Was the Toyota acceleration problem ever figured out?

According to Toyota it was ill-fitting floor mats.
But then it wasn’t and it was instead a sticky linkage in the accelerator pedal (which the manufacturer denies).
Some people thought that people were just bad drivers but as we discussed here, shifting to neutral is software driven and not mechanical, so it is theoretically possible a driver put the car in neutral to no effect if it were a softwear problem.
Steve Wozniak claimed to have found a software glitch in Toyota’s chip (which Toyota denies).

Has this ever been resolved?

Well my daughter and SIL just got a recall notice for the computer in their '06 Toyota that talks of a computer problem possibly affecting their brakes. It sounds like an admission to me.

I seem to read it was all user error.

Here is is from the WSJ (July 2010, anyone got anything newer?)

The thing I do not get if it is a computer glitch it should hit all of them right? I do see cars ever getting their firmware updated.

I remember blaming the users when this first came out and getting called a troll and stuff in some of those old threads. Worse case turn the car off.

claiming the car was at idle and suddenly revved up and accelerated without you touching the accelerator pedal? User error. Especially if the driver claimed they were standing on the brakes; I don’t think there’s a car on the road whose brakes are unable to overpower the engine.

now, if there’s a case where the pedal sticks in a partially-open-throttle position- whether by floor mat entrapment or binding in the assembly- it can seem like unintended acceleration if you’re trying to slow down, let off the brakes, and the car speeds back up. The binding issue in the pedal assembly is plausible, since that pedal design had a “shoe” inside it which applied some friction to the pedal arm to give the desired pedal feel. It’s entirely possible for that to bind and stick in a partially open position, though I don’t know if that’s ever actually what happened in practice.

the floor mat entrapment issue is the most likely, hell, I’ve had it happen in several different vehicles over the years, always with non-standard floor mats.

There were recalls (and fines for delays in announcing those recalls) earlier this year over the floor mat and sticky pedal issues. NHTSA is still investigating the sudden-acceleration problem. THe WSJ reported this summer that that investigation was going to find driver error to be the reason, but NHTSA has refused to confirm that story.

It can’t be human error for all of the incidents, why? Because one guy drove his car to the dealer while the accelerator was pegged. He had no floor mats and the mechanics could not figure out what the problem was. He had been in to the dealer once previously for the same problem but they were unable to duplicate it at the time.

I don’t think I’ve heard of that case. Can you tell me where I can look it up?

The most haunting case I read about was the one involving California Highway Patrolman Mark Saylor and his family. He was driving a loaner Lexus while his own car, an earlier model Lexus, was in the shop. Had just picked the car up that morning.

I can’t find the link now, but when it first happened I read a very detailed account. His wife called 911 from within the car trying to get help. Eventually they rear-ended another vehicle while travelling at over 100 mph, left the highway and hit a tree. The car overturned and caught fire, killing all four passengers.

The account I read included a statement from another driver, who said she passed the car while it was moving slowly and “bucking” as if it was stalling. After she passed, she saw it pull to the shoulder as if stopping… then it passed it again at a high rate of speed. Apparently what was happening there was that he was applying the brakes hard as she passed, but they couldn’t hold the car back. Eventually the disks overheated (NHTSB investigation found the rotors heavily damaged from heat) and there was no way to stop it.

The particular car has an oddly-configured shift selection lever, where it’s non-intuitive to find the “neutral” position when you’re used to the normal straight-line layout. And a push-button ignition switch; you have to hold the button in for three seconds to turn the engine off. Those were two factors that the investigation found may have contributed; being unfamiliar with the vehicle as well as trying to keep it on the road at uncontrolled high speeds likely prevented him from taking those obvious actions to stop it.

The final determination was that the car had the wrong floor mat, and that the accelerator had probably been caught on it. That was also Toyota’s determination. Of course, that made it the dealer’s fault; the dealer claimed it was an electrical problem so Toyota’s fault.

Toyota recently made an undisclosed settlement to the family, but as far as I know the case against the dealer hasn’t yet come to a close.

I don’t recall hearing of it either. I have to wonder how it would be possible to drive the car to a dealer with the accelerator “pegged.”

even with the throttle wide open, the brakes can stop the car.


OK, but stopping the car and driving it somewhere are two different things. And, that article also mentions that the “average driver” may, instead of stopping car, not push the brakes hard enough… causing them to overheat. Which is pretty much what you’d have to do – not press hard enough to stop – if you were to head of the dealership with your engine revving out of control.

I said the brakes could stop the car even at WOT. Which they can. if you get the car under control, then you can crawl to wherever you want*. And note that we don’t know how far the alleged driver was from the alleged dealer.

  • of course, you could also just shut the fucking car off and call for a tow. I assume the average Toyota owner is at least intelligent enough to do that. If not…

Sometimes I miss my1929 Ford - now, everything is on a damned chip = try to turn it off at 100 mph? you nuts? WE know better than to allow you to do something so stupid, so the chip is programmed to shut down/shift WHEN IT IS SAFE

The lawyers will have this one tied up for years.

I’m looking for that '65 bug I sold all those years ago - they didn’t do much, but they did it reliably

You just don’t get it, do you?

The key in the ignition does NOT start the engine - it REQUESTS that the damned chip start the engine.
Removing the key (If possible) simply sends a request to the chip, WHICH IT IS FREE TO IGNORE!
The part about having to hold a button 3 seconds to shut down the engine should give you a clue that this is NOT an electrical/mechanical device - there is a TIMER! Have you seen an ignition key with a timer? Me neither…

I’m playing with my furnace - you can’t turn the A/C on, off, and back on again - the THERMOSTAT has a five minute delay between A/C cycles - to protect the A/C compressor. If a silly t’stat does that, imagine what a car does to prevent you hurting yourself.

Is it not possible that using the brakes lightly actually decreases acceleration before engaging the physical brakes? That’s how I’d design it, in order to prevent wear and tear.

Paranoid much?
Dude, switch to decaf.
This is General questions where factual answers to questions are posted.
Do you have any facts to back up your allegations?

Here’s the article about the guy that drove to the dealer with the acceleration problem:

what “damned chip?”

Should I get off your lawn while I’m at it?

Hm. Sounds like there might be a problem there.

(Actually, I hope the Toyota guy walked out to the smoking, revving car and said “There’s your problem, eh!”)

I’m considering a car purchase. I was formerly a Toyota fan. Hm.

Thanks, that answers my question as to how it would be done: “switching from neutral to drive and back again.”

By the way, this is the type of shifter that was on the Acura that the Saylor family was in, so you can see that it’s not as simple to make that move to neutral as it is in most cars: