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(The Consumerist)   If you think turning off the ignition, standing on the brakes, or putting the car in neutral will stop your out-of-control Toyota or Lexus, boy are you in for an amusing twist   (consumerist.com) divider line 724
    More: Scary, Lexus, Toyota, mats, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, maximum speed, guard rail, tow trucks, overrides  
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45025 clicks; posted to Main » on 24 Feb 2010 at 12:21 PM (4 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2010-02-24 08:53:43 AM  
It seems like in every thread about Toyota / Lexus, there's always a percentage of Internet Tough Guys (tm) who say "hurrr, I'd just put the car in neutral, I don't understand why everyone is so stupid".

So yeah, apparently that won't help.
 
2010-02-24 08:55:55 AM  
I take off the cruise control, but the car continues to accelerate. To make a long story short, I put the car into all available gears including neutral, but then I put it in reverse and it remains in reverse as the car speeds to over 100 mph down the interstate.

After 6 miles God intervened as the car came very slowly to a stop. I pulled it to the left median. With the car stopped and both feet still on the brake, the motor still revved up and down. At 35 mph it would not shut off. Finally, at 33 mph, I was able to turn the engine off.

Without thinking, my husband sat down in the car without the key fob and was able to shift the car into neutral, which he shouldn't have been able to do. When he did that the car actually tried to start itself.


Holy fark.
 
2010-02-24 08:57:15 AM  
Fearing death, she called husband.

driving 100mph in an out of control vehicle she searches for her cell phone and calls her husband. i'm surprised none of the congressmen jumped on this.
 
2010-02-24 08:58:40 AM  
LOLIDRIVESTICKPAD

I always knew automatics were retarded, and this proves it. If it happened to me I'd try and hit the center wall maybe.
 
2010-02-24 09:01:24 AM  
Having heard her testimony a few times I think she's lying.
 
2010-02-24 09:03:11 AM  
doglover: I always knew automatics were retarded, and this proves it. If it happened to me I'd try and hit the center wall maybe.

What amuses me is the people who insist -- INSIST -- that the transmission selector is a direct, mechanical link to the transmission itself. I am no mechanic, but I am willing to bet that in most cars today -- especially relatively high-end cars like Lexus -- this is no longer the case. Everything is electronic; the selector is just an input device.
 
2010-02-24 09:04:37 AM  
floor9: I take off the cruise control, but the car continues to accelerate. To make a long story short, I put the car into all available gears including neutral, but then I put it in reverse and it remains in reverse as the car speeds to over 100 mph down the interstate.

After 6 miles God intervened as the car came very slowly to a stop. I pulled it to the left median. With the car stopped and both feet still on the brake, the motor still revved up and down. At 35 mph it would not shut off. Finally, at 33 mph, I was able to turn the engine off.

Without thinking, my husband sat down in the car without the key fob and was able to shift the car into neutral, which he shouldn't have been able to do. When he did that the car actually tried to start itself.

Holy fark.

%100 bullshiat.
 
2010-02-24 09:09:02 AM  
manimal2878: %100 bullshiat.

I don't know about that, man. There are too many complaints to be ignored.

I'm not a mechanic, so the inner workings of these systems is beyond my skill level. But if the throttle is indeed a "throttle by wire" system, and if the transmission is also electronic, then it's not hard to imagine a software failure.

Software-based safety systems that lack active physical backups (I'm not sure of the exact terminology, but the kind of physical safety mechanism where the computer has to constantly work to bypass said safety, and if the computer fails for any reason, the safety is suddenly "unsuppressed" and kicks in) are notoriously unreliable.

The Therac-25 comes to mind.
 
2010-02-24 09:09:41 AM  
This is a) why I like standards and b) why I don't like super complicated electronic control systems.

I want a cable that goes from the gas pedal to the injectors or carburetor and a shaft that goes to the master cylinder.

/has blown break lines while going 35mph
//yay riding quads with no breaks for teaching me something
/like not panicing
 
2010-02-24 09:14:15 AM  
Let's see - the government pours BILLIONS into the domestic auto industry then TA-DA - their major competition gets raked over the coals over recall issues.

