important than spirited debate of true public concern and what appears folks could use to be educated about what this story is all about. Car operation knowledge, more computer control taking the place of manual operation and a good source of information that young drivers (and older) should be prepared for "runaway" situations that are legitimate. Again, as many posted and I whole heartedly agree THIS GUY IS JUST A TRYING TO MAKE $MM OFF TOYOTA's legitimate issues which I know they will correct.

 

I've owned a Camry and the only thing that was a problem was many times I went to turn the volume up on the radio while in Drive, my arm accidentally hit the shifter and it just slid into Neutral! That's a problem when you are doing 70mpg with someone tailgating on the highway!

 

Additionally, President and CEO, Mr. Toyoda, has come out and apologized sincerely, as I saw it, for the troubles and is taking the issue very seriously and personally. I did not hear any "Thank you's" or "Sorry's" from GM and Chrysler's top guns for the taxpayer "multi-billion bailout" for their lack of concern of quality and competent management.

March 13, 2010
Click to view pvduffy's profile

additionally, with the luxury cars now parallel parking themselves and know when you swerve to self correct, as well as detect when you are distracted and not braking in time, the cars stop for you! What will happen when people are reliant on those systems when they are available to the masses? Real scary!!!

March 14, 2010
Click to view MiPOV's profile

I read the manuals. In my hybrid, the transmission control is a mechanical linkage. While it also has a electronic component (i.e. the engine goes to idle) - if you put it into neutral - it goes into neutral.

 

The guy who would not put it into neutral - didn't want to.

 

I also tried to step on the brake and gas full on both - the car stopped. It was unhappy, but it stopped.

 

The only way to get the brakes hot and bothered would be to only lightly step on the brake while holding full throttle.

 

I'm willing to bet that the runaway Prius of this week will be shown to be a hoax just like the kid in the balloon in Colorado.

 

I learned how to drive with a clutch and three on the tree. Every car I have ever had can be forced into neutral fairly easily.

 

The hybrid does exactly what it is supposed to - give you maximum mileage from a gasoline engined car. And yes - the computers are complex. I can't say for sure they will never hiccup.

 

But if you let any, ANY, car run away from you - thank goodness you have been removed from the gene pool.

 

March 14, 2010
Click to view ndguy1's profile

I can't believe its taken this long for someone to make a report or video of how to stop a car that is "running away".

 

How in the world can people have the presence of mind to call 911 on their phone, but not know enough to shift a car into neutral????

 

Although its obvious that there are some issues with the Toyotas this whole thing could have been avoided it the majority of the drivers in the US had the least bit of common sense.

 

I grew up on a farm in North Dakota, driving everything from lawn mowers to combines to you name it, so I guess I have a SLIGHTLY different point of view on how to drive, but seriously????

 

If people would think for themselves a little bit it, instead of letting a computer do it for them, it would make this whole situation WAY less of a big deal.

March 14, 2010
Click to view MiPOV's profile

The control computers in cars are not like general purpose laptops with Windows or some other OS.

 

Of course, car "computers" use microprocessors, but these are dedicated processors, like the ones that run your disk drives, microwave oven, camera image processors, cellular radios, iPod music players, etc.

 

The difference between a general purpose computer, like your laptop, and the dedicated microprocessors in devices and cars, is that the latter run fixed code that never changes. This is quite unlike a general purpose Windows system - where everything changes all the time.

 

With fixed code, if there's a glitch - it can easily be found. By inference, if cars run away at all, they all must run away, and must do so all the time.

 

You can't compare the two - they are only remotely alike - in that they both use microprocessors.

 

March 14, 2010
Click to view f1mktsol's profile

The thought of being forever known as "Prius Boy" should be deterrent enough for lying. Just ask Runaway Jim from San Diego if it's worth it.

March 14, 2010
Click to view karatekas's profile

People its the computers. "Skynet" is taking over.

March 14, 2010
Click to view badsoup's profile

I don't know which is more embarrassing...not being able to stop a Prius or actually admitting to owning one

March 14, 2010
Click to view KEENURSO1's profile

Americans will believe any piece of garbage!!! You can't even see what the guy is doing on this stupid video.

March 14, 2010
Click to view Essem's profile

I don't think it would have been a wide idea to shift to 'Neutral' while the car was travelling at that speed. The car would then have started 'rolling' on 4 wheels without any traction and the driver would have lost control. Breaking a free rolling vehicle at that speed would have been extremely dangerous, I think.

March 14, 2010
Click to view iceman53's profile

The last 2 hours have been informative in discovering the operation of the Toyota braking system.    The Toyota uses mechanical, electrical, electronic and hydraulic systems to stop the vehicle.   Not a simple hydraulic system that some people are familiar with.   There seems to be a fair amount of feedback to the processor as to current status but it is unclear if every part of the mechanical, electrical and hydraulic system is monitored.  It is doubtful, as this would require a vast number of sensors.

 

Many things are monitored during normal operation and it sounds like it works fine a vast majority of the time. 

 

Intermittent problems can be very difficult to find and due to the shear complexity of this system there are bound to be breakdowns in any one or more of the systems.   If these breakdowns occur at a critical point then of course accidents can happen.  These could consist of mechanical ( a bolt binding or breaking ), electrical ( a solenoid sticking ), electronic ( false signal from sensor ) or hydraulic system problems.( a check valve not seating ) 

 

Sure these processors are basic but it is not uncommon for machinery processors to come up with glitches or bad code.  It’s very difficult to account for all the possible scenarios that might come up in the real world.  One bit in the wrong place is all it takes. 

