Toyota’s Legal Troubles, Independent Testing, and Little Black Boxes

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This promises to be a tough week for Toyota. While they’ve finally gotten their PR team in gear, the CEO of the company (Akio Toyoda) is going to be testifying before congress and it’s not likely to go well. Toyoda’s not a confident English speaker, a lot of embarrassing facts have come out about Toyota, members of congress are going to be working hard to get a good anti-Toyota sound bite or two, and despite a mountain of evidence that Toyota’s unintended acceleration problem is completely overblown, mainstream media continues to harp on the issue. Here’s a break-down of what you can expect.

Toyota’s Legal Troubles

First and foremost, there’s some damning evidence that Toyota’s leadership team purposefully attempted to avoid a floormat recall during the 1st or 2nd quarter of 2009. This is bad news for Toyota’s leadership, as well it should be.

What’s even worse – and perhaps most appalling – is that Toyota’s senior management was bragging about saving the company $100 million because they “negotiated” a reduced floor mat recall. There are also allegations of unfair influence with NHTSA, but as of now there doesn’t seem to be anything concrete (but that’s subject to change).

On another front, trial lawyers are salivating at the thought of suing Toyota over acceleration problems (both real and perceived). It’s not clear at this point, but multiple analysts have pointed out that many of the documents Toyota has handed over to congress will be used against them in civil court. Of course, anyone who is looking to “cash in” would be wise to remember that all Toyota vehicles have a black box which records a driver’s actions…but more on that below.

Last but not least, both the SEC and a federal grand jury are investigating allegations that Toyota tried to hide safety problems. Don’t be surprised if Toyota ends up paying a multi-million dollar fine to NHTSA and the federal government for their mis-handling of this issue.

Independent Testing Shows Toyota Throttles Are Safe

Despite the fact that Toyota made a cold (and ultimately stupid) decision to put profits ahead of safety precautions last July, the stats and the independent analysis is pretty clear on the fact that Toyota’s electronic throttles are completely safe.

In response to a lot of bad press (all of which was based on nothing more than a simple correlation), Toyota hired Exponent, an internationally renowned engineering firm to research their throttle systems. Exponent has an extensive list of services, including quite a bit of testing and evaluation for the auto industry. Exponent has won awards for their research, and they even boast their own vehicle testing and proving grounds in Phoenix.

Toyota hired Exponent because they needed a high-profile company to tackle questions about their electronic throttle system. After acquiring six test vehicles in December (all of which were purchased randomly from dealers), Exponent has yet to find anything wrong with Toyota’s systems. Considering all the tests that have been done, this shouldn’t be much of a shock. There’s literally a mountain of test data to show that Toyota’s electronic systems are perfectly safe.

Unfortunately, the negative publicity from Toyota’s board-room bragging will likely outweigh the facts and figures:

  • Toyota’s electronic throttles are completely safe. No problem has ever been found.
  • Toyota’s floormats and gas pedals weren’t designed with stupidity in mind. Toyota’s accelerator pedals often got caught up on over-sized after-market mats, unattached factory mats, or a combination of both. Is this Toyota’s fault? Not really, but that’s not how America works, is it? (Read a great blog post at TruckTrend regarding this point.)
  • Toyota gas pedals made by CTS have a minor flaw. There are 20 confirmed cases of sticking CTS-made throttles as a direct result of failing friction pads ( that’s out of 2.4 million vehicles).
  • Toyota’s new smart throttle systems will make unintended acceleration impossible. Toyota is going to implement the brake-to-idle failsafe system we profiled a few months ago on all of their models ASAP.

The Black Boxes Don’t Lie

One of the members on TundraNetwork.com (Danny) has sent us a lot of great links lately (along with many others – thanks to all of you), including one to this video which sums up the black box issue quite well:

YouTube Preview Image

The guy you see in the video – Mark Whinton of CarQuestions.ca – does a nice job of explaining why he believes Toyota’s acceleration problems are media hype. He also points out that a lot of the threatening litigators don’t understand that Toyota’s vehicle computers track each and every event in a vehicle prior to a crash. It’s very likely that many of these black boxes will be used to impeach drivers who wrongly claim “unintended acceleration” in an attempt to scrape a few bucks of Toyota.

What do you think:

  • Does Toyota deserve all the negative publicity they’ve gotten?
  • When will mass media organizations start reporting that Toyota’s electronic systems are safe?
  • Will Toyoda’s testimony before congress make things better or worse?

