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Surprise! Prius Driver Is Bankrupt, Wants New Car

Posted in General, Newsworthy, Recalls, Toyota by Kurt Ernst | March 12th, 2010 | 6 Responses |

Jim Sikes, the man now famous for surviving the “runaway” Prius incident in California, is in deep financial kimchee. Jim and his wife declared bankruptcy in 2008, and listed a combined liability of over $700k. Toyota is, of course, listed as a creditor.

Sikes refutes the relevance of his bankruptcy and told Jalopnik’s Matt Hardigree that he wasn’t considering litigation against Toyota. He is, however, seeking a replacement vehicle for his demonically possessed Prius.

So, in other words, if Toyota gives you a free new car, you’ll shut up and go away? Why am I having a hard time believing this is anything more than an attempted theft by deception?

There’s an important lesson here, boys and girls: don’t believe everything you see on the news. You are being lied to.

Source: Jalopnik

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6 Responses

  1. AC Tony says:

    While I wouldn’t dare defend Toyota’s handling of this entire debacle, in my circle of friends I have repeatedly discussed the piling-on that I think is going on. From the government, to the lawyers, to bogus “re-creation” efforts, and yes… even to some of the drivers/reports.

    I’m not shocked at this revelation and I think it’s the first of many to come. The fear-mongering is beginning to get a little ridiculous and I mean no disrespect to those who have actually had issues with their vehicles.

  2. Mark says:

    Not defending Toyota here, but the US Congreass and the NTHSA (or whatever they are called) are hardly helping things out here either. Neither, I might add, are the drivers. Come on. How hard is it to stop a runaway car? The gentleman in question admits that he never even tried to put the car in neutral! I can understand being reluctant to try shutting it off at speed, but not put it in neutral!?!!?

    Come on folks. How hard is this? IMO, so easy a Caveman could do it. Car running away (and assuming you aren’t in a manual)?

    1. Take foot off all pedals just to make sure that this isn’t operator error.
    2. Put foot firmly on brake and press hard.
    3. Put car in neutral.

    Now, I own a Prius and, to be fair and since I wasn’t positive that step 3 would actually work, I tried it out. I stomped on the gas and then tried to put the car in neutral. As expected (or at least hoped for), the car happily shifted into neutral.

    This isn’t rocket science. Yes, there may be an issue that causes uncommanded acceleration, but anybody with half a brain should be able to stop their car!

    • Kurt says:

      Yeah, but stopping your “runaway” car without any drama doesn’t get you on the news. Or into one of the pending class action lawsuits.

  3. Mark says:

    One other interesting piece of news. A friend told me that he had read the the Prius had a brake cutoff system. Press the brake and the gas gets chopped. Thinking about the car design where they use the same electric motors for both driving the car and regenerative braking, this makes sense.

    So, on the way down to umpire this morning, I tested it out. I stomped down on the gas, got going about 40 and still accelerating, and then pressed the brake. The RPM on the engine immediately dropped and the car slowed. I lifted off the brake and the RPM came back up and the acceleration started again. I repeated this a couple of times trying to make sure I wasn’t lifting off the gas during any of this.

    Now what does this tell me? Well, there is enough evidence that this doesn’t ALWAYS work to tell me that there is a way to bypass the feature. On the other hand, give me a control flow chart and a circuit diagram and I’m willing to bet I can ID the areas of interest in under a week. There can’t be that many ways to cause uncommanded throttle AND bypass the brake cutoff at the same time.

    BTW, I verified that this works both in normal Drive mode and in the “B” mode.

  4. Kurt says:

    Mark, Toyota couldn’t replicate it either. They tried it on both Jim Sikes’ car and another 2008 Prius, and in both cases the brake over-ride worked as you describe.

    If it looks like bullshit, smells like bullshit and tastes like bullshit; well, sometimes you’ve just got to call it what it is.

  5. Dave says:

    Why sue when you expect a generous undisclosed out of court settlement from a anxious manufacturer eager to hush things up? Of course, if Toyota gave him a new car that would be a default admission that the old one was defective… sounds like the precursor to a lawsuit to me. The sad thing is that after filing a false police report the worst that will happen to him is a slap on the wrist.