 

Don’t ASSUME anything about what has transpired so far in this continuing saga.   Get educated!  Learn how things work!  Believe me, the rest of the world is learning!

 

 

 

 

March 14, 2010

bhnkm

March 14, 2010
Click to view Larry8811's profile

I'm wondering if the Prius has an actual electric system "off" switch and an actual mechanical transmission "neutral" linkage. From the video, it appears to me that the answer is no. Rather, the "off" switch and the "neutral" switch are instead input signals to the car's computer system. In this case, if the car's computer goes bonkers (which is a probable scenario) then trying to turn if off or go to neutral would have no effect. And indeed, stopping then might become a big problem.

 

This video didn't prove a thing to me because it was using a Prius with a properly functioning computer.

March 14, 2010
Click to view homebee's profile

OK, I'm a dumbass, should have known Prius is shutting the power off right away when pressing both accelerator and brake pedals...

 

So there is left only the calculating: Prius gvwr is near 2000kg, so its hydraulic brakes should be producing about little more than 1000nm brake power. So how much does the engine(s) produce torque? 515nm together... So when you hit the hydraulic brakes seriously, it should slow down quite easily even with full accelerating?

March 14, 2010
Click to view toeic's profile
I always thought that toyotas are great cars. What a surprise. I drive my Toyota every they to school of english and it is ok so far.
March 14, 2010
Click to view jayman419's profile

1) Fly-by-wire system are not the same as the system which controls the Prius. FBW systems have redundancies (triplex or quadruplex), back-ups (mechanical or hydraulic), fail-safes, and over-rides, and they still cause unexplained, unrepeatable crashes sometimes.

 

2) Saying it's impossible to have bad code or random glitches on a dedicated microprocessor is like saying it's impossible to have bad games on the PS3. GIGO always, always wins. What is different between a dedicated processor is that it should, and I say again, should always fail the same way under a given set of circumstances. But without access to the event data recorders from the crashed vehicles, we will never know the cause. Toyota has never allowed access to this information, but if it is the computer, the results are in there.

 

What if the incoming data required for an operation (say, disengaging the accelerator) exceeds the load the system can handle? What if recalculating data during an operation causes a timing issue? What if running everything off the battery means that when you're driving slowly, with the heater on, and you apply the brakes, you turn on the turn signal, and the next song starts playing, and finally the power steering assist requests power that isn't available? What if a degraded battery pack causes random brown-outs during high loads?

 

All of these should be possible to duplicate in the lab, given the circumstances of the crash. What isn't so easy is fixing them. Real-time computing has been creating problems since we invented the integrated circuit.

 

Without knowing what happens in Toyota's computer when it fails to execute within a given time limit or it suffers some other data error, and without knowing the vehicle's total capacity for data and power, it's nothing but speculation to say anything can not fail.

 

And that's the real problem here. We know that the Prius has computer issues. It has in the past, like 2005, or this Feb. It will in the future. That doesn't mean the system is a failure, it just means it needs to be fixed.

March 14, 2010
Click to view jayman419's profile

By fixed, I don't mean another software patch. I mean a physical, direct-link over-ride. A kill-switch.

 

Toyota is stalling for time while they try to program this problem away. Except random crashes in dedicated systems have plagued real-time computing since the days when a "bug" in your programming meant an actual moth.

March 14, 2010
Click to view BonyYousuf's profile
March 14, 2010
Click to view Tom11's profile

Just some more information about "Ballon" Sikes

http://autos.aol.com/article/prius-driver-scam

The guy has 700,000 USD debts and is 4month behind with the payments for the Prius.

He is a notorious claimer at insurance companies.

Oh and his Prius has a brake override system. If gas and brake pedal are pressed at the same time the brake prevails.

And again the Prius brakes are HYDRAULIC, no computer involved.

Wow, how difficult is it to get some simple basic information accross to people who love to make up stories

Anymore info needed ?

March 14, 2010
Click to view Zhukov2's profile

The energy monitor display verifies what happens when shifting into neutral.  The shifter isn't connected physically to the transmission, it's just a switch that is connected by some wires to the main computer (HV ECU -Hybrid Vehicle Electronic Control Unit)  The monitor shows that all power to the drive train is removed - no electric motor or gas motor energy is coupled to the wheels. But the speedometer still works as shown in the video.

When he cuts the power the monitor shows all power is removed from the drive train and the speedometer goes off.  But the brakes still work.  After 2003 all Prius models have no hydraulic coupling between the brake pedal and the brakes.  The pedal movement is sensed by a variable resistor and electronic signals sent to the Skid Control ECU.  Brake pedal presure is simulated by springs.  The SK ECU sends signals to the hydraulic power system, which is connected by brake fluid to the brakes.  The SK ECU has a backup battery, so it works even if the 12 volt battery is disconnected from the HV ECU.  The SK ECU and HV ECU exchange control and data signals, so what happens if the HV ECU stops working, but its still powered up?  Will the brakes still work? 

March 14, 2010
Click to view Tom11's profile

ZHUKOV2

Please don't write anything you haven't verified yourself. Every passenger car in the US has to have a direct hydraulic brake system and a separate emergency brake system. EVERY car incl. PRIUS.

The regenerative brakes are triggered electrical first, the moment the pedal is pressed a bit harder a standard hydraulic brake system is doing the job in addition to the regenerative system which is designed to charge the batteries of the Prius.

 

 

March 14, 2010
Click to view Citrik's profile

DO NOT FOLLOW THIS ADVICE.  YOU WILL CRASH AND DIE.