Filed Under: Auto News

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  1. art64 says:

    That’s what I’m wondering about. Those data loggers will either get Toyota away from being in the hot seat or get them in a hotter seat if proven that they ignored datas from these boxes to avoid issuing costly recalls.

  2. Goofballtech says:

    So easyrider…

    what you are saying is you didn’t read the article at all or watch the video before posting your comment?

    Toyota made have made a few bad decisions but testing done by indipendant companies can’t seem to find problems with anything toyota has done either.

    This report which i believe was on nightline last night is the only one i see that point at a flaw within the vehicle itself and it still does not throw and error code.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/.....038;page=1

    People are just out for blood.
    And they may get it.

  3. Justin says:

    Jason: Well, this CBS and ABC report, shows documents handed over in the investigation say there are software problems that Toyota is aware of that could potentially cause the unintended acceleration. Keep in mind, Toyota hired this independent firm (Exponent) to investigate the issue. So their conclusion can potentially be swayed to the Toyota side, since Toyota is the one paying them. It would be unethical, but have seen it occur in the past. Watch the ABC video. Of course it’s all a “could happen” if a short occurs and not always a 100 occurrence, but it shows some potential problem areas that don’t set a trouble code.
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories.....2884.shtml
    http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/.....PNheadline
    ****
    Now it is true, the black box doesn’t lie. But it also it doesn’t record this unintended acceleration either. So it’s not lying, but it’s not telling or recording all the facts either. Maybe it would tell us more of the problems if the box actually recorded these issues or at a minimum, tripped an error code. Here are a few blurbs from the above links.
    ****
    “As a result, Gilbert told ABC News, the Toyota computers will not record an error code, nor will they activate the “fail safe” system designed to shut down the power and put the car in the “limp home” mode.”
    ****
    “If there was this kind of fault, it will never set an error code,” said Gilbert. As a result, he said, there will be “no fingerprints, no trail” when Toyota engineers inspect a car after an accident or incident of sudden acceleration.”
    ****
    Now why is it every expert that states the problem isn’t electronic gets praise or is said to be right here. But those experts that say the problem is electronic are vilified? I know this is a pro-Toyota site and people here will side with the Toyota agenda, but personally I think whatever is in the best interest of the consumer and public in general is what we should all want. Personally, I think there needs to be much more research and investigation done into the electronics before this aspect is simply thrown out.

  4. Justin says:

    Anyone else watching on C-Span?

  5. Jason says:

    Justin – I think that you’re 100% correct in that the consumer’s interest is most important, but I don’t understand why the electronics keep getting so much attention. Toyota responded very quickly to the ABC report last night, saying that the scenario concocted by the “professor” was impossible to create in real life…short of busting out your soldering iron. The two outputs that were short circuited are completely separate – connecting them is not a real-world scenario.
    ##
    http://pressroom.toyota.com/pr.....54197.aspx
    ##
    Basically, the story was about driving the news cycle, not about pointing out a flaw in design.
    ##
    Not watching, waiting for transcripts.

  6. Justin says:

    Goofballtech: Your comments contradict each other. Below are your statements.
    ****
    Toyota made have made a few bad decisions but testing done by indipendant “companies can’t seem to find problems with anything toyota has done either.”
    ****
    This report which i believe was on nightline last night is the only one i see that point at a flaw within the vehicle itself and it still does not throw and error code.
    ****
    So independent firms hired by Toyota can’t find a problem, but this investigation via the abc link you provided, shows there is a problem? Which is it? Many experts have claimed there is an electronic issue, but most here simply try to discredit. And maybe Toyota always blamed it on the driver, pedal or floormat because the issue doesn’t create a trouble code. But I thought that is what the blackl boxes were for, to record data, or trouble codes to be tripped when there is an error in the system and trips a “limp mode”. Clearly if this problem occured, then a trouble code should be displayed or information written to the black box.

  7. Goofballtech says:

    By bad decision i mean bad business decisions such as the ‘negotiations’ of the floor mats to save money. Business is all about the dollar but to save face sometimes you have to open the check book and get things done.

    I meant to say the only one to point out a ‘possible’ flaw. Until this is verified by more indipendant companies as a flaw and something that could possibly happen in a real situation it’s just someone with a little piece of wire shorting together two components that would probably never get close enough to short themselves out….