Sorry, lady - I know the UAW is paying you a lot of money to testi-lie but I'm smellin' a conspiracy!
*adjusts tin foil hat*
 
2010-02-24 09:14:59 AM  
I have a 2006 Toyota Tacoma and have no fear about this happening.

Of course, my truck is a manual transmission. Neutral is REALLY neutral.
 
2010-02-24 09:20:34 AM  
After 6 miles God intervened as the car came very slowly to a stop.

I wasn't aware that God controlled the reset pin on embedded processors!

Does that feature come with the car?
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2010-02-24 09:20:59 AM  
floor9

"Mechanical interlock" might be the term you want. I worked on a product with FDA fry-your-eyes class laser beams inside. If you opened the door a switch in the latch turned off power.
 
2010-02-24 09:22:12 AM  
floor9: It seems like in every thread about Toyota / Lexus about almost anything, there's always a percentage of Internet Tough Guys (tm) who say "hurrr, I'd just put the car in neutral I've known that since I was three years old!. I don't understand why everyone is so stupid".

FTFY.
 
2010-02-24 09:23:58 AM  
7of7: Having heard her testimony a few times I think she's lying.

This. She's the only person i've heard of so far to say that neutral didn't work.
 
2010-02-24 09:25:47 AM  
farm1.static.flickr.com

approves
 
2010-02-24 09:27:42 AM  
ZAZ: "Mechanical interlock" might be the term you want.

Sounds right. I thought there was another term specifically to describe a system where safety system #1 was designed for the sole purpose of always stopping a process, regardless of conditions. Safety system #2 was designed to stop a process based on set criteria, and also to override safety system #1. In the event that safety system #2 failed, it would fail to stop safety system #1, which would in turn stop the process. Not unlike a dead man switch.

Petit_Merdeux: FTFY.

So true.
 
2010-02-24 09:28:35 AM  
benlonghair: I want a cable that goes from the gas pedal to the injectors or carburetor

The throttle cable in my 70's era Pontiac Ventura got jammed once. The butterfly valve was full open and it was not much fun getting the car to a stop.
 
2010-02-24 09:32:05 AM  
floor9: manimal2878: %100 bullshiat.

I don't know about that, man. There are too many complaints to be ignored.

I'm not a mechanic, so the inner workings of these systems is beyond my skill level. But if the throttle is indeed a "throttle by wire" system, and if the transmission is also electronic, then it's not hard to imagine a software failure.

Software-based safety systems that lack active physical backups (I'm not sure of the exact terminology, but the kind of physical safety mechanism where the computer has to constantly work to bypass said safety, and if the computer fails for any reason, the safety is suddenly "unsuppressed" and kicks in) are notoriously unreliable.

The Therac-25 comes to mind.


Not so much that it could be possible, but that she had time to call her husband, and the car wanted to start itself again and only by the grace of god did it stop six miles after her prayers.
 
2010-02-24 09:35:00 AM  
As the sysadmin for the contractor that runs NHTSA's call center I'm not getting a kick out of this. The call tsunami is out of hand and some of the callers are beyond panic.

Toyota screwed the pooch on this.
 
2010-02-24 09:37:09 AM  
Anything software controlled can have problems. Maybe they used the same programmers who wrote the flight control systems for the predator UAV (new window).

(from the link about the cause of a crash of a predator: A second procedural error of note occurred when the pilot accidentally activated a program that erased the internal random access memory on board the aircraft during a flight. That this was even possible to do during a flight is notable in itself and suggests the relatively ad hoc software development process occurring for these systems)
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2010-02-24 09:38:36 AM  
floor9

I've seen software dead man switches, e.g. a process that ran at intervals to set an "I'm alive" flag monitored by hardware. I'm a little wary of them because they don't nececssarily test the right failure condition.

The "I'm alive" flag was a hardware register on a system running VxWorks. As long as the heartbeat task ran the system wouldn't reset. That was no guarantee the system worked, only that a high priority task wasn't sucking up all the CPU.

A networked filesystem protocol checked for server dead by doing a null RPC. A common failure mode was a server thread locked up trying to handle a real request with another thread idle and ready to handle null requests. The system did not have any request timeouts on other calls because the null RPC polling method was supposed to do the job. Servers often failed worse than dead. They would say "I'm alive" without ever completing requests. Humans used to make a similar mistake, thinking that a server must be up because "ping" worked.
 
