Skip to main content

After reading drational's diary, Braking: Put the Prius in Neutral earlier today about the runaway Prius of yesterday, I did some Googling and came across an article in Car and Driver where they tested three different carsand how they could be brought to a stop with an accelerator stuck wide open.

As it turns out, it isn't as difficult as news reports have led us to believe.

First of all, let me admit that I am very skeptical of these "sudden acceleration" incidents. I believe that there are probably more than one cause, but if I were to bet, my money would be on driver error in at least some of the cases. Others might be caused by drivers on purpose, for a variety of reasons. Each case, I'm sure, is being evaluated on its own merits. If I'm wrong, I will gladly admit it when shown the proof.

Over the past decade or two, I've seen reports of more and more cars running into buildings from parking lots. It used to be that almost invariably, these incidents would be older people (in my age group and beyond) who claimed that the accelerator "stuck". Nothing would ever be found wrong with the cars.

These type of incidents are now becoming more common and they seem to happen to people of all ages. I blame driver distractions - cell phones, MP3 players, CD players, GPS screens, and even passengers who are demanding attention in one way or other. Add that to the pressures on people these days, juggling children and careers, etc., and drivers today are more distracted when they just get into the car than ever before.

In the Prius incident from yesterday in California, I suspect the driver of intentionally causing an incident. Motivation? I don't know. Maybe with a possible lawsuit? Maybe a publicity hound like Richard Haney of balloon boy fame? I don't know, but I suspect that the incident was intentionally caused because of two things that have come out on that incident: 1. The driver refused to shift into neutral, fearing the "car would flip" and 2. After the California Highway Patrol (CHP) car pulled in front of the Prius to stop it, the driver of the Prius was able to bring the Prius to a stop using the brakes without contacting the CHP car.

My personal driving experience has taught me that a vehicle can be handled pretty much in any conditions, as long as the wheels are on the ground and turning. I find it incredible that braking alone cannot stop one of these vehicles that is supposedly "running away". I've actually had experience with stuck accelerators and brakes are highly effective.

It turns out that Dave Vanderwerp, writing for Car and Driver last December,  in his article published in the March, 2010 issue, was questioning the same thing.

In the article, titled "How To Deal With Unintended Acceleration - Tech Dept.", they tested three separate vehicles, a V-6 Camry (one of the recalled vehicles), and Infiniti G37 convertible, and a supercharged "Roush Stage 3 Mustang" with over 500hp.

They took each vehicle to 60 mph, then  jammed the accelerator to the floor while simultaneously jamming on the brakes. All 3 vehicles were brought to a stop in little more time than if the engine had been turned off.

They also tried turning the vehicles off using the starter button (on the Camry and Infiniti). The Mustang wasn’t included in this test as it had a standard key setup. Pushing the starter button and holding it causes the engine to shut off. On the Camry, it took 3.3 seconds for the engine to shut down. In that time, the car accelerated from 60 to 80mph. The Infiniti shut down in 2.2 seconds. Repeated momentary stabs at the button did nothing for the Camry, but after the third stab, the Infinity shut down.

They had other advice about shifting to "neutral" and even into "park" (both recommended), but the most natural thing to do – to step on the brake, is the first reflex of most people and is highly effective in overcoming the thrust of the engine.

Their advice for anyone with a runaway vehicle is to jam on the brakes. The brakes have the ability to overcome the thrust of the engine even when it is at full acceleration. This was true even with the muscle car Mustang.

They also suggested that Toyota take some advice from other manufacturers, and make their engines stop accelerating when the brake is applied (the Infinity did that) and make the engines shut down after repeated, momentary stabs at the starter button.

In conclusion, they "...found no major deficiencies with the Camry’s ability to defuse an unintended-acceleration situation." I have to assume that the same would be true with the Prius, especially since it has about half the horsepower and far less mass.

OK, go ahead and rip me to pieces. I can take it.

Update:
After reading comments about brakes burning up, and seeing comments from shpilk, jmknapp, and indycam saying to use the brakes to stop the car and then turn it off, I realized that I hadn't clearly made that point.

You definitely don't want to try to maintain your speed or just slow the car using the brakes. Either of those things will quickly heat up your brakes and render them useless. You want to stop the car as quickly as possible and shut it off and call a tow truck. If you have the presence of mind to shift into neutral and you can, do that too, but the brakes should bring the car to a stop whether you can remember to shift into neutral or not.

Originally posted to RustyCannon on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:02 PM PST.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (17+ / 0-)

    You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake. Jeannette Rankin

    by RustyCannon on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:02:00 PM PST

    •  Agreed-I am skeptical of the entire thing as well (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pdrap, JayBat, BachFan, RustyCannon

      If it was really a computer bug, it would manifest itself only in a narrow range of cars sharing a common engine family. It would not be as wide-spred as it is.
      I suspect it's the same thing as with the Audi 'unintended acceleration' scare back in the 80's. User issue.

    •  You are incorrect and your diary is (5+ / 0-)

      dangerous.

      Using the brakes has been shown to do nothing except heat up the brakes.

      Putting it in neutral and THEN hitting the brakes is the most effective method of stopping a runaway vehicle.  Hitting the brakes while the engine is engaged, full throttle will do little to slow a vehicle down.

      John Boehner thinks of himself as Ceasar. How about we change his name to Orange Julius?

      by second gen on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:34:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I recommend you read the Car and Driver article (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BachFan, profh, LynneK

        They came to a different conclusion in their tests.

        You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake. Jeannette Rankin

        by RustyCannon on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:41:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You have several problems with your diary (4+ / 0-)

          The Prius has regenerative braking and hydraulic.  Because they share the load, the hydraulic is undersized for the weight of the car. Also, there is a huge amount of torque at all speeds with the electric motor.  The performance cars have oversized brakes.

          The test was for people with a game plan going in.  If the person did not immediately slam on the brakes, they could heat the brake fluid and lose braking power.  The highway patrolman reported the victim had his body off the seat putting as much force as he could on the pedal.

          My first prius had a problem with not accelerating.  The computer was to blame there, so a similar problem with the computer is not so hard to fathom.  It didn't happen on every car in a series, and the same car had performed flawlessly for a year before suddenly refusing to move in an intersection.

          •  If you read the article (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JayBat, RustyCannon

            you will see proof that the brakes are indeed strong enough to do the job .
            Real world testing .

            If you strike a match and light a fuse , don't be surprised when something goes boom .

            by indycam on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 05:34:25 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  No prius included (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              True North, Kokomo for Obama

              in fact, no hybrid was included.
              If you have never been in a vehicle where the brake fluid had boiled, you are missing one of the great adventures in life.  Add a runaway engine and that is entertainment.

              •  No prius , but a 540-hp supercharged Roush , (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                JayBat, RustyCannon

                If you strike a match and light a fuse , don't be surprised when something goes boom .

                by indycam on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 05:53:06 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Please read my comment again (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Catesby, second gen

                  The performance cars have oversized brakes.

                  You just cannot compare a hybrid to a Roush.  The roush has excellent brakes built for performance.

                  Big Brake Kit (consist of 14-Inch two-piece slotted front rotors, factory size slotted rear rotors, four-piston red front calipers and red painted factory rear calipers)

                  The prius has undersized brakes on purpose, with a high torque motor comparative to brake size.

                  •  Look at the numbers . 70-0 (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    JayBat, RustyCannon

                    If you strike a match and light a fuse , don't be surprised when something goes boom .

                    by indycam on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 06:27:41 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Both cars put out the same torque (0+ / 0-)

                      Okay Rouch has 400 ft. lbs of torque and the prius only has 378.  Think about that for a moment.  
                      And the specs on the prius braking include the regenerative portion, where as in a runaway circumstance the electric motor would instead be pulling right along with the engine.