    For anyone who works with electronics it’s very easy to bypass components and create an error. As Jason stated above, Toyota has now challenged the gentlemen to invite them over and inspect his findings. With a 6 inch piece of wire and a digram anyone who has a basic knowledge of electronics can make any board behave out of it’s ordinary fashion.

  8. Justin says:

    Goofballtech: I agree on your 2nd statement. More independent research is needed on the electronics. That is all I’ve said from day one of the electronic issue. Toyota and Exponent say there can never be such a problem. This investigator shows it is possible. This is where we need an outside investigation that has no connection to either side to determine the possibility of said issues, and the likelihood of this happening in real life.
    ****
    And I understand anyone could create an electrical issue. My issue is the person having the knowhow of the Toyota system on how to recreate an electrical issue that causes unintended acceleration. Also and most importantly, why didn’t the system set a trouble code or provide data in the black box we speak of, when such an event occurred? You’d think such an event would be considered so serious that this would leave cookie crumbs or fingerprints of the event.

  9. Goofballtech says:

    Having no knowledge of this specific circuit or porgramming i would say it all depends on where he shorted the circuit together. If he shorted it in a way that the computer thought the pedal was full depressed by the driver then it wouldn’t throw a code. If i got a check engine light every time my computer saw my pedal as all the way against the floor i would know eveyone at my dealer on a first name basis.

  10. Justin says:

    Dang, Rep. John Dingell is taking James Lentz to task. Reminds me when the CEO’s of GM, Chrysler and Ford were taken to task before the bailouts.

  11. Jeremy says:

    It is a sad day in Automotivedom. A sad day indeed. A day where public opinion, mass stupidity, overshadows the FACTS.

  12. Justin says:

    Or should it be where mass stupidity within an organization overshadows facts and public opinion???

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  16. Mickey says:

    Jason I totally agree with your findings on how two seperate systems happen to merge and what you get. Justin that black box will still record the event all what’s going on but it won’t record and error code. So all what’s happening to the car is being recorded.

  17. J. D. says:

    No, I spoke correctly. English is my first language. I gots its all fixed right in me head.

  18. J. D. says:

    It does record the error code.

  19. danny says:

    I watched some of the cspan testimony from monday early this morning and find it somewhat disturbing. Before i go deeper, i must inform everyone that i do own Toyota vehicles but am more of a diehard GMC person. In other words, i hope you guys and gals don’t think i’m bias in in way or fashion. I do hope that if there was any wrong doing and/or further potentially dangerous issues that Toyota has, that they are addressed and punished if need be.
    My problem, the hearing seems more of a witch-hunt than a fact finding mission. There was constant badgering and grandstanding by the committee members. It seemed like the committee members wanted to make sure they “look good” in front of their constituents while smackin’ Lentz around, well except the representitive from Colorado.
    Furthermore, Rep. Dingle (from Flint-MICHIGAN district- makes you wonder doesnt it) was just relentless. If it was one of us southern boys, we would have slapped dingle out of that chair and removed that arrogance from his face.
    Now, if you want answers, give him a chance to answer the question. We all want to know but if you dont give him a chance, none of us will learn anything from his testimony. Furthermore, you listen better with your ears and not your mouth.
    My favorite part was when one of the comittee members asked Lentz, “If you are responsible for US sales of Toyota and have no controll over the recall part, then why are you here?” Lentz responded, “the committee invited me”. Committe member said, “which comittee?”
    Lentz responded, “i was invited here by this committee.”. (and we all know that “invited” means you were told to be there, unless you’re white house party crashers.)
    Hahahaha. You can’t make this stuff up. The badgering wasn’t even this bad with Oliver North. Also, is it just my imagination, but are all the committee members Democrats? I didn’t see any Republicans, yet.
    C’mon, we all want to know the truth but if they don’t let him talk then we will never find out.
    Just my 2cents again.

  20. Jason says:

    Justin – That ABC news interview was a farce – the “professor’s” argument is ridiculous. He’s essentially saying “I did something to the system that could never happen in real life, and Toyota’s system didn’t catch it.” So?
    ##
    As for your mass stupidity comment, I agree. At what point did all of these Toyota execs say “OK – we know there’s a safety issue that we could take care of, but we’d rather save $100 million right not and see if we can ‘negotiate’ that issue away.” Total BS – inexcusable. Fire em’ – all of them.
    ##
    Goofball Tech – Right on. ANYONE can cause an electronic circuit to fail with nothing more than a piece of tin foil. The question is, is the failure possible in real life? I can hold a magnet next to the screen of my old tube TV and ruin the picture…but that doesn’t mean my TV is broken.
    ##
    Danny – I agree. I only saw snippets, but it looked like a cluster. Toyota deserves the grilling I think, but the grandstanding I can live without.