2010-02-24 09:39:44 AM  
manimal2878: Not so much that it could be possible, but that she had time to call her husband, and the car wanted to start itself again and only by the grace of god did it stop six miles after her prayers.

Oh, ok. That I buy. In that case, look for this to be blamed on Obama, "the liberals", and "the atheists" shortly after the midterms.
 
2010-02-24 09:49:02 AM  
HansensDisease: The throttle cable in my 70's era Pontiac Ventura got jammed once.

But you had mechanical connections to the brakes, e brake and transmission. As opposed to the possibility of software going into meltdown and nothing responding.

Although I suppose the brakes in a Lexus are probably mechanical with power assist.
 
2010-02-24 09:52:44 AM  
HansensDisease: After 6 miles God intervened as the car came very slowly to a stop.

I wasn't aware that God controlled the reset pin on embedded processors!

Does that feature come with the car?


God was a real dick for letting her ride 6 miles at 100 MPH before stopping her car.
 
2010-02-24 09:58:29 AM  
bongmiester: driving 100mph in an out of control vehicle she searches for her cell phone and calls her husband. i'm surprised none of the congressmen jumped on this.

manimal2878: Not so much that it could be possible, but that she had time to call her husband, and the car wanted to start itself again and only by the grace of god did it stop six miles after her prayers.

You know how I know you two didn't read the article?
 
2010-02-24 10:01:08 AM  
Jimmy Devil Rocket Science: bongmiester: driving 100mph in an out of control vehicle she searches for her cell phone and calls her husband. i'm surprised none of the congressmen jumped on this.

manimal2878: Not so much that it could be possible, but that she had time to call her husband, and the car wanted to start itself again and only by the grace of god did it stop six miles after her prayers.

You know how I know you two didn't read the article?


You know how I know your reading comprehension sucks?

Fearing death, she called husband. "I knew he could not help me, but I wanted to hear his voice one more time," she recalled. "After six miles later, God intervened," and the car began to slow on it own, though the engine continued to rev itself in cycles. When the vehicle had finally slowed to around 35 mph, she was able to stop the engine.
 
2010-02-24 10:06:02 AM  
benlonghair: HansensDisease: The throttle cable in my 70's era Pontiac Ventura got jammed once.

But you had mechanical connections to the brakes, e brake and transmission. As opposed to the possibility of software going into meltdown and nothing responding.

Although I suppose the brakes in a Lexus are probably mechanical with power assist.


A problem pointed out on a car board I'm on is that if the engine is at full throttle, if you pump the brakes once or twice, you will lose vacuum assist (and there won't be vacuum since you're at full throttle), so you'll lose the power assist, making it quite a bit harder to provide full braking force. You'll then basically toast your brakes without actually stopping the vehicle...


// Wonder what the transmission is supposed to do if you break off whatever stops you from going into reverse while you're driving forwards...
 
2010-02-24 10:08:16 AM  
I believe that something really bad happened to this lady's car. I believe that she believes the story she's telling. But I also believe that the combination of panic at the time, the attention she's gotten since then, and a potential payday in the future have significantly altered the story that she believes is true.
 
2010-02-24 10:09:22 AM  
Satan stopped the car...God wants Heaven packed with fresh souls.
 
2010-02-24 10:10:05 AM  
Eddie Adams from Torrance: God was a real dick for letting her ride 6 miles at 100 MPH before stopping her car.

You forget that it's all part of his plan. His ways are beyond your understanding.
 
2010-02-24 10:12:12 AM  
I know it's not the best option to take in the event of runaway acceleration, but before I took the time to fish my cell phone out of my pocket and make a call I would have turned the key in the ignition to the off position and shut the car down.
 
2010-02-24 10:15:12 AM  
floor9: It seems like in every thread about Toyota / Lexus, there's always a percentage of Internet Tough Guys (tm) who say "hurrr, I'd just put the car in neutral, I don't understand why everyone is so stupid".

So yeah, apparently that won't help.


I am naming the neighbor's Toyota "Carrie".
 