                      •  And the HP ? (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        JayBat, RustyCannon

                        2009 prius specs .
                        Elec
                        Torque    
                        153 lb.-ft. (207 N•m)
                        gas
                        Torque    
                        105 lb.-ft. @ 4000 rpm (142 N•m @ 4000 rpm)

                        258 total

                        Elec
                        Power Output    
                        36 hp (27 kW)
                        gas
                        Power output    
                        98 hp @ 5200 rpm (73 kW @ 5200 rpm)

                        134 hp

                        If you strike a match and light a fuse , don't be surprised when something goes boom .

                        by indycam on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 06:44:27 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  Undersize brakes ? (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    JayBat, RustyCannon

                    How did they get the feds to OK that ?

                    If you strike a match and light a fuse , don't be surprised when something goes boom .

                    by indycam on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 06:35:19 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  They didn't, he's making it up. n/t (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      RustyCannon
                      •  Wiki may not be the absolute authority (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        JayBat, RustyCannon

                        but....

                        Link

                        BTW, You dont need to be an asshole to disagree.

                        •  Well, for what it's worth... (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          RustyCannon, Nailbanger

                          Front rotor diameter and thickness (3rd party replacement rotors, can't find original Toyota specs, but you don't get to cheat on diameter and thickness...)

                          Prius: diameter=255mm, thickness=20mm

                          Corolla: diameter=275mm, thickness=23mm

                          Prius and Corolla are the same weight (+-200lbs depending on trim/accessories).  Top speed of Prius is limited to 106mph. Top speed of Corolla is limited to 122mph.

                          Difference of total KE (kinetic energy) at top speed (the usual measure of braking capacity) is 122^^2/106^^2 = 1.32X more KE for the Corolla.

                          Difference in rotor diameter is 275/255 = 1.08X larger diameter for the Corolla. That only matters for the total rotor volume (how fast it heats up).

                          Difference in total rotor volume is (275^^2*23)/(255^^2*20) = 1.33X more total rotor volume for Corolla.

                          So I get that the total rotor volume (and hence limit to braking capacity as the brakes heat up) for these two cars with the same weight is exactly proportional to the difference in KE at their different limited top speeds.

                          Yes, the Prius has less brake hardware, but evidence strongly suggests that is due to it's lower top speed, not any help that regen braking provides. That would be the only ethical engineering decision to make, by the way; the regen braking requires fully operational computers, whereas the disk brakes require only intact mechanical/hydraulic hardware.

                          I think the Wikipedia entry, "so the conventional brakes on HSD vehicles are undersized compared to brakes on a conventional car of similar mass" is uninformed speculation on the Wiki contributor's part. You'll note it's unsourced.

                          I apologize for saying you just made it up, that was not necessary, and certainly not the way I was raised. But I hope I've made a plausible (at least) case that Prius is not underbraked compared to it's stable mate, and that the Wikipedia claim, as it currently stands, is not very plausible.

                          My thanks for making me think, and again, my apologies.

                          -Jay-

                        •  The wiki does state undersized brakes. (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          JayBat, Nailbanger

                          If that is true, then I'd certainly say that is a design flaw and should be corrected. If the brakes are overheated, a mechanic can easily see that after an accident, so if that is truly a problem, it should be easy enough to prove Toyota at fault.

                          You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake. Jeannette Rankin

                          by RustyCannon on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 09:12:27 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  The Wikipedia article makes an unsourced claim (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            RustyCannon

                            that Prius brakes are smaller than they would otherwise be because of regen braking. I believe that statement is wrong, and that Prius brakes are slightly smaller than the brakes on a (same-weight) Corolla because the Prius top speed is limited to 106mph compared to 122mph for Corolla.

                            Calculations just above your post, Prius brakes are sized just fine, as they have to be for safety.

                            -Jay-

                          •  I noticed your post on that and I agree with you. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Nailbanger

                            For conversation's sake, if the friction brakes on the Prius are too small to overcome the torque of the motor and bring the car to a halt or hold it at a halt with a motor trying to accelerate, then that is a mechanical condition that can be easily tested for and corrected.

                            From what I know about the problems reported, there are a few various scenarios. There was one reported on the news this morning where a woman started her Prius, raced down her inclined driveway, and across a road, knocking down a rock wall. The news report failed to say what actually stopped the car. From the pictures they showed, it appeared that the car went throught the wall. If the brakes failed on that car, it should be easy for any competent mechanic to find the reason for the failure. My guess is that like other such incidents, the brakes will not show any defects.

                            On cars that accelerated out of control while on a road and the driver burned up the brakes before crashing, it will be hard to determine if the brakes were being used to try to stop the car or to slow it and just control its speed, overheating them before trying to bring the car to a stop. Also, some drivers drive with their foot touching the brake pedal. Even though they don't realize it, they are heating their brakes and the brakes will fade prematurely when needed. We've all driven behind these people with their brake lights going on and off, or some that even stay on all the time and appear to be the tail lights (except the intensity doesn't change when they're actually stopping).

                            But I think that we agree that brakes are mechanical things, so even if there is a software problem causing acceleration without input, the brakes should be able to stop the car.

                            Thanks so much for bringing some sanity to this conversation. There were a very few here, it seems, who didn't go emotionally bonkers and I certainly appreciate the help. I even got my very first HR from someone who didn't like a hypothetical that I threw out there.

                            You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake. Jeannette Rankin

                            by RustyCannon on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 06:24:00 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Unsourced or no, I didnt just make it up (0+ / 0-)

                            And the claim has been around as long as the Prius has been in production, and you just showed the brakes are smaller than the corolla, thanks for that confirmation.   I doubt if there is a statement from Toyota that the undersized the brakes.
                            The california event did not happen at maximum speed, and I have never heard of brake design being based completely on top speed.
                            The brakes are just fine for normal driving, but the event did not involve normal driving,(nor did it involve top speed) and the driver was not prepared for it as in a test condition.
                            Jay, if this truly was a failure, I am sure you could have got the car under control quickly because you understand cars, but this guy was panicking, had probably already experienced brake fade, and was likely in tunnel vision mode. Or it could be a made up story for attention.

              •  How is it that the fluid is boiling and the motor (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                JayBat, RustyCannon

                is running away ?
                Are you stating that a prius that has the throttle wide open at 60 mph can not be brought to a stop via just the brakes alone ?

                If you strike a match and light a fuse , don't be surprised when something goes boom .

                by indycam on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 06:33:00 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Think of a likely scenario (0+ / 0-)

                  the car seems to be going a little fast, step on the brake, a little more brake, etc.  You could easily get to the point where you boil the brake fluid and the system is compromised.
                  Then add the high torque electric motor to the mix, the motor that has its full torque at 1 rpm.... very very different than a gasoline engine with a long torque curve.  The motor that should be slowing you down is now speeding you up.
                  As stated in another comment, the Rouch level 3 mustang and the homely prius have similar maximum torque, but the prius has nearly all of it right down to zero mph, where an engaged gasoline engine would have stalled out long before.

                  •  Dragging the brakes ? (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    RustyCannon, Nailbanger

                    Who has been writing about dragging the brakes ?

                    The torque you list is for the combo .
                    I think your number is a bit high but no matter .
                    When the engine rpm goes down in the prius , you will see a reduction of the torque number because as you know gas motors loose torque as their rpms drop .

                    Unless you can show the torque curves of the two cars at speeds from 0-100 ...

                    If you strike a match and light a fuse , don't be surprised when something goes boom .

                    by indycam on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 06:51:16 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Well, we are talking about trying to stop (0+ / 0-)

                      the car, and in the real world you probably wouldn't slam on the brakes right away, nor should you before checking your rear view mirror.
                      I took the torque numbers from the car and driver article in your link, which seemed high, and are wrong... my mistake.
                      Most of the torque of the vehicle is in the electric motor, the motor will produce maximum torque right down to 1 rpm.  The roush will probably max at 4-5k rpm.
                      The whole point is there is a credible way for the california driver to experience what he said he did.  Real world situations are not track situations, and anyway they did not include a hybrid, which has its own unique characterstics relating to this story.
                      Best regards,
                      out.

