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Latest Toyota Drama: Man’s Toyota Prius Allegedly Tries To Kill Him

Posted in General, Recalls, Toyota by Kurt Ernst | March 9th, 2010 | 2 Responses |

Here’s the latest in what seems to be a never ending saga of possessed Toyota vehicles. In yesterday’s incident, Jim Sikes was driving his Prius outside of San Diego; when he accelerated to pass a slower vehicle, the throttle “stuck” in a wide open position. His Prius reached speeds of over 90 mph, and nothing Sikes did slowed the vehicle until a CHP trooper pulled alongside and gave him specific instructions. At one point, Sikes reached down to pull up on the accelerator pedal, hoping this would return the throttle to idle. It had no effect.

I wasn’t in the car, so I really can’t comment on what happened. It seems very strange to me that none of the drivers reporting unintended acceleration have been able to put their vehicle into neutral and coast to a stop. Likewise, I find it hard to believe that a vehicle’s braking system is completely ineffective at slowing it down. Maybe it was panic that prevented the driver from selecting neutral, applying the brakes with force and coasting to the shoulder. Or turning off the ignition and doing the same. On the other hand, maybe it was something else.

I’m not doubting Sikes’ story, but it seems to me that Toyota is an easy mark for “slip and fall” artists these days. Unintended acceleration, especially with a CHP trooper as a witness, makes headline news. The fact that engineers can’t find anything wrong with the vehicle upon later inspection only plays to the press and helps the plaintiff. What jury wouldn’t side with a driver whose evil Toyota tried to kill him?

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2 Responses

  1. Fuelzilla says:

    You are not kidding about “an easy mark”! The car pictured is the second generation Prius (funny: I drive the same car, down to color) that has not been a part of any Toyota recall. In addition, if the driver was able to follow instructions from the cop and stop the car, it was NOT a mechanical problem. Otherwise no instruction from anyone would help. One other thing: in a Prius a small engine is coupled to not one but two braking systems. I love my car too much to try it myself but I would not doubt for a second that hitting the brakes hard in a Prius would have no problem simply stalling the engine, not just slowing slowing down – just the electric motor (running as generator in breaking mode) is almost as powerful as the ICE motor itself. In a panic braking mode hydraulic brakes also kick in.
    I don’t want to assume it was a hoax but it does appear to me that people easily get into panic mode themselves, especially after hearing from all sides that something like this MAY happen.

  2. Kurt says:

    Ironically, Ford (encompassing Lincoln and Mercury as well) has more UA complaints against them than any other automaker, yet you don’t see them in the news.

    I have zero fear of unintended acceleration and would drive any vehicle in Toyota’s product line. I even own an FJ Cruiser.