2010-02-24 10:16:16 AM  
Ingaba: I know it's not the best option to take in the event of runaway acceleration, but before I took the time to fish my cell phone out of my pocket and make a call I would have turned the key in the ignition to the off position and shut the car down.

If your car is ramping up in speed, wouldn't you need both hands on the wheel to steer around things and avoid obstacles? I find it incredibly unlikely she could have made a phone call and paid attention to the road enough to avoid wrecking.
 
2010-02-24 10:17:52 AM  
manimal2878
%100 bullshiat.

Especially that part about God her invisible sky wizard stopping the car.

/game on!
 
2010-02-24 10:21:07 AM  
I_C_Weener: floor9: It seems like in every thread about Toyota / Lexus, there's always a percentage of Internet Tough Guys (tm) who say "hurrr, I'd just put the car in neutral, I don't understand why everyone is so stupid".

So yeah, apparently that won't help.

I am naming the neighbor's Toyota "Carrie".


Wait. I meant "Christine". Carrie was the teenager with PMS problems. Christine was the haunted car.
 
2010-02-24 10:26:26 AM  
I gotta admit, I've been one of the "Just put it in neutral, asspipe!" guys since the very start, but as more and more evidence comes out making it apparently an electronic, not a mechanical, issue in these cases I definitely was wrong.

I still think it would be a better world if standards for getting a driver's license were tougher - especially requiring training for handling normal day-to-day emergencies that arise with a machine as incredibly complex as a car -- but when the computer running the engine tells the computer running the transmission to go fark itself and there's no physical link between anything I'm not sure what the best option would be.
 
2010-02-24 10:33:28 AM  
That's not really how cars work. For one, the parking/emergency brake is not electronic: It is a galvanized cable connected to the rear brakes.

I have a hard time envisioning an entirely electronic transmission selector, too.

But the ignition? Really? I suppose there might be some level of plausibility as it could be a keyless fob-start system. But in that case, why not just toss the fob out of the window? Also, don't all cars like that have a kill switch?

There's very little about this story that rings to me with the aura of truth. Especially when she talks about whipping out her cell phone while scorching pavement at 100mph in a runaway car and chatting with her husband. Because, really, if that were the case? She probably did deserve to wreck the car into an immovable object off the road, as she's obviously demonstrating reckless disregard for other people anyway.

i49.tinypic.com
 
2010-02-24 10:36:47 AM  
TwistedIvory: That's not really how cars work. For one, the parking/emergency brake is not electronic: It is a galvanized cable connected to the rear brakes.

I have a hard time envisioning an entirely electronic transmission selector, too.

But the ignition? Really? I suppose there might be some level of plausibility as it could be a keyless fob-start system. But in that case, why not just toss the fob out of the window? Also, don't all cars like that have a kill switch?

There's very little about this story that rings to me with the aura of truth. Especially when she talks about whipping out her cell phone while scorching pavement at 100mph in a runaway car and chatting with her husband. Because, really, if that were the case? She probably did deserve to wreck the car into an immovable object off the road, as she's obviously demonstrating reckless disregard for other people anyway.


But a cop died while driving his wife's car, so its all true. All of it. Even the part where the Japanese installed ninja jumps out of the glovebox to surprise the driver at the perfect moment. Its really Japan's revenge for WWII.

How do I know about the ninjas? Well, its simple really. Japan must have midgets yet you never see them. I posit that all their midgets have been trained as ninjas and have been hiding in Toyota glove boxes for years only now making their move to strike at the soccer moms. Think about it.
 
2010-02-24 10:44:18 AM  
too much electronic crap on cars to go wrong. keep it simple stupid
 
2010-02-24 10:53:31 AM  
TwistedIvory: That's not really how cars work. For one, the parking/emergency brake is not electronic: It is a galvanized cable connected to the rear brakes.

I have a hard time envisioning an entirely electronic transmission selector, too.

But the ignition? Really? I suppose there might be some level of plausibility as it could be a keyless fob-start system. But in that case, why not just toss the fob out of the window? Also, don't all cars like that have a kill switch?