 

Watch closely... the reporter does not shift to Neutral - he instead shifts to Reverse.  This is important.  If you shift to Neutral like the reporter says he's doing, you have to hold the shift lever in place for a few seconds.

 

While speeding out of control the gut reaction is to flick the lever to Neutral.  The ways to stop with the shifter are instead either (1) select Reverse or (2) select and hold Neutral for several seconds. 

 

March 14, 2010
Click to view Zhukov2's profile

The5threvolt is right.  I'm also a software engineer and I've had desktop PCs that stopped responding, with non-fuctioning power button, and could only be restarted by pulling the plug out of the wall socket.  You can't get out and disconnect the 12v battery in a runaway Prius.  Sikes' power button may not have worked either. Since the shifter is only an electrical switch sending signals to the HV ECU, you can't shift into neutral if the HV ECU isn't responding.

It's still very hard to believe Sikes couldn't overcome his fear of turning off the power or shifting into neutral for twenty minutes!  Somebody who is 61 can't say to themselves after a few minutes of panic "OK calm down, get ahold of yourself, try to think what to do."  With that big shifter knob an inch from his fingertip and big blue power button right under his nose, it seems impossible that he wouldn't try it after a few minutes.  During the interviews, he acts so calm, just like any other slick, manipulative real estate salesman.

March 14, 2010
Click to view frizzy2008's profile
It's really nice information for prius potential customer. Bunga love this article. Cheers, Bunga
March 14, 2010
Click to view Zhukov2's profile

Tom11 - I'm not going to take apart a prius to verify it myself.  Here are some excellent technical articles with diagrams showing that there is no mechanical connection between the brake pedal and brakes: http://www.autoshop101.com/forms/Hybrid05.pdf and http://www.autoshop101.com/forms/Hybrid16.pdf

 

All autoshop web site articles are here: http://www.autoshop101.com click on Course Support and Classroom Support Files.  This is a high quality web site as well as the resourses for the course. It's good enough for me.

March 14, 2010
Click to view rendar77's profile

There absolutely is a mechanical connection between the brake pedal and the master cylinder. All cars must have it as a federal requirement because it is a safety feature. If there wasn't, then turning off the engine (which also turns off all the computers) would make the brakes completely unusable.

March 14, 2010
Click to view Tom11's profile

Zhukov2

you have indeed very good pages you're looking at.

If you now also learn how to interpret diagrams correctly, you're top.

The diagrams clearly show the direct hydraulic connnection of the brake pedal to the hydraulic cylinder and the SKID ECU, ABS etc. assisting, respectively working in parallel. It also clearly states, that if one of the systems fails regenerative or hydraulic the other can still work independently.

Please also look at the US requirements for passenger cars. No direct hydraulic brakes, no chance to be released to the market.

 

March 14, 2010
Click to view Zhukov2's profile

I think you're looking at the wrong diagram. Look at http://www.autoshop101.com/forms/Hybrid05.pdf , page 5-9, diagram 5.10.  There is only an electrical signal between the master cylinder pressure sensor and Skid Control ECU. This diagram is for '04 and later Prius.  The paragraph under the diagram describes in more detail.  Page 5-13 says "In the '04 & later Prius, brake force distribution (which was performed mechanically hydraulically? in the past) is now performed under electronic control of the Skid control ECU.  Fig. 5.16 is missing some details in the graphics, but the Brake Assist System paragraph describes more details how the Skid Controller electronically adjusts brake pressure.

March 14, 2010
Click to view Zhukov2's profile

"It also clearly states, that if one of the systems fails regenerative or hydraulic the other can still work independently."  This is on page 5-5, and applies to '01 through '10 Prious.  The '01-'03 has direct hydraulics, but the '04 and later has only partial hydaulics.  Fig 5.14 also doesn't show all the details either.  Fig 5.10 is better because is specifically shows the electrical signals between the Master Cylinder Sensor and Skid Controller.

March 14, 2010
Click to view jesseohh's profile

Darwinian natural selection theory still applies to all toyota owners.  IF you dont know how to put the bleeping car in neutral, or "PRESS THE OFF BUTTON", then you might be removed from the gene pool.

March 14, 2010
Click to view pvduffy's profile

The guy is just a con man. There is no problem with his car. You can debate this all you want about the video stinks, the braking system, powering the car down, putting it in neutral until you are all blue in the face. The bottom line is THIS guy is a scumbag trying to be opportunistic with Toyota's current recall issue. PERIOD.

March 14, 2010
Click to view Debbie10's profile

This is irresponsible journalism. The gentleman who is getting the negative press over his runaway Prius is not a con man or opportunist. He is not suing Toyota. He is not an idiot.  As far as trying to stop his vehicle, he did press the brakes so long and so hard that there were almost NO pads left when they checked the car out after the incident. Your mimic runaway Prius is a joke as you did NOT take it to 90 miles per hour, which is what his car accelerated to when he could not get it to stop. When this issue happens, it seems to lock up the other functions, such as shifting and ignition and the brakes. When you look at the number of vehicles that Toyota sells compared to the ones that have a reported problem, it is relatively small. However, it IS happening and Toyota needs to figure it out, fix it, and everyone needs to quit hitting on the vehicle owners like they are idiots.  Most of them have come forward to try to help Toyota figure it out so more people will not get hurt or killed. For those of you who have not had a problem with your Toyota (such as my son), be grateful, but be knowledgeable on how to attempt to deal with it if it happens.