          •  It happened to my Prius 3 times in 5 years (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            True North, ybruti, greenalley, Nailbanger

            And no, that's very arrogant of you to assume it's always driver error.

            Two out of the 3 times, I was pulling up to a stop sign, put on the brakes, which started to grab, when suddenly the car surged forward. I slammed the brakes on hard and it did then stop. Driver error? No, not at all.

            The third time, I was going down a rather steep road and when I eased on my brakes to slow the car down, the same thing happened - it started to slow down, then surged forward. Fortunately, the brakes slowed it back down again.

            My Prius is a 2005 and I still love it. Fortunately, it hasn't hit any one. When I asked the dealer last week if they were going to include all models in the recall he said no, just the 2010 Priuses.

            But that's not all. My Chevy Camaro (can't remember what year it was but either 1999 or 2001) also went out of control when the accelerator went to the floor of its own volition. The brakes did nothing to stop it, and though I was on a freeway all the cars behind me new I was in trouble and stayed back. I tried shutting the motor off, but I couldn't. Finally I spun out on the side of the road, took out a highway sign, and the Camaro then charged crosswise across the freeway, running headon into the concrete center divider. I wrote about this in another thread last week. I am only alive to write this because the airbags saved my life, altho they knocked me unconscious. The Camaro was crushed right up to the dashboard and I walked away physically unscathed but mentally traumatized. There was no way to prove the car was at fault with everything crushed.

            Again, driver error? Nope. I sure get tired of smug people who don't believe anything goes wrong of its own accord unless it happens to them personally.

          •  Sorry, you can't just make stuff up. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RustyCannon

            the hydraulic is undersized for the weight of the car

            That is just not true, and you will not be able to provide any plausible documentation that it is. The Prius has a totally conventional power-assisted hydraulic 4-wheel disk brake system with ABS. (Rear drums on early models.)

            I've changed a flat on my sister's 2009 Prius.  The front rotor is completely conventional in diameter and thickness for a compact car.

            The highway patrolman reported the victim had his body off the seat putting as much force as he could on the pedal.

            And yet, when the "victim" actually had something in front of him (the CHP car) that he would hit, he stopped his "runaway" Prius with no problem. Amazing!

            My first prius had a problem with not accelerating.

            It is possible (however unlikely) for any car to have a throttle malfunction. A cruise control malfunction, for example. What's not possible is for the brakes on any modern (and I mean post-1930's) car to be unable to overpower the engine, barring catastrophic failure (broken brake line).

            -Jay-

            •  It is a compact car (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JayBat

              and the brakes of a compact car with the curb weight of an Avalon and the torque of a full sized truck.
              My problem was a well publicized recall of the 2004 Prius, where the car would fail to accelerate.  They fixed it, but it establishes a history of accelerator issues in the computer systems.

              The guy could be full of crap, or he may have experienced a real fault.  But there is a very credible scenario that would result in the exact circumstances he claims

              •  Well the good news is... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                RustyCannon

                That test is real easy to do. If you're right, and it's trivial to overpower the brakes of a Prius with the throttle, anybody with a Prius can do that test right now, and... (crickets).

                By the way, the torque claim is at low speed.  At 70mph, the available torque of a Prius is un-remarkable compared to it's non-hybrid brethren.  0-20, the Prius scoots.  50-70, it's just another compact.

                Also BTW, Prius=2900lb, Corolla=2800lb, Avalon=3500lb. OK?

                -Jay-

                •  When you figure out how to hack the (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  JayBat

                  computer to really test this out, let me know.  You don't want to be giving the regeneration system conflicting inputs.  Make sure you brake for a few miles first, so you get the proper brake fade.  Have at it.
                  out.

                  •  Why would you brake for a few miles first? (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    RustyCannon

                    No car would stop properly if you did that. And this guy's car stopped just fine once he had a CHP car right in front of him. Do you dispute that?

                    As to the "hack", I didn't realize you were requiring firmware failure, I thought you were talking about undersized brakes. Clearly, the required firmware change would be straightforward for Toyota, not so much for anybody else.  Easy for Toyota though, and I'd be pretty surprised if they don't have the data (or at least the calculations) for that on hand...

                    -Jay-

                    •  Check out the story (0+ / 0-)

                      by the beloved AP. Highway 8 East is a relatively steep incline for awhile.  
                      My point about the hack is that the electric motor/generator that would normally be slowing the car down in this case was not.  The floor mat was in the proper position, so I would suspect the electronics, and you cant replicate this by just going out and holding both accelerator and brake at the same time.

      •  Please see my update to the diary. (0+ / 0-)

        You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake. Jeannette Rankin

        by RustyCannon on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 09:02:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  wow (3+ / 0-)

      really. wow.. step on the brakes?  gee why didnt anyone lese think of that.

      Sorry buddy your are putting forth some dangerous stoOOpid shit in this diary.

      You think if there wasnt a real problem, Toyota would be willing to basically destroy its company?

      THERE is a VERY real problem here.

      While I agree, the solution is popping it into neutral and coasting and braking to a stop.

      Your pop it into park, or even turning it off is dangerous nonsense.  You turn the car off, you loose power steering genius.  You pop it in park, you'll lose control of the car.

      (regarding the bank mess) They want to cure the patient but not deal with the disease.

      by dark daze on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:46:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Recommend you read the Car and Driver article (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JayBat, Catesby, LynneK

        Putting a car in park while it is traveling won't lock up the drive train, so effectively, it is the same as neutral in that situation. You don't need power steering to steer. True that at slow speeds, it will be harder to steer without the PS, but you can do it if you use both hands. Really. Try it some time.

        You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake. Jeannette Rankin

        by RustyCannon on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:50:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I have (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ginja

          been driving for 30 plus years.  Good luck getting that car off the road and not in a ditch wthout the use of ower steering.  I am a strong man and its a fight and struggle to control a car without power steering.

          (regarding the bank mess) They want to cure the patient but not deal with the disease.

          by dark daze on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:57:47 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well then (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JayBat

            I have about 15 more years behind the wheel than you. Yes, without PS, it is hard to steer at slow speeds, but it can be done. I've even done it safely with a 12 ton bus.

            You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake. Jeannette Rankin

            by RustyCannon on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 05:06:32 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I was just asked to drive/fix a great big old (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JayBat, RustyCannon

            ford moving van . The guy who owned the thing asked me to fix the power steering on it as he was unable to drive it . Turns out that had no power steering pump and never did . It was a completely manual set up . There was no place to plumb in a pump . The steering box had no fitting for power .
            After steering that truck ...

            If you strike a match and light a fuse , don't be surprised when something goes boom .

            by indycam on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 05:46:41 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Are you serious? (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mickT, bluetownship, RustyCannon

            I am a feeble woman, and I have driven cars without power steering - and gosh! I have never crashed.

            I guess they don't make strong men like they used to :)

            •  I know (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RustyCannon
              In high school I used to drive a clunker Dodge. It was always stalling on me at highway speeds, and when the engine goes out the only thing you can do is switch it to neutral and keep steering without the power steering.

              First rule was to keep driving the car. Second rule was to get the thing restarted or to the side of the road before all the speed was gone.

              It's a little bit more difficult to drive without power steering, but the people who say it's a hard thing to do are just wrong. Hell, I've owned cars without power steering at all, it's not a big deal. Honda didn't even put power steering on their Civic DX line back in the 1990's.

