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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 03:15:22 PM  
chu2dogg: neilbradley: And confirmation bias is a very powerful thing. Not saying that there isn't a core problem, here, but I wonder how many of these reports are people bending their experiences to match others' descriptions. And we are talking about the general public.

Yeah, things like this (new window)


The woman was attempting to place her Toyota Camry in park when the vehicle suddenly accelerated up the curb and through the window of the local laundromat.


Yup, a more likely explanation is she thought she had her foot on the brake and it was on the gas instead, and shifted it in to drive. Funny how this happens far more often with vehicles with automatic transmissions!
 
2010-02-24 03:15:45 PM  
Mr Guy: In any well built card designed for comfortable highway travel, 100mph is quick, but not a Huge Farking Deal(tm).

Depends on how many other cars are on the road, doesn't it?

In Montana, at 100mph you're fine until your fuel runs out. In New Jersey, you run a much higher risk of inevitably rear-ending some jerk going under 70 in the passing line who refuses to move the fark over.
 
2010-02-24 03:15:49 PM  
Because some new cars are very well insulated and have nearly air-tight seals. The window rolls down a little when the door is opened to make it easier to close the doors without having to slam them shut. Once the door is closed, the window rolls back up. It keeps sun roofs from popping open and convertible tops from poofing out, too.
 
2010-02-24 03:15:49 PM  
chu2dogg: featurecreep: OR - what is more likely is that she accidentally popped into the manu-matic gate and was upshifting when she thought she was going into neutral, then shifting into neutral when she thought it was reverse... which would explain why it eventually stopped "while in reverse." I would probably be gripping the selector hard enough not to notice it trying to spring back into the regular drive gate if I was under the impression that the car was possessed and taking off without me.

/My 2-cents.

This got argued in another thread which I don't feel like repeating. However, I believe the premise was that the Lexus Sport Shifter was not "properly identified"



It could be she brought the transmission into the side gate for sport shifting and had thought she had shifted into neutral. In a panic frenzy, she might have even thought she was shifting into reverse as well. It's also possible that there is a reverse block while in drive to prevent the user from shifting into reverse, or maybe you have to depress a button to shift it into reverse and park from drive. That could lead the user to trying to push it into reverse, nothing happens, so they shift all the way into the gear gate thinking it's neutral and the car begins accelerating again.

Either way, this type of design is more of an industry standard than anything specific to toyota/lexus.

Link (new window)

Link(new window)

Link (new window)

Link (new window)

While it may appear confusing, it's actually designed to be simpler. Usually the driver keeps in Drive, and all it takes is a simple push forward to slide into nuetral. However, I can see in a panicked frenzy a driver grabbing the shifter and pushing and pulling all over the place wouldn't be able to find the nuetral slot, or atleast keep it in long enough to see results.

I'll admit being one of the wrong ones in the other threads. However, this is the only time someone as made this allegation. At the very least, it might reveal that it's not a stuck pedal as it seems her husband and the tow truck driver were able to inspect it.

I can point specifically to one runaway driver who was on the phone with 911 and refused to keep her car into nuetral because she thought the engine was revving to loudly, so she shifted back into drive. The result was a state cruiser had to get in front of her car and break her car to a stop manually.

I'm not entirely convinced that the electronic transmission is at fault here. I'm inclined to think it was more of a case of a panicked driver moving the shifter all over the place.


I believe she is honestly testifying but she might not have actually tried shifting to Neutral. I mean at that acceleration, the engine would scream when it went into Neutral and might make you feel that you are making the car go even crazier. It would be counterintuitive. I noticed she said "I tried all available gears". Wouldn't you be more specific, first I tried 3rd, than 2nd and neutral and finally reverse. That she skipped over those details might means that she might not have a keen recollection of what she tried. Who knows for sure.
 
2010-02-24 03:16:51 PM  
icy_one:

Because some asshole would undoubtedly slam his while driving on the highway because he thought the guy behind him was traveling too close. Or someone would hit it by mistake.

Or because they would just look tacky on a car dash.

Doesn't matter how tacky it looks. Cars are effectively weapons when not driven properly. You don't sell a gun without a safety catch.
 
2010-02-24 03:17:01 PM  
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?


It is optional.
 
2010-02-24 03:17:44 PM  
Beer It's What's For Dinner: Can you explain this please? I'm baffled why one would want such a feature. Thanks.

it's not really a feature you set out to buy. It's so the window is sealed up in the trim of the body better. it prevents theft and a bit better weather protection i guess. when you open the door...the window won't catch the trim. when you close the door the window won't clip the trim and will snug back up into position after the door is shut.

my car is a 2001 and is like this...i've noticed the newer models have a window frame attached to the door.
 
2010-02-24 03:19:54 PM  
Big Man On Campus: You don't sell a gun without a safety catch.