March 14, 2010
Click to view Larry8811's profile

About this issue of direct connect hydraulic brakes. Maybe the Prius has them, or maybe not. But, have you ever tried to stop a car when the power brake boost mechanism has failed? I have, and it ain't easy. (In my case it was a GM product with Tevis ABS, which uses an electric motor/pump to maintain hydraulic pressure. It failed.) With an engine at full power, I don't think that it's possible. So, once again, if the Prius computer goes bonkers, you may lose hydraulic boost. Direct connect hydraulic brakes? Yes. Any pressure boost? No.

March 14, 2010
Click to view MolonLave's profile

One VERY important detail left out of this.

This video was made in a Prius that was not malfunctioning.

 

As so many Microsoft users have noted,

how much control do you have over your PC when it goes nuts.....

March 14, 2010
Click to view csddavies's profile

@MolonLave Ctl-Alt-Delete or the power button or pull the plug.

March 14, 2010
Click to view RayJj's profile

I can't believe how many people are running to Toyota's defense here.

 

Do you know that the co-founder of Apple computer has been having unintended acceleration problems with his Prius? He can repeat it, and feels that it is a software glitch (this from someone who definitely knows a software problem when he sees it). He has been trying to contact Toyota for 2 months, but they have no interest in hearing what he has to say. What does a guy in his position have to gain from bashing Toyota. He probably has more money than they do.

 

In addition, the CHP officer following Mr. Sikes stated that he saw the brake lights coming on, and SMELLED burning brake pads. If this car was operating normally, it SHOULD have stopped. Obviously, it was NOT operating as intended. That is the point here.

 

A non-technical journalist posts a story stating that vehicles should stop when you hit the brakes. No sh*t"? How about spending some time trying to figure out why the software goes nuts, and THEN try that test again.

March 14, 2010
Click to view random098098's profile

Come on folks. Do you folks really believe the  Sikes runaway prius story that mainstream media including CNN is sensationalizing?

 

(1)The dude and his wife were realtors that was in serious financial trouble in San Diego

(2)The dude was a Corvette owner and part of a Corvette enthusiast club. So the guy isn't some idiot that doesn't know about cars.

(3)The reports are coming in saying the brake was not applied for a long duration.

 

Here's the "real" news source that broke this information before all the other media pundits started peddling backwards...

 

http://jalopnik.com/5491101/did-bankrupt-runaway-prius-driver-fake-unintended-acceleration

 

That's why I stopped getting my news from places like CNN..Sensationalize it, Sensationalize it, Sensationalize it...

March 14, 2010
Click to view random098098's profile

RayJj,

 

You're not current about Steve Wozniak's prius issue...

 

Basically, he admitted he didn't know about cruise control in his prius, being that it is both speed based AND radar based (distance from car ahead)....

 

http://priuschat.com/news/steve-wozniak-admits-he-doesnt-know-how-to-use-cruise-control-kind

 

March 14, 2010
Click to view MikeSee's profile

Simply turning off the car with the power switch seems obvious but possibly not so to someone in a state of panic. If you've ever driven a Prius, though, the "putting the car in neutral" trick is easier said than done. On this model, the shifter does not easily find neutral and trying to get it there requires a good deal of trial and error. Not something you want to try when the car is speeding out of control. By the way, I had a 2006 Prius and drove it for three years. Every month or two I had to take it back to the dealership for an electronic breakdown of one sort or another. The car was not very reliable. Other than that, I liked it.

March 14, 2010
Click to view kekepalo1's profile

Someone is trying to make Toyota look bad. If person can not handle car, he should not be driving at all. For him, same thing will happen with Chevy. Bad driver is bad in every car.

March 14, 2010
Click to view kennyg's profile

MRLEXUS has the answer: just turn off the ignition. No brainer. I had this problem many years ago with a Mark V and don't see any difference here. No electricity, no go...

March 14, 2010
Click to view lefttraffic's profile

Best way to stop a speeding Prius is to pry the liar's foot off the accelerator pedal.

March 14, 2010
Click to view Nimes1's profile

you dumb ass! all you have done with your smugg attitude  and your mickey mouse demo is show what should happen when the car works as designed. obviously all toyotas do not work correctly or the california state trooper who blew  his family up in the crappy lexus would be around today. there is nothing physical between the driver and the control in these so called fly by wire coffins. just a little bit of deductive reasoning points to faulty electronics. keep the denial going  with your disdain while people are dying on the roads. remember the ford pinto you jack ass...

March 14, 2010
Click to view skyroamer's profile

Mr Sikes said during his minute of "fame" (or shameful disgrace) on television: "I am not driving this car again". Now, Imagine if you were having financial difficulties, and couldnt/didnt want to keep making your payments on your prius, wouldnt it be convenient to have this happen to you, and then have toyota "buy your car back"??? uhhmmm...sounds like an opportunistic SOB to me.

March 14, 2010
Click to view tasmith1972's profile

There are a couple of important facts here. In the real scenario the police reported smelling the brakes burning. This guy was clearly hammering on the brakes but the car wouldn't quit sending power to the wheels. The guy also stated that he "didn't understand" how to put it in neutral because it was a hybrid. Thus, my conclusion is that he was just too panicked to turn the car off.

March 14, 2010
Click to view JuanGuapo's profile

This doesn't surprise me one single bit.

 

When all else fails, people love to blame the victim.

 

I'm surprised the family of those who died in San Diego didn't get the same "death threats" this guy is getting b/c their car burst into flames.