      •  There is no evidence there is any (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LynneK, RustyCannon

        substantial problem. Toyota appears to be reacting to American hysteria the best they can.

        The rate of unintended acceleration reports for Toyotas is about the same as other makes. The current situation appears to me to be about the same as Audi in the early 80's. Driver error.

        -Jay-

      •  The engine/transmission side is all fly by wire (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        skrekk, dark daze

        so if the accelerator input  is not  working, perhaps the shifter toggle and start and park buttons may not be either.

      •  Now why is power steering (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JayBat, RustyCannon

        seen as an essential?

        I remember when power steering was a new thing.  

        You can steer without it - you certainly don't lose control.  It is just harder at low speeds, which is not the issue here.

    •  Wow. Now I have a little better understanding (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JayBat

      of the GBCW diaries. Thanks to the commenters who have kept it civil and talked about mechanical and other facts.

      You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake. Jeannette Rankin

      by RustyCannon on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 09:17:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm sorry (12+ / 0-)

    Saying to use the brakes or put it in nuetral doesn't address anything.

    There could be some condition, or some device failure that puts the vehicle into this mode.  It hasn't been solved.

    btw: I own a Prius.

    They tortured people to get false confessions to justify invading Iraq.

    by yet another liberal on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:05:07 PM PST

    •  modern cars are all computerized anyway. (4+ / 0-)

      If it's not accepting pedal input that's a serious problem that "just use the brake" may not fix.

      •  Exactly (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DawnG, ginja, RustyCannon, slowbutsure

        This is a real problem and it hasn't been solved.  The type of network these vehicles use is called a CAN signalling network.  I am surprised there is not a requirement for CAN data logging devices (kind of like the "black box" on a plane).  Something like that could potentially point to what has gone wrong.

        They tortured people to get false confessions to justify invading Iraq.

        by yet another liberal on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:12:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Modern cars all have (5+ / 0-)

          some "black box" capability, recording and saving data from air bag deployments and such events. Retained data can include accelerator position and brake use, among other things.

          Only Toyota and Honda have systems that cannot be read without specialized gear. In Toyota's case, they refuse to supply such data without court order, and until recently there was only one laptop in the U.S. that could read the Toyota black box.

          "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

          by happy camper on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:24:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I have in my hands Flying March 2010 (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          yet another liberal, RustyCannon

          starting on page 34 is a great article about a crash of a private plane . They were able to go back and see what happened because of the "32 data streams".

          "the rate of descent soared to 11,500 fpm , and the airspeed rose from 150 to 280 knots .
          Fuel flow and engine rpm remained steady at cruise settings ; the pilot evidently made no effort to slow the plane by reducing power or flattening the propeller pitch ."

          "A curious thing about the plethora of data retrieved from the airplane's electronic flight instrumentation is how little it does to clarify what really happened ."

          If you strike a match and light a fuse , don't be surprised when something goes boom .

          by indycam on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 06:16:13 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I recommend you read the Car and Driver (5+ / 0-)

        article. Brakes are still hydraulic with vacuum assist. They even work with the ignition turned off.

        You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake. Jeannette Rankin

        by RustyCannon on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:15:54 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Jamming on the brakes isn't a fix for the car (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RustyCannon

        it is a thing to do to stop the car .
        Once the car is stopped and you are safe , then look into the problem .

        If you strike a match and light a fuse , don't be surprised when something goes boom .

        by indycam on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:24:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Does your car have hydraulic brakes? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yet another liberal

      You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake. Jeannette Rankin

      by RustyCannon on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:11:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It has electric brakes (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        skrekk, RustyCannon, slowbutsure

        And good old friction brakes that work on hydraulics.  If you push hard on the brake pedal, that is supposed to engage the friction brakes, but for most braking, the electric brakes are used.

        They tortured people to get false confessions to justify invading Iraq.

        by yet another liberal on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:12:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Right, the electric brakes in the Prius (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JayBat

          are regeneration, turning the motor/generator backwards to recoup energy and charge the batteries. But with the car turned off, the friction brakes will still work, as will the emergency brake which is usually the rear friction brakes.

          You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake. Jeannette Rankin

          by RustyCannon on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:18:16 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hydraulics don't work without a motor running (0+ / 0-)

            It's "power assisted braking" is what they used to call it.

            They tortured people to get false confessions to justify invading Iraq.

            by yet another liberal on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:19:17 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Hydraulic brakes work anytime (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JayBat, slowbutsure

              engine running or not.

              You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake. Jeannette Rankin

              by RustyCannon on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:26:05 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  They won't have much power w/o motor (0+ / 0-)

                They tortured people to get false confessions to justify invading Iraq.

                by yet another liberal on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:27:26 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Wrong. Hydraulic brakes get their (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  JayBat, BachFan

                  power from two sources - your pressure on the pedal depresses a piston in the master cylinder. That is the main braking power. There is a vacuum assist when the engine is running, but it isn't needed for the brakes to work. Take your car out to a parking lot, get it going 10mph with a long stretch in front of you and turn the ignition off. You will still be able to stop the car.

                  You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake. Jeannette Rankin

                  by RustyCannon on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:38:32 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Not to mention (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    BachFan, RustyCannon

                    the emergency brake is mechanically linked to the rear brakes.  No software there.

                    •  and emergency brakes wont do shit at high speeds (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Dr Colossus, Kokomo for Obama

                      they wont do shit except burn their pads off.  Christ how many teenagers make the mistake of driving all night with them on and never knowing, until  " gee whats the funny smell?"

                      (regarding the bank mess) They want to cure the patient but not deal with the disease.

                      by dark daze on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:50:43 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  The proper term is "parking brake" (0+ / 0-)

                        because that's what they're for - to hold the car when it is parked. At best, they only engage two of the four brakes on a car. Stepping on the brake pedal will stop the car.

                        You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake. Jeannette Rankin

                        by RustyCannon on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 05:02:57 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  wow (0+ / 0-)

                          really, stepping on brakes stops a cra..  wow.  Might want to put Breaking.... into your diary title.

                          This whole linked story is nonsense and doesnt even talk about the test that can replicate the electronic problem.  The brakes do little to stop the car.

                          But hey why would car and diver lie its not like Toyota is their largest advertiser..... umm oh wait..

                          (regarding the bank mess) They want to cure the patient but not deal with the disease.

                          by dark daze on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 05:05:07 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Link, please (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            RustyCannon

                            This whole linked story is nonsense and doesnt even talk about the test that can replicate the electronic problem.

                            Link to replication, please? I've seen blather in 3 different places, I think, where somebody was claiming reproducibility. I've seen zero evidence that any reproducible failure in braking or throttle actually exists, including the Woz claim.

                            (This excludes the going-over-the-bump regen braking glitch, which nobody has claimed has ever caused an accident.)

                            -Jay-

                          •  I think what he might be talking about is the (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            JayBat

                            guy that rewired the computer so he could cause it to ignore input. Not really reproducing the problem, but showing one way to produce the problem.

                            I've worked enough with software development to know that if you can reliably reproduce a software problem, you can fix it. Same with an electronic problem. But to just invent a way to cause a problem is not the same as reproducing the problem.

                            You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake. Jeannette Rankin

                            by RustyCannon on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 08:05:43 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                      •  Exactly the pads would have burned off (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        JayBat, RustyCannon

                        why didn't that happen to the CA guy?  He tried everything and nothing worked until he could hurt a CHP trooper?

            •  They still work... (7+ / 0-)

              you just don't get the assistance of engine vacuum helping drive the master cylinder.

              The pedal gets harder to push, but the car will stop.

              Ditto for power steering. In fact, power steering really helps most at low speeds. At highway speed, you'll be fine without it.

              --Shannon

              "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
              "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

              by Leftie Gunner on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:29:30 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Nonesense, they work just fine. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Catesby, RustyCannon

              You have to push like hell, but they work just fine.