Gaston Glock would disagree. As would a half-dozen other designers.
 
2010-02-24 03:24:13 PM  
factoryconnection: darcsun: Story of hers is complete bunk. Throwing a car into reverse at that speed will gernade the transmission, at best. At worst, a RWD car could flip if the driveshaft came loose and pole vaulted the car. Here is a video of a guy racing his mustang and accidentally putting the car in reverse.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNLz9E92-FU

Spoken like a true armchair automotive engineer. Modern automatics have pawls that prevent that type of acrobatics.



Actually, spoken like a former mechanic. And yea... if you were more then an armchair engineer yourself, you should have started with the fact that the car is FWD... which is why I mentioned RWD. As for modern cars avoiding that, I guess some should tell the NHRA that I didn't need a driveshaft loop on my 2003 Cobra.

Here you go, Mr. Armchair Engineer... the rules on why you need a loop when you tranny blows and your driveshaft disconnects -

http://www.hotrod.com/techarticles/nhra_legal_rules_regulations_time_brackets/i n dex.html

13.99 and under -
"To prevent the driveshaft from breaking at the front U-joint area and perhaps coming into the interior of the car, or digging into the track and pole-vaulting the car, NHRA mandates that a steel loop be placed just behind the front U-joint of the driveshaft. "
 
2010-02-24 03:25:01 PM  
Wasn't there a story on here about a 2006 Toyota and a guy in for manslaughter a few weeks back? Same situation?
 
2010-02-24 03:25:32 PM  
Ingaba: 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.


If you bothered to pay attention to the car model she was driving - it's a hybrid. Neutral does jack shiat in an electronically controlled transmissionBig Man On Campus: icy_one:

Because some asshole would undoubtedly slam his while driving on the highway because he thought the guy behind him was traveling too close. Or someone would hit it by mistake.

Or because they would just look tacky on a car dash.

Doesn't matter how tacky it looks. Cars are effectively weapons when not driven properly. You don't sell a gun without a safety catch.


Big Man on Campus needs to spend more time in gun class.
 
2010-02-24 03:32:34 PM  
neilbradley: floor9: manimal2878: %100 bullshiat.

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


And confirmation bias is a very powerful thing. Not saying that there isn't a core problem, here, but I wonder how many of these reports are people bending their experiences to match others' descriptions. And we are talking about the general public.


Not to mention - how many of them stepped on the wrong pedal, panicked, and stepped harder on the wrong pedal? Older people in particular do this from time to time. In fact, the world of parking FAIL pics and vids would be quite poor without this mistake.
 
2010-02-24 03:32:36 PM  
Katie98_KT: Deucednuisance: Except that's not the parking brake, honey.

Watch where you're throwing them "stupids" around, now

yes, it is. the button above the gear shift with the giant P on it, is a parking brake.


No, it isn't.

This is why we can't have nice things... because people are too stupid to use them.

That is NOT the parking brake. That is the Park gear selection. The emergency brake on a Prius is a foot pedal, which can be clearly seen in the photo you provided. And before you argue with me about Park gear and parking brake, PARK DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY (in Morbo's voice). Park gear has a "pawl," which is a like sticking a metal stick into the gear... this would obviously be bad if the gear is spinning.

I would say that anyone who can't figure out how a car works on a basic level, shouldn't drive that car. I'm not saying you have to be able to repair things, but you really should know where the freaking ebrake is, what hitting the P button does, etc.

In any case, the Lexus is completely different from the Prius and has a pretty standard layout for the transmission. Look at the gear selector box in the pic linked by Smidge204.

My guess is that she slid the the transmission selector over into sport or "manumatic" mode, which allows you to change gears manually on an auto transmission (sort of). The car probably downshifted at speed, revving the hell out of the engine and making it accelerate to a mindbottlingly fast and completely uncontrollable 100mph (which makes sense seeing as it was going full throttle and only 100mph). She then panicked and tried to shift into Neutral, but that just made it upshift. If she was frantically pressing the brakes, there is very little chance she was also applying the emergency brake pedal on the floor.
 
2010-02-24 03:36:02 PM  
TheFreshmanWIT: I didn't see any of this mentioned, so I'll post it:

The inability to shift into Neutral could have had ZERO to do with the electronics. This could have happened on ANY automatic transmission, even ones with 'mechanical' gear levers. Here's why:

An automatic transmission shifts by applying vacuum to the internal device. Your 'mechanical' connection is only mechanically switching the vacuum points.

In addition, vacuum is no longer produced in an engine at full throttle. What could have happened is that the woman noticed it was accelerating out of control, so she tried to brake repeatedly, causing there to be no more vacuum in the system.

THEN, she tried to shift, however without remaining vacuum, the transmission couldn't shift!

The power button sounds like a 'feature' where it won't let you shut the car off above a certain speed.

I'm going to say 'plausible'.