March 14, 2010
Click to view PeerlessOne's profile

Doesn't anyone here listen to ALEX JONES? I would venture that these Toyota sudden acceleration incidents are made up false flag government attempts to ruin Toyota so that the now government owned car company General Motors can sell more autos and gain market share!

March 14, 2010
Click to view GhostTracker's profile

I realize that this isn't exactly evidence that could be admitted in a court of law, but that 911 call seems VERY real to me.  He seems SCARED to DEATH!

 

The theory somebody posted about the cruise control malfunctioning is certainly interesting...

I would hope that the technicians would have thought of that, though.

March 14, 2010
Click to view LuckySheep's profile

This summer we bought a Toyota Highlander...  I had previously owned a Mazada MPV 2001 van...  TWICE the van accelerated without the ability to stop...reaching 90mphs.  The first time it happened I was driving North on the toll road 73 in orange county near Newport.  As I approached the tollbooth the car seemed to kick on...accelerated on its own.  It would not break, and the speed was continually climbing.  I had my 3 kids in the car and I was afraid I was going to plow through the tollbooth stand with person and into the car in front of me paying their toll.  I yanked the keys out of the car.  The car came to a dead stop. I took the car into a dealer and they thought I was crazy.  That I had accidently put my foot on the gas when I thought I had it on the break.  3 months later it happened again, on the same spot of the toll road.  I was very clear that time that I was breaking, that cruise control wasn't on, that it was accelerating on its own.  Again, I pulled the key out and it stopped dead.  This time I took my crazy Christine van into the dealer and again they tried to tell me it was my mats or numerous other things.  But, said it was impossible for the car to do that.  I said I wouldn't pick the car up until they found the problem.  A week later they found that their had been a recall on the car...that the wires of the cruise control can rub and then end up connecting...with the result of the car being locked in cruise control without the ability to stop.  It's ironic that this summer I bought a Toyota thinking it would be safer than the Mazada for my family.  But, I can say at least with the previous car pulling the keys worked to stop the car when the break was unresponsive.  Now the Toyota has a push button instead of a key...so I hope that it will still work the same if the problem ever arises...

March 14, 2010
Click to view robert2's profile

After 30YRS of driving Toyotas enjoying quality reliability and safety,the sensationlized   treatment of Toyota issues amazes me.

Of the millions of Toyotas sold the percentage of problems is so small, yet with these and similar complaints found in other brands that are not getting the same bad press.It seems somewhat of a witch hunt

I really feel the bad press is encouraged due to Government and the U.A.W. being major share holders in domestic car companies and therefore the competition .  Is this a contemporary form of protectionism  The exact type of action that brought about the depression of the 30s  Perhaps everyone should dwell on the millions of vehicles built and thousands of people-employed by Toyota in the USA Obviously Toyota is not good at or used to fighting back k in the media or the press,  probably due to their great products?

March 14, 2010
Click to view SportWalls's profile
i dont really like prius, i've owned one for 2 years... Sports and wallpapers
March 14, 2010
Click to view adamrussell's profile

According to the latest from Toyota if you stomp on the gas and the brake at the same time it will shut down the engine.  Why didnt they say that before?

March 14, 2010
Click to view clearance's profile

I believe most of you here are simply doing a propaganda against our beloved Japanese products: Toyota.  These are not run-away beasts. They are fine quality products.  I really love my Toyota regardless how many people are bitching about this brand.  My advices to all of you are: 1. Drive Toyota if you don't like to walk home from highway due to your car was dead there. 2. Stop bitching Toyota, this is one of the best cars ever. 3. To Toyota, get rid of your CEO and COO, replace them by hiring a Japanese Sumo Sportsman. 4. Admit to the world that Mr. Toyota was JP Pacific Fleet Commander who ordered "Attach!" against the Pearl Harber in WWII.

March 14, 2010
Click to view sdurham11's profile

Thats what you get for buying one of those overly complicated yuppy "green" vehicles that have too much computer controlled elements that can go wrong at any time.

 

My home computer locks up from time to time causing problems and so can the computers running these vehicles.  We shouldn't be surprised these cars start doing their own thing.  Unfortunately people have been hurt or killed in the process.

 

We need to build simpler fuel-efficient vehicles without all the gadgets and build them here in the USA.

 

 

March 14, 2010
Click to view Softdude's profile

Expecting to be able to simulate what happened with a properly operating computer is nothing short of absurd.

March 14, 2010
Click to view DaveSR's profile

There is a factor that our demonstrator is apparently unaware of. Both the gear shift and the "ON" button on this car are simply inputs to a computer. When the computer crashes things happen and the car cannot be controlled at all by any of those means. What is needed on EVERY car is an instant kill switch, like many race cars have. To have to hold that button for 3 seconds is absurd to begin with. Also a gear shift that is a mechanical link not a computer "button" is essential for safety. A fully "drive by wire" car, which the Prius is, is simply not safe.

March 14, 2010
Click to view Softdude's profile

How many miles have been logged per instance of this malfunction? It would likely take many many years to expect to cross the exact circumstances that caused the problem. Have you ever had to literally pul the plug out of the wall to shut off your computer? I have. They can get stuck. And getting stuck at full throttle is a perfectly likely scenario.

March 14, 2010
Click to view TimBee's profile

This was a dumb report. Why, like someone else said, didn't you try to keep your foot on the accelerator and use the brake with your other foot to see if it would stop the car.

Oh yeah, you didn't want to wreck your brakes.