              By the way, every driver should take their car out to the local mall parking lot early on a Sunday morning and practice steering and stopping with the engine off. It can happen anywhere, anytime, just a broken belt.

              (Please don't turn the ignition key all the way to steering lock position, or you'll knock over a lamp post and ruin your day. Turn the key just the first click to shut down the engine.)

              -Jay-

          •  No, that's not right. (4+ / 0-)

            A Prius has two fully parallel braking systems:

            • Conventional power-assisted hydraulic disk brakes, with ABS. (Early Priuses had rear drums, but that's irrelevant to this discussion.) This is just like every other modern car on the road.
            • Regenerative.

            The first little bit of brake pedal travel (intentionally) doesn't ask much of the hydraulic brakes, you get mostly regeneration. Push hard, you get mostly hydraulic disk brakes. There's no way to prevent this; no mysterious computer malfunction can stop the hydraulic disk brakes from working.

            No passenger car anywhere in the world that I know of has "drive-by-wire" brakes! Lots of cars these days have drive-by-wire throttles, but not brakes.

            -Jay-

          •  but not the steering (0+ / 0-)

            (regarding the bank mess) They want to cure the patient but not deal with the disease.

            by dark daze on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:49:20 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Did you read the article ? (6+ / 0-)

      I did and I think that they are correct .
      Jam on the brakes hard hard .
      Don't just drag the brakes .
      If you just drag the brakes the brakes will heat up to the point where the become toasted .

      It does not matter what car you are in ,
      newest computercar or an old pre computer car ,
      if the car starts to run away because the throttle is open and will not close , jam on the brakes hard .

      If you strike a match and light a fuse , don't be surprised when something goes boom .

      by indycam on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:22:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Man, that is no duh (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fishgrease, ginja, dark daze, nancat357

        Do you really think they didn't try that?  Seriously?

        They tortured people to get false confessions to justify invading Iraq.

        by yet another liberal on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:24:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes I do believe that people don't know (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JayBat, LynneK, RustyCannon, slowbutsure

          that that is a solution to the immediate problem .
          If you read the article you will see that if the car you are driving has a stuck open throttle , the correct response is not to panic , the correct response is to step hard on the brakes and get the car to a full stop ASAP . Trust the brakes , don't delay hard braking , it is the right thing to do .

          If you strike a match and light a fuse , don't be surprised when something goes boom .

          by indycam on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:29:15 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I think they probably "tried" it (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RustyCannon

          ...but had their foot on the throttle instead of the brake, or on both.  Just ask Audi.

          -Jay-

          •  Throttles do get stuck open , (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JayBat, RustyCannon

            they have been getting stuck open for a great long time . There is nothing all that new about throttles getting stuck open . In the past something as simple as a broken return spring would have the throttle wide open .
            Unfortunately in driver ed the subject isn't really taught .
            Many drivers will have no idea how to react to the problem immediately . If they do the wrong thing it could be a real disaster .
            Some will turn the ignition off and look the steering , some who lock the steering will turn the key again and unlock the steering , some will panic and not turn the key to unlock the steering .
            Some will "pop" it into neutral risking a fragged flywheel . A fragged flywheel in an non safety wrapped bell housing is a very dangerous thing .

            If you strike a match and light a fuse , don't be surprised when something goes boom .

            by indycam on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 05:28:18 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Wow, that takes me back! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RustyCannon

              My first car was a '72 Corolla 1200, little teeny go-cart of a car.  I loved it.

              It had a very rudimentary air-handling system. In winter, you had to remember to move a little thumbscrew slider on the air cleaner housing to switch from cold air intake to heated air intake.

              If you forget to do that, then take 3 of your buddies and their gear home from college for Christmas over the Oregon Cascades, and you spend 30 minutes with the throttle floored going up to Santiam Pass, you find that the carburetor is iced wide open when you get to the top of the pass and let off the throttle. It gets real exciting for about 5-10 seconds until you figure out what must be happening and pull the (manual!) choke a couple of times to break up the ice.

              Lots of fun memories in that little car, though, and I drove it 200K miles.

              -Jay-

  •  In one of these wrecks (6+ / 0-)

    It involved a Lexus and a State Trooper.  I'm pretty sure he would have tried to put it in neutral.

    They tortured people to get false confessions to justify invading Iraq.

    by yet another liberal on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:06:20 PM PST

    •  That is one accident that makes no sense at all (0+ / 1-)
      Recommended by:
      Hidden by:
      dhonig

      especially since cops are taught how to handle all kinds of vehicle emergencies. That could just as easily be a murder/suicide as anything else. As I said in the diary, all these incidents will have to be investigated on their own merits.

      You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake. Jeannette Rankin

      by RustyCannon on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:10:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Omg (11+ / 0-)

        You are in HR territory.  You throw out the murder/suicide thing with absolutely NOTHING to back it up.

        Post tripe like that again and I start HRing everything you post.

        Silence is the enemy - Green Day 4360+ dead - Bring them home

        by Miss Blue on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:12:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  You are really out to lunch (10+ / 0-)

        Your entire premise is completely stupid, and now this?  Jesus.

        They tortured people to get false confessions to justify invading Iraq.

        by yet another liberal on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:13:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Do you work for Toyota? (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        scrape, Fishgrease, ginja, nancat357

        That has to be one of the most dumb-ass comments I've read in a while.

        "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

        by happy camper on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:26:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  The Lexus was a loaner... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RustyCannon

        And it was determined to have the wrong model floor mat in it, which caused the accelerator to stick under the mat.  It is uncertain as to whether the wrong floor mat was put in by the manufacturer or the owner.

        Certainty generally is illusion, and repose is not the destiny of man. - OWH

        by blockbuster on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 05:00:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  the one with the cop had recorded 911 call (5+ / 0-)

        it was a cop and his brother in law, who was also a cop, and his wife and a child. and the tape was over 5 min long. may have been longer.

        the cop chronicled all actions he took. also, via the 911 call, alerted other officers to clear the road as the car was still accelerating.

        they were very calm and logical, initially, going through several options.

        just toward the end it became apparent that they were all going to die and the cop did everything he could to steer the car away from areas where other motorists would be in the accident also.

        blindly referring to this incident as a murder-suicide is the height of insensitivity.

        •  Do you have a link to the 5 minute (0+ / 0-)

          recording? Because the only one I can find is about 45 seconds long and the only chronicling that took place was a narrative from the caller about where they were, how fast they were going, that the accelerator was stuck, what direction they were going, and what they were approaching. The 911 operator was trying to make suggestions, but the caller was panicked and shaken and not responding to the operator's input.

          Maybe we're talking about two different incidents. I'm talking about the CHP officer, his wife, child, and brother-in-law who crashed last fall in a rented Lexus.

          A couple days ago there was a long call where the driver was telling them everything he was doing. That incident ended when he applied the brakes.

          You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake. Jeannette Rankin

          by RustyCannon on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 08:52:52 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Murder/Suicide? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        yet another liberal

        that deserves a doughnut. Listen to the fraking 911 tape then tell me it's a murder/suicide. You piss on the graves of good people. Disgusting.

        Done with politics for the night? Have a nice glass of wine with Palate Press: The online wine magazine.

        by dhonig on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 06:53:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And the HR was for what exactly? (0+ / 0-)

          I listened to the recording and all it does is cause me to have lots and lots of questions. Apparently it gave you the ability to diagnose the situation entirely?

          The driver was a 45yo CHP officer. CHP officers get special driver training that teaches them all kinds of stuff about how to handle cars at high speed. Per the CHP spokesman, who I believe was his commanding officer, Officer Saylor was highly competent and the spokesman was certain that he would have exhausted all possible solutions to the problem. CHP often drive at high speed, so it shouldn't have been a panic situation for him. The 911 caller was supposedly his wife and she was not responding to the 911 operator, only giving information about where they were, how fast they were going, etc. The 911 operator was trying to suggest things, but no one was listening.

