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ABC News Expert Recreates Toyota Sudden Acceleration

Posted in General, Recalls, Toyota by Kurt Ernst | February 23rd, 2010 | 5 Responses |

I’m not a big fan of today’s “investigative journalism”, because all too often it turns out to be a witch hunt designed only to improve ratings. Thus, I viewed the above video with some skepticism. Dave Gilbert, a professor from Southern Illinois University, claims to have found circumstance under which he can re-create Toyota’s sudden acceleration problems. By shorting unspecified electronics, Gilbert is able to induce sudden acceleration even at partial throttle openings. Worse yet (and counter to Toyota’s claims), he’s able to do this without tripping a trouble code or dashboard warning lights.

Is it hype or a legitimate cause for concern? To be certain, we’d need more details, which the video simply doesn’t provide. First, what is being shorted? Second, what is the likelihood that such a short could be caused by moisture, corrosion, solder bloom, etc. in a real world environment? Finally, were the OEM parts modified in any way to promote the sudden acceleration and prove ABC’s point? Gilbert had previously modified a Toyota Tundra, using a resistor to short two independent circuits and duplicate the unintended acceleration. Toyota rebuffed this, saying that such a short would be virtually impossible in a real world situation. Furthermore, it would illuminate dash warning lights and record an error code, counter to Gilbert’s claims.

Toyota has requested access to the Toyota Avalon used in the ABC video, but they won’t get it before Gilbert testifies in front of the House committee today. If Gilbert’s right, then Toyota’s credibility in the US may be permanently damaged and I’d expect some senior level Toyota heads to roll.

If Gilbert’s wrong, and the video is proven to be staged under questionable circumstances, Toyota’s reputation still suffers. Ultimately, any repercussions for ABC news will be very small in comparison.

Source: Left Lane News

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5 Responses

  1. Mark says:

    To be honest, I’ve always thought it to be the height of arrogance by the car companies when they claim that it COULDN’T be electronic. I work with aircraft flight controls. We use quad redundant electronic systems (when you take into account internal modeling, it is more like 8x redundancy) and monitor hundreds of parameters in clock cycles measuring in ms. We STILL get cases where we have failures that cause strangeneess in the air and our fleet is measured at around 1500 aircraft.

    Take a car, with far less rigorous maintenance, working on a dual redundant system and tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of copies and I’d be shocked if there weren’t unannunciated electrical failures.

  2. Vernon says:

    Wow, purposely inducing a claimed flaw equals something that still is not a common occurrence. I think they are simply jumping on the bash Toyota bandwagon since this is not a defect commonly found in most of their vehicles. And I am not even a Toyota fan or owner. Find some real world evidence of this being a wide-spread issue for me to be a believer.

  3. Kurt says:

    That’s why I hate what passes for TV news these days. Reporting on a story doesn’t draw ratings; creating a story does. It’s not about ethical or factual reporting of news, only about ratings share.

  4. Kurt says:

    Mark, I agree. Remember that any car, Lexus included, is the sum of the parts from the lowest bidder.

  5. Evan says:

    So, basically, if you’re allowed to mess with the wiring for a while, you can rewire the car so it accelerates uncontrollably. Gee, I’m shocked. You’d think all that wiring controlled the car or something.

    Show me how this can happen *without* somebody hacking on the control system if you want me to be outraged at Toyota.