The only thing on a auto trans with vacuum applied is the modulator which controls line pressure inside the trans. Modulators are only found on older, pre-electronic transmissions. Modern electronic trannies have line pressure controlled by electronic solenoids which respond to inputs from the ECU/PCM. The Ford AOD used a throttle valve cable to adjust line pressure.
 
2010-02-24 03:36:19 PM  
darcsun: factoryconnection: darcsun: Story of hers is complete bunk. Throwing a car into reverse at that speed will gernade the transmission, at best. At worst, a RWD car could flip if the driveshaft came loose and pole vaulted the car. Here is a video of a guy racing his mustang and accidentally putting the car in reverse.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNLz9E92-FU

Spoken like a true armchair automotive engineer. Modern automatics have pawls that prevent that type of acrobatics.



Actually, spoken like a former mechanic. And yea... if you were more then an armchair engineer yourself, you should have started with the fact that the car is FWD... which is why I mentioned RWD. As for modern cars avoiding that, I guess some should tell the NHRA that I didn't need a driveshaft loop on my 2003 Cobra.

Here you go, Mr. Armchair Engineer... the rules on why you need a loop when you tranny blows and your driveshaft disconnects -

http://www.hotrod.com/techarticles/nhra_legal_rules_regulations_time_brackets/i n dex.html

13.99 and under -
"To prevent the driveshaft from breaking at the front U-joint area and perhaps coming into the interior of the car, or digging into the track and pole-vaulting the car, NHRA mandates that a steel loop be placed just behind the front U-joint of the driveshaft. "


The 'acrobatics' factoryconnection is talking about is grenading your transmission from shifting to reverse, not the consequences. Modern automatic transmissions will not engage reverse gear while the vehicle is in motion. The computer will disregard your command, or in older vehicles with a physical linkage the gear selector would shudder similar to grinding gears in a manual transmission.
 
2010-02-24 03:36:36 PM  
LibertyHiller You haven't lived until you've driven around SF with a manual transmission.

Amen to that. I had a 1966 Mustang with a 3-speed manual with a non-synchro first when I lived in San Franciscco. I quickly learned to avoid Taylor Street on Nob Hill.

Bill Cosby discussed driving in San Francisco in his classic "Why is There Air?" album
Link (new window) The San Francisco part starts at 7:30.
 
2010-02-24 03:38:37 PM  
knightofargh: Big Man On Campus: You don't sell a gun without a safety catch.

Gaston Glock would disagree. As would a half-dozen other designers.


FWIW, Glocks do have safeties. They're just located on top of the trigger.

They're solely designed to prevent accidental discharges (IE, loaded gun dropped on ground won't go bang) and not negligent discharges that universally involve the firearm's operator failing to keep his/her boogerhook off the bangswitch until ready to fire.

/not a big fan of Glocks in part bc I like SA/DA with a manual safety
 
2010-02-24 03:40:28 PM  
Roy_G_Biv: I don't think these cars have braking by wire, so I'm going with "%100 bullshiat".

The car has ABS. Thus, there's an on-board computer capable of overriding the driver's application of the brake pedal.
 
2010-02-24 03:40:36 PM  
The_Terminator: knightofargh: Big Man On Campus: You don't sell a gun without a safety catch.

Gaston Glock would disagree. As would a half-dozen other designers.

FWIW, Glocks do have safeties. They're just located on top of the trigger.

They're solely designed to prevent accidental discharges (IE, loaded gun dropped on ground won't go bang) and not negligent discharges that universally involve the firearm's operator failing to keep his/her boogerhook off the bangswitch until ready to fire.

/not a big fan of Glocks in part bc I like SA/DA with a manual safety


I like both 'boogerhook' and 'bangswitch' very very much, thank you.

I am unaware of any feature which could be confused for a 'safety' on my S&W revolvers.
 
2010-02-24 03:41:12 PM  
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.


As the problem has been previously described it sounded like people were panicking rather than doing what they could to address the problem. This report is different--all the stuff we recommended was tried and failed.

I think this is going to turn out to be a case of a crashed CPU that controls way too much stuff.

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.


The Therac-25 was a different situation. A was safe. B was safe. A + B turned it into a death ray. The problem was the lack of a system to preclude any possibility of A + B even in the face of a software error.

ZAZ: 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.


And that's what they should have here. Sufficient brake pedal pressure should hit a second switch--it should kill the power to the fuel pump and feed a maximal power input into the brake system.

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.

Thereby killing your steering. That might not be a good idea.

impaler: If any of this is remotely true, that TWO components of the car could simultaneously fail, the car manufacturer known as Toyota should cease to exist.

While it is impossible to design a throttle system that could never fail, things stick, sensors error. It should be nearly impossible for that to fail at the same time as the brake sensors, which should kill any >5%-10% throttle when >5%-10% braking is applied. And in the 'that should never happen, but hey, people win the lottery even though it is 100 million to one' event that that does happen, the ability to put the car in neutral should not fail.