          After listening to the recording, I can think of at least several different scenarios that could have caused the problems that the driver was encountering, but none of them are perfect, none of them indict beyond question the driver, the car, the road, or the dealer. I suggested one that was, admittedly, a stretch, but it was just a possibility among many. And for suggesting that there might be an explanation that you didn't like, you HR the comment?

          That's HR abuse. But thanks. I've been here a couple years and you finally popped my cherry. You gave me my first HR.

          You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake. Jeannette Rankin

          by RustyCannon on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 08:44:51 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  The one with the 911 call? That was a rental (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RustyCannon

      car ... do we know whether it was the same make of car that the trooper normally drove?

      If the gear shifter or the ignition/start button setup were different from what he was used to driving, it's possible that he lost several precious moments in trying to consciously remember how to put the rental car into neutral (or turn off its engine).

      "Specialization is for insects." -- Heinlein

      by BachFan on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:55:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Both competent and incompetent (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RustyCannon

      people come in all shapes, sizes, religious beliefs and professions.

      Cops make dumb driving mistakes all the time (though far less often than average drivers, I imagine, training does help).

      -Jay-

  •  Thanks for this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    True North, RustyCannon

    I drive a 2005 Prius, and while I had not heard about the incident in CA, I was aware of the sticking accelerator problem. I appreciate the info.

  •  I hope people are aware (5+ / 0-)

    That modern cars (not just Toyotas) are based on digital signalling networks.  There is no longer a mechanical linkage between the parts.

    The gas pedal doesn't pull a cable and spring anymore.  It just sends out different data.  So, if there is some condition causing bad data to go out ... anything could happen.

    I wonder if it could be caused by electrical noise.

    They tortured people to get false confessions to justify invading Iraq.

    by yet another liberal on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:09:21 PM PST

    •  transmission too? (8+ / 0-)

      Even a stick shift?

      What about turning the ignition off entirely?  Is that part of the signal network?

      I still think the Google search engine has gained sentience and is looking for the best way to hack cars and kill people.  

      •  I think the transmission is mechanical (0+ / 0-)

        But it has no gears.  I forget what they call it at the moment ... infinitely adjustable transmission or something like that.  It's something I keep meaning to look up and never do.  :-)

        They tortured people to get false confessions to justify invading Iraq.

        by yet another liberal on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:15:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Nope (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RustyCannon

        No key, a push button, and it won't turn off above a certain speed. push it all you want, nothing happens. that is the testimony from repeated incidents.

        Done with politics for the night? Have a nice glass of wine with Palate Press: The online wine magazine.

        by dhonig on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 06:54:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Right, push button starter. (0+ / 0-)

          As I mentioned in the diary, they tested the push button starter in the Camry and the Infinity. Pushing and holding them shut the cars down. In the Infinity, it shut down it 2.2 seconds. In the Camry, it took 3.3 seconds and as they noted, that must seem like forever if your car is continuing to accelerate and it is not shutting down. They noted that at 60mph, that 3.3 seconds allowed the car to accelerate to 80mph before shutting down.

          The natural thing to do with such a button is to repeatedly push it. Doing so with the Toyota had no affect, but doing so with the Infinity caused the engine to shut off after 3 pushes.

          C&D suggested Toyota fix that and they had another suggestion or two also.

          Now if elevator manufacturers would just make elevators go faster when the call buttons are repeatedly pushed...

          You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake. Jeannette Rankin

          by RustyCannon on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 08:53:11 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not to mention the brakes are often software, and (0+ / 0-)

            it is entirely possible the car's computer locked up so badly the only way of stopping the car would be to physically disconnect the computer from the battery (a hard shutdown and reboot) which you can't do from inside the car.

    •  Electrical Noise Theory (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yet another liberal, RustyCannon

      I thought about that a few days ago, especially since we've seen a spike over the last couple of months.

      Noise/Sun Spot activity taking place on same spectrum used by Toyota.

      Of course, I'd need to determine if other automakers use same frequency.

      Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. http://www1.hamiltonproject.org/es/hamilton/hamilton_hp.htm

      by PatriciaVa on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:26:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  True for throttle, no brakes. n/t (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yet another liberal, RustyCannon
    •  RF transmissions from a passing vehicle, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yet another liberal, RustyCannon

      or even a combination of radio frequencies from different sources could send the micro processor into an invalid state.

      "the work goes on, the cause endures .. "

      by shpilk on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 06:49:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Reality TV (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marie, mickT, JayBat, grimjc, LynneK, RustyCannon

    Others might be caused by drivers on purpose, for a variety of reasons.

    Maybe a "balloon boy" effect in some cases.

    It amazes me that anyone would call 911 if this happens, rather than one of 1) slamming on the brakes, 2) putting it in neutral or 3) turning off the accelerator.

  •  The real problem may be computers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RustyCannon

    Engineers are always tinkering with the software and trying to guess what the driver wants to do and then helping him/her to do it. For example, my 8-year old Volvo was originally programmed to shift into neutral when the brake was applied. I don't know at what RPMs the shift was supposed to occur. However, that practice was changed when it was discovered that it might be contributing to early transmission failure. The engine would also periodically race after running at high speeds for a while, a problem that was also supposedly caused by a computer glitch. When the engine raced like that, I was always able to stop the car by braking, although with some effort. I'd then shift into neutral after pulling over and stopping and let it race, tapping the accelerator peridically to see if I could drop the RPMs. It would return to normal after a minute oe two. Being a computer programmer myself, I am always leery of software and I don't know how it can be thoroughly tested under all conditions. The best you can ever say about software is that there are no known bugs. Computers are evolving in cars and controlling more and more features and I think there are probably still going to be a lot of problems with them.

  •  So Toyota is spending billions on a wild goose (7+ / 0-)

    chase????

    And 90% of the owners stories are false????

    Please!!!!

  •  i've experienced my foot slipping off the brake (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JayBat, BachFan, LynneK, RustyCannon

    pedal and onto the accelerator real hard which has led me into a couple of what could have been very costly and embarrassing situations.

    but i drive a '98 camry so it doesn't really count anyhow.

  •  My sister had a unintended accelleration (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BachFan, LynneK, RustyCannon

    when she was using cruise control several years ago.  She called 911 and I guess they got her to turn off the car.  It was one of those big boat sedans - they found a short in the cruise control circuitry.

    I found this post helpful, RustyCannon; thanks.

  •  Fucked up attitude, man! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cardinal, nancat357, TFinSF

    [/Lebowski]

    In the Prius incident from yesterday in California, I suspect the driver of intentionally causing an incident. Motivation? I don't know. Maybe with a possible lawsuit?

    On what basis? You're obviously guessing about the character of someone you don't know and do't know anything about.

    It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

    by Fishgrease on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:22:47 PM PST

    •  Furthermore (4+ / 0-)

      David Shuster had him on MSNBC this morning and he said that he wasn't planning any lawsuit because he got out of it ok and was just thankful he is still alive.

    •  Yes, I said "I don't know" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dr Colossus, JayBat, LynneK

      The fact is that he refused to shift into neutral and he did stop the car by using the brakes.

      You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake. Jeannette Rankin

      by RustyCannon on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:30:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You said you don't know regarding his motivation (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nancat357

        Not whether or not he's faking it.

        Go shill for an auto manufacturer someplace else.

        The nerve!

        It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

        by Fishgrease on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:32:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Keep it civil, please. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mickT, RustyCannon

          I don't see any "shilling" going on here.

          -Jay-

          •  Are baseless accusations of fraud civil? (0+ / 0-)

            You did ask 'please'.