There's very little about this story that rings to me with the aura of truth. Especially when she talks about whipping out her cell phone while scorching pavement at 100mph in a runaway car and chatting with her husband. Because, really, if that were the case? She probably did deserve to wreck the car into an immovable object off the road, as she's obviously demonstrating reckless disregard for other people anyway.


I'm not sure about the Lexus ES, but there's no hand brake near the gear selector. My wife's new VW tiguan has an electronic switch for the (electrically activated) parking brake. Also, if you have toasted your brake pads completely, even a parking brake won't stop you.

I believe a lot of the key-fob cars require you to hold down the start button for 3-5 seconds to turn the car off...
 
2010-02-24 11:08:59 AM  
floor9: I thought there was another term specifically to describe a system where safety system #1

The term is "failsafe" or "ESD"(emergency shutdown).

And yeah, this story sounds like a load of bull to me. Even the newer cars have to have a direct connection to the transmission from the gear shift, if they didn't you couldn't move the car with a dead battery by shifting it into neutral and pushing.

What she MIGHT have done is rake the gearshift back and forth hoping for something to happen and not letting it settle into any gear.
 
2010-02-24 11:10:03 AM  
TwistedIvory: Especially when she talks about whipping out her cell phone while scorching pavement at 100mph in a runaway car and chatting with her husband.

That's not what happened. According to TFA, she used her handsfree Bluetooth system. For all we know she had to press one button to dial. Maybe it was even voice-response. Some systems respond well to stressed, screaming voices, others do not.
 
2010-02-24 11:10:41 AM  
TwistedIvory: as it could be a keyless fob-start system. But in that case, why not just toss the fob out of the window?

That won't work. On my prius, if the car is already started and the fob goes away, the car still works until you put it in park and turn it off. (I've done that. My wife had the key and I dropped her off at the front of the store and went to park the car. I realized then that I couldn't lock the door with the push button on the outside of the car because I didn't have the key.
 
2010-02-24 11:12:49 AM  
At any rate, this is why I drove a Honda Fit with a 5-speed manual transmission. Even with power brakes and power steering, my car is relatively easy to handle if something like this happened. Since my transmission *is* a direct mechanical link (and for that matter, so is my clutch pedal), I have several options to disconnect a runaway engine from the wheels.

And frankly, if my 42-mpg engine floored itself in 5th gear, I wouldn't notice for a few miles anyway. :(
 
2010-02-24 11:16:30 AM  
FTA: "After six miles later, God intervened," and the car began to slow on it own, though the engine continued to rev itself in cycles."

Why does God get all the credit for stopping the car, but none of the blame for starting it in the first place?

Did God want her to buy a new car/underwear?

How does she know this wasn't some kind of bet between God and Jesus?

Jesus: Hey dad, let's make this woman's car go 180kph, I've got $10 that says she still uses her cell phone.

God: You're on.
 
2010-02-24 11:29:12 AM  
TheBitterest: Why does God get all the credit for stopping the car, but none of the blame for starting it in the first place?

Because if people did that, they'd think it through and stop believing in God. I always have to stop myself from strangling someone when they say something like that.

That being said, this is the kind of story that freaks me the fark out. When I was like 5, we had the starter, I think, die on one of our cars. Die after we got it, ironically, to an auto shop where we were taking the second car in need of work. My mother turned the key, got out of the car, and then realized the car was still on. Freaked me the fark out and since then I've always been really freaked out by stuff like this.

/cool story, bro
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2010-02-24 11:30:15 AM  
floor9

Are you sure your clutch is a direct mechanical link? My last two cars have had a master-slave cylinder pair that malfunctioned leaving the clutch engaged full time.
 
2010-02-24 11:37:51 AM  
floor9: It seems like in every thread about Toyota / Lexus, there's always a percentage of Internet Tough Guys (tm) who say "hurrr, I'd just put the car in neutral, I don't understand why everyone is so stupid".

So yeah, apparently that won't help.


I did post something to this effect early on before someone pointed out that the switch to Neutral was not a fully manual procedure.
 
2010-02-24 11:38:13 AM  
TheBitterest: FTA: "After six miles later, God intervened," and the car began to slow on it own, though the engine continued to rev itself in cycles."

Why does God get all the credit for stopping the car, but none of the blame for starting it in the first place?


that was teh devil's work
 
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