March 14, 2010
Click to view Zhukov2's profile

I still don't believe Sikes couldn't overcome his fear of turning off the power or shifting into neutral for twenty minutes!  After a few minutes of panic, I would expect somebody like him to say "OK calm down, get a hold of yourself." The shifter knob is an inch from his fingertips and blue power button a few inches higher, it seems impossible that he wouldn't try it after a few minutes.  I can't believe somebody his age never tried to shift into neutral with the car moving.  During the interviews, he acts so calm, and doesn't seem like he would be totally loony with panic for 20 minutes because he's going 90 mph.

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March 15, 2010
Click to view wke235's profile

What I find interesting in this video is when he shifts the car into Neutral, he does so at 49 mph.  And despite being in Neutral, the cars speed eventually hits 52 mph as he's talking.  It would be nice to know what sort of grade was on the road.  I know today's cars are far more aerodynamic and efficent.  So when shifted into neutral there is a lot less friction from parts and drag from the air to slow them down.  But even with a Prius I would have expected the car to start slowing down as it coasted .. not increase in speed. 

 

Also, no one has explained how the brakes, rotors, and pads got so damaged.  I can agree getting the Prius to accelerate unexpectedly should be something someone could stop by hitting the engine switch or moving into Neutral.  Should is the key word.  But nothing so far explains how brakes/rotors/pads were virtually destroyed, or the smoke and smell the officers on the scene said they saw at the end.  All the physical evidence points to a car that would not stop despite all the breaking.  All the tech evidence says this should not be possible.  Very interesting.....

March 15, 2010
Click to view twiggydotcom's profile

TOYOTA should be ordered to change the name of all recalled cars to ATOOTY and have it stamped on the title just as you would SALVAGE, so this being the street name for a Toyota that's naf. atooty. [) () T ( () /\/\

March 15, 2010
Click to view Tom11's profile

Zhukov,

you still haven't learned how to read diagrams. Check 6.2 and you see the hydraulic connections.

Even your favourite diagram,shows the pedal directly connected to the master cylinder, they just left out the hydraulic pipes from there to the wheels.

Here is the simple explanation from Toyota:

If there's a problem with the electronically-controlled braking system, the Gen 2 (Prius) opened and closed valves to isolate the Stroke Simulator and send the fluid moved by the driver's foot directly to the front brakes only, with no power assistance. There are actually two pistons in the Master Cylinder, both of which are pressed by the rod that the brake pedal connects to, which gives two independent brake lines. One connects to the front left wheel and the other to the front right.

 

Gen 3 (2010 Prius) improves on this by using the accumulator as a booster and sending fluid from one Master Cylinder piston to the front wheels, the other to the rear.

 

March 15, 2010
Click to view Tom11's profile

wke 235

It takes three seconds for the electronic to accept the shift into neutral while driving to make sure there is no unintended disengaging of the engine. that's why furtther acceleration happened for a moment after the stick was shifted.

It is very easy to create all that smoke with a brake system. Just pull the parking brake and keep on driving.

the pressure generated by that purely mechanical system is not enough to stop the car decisevily but the the brake pads are engaged and creating a certain friction.enoough to heat up the brakes, destroy the pads and damage the disks if done continously.

The only way to override the engine power with brakes, is to use the hydraulic system hopefully with the power booster still working.

Our balloon Sikes might have just engaged the parking brakes after the officers closed in and pushed finally a little more the hydraulics and voila car stopps with a dramatic heat and smoke noticeable buy the police.

March 15, 2010
Click to view tdk10's profile

I may have missed it, but has anyone asked about the "black box" data?  Or, in the case of Toyota and possibly for a number of other cars, there might be very little usable data for various reasons. 

 

I read a rumoer that until a only relatively short time ago, there was only (1) lap top in the USA to have the decoding software for Toyota data recorders, and that Toyota generally resisted all efforts to extract data in court cases. These rumors should be easy to verify or dismiss for a lage news orgainzation.

 

Also, ask about how many Police departments can download data from GM, Ford, Chrysler, etc along with how many makes they can not access for whatever reasons.  Fair is fair - with this subject

 

While we may belive that the majority of vehicles have these data recorders and they work like magic to record all critical parameters, that may not be the reality.

 

Any investigation should at least mention the data recorder, inspite of whatever the driver contends.

 

Incidently, I do feel badly for the various victums as well as  all the Toyota employees and their familes - wherever they reside.

 

I have a uneasy feeling that technology will take a beating for this at some point, but the eventual outcome will work out for the better.

 

Regards, 

March 15, 2010
Click to view Tom11's profile

Let me try one more time to explain to the pure mechanic freaks in this blog and buy american enthusiasts what's going on.

Pure mechanic cars have caused hundred thousands of dead bodys due to their unability to protect passengers and to overcome driver mistakes or unsafe road conditions.

Electronic systems like ABS, Airbag and traction control have saved lives and are saving lives every day and are the very reason why some of you still can blog all this nonsense here.

None of todays cars are "drive by wire". Brakes, steering wheel and neutral shifters are mechanical engaged and giving electronic signals in parallel to the car electronic. That's is a given fact for all cars also for the Prius.

That's why every car/Prius can be towed away even without any power. Steering, Neutral and brakes are working sufficiently without any computer. That's a fact, enforced by law.

So please stop posting all that drive by wire crap.

 

Finally automotive electronic systems and laptops are comparable in the same way a toy compares to it's equivalent in the real world. On a first glance they look alike but they're build completely different.

The car computers are specialised and performing only one task at a time, not like a laptop trying to cope with numerous different tasks in parallel. Therfore they can't hang that easily like a laptop CPU does.