            But no.

            Too fucking bad.

            It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

            by Fishgrease on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 06:28:33 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not baseless. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RustyCannon

              The San Diego Prius "victim"s story doesn't make sense. My first thought when I heard it was "attention whore". Otherwise, why was he able to so easily stop his "runaway" as soon as there was a CHP car sitting in front of his bumper telling him over the PA he's going to stop him?

              Brave trooper, by the way. If he had tried that manuever, it could easily end badly, and I'm sure he knew it.

              -Jay-

              •  You've inspected the car? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                JayBat

                You're an expert on Toyotas? Automobiles flooring their own throttles... doesn't make sense. It's not supposed to make sense. If it happened to me, that's the first thing that would come to my mind.

                "This doesn't make sense!"

                Now. In this particular case, was the guy telling the truth? Maybe not. But it's rational to let the people investigating make that determination.

                I'm sure Toyota immediately came to the same conclusion you and the diarist have. Without investigating.

                That's gonna sell a lot of cars!

                It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

                by Fishgrease on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 07:51:31 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Don't need to be an expert (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  RustyCannon

                  Automobiles flooring their own throttles...

                  That has been happening (rarely) ever since the first cruise control was available. I've no problem believing uncommanded throttle excursions, in principle.

                  What I don't believe is that the guy had his foot off the throttle, all his strength on the brake, and the car not only didn't stop, but kept going 90mph, until, miraculously, the back bumper of a CHP car was filling the guy's windshield, and then braking worked perfectly.

                  Occam's Razor says there's no good reason to believe that. Make sense?

                  -Jay-

                  •  Okay, so he was afraid to stand on the brakes. (0+ / 0-)

                    We need to quit talking about the things that should be done in the ridiculous situation where the throttle sticks wfo. Everyone is not going to have textbook reactions. Certainly, everyone is not going to remain calm and no one, nobody, not one soul is going to relax, as the diarist suggests.

                    Installing a circuit where any braking action will cut the throttle is THE answer, or close to it. But it's evidently a $300 to $500 per-car fix and Toyota is avoiding it.

                    It's like saying there's no problem with these particular parachutes, just jiggle the handle on the rip-cord a few times and you'll be fine. Screw that. Give me a good parachute!

                    It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

                    by Fishgrease on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 10:53:11 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  No, he was not afraid to stand on the brakes (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Fishgrease, RustyCannon

                      Sikes said he lifted his buttocks from the seat to press the floor brake

                      I just stayed on the brakes as much as I could

                      Also, you don't need to stay calm.  Panicking and stomping on the brakes will work just dandy. You say:

                      Installing a circuit where any braking action will cut the throttle is THE answer, or close to it. But it's evidently a $300 to $500 per-car fix and Toyota is avoiding it.

                      Citation for the $300-500 number? It should just be a firmware change, with zero manufacturing cost. The problem is that a failed brakelight switch then strands me. That stinks, I don't want that. But then I dislike automatic transmission park interlocks, too, but because a bunch of people were too incompetent to tell the difference between the brake and accelerator on their Audis back in the early 80's, I have to have it.

                      It's like saying there's no problem with these particular parachutes, just jiggle the handle on the rip-cord a few times and you'll be fine. Screw that.

                      I suggest you not take up skydiving. Just a hunch. :-)

                      •  Okay.... (0+ / 0-)

                        Don't remember where I saw the $300 to $500 numbers. Either CNN or MSNBC dot coms. Something about them having to modify the throttle-body itself for the fix to be redundant, which is evidently preferred.

                        As I said before, this fellow might have been lying. If there's nothing wrong with the car, he obviously was. My problem with the diarist, and you, is that you've chosen not to wait for that verdict. You've chosen to side with the biggest auto company on the planet. That doesn't address all the other Toyotas which have obviously had real problems. I don't see how Toyota recovers. Fair or not, "Our vehicles probably won't kill you.", isn't going to sell many cars.

                        It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

                        by Fishgrease on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:05:58 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I don't know where you got the idea (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          JayBat

                          that I'm siding with Toyota or even that I'm saying that there is no "sudden acceleration" problem. The diary addresses how to stop a car that is accelerating when you don't want it to. It is a driving lesson, not a verdict on the manufacturer's quality or credibility.

                          You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake. Jeannette Rankin

                          by RustyCannon on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 06:39:42 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

      •  Shifting into neutral is a software function, and (0+ / 0-)

        so is using the brake.  If the computer had a BSOD, then you could very well have to do a hard shutdown which can't be done without getting under the hood to kill the power.

  •  Toyota Has Already Admitted To One Glitch..... (5+ / 0-)

    .....In the Prius' software affecting the brakes. Why would it be so hard to believe there might be more glitches in the software causing these problems?

    From CNN, February 4th, 2010:

    Without issuing a recall of its iconic Prius hybrid vehicles, Toyota said Thursday a software glitch is to blame for braking problems in the 2010 model... Toyota officials described the problem as a "disconnect" in the vehicle's complex anti-lock brake system (ABS) that causes less than a one-second lag. With the delay, a vehicle going 60 mph will have traveled nearly another 90 feet before the brakes begin to take hold.

    According to CBS News, the reports of problems are multiplying.

    On Tuesday, a housekeeper pulled out of her driveway in Harrison, N.Y., when the 2005 Prius shot across the street and smashed into a stone wall, ruining the front end.

    "It's hard for us to determine whether it was a stuck accelerator or whether or not the vehicle accelerated for some other reason," Harrison Police Capt. Anthony Marracini told CBS News Station WCBS-TV in New York.

    Further north, in Yarmouth, Mass., Anne Wilkins was behind the wheel of her Toyota Rav 4 when the SUV slammed into a medical building Tuesday. The accident happened after she brought the vehicle to her dealer in February to prevent its gas pedal from sticking, reports CBS News Station WBZ-TV in Boston. Local police plan to test the vehicle this weekend to determine whether Toyota's recall issues contributed to the crash...  The owner of a 2009 Camry, Stewart Stogel, of Mount Vernon, N.Y., told The Associated Press he narrowly missed driving over an embankment and hitting a wall when the mid-size sedan accelerated on its own Feb. 27, five days after being serviced as part of the recall.

    Stogel said the car had accelerated two previous times before the recall fix, and both times he took it to dealerships to be checked. In one case it was inspected by a Toyota corporate technician who could find nothing wrong, he said.

    Carolyn Kimbrell, 59, a retired office assistant in Whitesville, Ky., told the AP her 2006 Toyota Avalon accelerated around the same time as she was returning with her 9-year-old granddaughter from a trip to the mall. The incident occurred a week after her dealer inserted a metal piece into the gas pedal mechanism on Feb. 20 to eliminate the friction blamed for the pedal problems.

    Are all of these people either psychotic or looking for a check?

  •  I agree. Relax. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    True North, dj from NC
    You're suddenly going 130 mph, swerving through rush hour traffic. Your 1 year-old is screaming in her carseat. You've got this horrid, sick feeling in your stomach.

    d00d!

    Relax!

    It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

    by Fishgrease on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 04:39:02 PM PST

  •  I work with a former mechanic and he thinks (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shpilk, JayBat, LynneK, RustyCannon

    all the recent out of control prius are just folks looking for lawsuit money.  That guy couldn't get his prius to stop by standing on the breaks or putting it in neutral until a CHP trooper is in harms way?  I'm guessing he didn't want to hurt anyone in his quest for money/five seconds of fame.

    •  Or, it could just be that we have assumed (4+ / 0-)

      the drivers are responsible in these cases, and only recently had any other possibility occurred to us, and now we are looking at these incidents differently. The incidents are getting more attention, but were happening all along.