  21. danny says:

    Associated Press:
    WASHINGTON (AP) — Corporate leaders in Japan are affable cheerleaders who solicit everyone’s views and avoid confrontation at almost any cost. It’s called “nemawashi.” U.S. lawmakers are cut-throat partisans who clamor for the spotlight, especially in an election year. It’s called politics.

    the whole story at
    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/.....038;ccode=

  22. Jason says:

    Danny – Good link (you are like a link *hound* man!). I liked the last line – “Congress and Toyota contributed more theater than answers.” Seems to sum up half of the story. Toyota has answered the unintended acceleration question a 1,000 times, but no one likes that answer, so they keep asking for a different one.

  23. Justin says:

    After watching today’s hearing on C-Span, this is my outcome so far. Toyoda and Inaba acted much more professional and responded much better then Lentz did yesterday. Not sure if it is a cultural difference or education, but their actions were much better received, by me at least, than those of Lentz. Lentz came across sort of arrogant, and either did not know the answers to questions or tried to argued his point or answer.
    ****
    Now, other than the approach of Toyota and Inaba, I didn’t find their responses to answer the questions at hand, for the most part. Too many times they simply apologized for their problems and side stepped the answers of what happened by providing what they are planning to implement.
    ****
    Also, one of the representatives (from Indiana) has found many of the SUA complaints and pedals impacted were truly Denso units, not CTS units. And Toyota has slowly been moving their vehicles over from Denso units to CTS units. So if this is true, wouldn’t this SUA issue impact many more vehicles than those with the CTS unit?
    ****
    It’s scary how many Tacoma’s have been reported, to the NHTSA and dealers, but not one Tacoma has been recalled for SUA. Anyone have clues on maybe why this model has been excluded from any of the recalls, whether for the floor mat or pedal?

  24. danny says:

    Jason, as for being a hound dog, well, i have a lot of extra time at the moment with my properties holding steady and the girlfriend traveling for work, means danny is a bored lil’ doggie.
    I watched Mr. Toyoda’s interrogation today and it’s such a farce. It wasn’t as bad and disrespectful as the Lentz interrogation tho. 2 points of interest come to mind, there was a african american female chairperson who said she wante dto by an american car but ended up buying a Camry hybrid since the american counterparts did not have one. when the other japanese guy (i dont rememebr his name) said that the Camery was an american car, she said “so you’re not claiming this one?” he responded no that’s not what i mean, she then said so you’re saying it’s an american problem? he replied no that’s no it, she said You’re name is on it and that just because it’s made in america, it’s not american. I have a distinct problem with that. My heritage is chinese. I was born in Mississippi and I an DEFINITELY AN AMERICAN. My Tundra has japanese heritage but it was born in san antonio texas. Therefore my truck is an American truck and much more american than my mexican made Chevy HHR or my Canadian made Z-71. If you go by her prerequesites to be american, then noboby except the native american indians are true americans and exeryone else is actually…. something else. hummm, made in america and made by americans doesn’t mean anything. I bet these politicians had no problems with taking the economic boost in their districts when Toyota pumped billions of bucks into their local economy. Forget about “give me your poor, wretched, bla bla bla” let’s change that to give us your money!
    The next issue was when the committe member kept saying that Toyoda was contradicting himself about the continuing testing of the etcs yet saying it was safe. Toyoda kept trying to tell him that they will always continually test such systems no matter what and that that was part of the standard process, but the committe member seem to be stuck on his current warpath.
    Next, another committee member wanted Toyoda to agree to compensate victims. There is NO ceo that would have ever agreed to that especially since most have been deemed driver error or are still under investigation. That’s just openingthe door to the looneys.
    Lasty (for now) it seemed that all the committee members wanted Toyoda to get down on his knees and beg. Classic superiority complex.
    They could have made this process much easier for everyone. They could have gotten together and made a complete list of questions. Ask each questions and have the committee vote if they were satisfied with each one. if not, continue, if so, go to the next question.
    Also, can you imagine what the rest of the real world must be thinking about us based on the overly aggressive interrogation that was televised around the world. Heck, where was the waterboard??
    Ironically, they bashed Toyota for not sharing information from region to region. Isn’t our own federal government guilty of the same thing?
    Again, i’m not saying that Toyota should not be questioned or punished, but there has to be a more civilized way.
    just my 2cents….again.