There is also not one computer in a car doing all the information processing, but several and one "watchdog" for the information channeling to the driver.

That doesn't mean that they are perfect and can't fail, but if they fail there is always a way to prevent a major problem easily, but the driver has to have enough routine and knowledge to handle those situations. A bit like every pilot need to be able to land a plane by hand if all the plane systems are failing.

American Toyotas are build in America, giving jobs to Amercian workers and American suppliers. Toyota is paying American taxes and didn't need taxpayers money to survive.

So stop the witch hunt, and find another issue to play with.

March 15, 2010
Click to view ggilliom's profile

Not clear if this is the absolute answer.  Prius has ECT (Electronic Controlled Transmission).  To put it in neutral, the computer has to be listening to the position of the shift lever.  If the computer is out-to-lunch, then putting the shift lever into neutral will NOT disengage the engine from the drive wheels.  Same thing for the start/stop switch.  What is listening to that switch to see if it has been depressed for 3 seconds?  Guess what, it is the car computer.  If the computer has gone into an infinite loop or crashed, it will not recognize the stop button has been depressed.

 

Sorry, but in the runaway scenario, it is not absolutely clear that these measures (shift to neutral, depress stop switch for 3 seconds) will actually work.

March 15, 2010
Click to view rb442's profile

Brake over ride is really a "no brainier", as in whoever thought it up has no brains. It has some bad side effects.  Fix the problem; don't cover it up with another layer of complexity that has its own problems!

March 15, 2010
Click to view mrbill302's profile

I don't have the fortune to own a newer car with "by wire" technology. Given the choice, I would not buy a vehicle with it. I believe in a direct mechanical connection to the throttle, brakes, and steering.

 

I'm not convinced there is that much of a weight savings, if any to meet fuel economy standards in using "by wire" technology. Even if there is, I would rather lose what little economy I would gain for the simplicity and safety of mechanical connections.

 

i have had a throttle stick on me, my own fault. Screwing around with the secondaries on a 4 bbl. carb to see what worked better in the way they were activated. Didn't give a thought to anything being in the way when the air cleaner was put back in place. In any event, turning the key to "off" shut the engine down. Stepping on the clutch and hitting the brakes allowed me to get the car to the side of the road. The car had power steering & brakes. You can still stop & steer the car. It is just a little harder with out the power assist, but can be done.

 

I have owned several big block cars making 400 + horsepower and lbs. ft. of torque. With an automatic, in drive, with the gas pedal to the floor, and standing on the brakes, I could roast the rear tires. the engine would be fighting the rear brakes, but the front brakes would not allow the car to go forward. The brakes held. This was in the 1960's.

 

My 1989 Chevrolet has mechanical controls. There is a TPS sensor that tells the computer where the throttle is.

 

There is a brake switch that tells the computer that the brakes are on to disengage the TCC (torque converter clutch) and the cruise control. There are switches inside the transmission to tell the computer what gear it is in.

 

My point is that the mechanical controls work flawlessly.

A couple switches and sensors tell the computer all it needs to know. When I turn the ignition key to "off", the engine shuts down immediately. When I put the transmission in "neutral", the transmission is no longer coupled to the engine. On a standard transmission car, leaving the car in gear with the key off will actually slow the car down, because the engine is now acting as a brake.

 

As far as I know, all automatic transmission cars have a neutral gate that prevents you from going into reverse or park unless you depress the button in on the shifter. That is it's own safety by design. Same with a column shifter. Unless you pull the shifter towards you, pushing it up will only go as far as neutral.

 

I don't believe this guy with the Prius. A 20 minute ride over 30 miles? At 90 mph? Hops on his cell phone?

Sounds fishy to me. That isn't what I'd be doing.

 

I love my Chevy. The computer controls only what it needs to. Get 16 - 19 mpg going back and forth to work. It will deliver 27 - 29 mpg on the highway. 4000 lbs of car with a v-8 engine. It's how you drive the car. The beauty is I have control of it, and feel completely safe in it.

 

I believe in the kiss principle: Keep It Simple Stupid!

I just can't be convinced in all the electronics being used to day. I see all the failures in these components because I am a parts counterman. Things have changed, but as far as I am concerned, not for the better.

 

If this is the way things are to be, than drivers need to be educated on how to drive their cars, and what to do in an emergency. There should be a fail safe system with "by wire" technology. How about going back to the regular ignition key, and no button? Off is "off" period.

 

March 15, 2010
Click to view LCKFLYER's profile

Mr. James Sikes before this runaway incident with his Toyota had his other two cars and house repossessed.

Pries: when you hit the brake peda,l the motor turns off and switch to become a generator to charge the batteries.

 

March 15, 2010
Click to view adams3053's profile

I have had about the same thing happen to me and a friend of mine in 2001 however we were in his 2000 volkwagon bug there was a cable attached to the accelerator that had come lose and and instead of not getting any gas the car speed up and would not stop my friend got scared and didn't know what to do so i put it in neutural and we were able to stop the car i wonder if the cars have the same set up??? rush hour traffic with that type of problem could be deadly

March 15, 2010
Click to view 1DOCTRNO's profile

Sorry folks, I knew this guy was a faker from the 911 call..Now all thing related, his background included all point to a un-reality show...1DOCTRNO

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March 16, 2010
Click to view xi8ix's profile
I would like to see you floor the accelerator, bring the car to about 60mph and then while still depressing the accelerator, see if you can stop the car with brakes.
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March 16, 2010
Click to view Daveh1's profile

I own a 2000 Ols Alero and it has an electrical problem that causes the computer to think that the gas pedal is being depressed anywhere from 1% to about 5%.  This causes the idle in neutral do go from 1,000 to 3,000 RPM.  The issue is that there is a sensor on the 5V bus that causes the computer to recalibrate, it shorts momentarily.  I have found that the sensor for the air conditioner causes some of the problem.  The pressure sensor in the gas tank is the last sensor to replace.  If this does not fix the issue then there is a wiring harness problem.  I have replaced the PCM, TPS, MAP and disconnected the Pressure sensor for the air conditioner.  I still have a random high idle.  There are no trouble codes.  This leads me to believe that Toyota may have a PCM/Software issue just like my Alero. Since it is so random it is very difficult to troubleshoot.

