Toyota Motor Company has announced a fix to the sticking gas pedal issue that’s been front page news for the past two weeks. Shown above, the Toyota recall fix involves a metal shim, called a “precision cut steel reinforcement bar” by Toyota, placed behind the accelerator assembly. The shim changes the angle of contact between two gears, reducing the friction and, presumably, the likelihood of binding.
I’m not an automotive engineer, but it seems like this is a band aid solution and not a long term fix. Looking at the above diagram, it appears that contact between the gear teeth is all but eliminated. Will this trade the problem of excess friction for one of premature wear? Partial meshing of gears is never a good thing, in my experience and generally leads to early component failure. Also, is anyone concerned that the shim stresses a part, likely made of plastic, in ways it was not designed to be stressed?
AOL Autos posted an excellent VIDEO last week, explaining their take on the sticking accelerator issue. Per their analysis, the issue is related to friction between the accelerator pivot and a bronze bushing the pivot rides in. Granted, Toyota has a lot more resource than AOL (and a lot more to lose by posting incorrect information), but the AOL piece does pose an interesting question: what if the pedal failure is caused by more than one problem with the design or manufacture?
In an interview on this morning’s Today show, Matt Lauer grilled Toyota America’s COO, Jim Lentz, on the issue. When pressed on the question, “Can you guarantee customers that the repaired cars will be 100% safe?”, Lentz twice avoided giving a direct answer (but admitted to being “confident” in the solution). Silence, it appears, may speak louder than words.