Toyota Safety

Friday, February 05, 2010

Bill Vlasic, Detroit bureau chief for The New York Times, discusses the possibility that the electronic system that controls the throttle and engine speed in Toyotas has been malfunctioning. His article looking at lawsuits filed about faulty computer systems appeared in today's New York Times, and you can read it here.


Bill Vlasic

Comments [14]

Andy from Nebraska

"In a contest between the brakes and the gas, the gas always wins."

Not true. Car and Driver magazine tried this exact test with three vehicles a couple of months ago: a Camry, an Infiniti G37 and a supercharged Roush Mustang. With the gas pedal mashed to the floor at highway speed, they were able to stop all three of the vehicles in a little more distance than if they were just braking regularly. It required firm, constant braking, but the cars all stopped every time. The worst case was with the Roush Mustang, which due to its 500+ horsepower engine, took an extra 580 feet to brake to a stop from 100 mph, but the Camry only took an extra 16 feet to brake from 70 mph to a stop with the gas pedal down the whole time.

Feb. 05 2010 04:57 PM
Timothy GILL from Maplewood NJ

It seems to me that this problem is getting much more attention that it deserves. It is important that Toyota look at these incidents, research them, fix them, and be forthright about it all, and it is a tragedy for those families affected.

But given the actual risk, should we not be more worried about the apparently 4,000+ car accident injuries and deaths caused by drivers texting on their cell phones? Why does the media and American public misplace their concerns about real risk? Perhaps we need to address our society's innumeracy.

Feb. 05 2010 01:47 PM

This guy is clearly anti Toyota.... what happened to balanced journalism.... enough on this subject already!!!!!! OVERKILL

Feb. 05 2010 01:40 PM
Mitch from Manhattan

I recently totaled my 2001 Toyota Echo in a rear-end collision where my anti-lock braking system failed. Could the problems go back that far?

Feb. 05 2010 01:38 PM
Douglas Maass from Sleepy Hollow, NY

My 2007 RAV-4 works just fine--except that the rear window wiper won't work when it's wet, only when it's not raining or snowing.

Feb. 05 2010 01:38 PM
Dave from New Jersey

From a public relations point of view, this is similar to the Audi problem in the 1980's which devastated that brand here and changed how all cars have to start in Park.

Feb. 05 2010 01:37 PM
Laurie Spiegel from Tribeca

Steve Wozniak's theory that it's in the cruise control unit would account for both acceleration and braking logic errors.

Why are they focusing so low down on the chain of control?

Feb. 05 2010 01:36 PM
Douglas Maass from Sleepy Hollow, NY

Perhaps not related to the Toyota problems, I'm convinced that a major cause of "runaway" vehicles is the driver's using his or her left foot to brake. In panic stop situations the driver stomps down with both feet, or as the car decelerates the gas pedal gets pressed as well, causing the car to accelerate. In a contest between the brakes and the gas, the gas always wins.

Feb. 05 2010 01:35 PM
bob from huntington

add to previous message

The Air France plane had flown through a thunder storm.

Feb. 05 2010 01:33 PM
Carl from Lindenhurst, NY

I think that most modern cars have electronic control of the transmission, which means that when you move the shifter you are sending a signal to the computer. So shifting into neutral may do nothing if the computer is wigged-out.

Feb. 05 2010 01:32 PM
bob from huntington

Your guest says Toyota has been using "drive-by-wire"controls since 2000. The Air France plane that plunged into the ocean months ago flying from South America to Paris was one of a new generation of "fly-by-wire" planes.

A connection???

Feb. 05 2010 01:30 PM
William from Manhattan

Aren't commercial aircraft also increasingly being "flown by wire"?

Feb. 05 2010 01:29 PM
mike p from nyc

this is so so boring....
enough already, people die everyday in auto crashes,

move on, try doing some real journalism,
there has been nothing NEW on this topic reported in weeks..

Feb. 05 2010 01:25 PM
Pliny from nyc

do you remember the scene in the Updike novel when the Toyota executive chews out Rabbit for the bad American work ethic etc.?

Feb. 05 2010 12:31 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.