  25. danny says:

    ok, i can’t count. that was more than 2 points of interest. Forgive me please.

  26. Justin says:

    Danny: Must disagree. The committee was very polite, cordial and not aggressive at all. You may have had a hand full of members that did act aggressively, but you also had a similar number of members who clearly were attempting to portray Toyota in a good light. The representatives from districts that represent Toyota facilities or parts vendors were many of those that acted with more interest in those facilities and vendors than they were in getting truthful answers and the public’s interest. I admit those representatives from California were quite hard on Toyoda and Inaba, but they asked good questions, which were mostly replied with apologies rather than answers.
    ****
    And what does the rest of the world think? Hmm, maybe Japan doesn’t like the US for taking Toyota to task for a clear problem that has existed for years, which they continually denied or blamed on the driver. But I don’t or can’t see anyone else having a problem. Isn’t it always the US that has to do the dirty work when something goes wrong in some industry or 3rd world country?
    ****
    Now I do agree they are being hypocritical on the information sharing from region to region, but I think it’s needed. If a problem arises in Europe, and you sell the same vehicle in the US, using many of the same problematic parts, don’t you notify those regions? Not to bring Ford into the conversation, but they do. If they issue a recall in the US that impacts vehicles in Australia, they receive the same notification. Same goes with Europe or South America and so on. So yes the committee is setting a double standard, but this is something that Toyota should already be doing.

  27. danny says:

    Justin;
    I must disagree as you slightly contradict yourself by saying “and not aggressive at all. You may have had a hand full of members that did act aggressively”. I did say it wasn’t as bad as the day before with lentz. I do agree with you about the number of appologies (which many comittee members said it (the appology) wasn’t heartfelt enough. As for being evasive, when you ask open ended questions that has more than one potential answer or cause, what do you expect. I kinda wonder what the Ford exec’s said in the late 1990’s regarding the unintended acceleration in the Explorers and other models that was covered by Dateline and the BBC. I’m sure there was some evasiveness from them too for legal reasons.
    Again, i’m not saying that these questions should not have been asked or that they (toyota) should not be punished. There just has to be a more civilized way. We’re suppose to be a civilized country, not one ofthose 3rd world ones, right??
    As for what the world think about us, well, there is already enough anomosity against us americans in general. Most countries consider us the “arrogant ugly americans”. We may rightly deserve that title, but the jury is still out on that. Yes, i agree with you about the usa having to clean up everybody elses mess. Lord knows, they hate us but want our help and money. Most of the world would be in shambles if it wasn’t for the United States giving blood and money to save their sorry butts.
    As for information sharing, i’m agreeing with you. i was just saying it was ironic, and it is. We must also consider that a recall in the UK may not be same in Australia, considering part suppliers, etc, etc may be different. Either way, the info should have been shared or atleast compared at the Japan headquarters. somebody should know the answers.
    Furthermore, I don’t expect Toyoda or lentz to know the answers to all of these questions as no one would. For instance, the governor of mississippi, haley barbour, can’t possibly know what is going on in every state committee, all 82 (or so) counties and every little city hall meetings. Information trickles up and downward, and we all know that some info never makes it out the door. Now that’s NOT an excuse for Toyota and they should have known this info, been more prepared and done something about it, but it is something we must consider when we criticize someone in these hearings, whether it be a Toyota exec, a Ford exec or Ollie North.
    peaceout.

  28. Justin says:

    Danny: Agree with you 100%.
    ****
    Now in a sense, yes I did contradict myself. My entire point being, all in all, yesterday’s hearing with Inaba & Toyoda, wasn’t nearly as aggressive as the prior day with Lentz. Sure you had your few that did seem to act on their own, in a more aggressive manor, but as stated you also had those Toyota supporters that were much easier on the two. So the Inaba and Toyoda hearing was much better played out and emotions much better controlled than they were with Lentz.
    ****
    If we want to look at a witch hunt or being excessively aggressive, just look back at when the Ford, GM and Chrysler CEO’s were grilled prior to the bailouts. Of course the interviews were for much different reasons, but the all in all, I think the Toyota interviews weren’t nearly as hostile.