      Here in MN a few years ago a guy in a toyota claimed that his car spontaneously accelerated on the freeway and ended up ramming another car, killing its occupants. His defense was mocked at the time and he was thrown in jail, and his story didn't make the front page outside of the state.

      But the story never made any sense. The man was not intoxicated, had no history of any criminal behavior of any kind, was in a stable family, and had his family in his car with him at the time - including an infant and his own mother.

      The jury at the time threw him in jail for 8 years, despite no evidence of motive. Now, even the victim's families want to know if this case had something to do with the toyota issue. Seems like a reasonable question to ask.

      •  Yeah I was that story (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RustyCannon

        Someone needs to determine exactly what's happening.  Toyota doesn't seem to have a clue.  You'd think with the damage that's being done to their reputation that they would be all over this.  It's odd that they can't find a definitive cause.

    •  You obviously don't understand the concept (0+ / 0-)

      of drive by wire.  You can't shift into neutral or apply the brakes, you can only tell the onboard computer to do so.  If the computer has messed up enough, it might not be accepting new input at all.  Surely you have had to remove the power cord (and unplug the battery, if a laptop) on a computer because it locked up so hard even the front power switch wouldn't work.

  •  Seems like a bit of a Witchhunt, but (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    True North, mickT, RustyCannon

    Toyota hasn't helped by ignoring the problems either.

    I do seem to recall Ford Explorer's flipping and killing some people, Honda's having potentially fatal problems with airbags exploding, and some Ford bad wiring causing cars to spontaneously combust without major congressional hearings.  Most car companies have had hundreds of recalls without a media circus.

    I have a Prius and I haven't experienced any problems in 5 years (about 60,000 miles).  I've been mentally practicing the shifting to neutral with brakes, just in case, so I'm ready if it happens. You have to HOLD the shift to get it into neutral (I learned that at the car wash), so I wonder if the people who tried to get it into neutral held it long enough....well I guess we can never be sure.

    If you don't see me for a few weeks, you'll know my Toyota ate me.  Or I'll be unintentionally sightseeing thru New York wondering when it will run out of gas. Heh, I haven't driven 100mpg since the German Autobahn.

  •  Nope (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fishgrease

    absolutely inconsistent with testimony and evidence of people who not only used brakes, but had both feet on the breaks as hard as they could, who put the car not just in neutral, but downshifted and even put it in reverse, all to no avail.

    Done with politics for the night? Have a nice glass of wine with Palate Press: The online wine magazine.

    by dhonig on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 06:17:53 PM PST

    •  How much you know about cars? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RustyCannon

      Or this issue?

      I can tell not much because you mention putting a car a reverse. Not a whole lot of cars will allow being put in reverse unless it is stopped.

      •  Except, of course, that you are wrong (0+ / 0-)

        because there has been both congressional testimony and other evidence that drivers attempted to do it and it had no effect. We're not talking about a '71 Cutlass, but modern new computer-controlled cars.

        Feel free to insult me if you wish, but you pedantic insults are contrary to the evidence.

        As for cars, I don't consider myself an expert, though I have rebuilt several from the frame, up, including complete engine and transmission rebuilds. I would not even attempt to do that with a modern computer controlled vehicle.

        Done with politics for the night? Have a nice glass of wine with Palate Press: The online wine magazine.

        by dhonig on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 06:48:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Putting the car in reverse had no effect? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RustyCannon

          Of course not. They are not designed to do that. There are various methods, depending on the car type, to keep idiot drivers from doing stupid things like putting a car in reverse whilst traveling down the down the road.

          Because there are lots of idiots on the road, this is a needed function lest transmissions are blown on a daily basis.

    •  Hmmm, testimony yes... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RustyCannon

      Plenty of testimony. But evidence, I've not seen. In the case of the San Diego Prius guy, he was able to stop his car quite nicely as soon as there was something in front of him (the CHP car) that he would other wise have hit...

      -Jay-

  •  Dead Man's Pedal (4+ / 0-)

    Old trolley cars used to have them. If the conductor dropped dead, the pedal would be released and the trolley would stop.

    It seems to me that in this day and age, automobile manufacturers could design a car with a fail safe method of stopping a car if any or all their fancy electronics misbehaved.

    The onus is on the manufacturer to male the car safe and idiot proof. If Toyota had paid more attention to the potential drivers' foibles, they would not have the problems they have now.

    If you are older than 55, never take a sleeping pill and a laxative at the same time!

    by fredlonsdale on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 06:18:49 PM PST

  •  Some of it may be just people (3+ / 0-)

    who don't know how to drive, but I will tell for SURE that using a radio transmitter near fly by wire devices can cause serious problems.

    The UH-60, is a perfect example. Dozens of military personnel have died from malfunction choppers that got too close to high power radio transmitters.

    I worked for a company that made electronic tachs and speedos for Ford and GM. A 5 watt handheld transmitter can drive those instruments crazy. It's possible under circumstances a cell phone could as well.

    Higher radio power transmitters are used commercial vehicles, and public safety vehicles. They tend not to have the problem because much of their control wiring is shielded inside coaxial cabling, which keeps out RF. The 'glitch' that might be causing some of these accelerations might be the police, simply keying up their car radio transmitter.

    Most modern vehicles have a clear warning to not use radio transmitters.

    As cars become more 'fly by wire', they invite potential disasters with steering, braking, cruise control and fuel mixture systems. The car manufacturers have been told, and not only by me - I warned engineers at Ford back in the late 1980s, and was greeted with "who cares, we're not spending the money".

    "the work goes on, the cause endures .. "

    by shpilk on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 06:36:02 PM PST

    •  Here's an old article on the Blackhawk UH-60 (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yet another liberal, RustyCannon

      [from 1982]

      http://catless.ncl.ac.uk/...

        The Army recently warned its Black Hawk pilots that flight near radio
      towers can cause unexpected dives that could endanger the $6 million aircraft.
      "Pilots should be made aware that flights near microwave antennas or
      shipboard radar may cause uncommanded attitude changes," the Army told
      its pilots in August following extensive tests earlier this year.

      All the car manufacturers know the problems, they've been told. It complicates some aspects of design by requiring shielding of these computer components.

      The need to minimize costs? Always paramount.

      Like I said, read your owners manual - most modern vehicles warn against using radio transmitters. They tell you it can 'damage the computer' - it can also do other stuff that could kill you.

      "the work goes on, the cause endures .. "

      by shpilk on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 06:55:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Car & Driver had a critical omission. (0+ / 0-)

    That Car & Driver article was fairly well done, but it had a critical omission. The quoted stopping distances were undoubtedly correct for a car with functional brakes on the first attempt to slow down with the accelerator mashed to the carpet. But that's not what happens in one of these incidents. The driver will try to slow down as the car surges forward, and almost always will go through several cycles of slowing followed by rapid acceleration as he/she lets off on the brakes again. The brake pads/rotors and brake fluid get hotter and hotter with each cycle, until they're so hot the brakes become ineffective (this is why race cars have huge brake rotors: the need to absorb and dissipate lots of energy as heat). Once the brakes are ineffective, there is no way for the driver to stop without putting the car in neutral or park. Many drivers by this point are too terrified and panicky to think clearly, so....crash!

    I personally had this experience with a faulty Ford Taurus cruise control in the late 1980s. The car took off under full acceleration, and the cruise control refused to disengage. I was able to slow and stop the car with the brakes. The system re-set after the car was turned off. But after two more episodes, I had the dealer disable the cruise control permanently.

    Most common cause of unintended acceleration:
    Cars with a relatively narrow footwell and an accelerator pedal just a tiny bit more to the left than average. This leads a panicky driver (often but not always old) to plant his/her right foot on the accelerator like grim death, ramming it to the floorboards in a misguided effort to slow the car. This was the cause of the Audi 'unintended acceleration' epidemic about 20 years ago.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site