March 16, 2010
Click to view amy23army's profile

Toyota says they can't duplicate this acceleration problem.  I'm curious, what types of tests are they doing? Sounds to me like the computer is giving the car a "resume" command. Have they taken it onto the highway and engaged the cruise control and put it through the test? I had a car do this once where when it went to resume the cruise, it exceeded the stored speed...took me having to disengage the cruise.  I mean, its one check they can do.  Perhaps they need to drive it on the highway giving it the normal drivers commute actions.  Paying attention to the cruise control.  I'm mechanically inclined and it sounds to me like the computers sending a signal to accelerate and there's no override to tell it to stop (like in some cars where tapping the breaks or clicking the cruise off will disengage the signal). Perhaps the relay overheats and stops working after a period of time. Something for them to consider. Sorry so long.

 

Amy

March 16, 2010
Click to view jerz609's profile

Toyota is not very reputable these days.  Of course their "techs" would not find anything wrong with the vehicle and could not duplicate the problem.  They have to save face.  I had an issue w/ my Toyota and took it in to the Toyota dealership's service area and sure enough, they claimed that they could not duplicate the problem.  It's unfortunate. Sometimes things happen that aren't "normal."  That doesn't mean that when those abnormal things happen that they're false.  One car I owned shut off completely and came to a complete stop (from 30mph to 0mph in 1 second) - that is very abnormal, according to the specialist (Saab) but it still happened.  If Toyota didn't detect and resolve the issues to begin with, I'm not too quick to believe their procedures and software are reputable.

March 16, 2010
Click to view interlopert's profile

The people who are participating in this frenzy dont realize that this is a pandora's box. Already the class action suit lawyers are counting their money. If this kind of irresponsible behavior becomes the norm in our society than we are in for big trouble.

Toyota employs over 15000 people in the US not to mention thousands more who directly and indirectly rely on Toyota products for their livelihood. There are over 20 million Toyota vehicles on the road in North America, yet statistics show that Toyota vehicles are not more prone to sudden acceleration than other auto makers. That's right, data shows that Toyota actually fares better than most auto makers in the reported/recorded cases of sudden acceleration. Even after all this Toyota bashing frenzy- the fact is Toyotas are still among the safest vehicles on the road.

 

BTW, the Japanese lost in the 2nd WW over 60 years ago- they are now one of the closest allies the US has in the world.

 

There is a very interesting article on the Wsshington Post.  Link:  

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/15/AR2010031501693.html

March 16, 2010
Click to view interlopert's profile

Here are some excerpts from the aritcle written by Jeremy Anwyl in the Washington Post dated 3-15-10 (monday):

"When we focused on the major automakers and limited our review to recent-model-year vehicles (2005 to present), the 52,000 complaints through September 2009 -- a fair stopping point, because it was before news reports erupted -- showed that every car company had incidents of sudden acceleration. This is not strictly a Toyota issue. NHTSA head David L. Strickland said as much when he told Congress recently that Toyota's rate of complaints was "unremarkable."

 

Here is another, and I think the most significant:

"The case for saving property and lives should be obvious. But there is another risk for consumers: Toyota's legal bill for unintended-acceleration cases will be in the billions. Soon enough, entrepreneurial lawyers will realize that other car companies are vulnerable. And who ends up covering this tab? Future car buyers -- in the form of higher prices."

 

Again, this is the link, please read for yourself:   http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/15/AR2010031501693.html

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I have about cafe the same thing happened to me. And my friends in 2001, but our bug volkwagon 2000 he was a Nik cable attached to the accelerated acquisition and loss, and rather not receive any gas car will not stop and accelerate friend My fear and do not know what to do, so I put in neutural and we can stop the car I wonder if the same set up? Rush hour traffic in this type of problem. Is the same. dødbringende.e. Happened to me and my friends in 2001, but we are in 2000 with his pregnant volkwagon cable attached to the accelerated and has come loose and not replace any gas. Speeding up and will not stop my friends and I fear not. Know what to do so i put in neutural and we can stop the suspect vehicle with the same set up? Rush hour traffic types. The problem may be serious
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Highway giving it the dizi izle normal drivers commute actions. Paying attention to the cruise control. I'm mechanically inclined and it sounds to me like the computers sending a signal to accelerate and there's no override to tell it to stop (like in some cars where tapping the breaks or clicking the cruise off will disengage the signal). Perhaps the relay overheats and stops working after a period of time. Something for them to consider. Sorry so long.
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When i first heard this on the news i was really shocked, a sticky accelarater must be so scary but i di wonder why they did not just turn off the engine or stick it in neutral. Toyota have a lot to answer for however for that poor familiy to make the decision to call 911 before trying to put those simple tests shown in your video to use is a mystery Car Leasing offers
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