  29. Jason says:

    Danny – Good to hear life is easy for you right now – wish I could say the same! :-) I have the same opinion of the hearings that you do – they were most definitely anti-Toyota, but I think that’s politically very popular. America loves to hate big companies – GM, Walmart, McDonalds, IBM…the list goes on.
    ##
    Justin – You’re right, in comparison to the grilling that Ford, GM, and Chrysler took in late 08′, this was nothing. Still, I wouldn’t go as far as you did and say it was polite or cordial. Most of the politicians on the committee were definitely out for blood. You’re also correct in that Toyoda, Lentz, and Inaba offered vague answers that only seemed to incense the politicians more, so I suppose that they were asking for some of it.
    ##
    All in all, these types of hearings are a circus. They’re not about solving problems or getting to the “truth,” they’re about scoring political points and publicity. I don’t fault anyone in the hearings for anything they did or didn’t do, because the hearings really don’t mean anything. What I DO find interesting is all the documents congress got their hands on. Hopefully, someone has sifted through all of them and found the most interesting ones.
    ##
    Side note: Anyone else find it hilarious that LaHood is stuck between defending Toyota’s electronics systems and admitting NHTSA screwed up? It’s one or the other – it can’t be both Ray. :-)

  30. Justin says:

    Here are the thoughts on Gilberts interview from a fairly educated and older fellow I know.
    ****
    Listening to Gilbert at the hearing today:

    – He was paid $1800 and furnished with $4,000 worth of equipment to duplicate the fault.

    – He clearly and voluntarily said that he needed to inspect a system that had suffered SUA.

    – He bought his kid a Toyota Corolla

    In a nutshell this is what Gilbert said:

    The Toyota system’s Throttle Position Sensors are nearly identical, and move in step with each other.

    By inducing a certain specific kind of fault, Gilbert was able to induce -both- sensor voltages to rise almost simultaneously, which caused the PCM/ECU/’computer’ to perceive a wide open throttle condition without recording a fault.

    Gilbert was quick to state that this was not the definitive cause of SUA events.

    Regarding allegations of ‘sabotage':

    This is one of the ways that fault testing works. Engineers create an event under laboratory conditions that simulates something that could happen in the real world. For instance, two wires may be stripped of their insulation and connected to simulate excessive wear in a wiring harness. A wire may be cut to simulate a break in the wire due to wear. Engineers do not wait for real world situations to crop up, they will often simulate real world conditions or their equivalents.

    Regarding insistence that the same test be applied to other makes and models of cars:

    Gilbert said that performing a similar procedure resulted in fault codes and ‘limp home’ mode in -every other vehicle- he tested (mentioning Honda & Ford specifically). Later, under additional questioning, he said that they had tried to induce a WOT fault on other manufacturers’ products and had still not been able to create a similar event on a Buick.

    Regarding brakes overpowering the accelerator:

    Gilbert raised two key points:

    1) That, at highway speeds (say, 60mph), you not only have to overcome the engine’s power output, the brakes have to overcome the kinetic energy of the vehicle.

    2) That brakes will overheat incredibly quickly at full stopping power with WOT at highway speeds, and will be effectively useless.

    —-

    And there’s still the problematic abundance of SUA complaints about Toyota vehicles. Per Toyota’s documentation supplied to the House, fully 70% of SUA complaints involved vehicles that -were not covered- by Toyota’s warranties.

    Sorry for the lengthy post, but Gilbert impressed me–he came across as a capable instructor with no ax to grind and a firm grasp of the issues he addressed.

  31. Jason says:

    Justin – No worries on the length. First, I think that Gilbert’s testimony falls apart right here: “Engineers create an event under laboratory conditions that simulates something that could happen in the real world.” Toyota has said that Gilbert’s trick would never happen in real life…but let’s set that aside for a moment.
    ##
    Let’s pretend that Gilbert is right – that by shorting two outputs together, Toyota vehicles race away uncontrollably. Out of 2,200 complaints (many of which I believe to be bogus,) *someone* would have found *something* by now – especially if it’s a short circuit. There’s just no way to make Gilbert’s testimony stick as-is. He needs to find a way to trigger the problem by making a change that could happen in the real world – not connecting a resistor to two exposed wires and then calling that “proof” of an issue.
    ##
    Finally, Gilbert’s been invited to try again in front of Toyota’s engineers. If he takes Toyota up on their offer, then I’ll be that much more likely to believe him.

