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Toyota Recall Update: Fix Announced

Posted in General, Newsworthy, Recalls, Toyota by Kurt Ernst | February 1st, 2010 | 3 Responses |

Toyota Gas Pedal Fix

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.

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3 Responses

  1. Margaret says:

    I am not convinced there is a problem with the accelerator pedal. My accelerator surged in June 2009 on my 2009 Toyota Highlander which I had owned 5 months. When I called the dealer about the problem, they told me that the floor mats were the problem–they had not even looked at the car. When I brought it in, they continued to insist that floor mats were the problem. They did NOT LISTEN TO ME AT ALL even though I told them the following. After the acceleration problem, I turned off the car, looked at the area around the accelerator to make sure nothing was pushing it, and restarted the car. Upon starting, the car continued to race uncontrollably. I turned the car off and on 3 more times, waiting about a minute between each try, and each time the car started with the same uncontrollable racing as if the accelerator was pushed to the floor. I don’t believe Toyota dealers really have reported and investigated the problem–they immediately assumed it was the floor mats. I believe the problem is electronic–probably a problem with the car’s computer system. I am sure Toyota does not want to deal with this type of problem and will do anything to avoid it. I do not feel safe in this car. Needless to say this is my FIRST AND LAST TOYOTA.

  2. Kurt says:

    Margaret, I have a Toyota FJ Cruiser as a daily driver. It’s not part of the recall as of now, but there are some stirrings on the internet that the recall will soon be expanded to include other models.

    Here’s the question that I haven’t yet seen answered: who else does CTS supply accelerator pedal assemblies to? Are these manufacturer’s experiencing problems with unintended acceleration as well? If not, it’s logical to assume the problem may not be solved by shimming the accelerator pedals.

  3. Matt says:

    I don’t seem to recall cars having these problems when the throttle was cable driven. Perhaps cars really aren’t getting better.