  32. danny says:

    Justin;
    I cant compare the 2008 Big3 Bailout grilling since i didnt watch it. At the time this was going on, we owned “zero” Toyota and all GM’s. I guess i was more disturbed with the crappy products by GM at the time and then they had the audacity to ask for money. Mismanagement is not the taxpayers problem. No one is gonna bail you or me out when we screw up so they shouldn’t either. I DO understand the ramifications of unemployment from the big3 from dealers, manufacturing and related industries that would cause massive economic downturns. We all know the financial industies, auto industry and the houseing market had been artificially propped up since the clinton administration and a correction had to come. I’m still predicting at least one wall street meltdown before 2012. For the economy to grow (or be propped up) you must have cheap available money. Clinton and Greenspan started the discounted interest rates from the feds and sooner or later it had to crash. Please dont get me wrong, i am sympathetic to those caught in the middle but so many people lived well beyond their means and it all came crashing down and the sky will continue to fall until it completely bottoms out. No matter what the obama administration does, it will correct itself when it wants too. Heck, the feds are already loaning money to the banks at a negative rate, which i didnt think was possible. Sorry for that long winded statement. I have never really respected Ford until now. My take, Gm should have been forced to compete or die. Make a better product for less and quit wasting money. Bottom line.
    Jason;
    I have to agree with Justin about Gilbert. What is a “real” world situation anyway. Vehicles are subjected to the extremes all the time from excessive heat to constant jarring and vibration. If you live in the south, these dirt and gravel roads (and many paved one too)can shake any vehicle to death. It would not be uncommon for wiring harnesses to crack from the heat or rub through from constant jarring. Even that guy on dateline said that the ford he had could hit a bump and the excesively soldered connectors would touch and create the SUA situation. Ford identified about 5 potential reasons and i think most were due to shorts. To list a few “real” world situations that you commonly would not this of; my z-71 had a starter vibrate loose while traveling down gravel logging roads to deer camp and my Buick GN grounded out its battery hot cable because the turbo melted off the plastic cover. My BGN also suffered a shorted out TPS wire becasue a dang cat decided it wanted to warm up on my engine block.
    Just like anything else, we must all expect the unexpected and with that in mind, must try to prevent it (or make it idiot proof LOL).

  33. Jason says:

    Danny – Fair enough. My read was that the scenario isn’t feasible without a lot of outside help, but I’m admittedly choosing to take Toyota’s word on this issue, and I’m not completely convinced of ABC’s reporting abilities. Personal bias aside, if this guy wants to try again in front of Toyota engineers – and if he’s right – I’ll take back everything I said.

  34. Mickey says:

    Ditto Jason. Do it in front of the accused so there’s proof.

  35. danny says:

    Jason,
    I didnt mean to sound pushy on that previous post but i think you understand that we and toyota must prepare for the worst and pray for the best. I guess it will be up to the nhtsa or dot to decide what “real” world situations are, and from a legal standpoint, what is “reasonable” for a manufacturer to consider or expect from a consumer using their product in the “real” world. For instance, is it reasonable for a toaster manufacturer to consider the consumer may be toasting bread in the shower?? or for a mcdonald’s customer to think coffee is NOT hot?? or is it reasonable to consider that wires may chaff or crack and eventually ground??
    Now the question is, how much “extra” help did this guy give and is the “extra” help, something that could “reasonably” happen in the “real” world.
    peaceout.

  36. Jason says:

    danny – We’re on the same page. I think NHTSA can handle this matter just fine as long as the politicians stay out of it (and that means no LaHood, no congress, etc.). Having said that, I think it will be nice to see what Exponent comes up with too.

  37. [...] every penny I paid for it. Well let them try because Toyota has something up their sleeve… Toyota’s Legal Troubles, Independent Testing, and Little Black Boxes | Tundra Headquarters BTW I'm begining to believe the Unintended Acceleration can happen after the pedal fix. Why? The [...]

  38. johnny says:

    ROFL, Mark Whinton video. He even isn’t an engineer in Toyota. He knows shit about blackboxes.

    ROFL, only TOYOTA can read data events. thats a good one. this guy is a joke

  39. Jason says:

    johnny – At the time this was published, Toyota had not yet provided the tools to read Toyota data recorders to NHTSA.

    http://wot.motortrend.com/6676.....index.html

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