I am inclined to believe this women isn't 100% honest, and that the above scenario is in fact impossible, because you have to be one incompetent engineer to design a system where the throttle, brakes and shifting don't fail-safe.


It could be a single point of failure--one CPU controlling both. Or it could be something like the Airiane-5 disaster: There was a backup CPU but they were both running the same program. The program crashed due to sensor inputs it couldn't cope with--this left it commanding a hard turn. The system correctly senses the processor was out of it and switched to the backup--which promptly failed for exactly the same reason. At least the destruct device wasn't running the same program.

darcsun: Story of hers is complete bunk. Throwing a car into reverse at that speed will gernade the transmission, at best. At worst, a RWD car could flip if the driveshaft came loose and pole vaulted the car. Here is a video of a guy racing his mustang and accidentally putting the car in reverse.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNLz9E92-FU


Mythbusters tackled that one. With automatic transmissions they saw *NO* effect from throwing it into reverse--the transmission simply wasn't doing it.

Fark_Guy_Rob: davidw001
The failures all involved tread separation-the tread peeling off followed often by tire disintegration. If that happened, and the vehicle was running at speed, there was a high likelihood of the vehicle leaving the road and rolling over. Many rollovers cause serious injury and even death; it has been estimated that over 250 deaths and more than 3,000 serious injuries resulted from these failures.


Personally, I believe the tire problem was actually far bigger than the recall. It's just that if you're not in a SUV it wasn't a big deal. I had a front tire shred itself at 75 mph--not only did I not lose control, I didn't even realize it at first. It blew when I hit a slight ridge in the road at the state line--I drove from old road onto the new resurfaced road. I knew something was up but my first thought was what in the world had they done to the road surface rather than thinking it was a blowout.

In my life I've owned 12 Firestone tires, all as original equipment. None of them were still in service at 36k miles--one died by putting a piece of the steel belt through the tire (plenty of tread left), the majority died by blowout at freeway speeds, a few were replaced along with blown tires. Of their replacement tires one died from tread separation.

Prank Call of Cthulhu: alywa: There is no reason to make such an ass-backwards design when virtually 100% of other cars on the road have "park" in the gear selection. Same for push-button power needing a 3-second hold time to shut down with no written warning on instructions on it. All of this seems obvious if you own one, but as a renter, loaner, or new car owner it isn't.

This does bring up an excellent point, though:

DO NOT OPERATE AN UNFAMILIAR VEHICLE UNTIL YOU'VE TAKEN THE TIME TO UNDERSTAND THE CONTROLS!

The first thing I do whenever I get a rental car is make sure I know how to operate the lights and high beams, the wipers and washer fluid sprayers, the parking brake, cruise control, air conditioner, defrosters, and the emergency hazard lights. And if any of those controls aren't immediately obvious, I grab the manual and look it up. Because there is absolutely zero standardization of any of those controls on cars. And now that shifters and ignitions are getting all kinds of crazy customization, just add those to the list.

It is unconscionable that anyone would take control of a one-ton potential killing machine without taking at least five minutes to figure out the basics of how to operate it.


Agreed, although I don't worry much about the non-emergency pieces of equipment you mention. If you find yourself wanting them you can pull over and figure it out if it's not obvious. You need to know the lights, wipers (including the squirter) and hazard lights, though.

cefm: Anyone who's ever had a laptop computer go crazy on them knows that electronic or virtual on/off switches are a stupid idea, because it relies on the system to work properly in order to function - when the problem you're trying to address is precisely that the system is NOT functioning properly. That's why I always thought laptops should have had a hard-wired "off" switch or battery-eject. Same for these ridiculous e-cars. Sure a "start" button looks cool, but what happens when the software or the wire goes kooky?

Holding the power button I believe is wired into the motherboard. I've never seen a machine it failed to kill.

TheFreshmanWIT: As a software engineer, I have no problem attesting this to a software problem. I've seen some of the clueless people who have jobs in this industry, and wouldn't doubt that severe mistakes like this could be made.

Yup. I've had to raise hell about a software-based e-stop button--same app that was controlling the saw! We're talking about a saw that could cut you in half in maybe 2 seconds--and that only because it didn't move faster than that.

capnmonkey: This is a semi serious question that I've been wondering about:
In the hypothetical situation in which you are driving 100mph with no way to stop, would you be better off hitting something head on, or cutting the wheel to one side several spins and rolling the car?

I think I'd rather roll a car at 100mph then hit something head on, but I got a C in physics.


My last ditch resort would be to hit something at a very low angle. Around here most of the freeways in the city have noise barriers--given an unstoppable car I would move over and scrape the barrier.

factoryconnection: redwards29a: Car and Driver concluded that, based on their emergency stopping tests, the Camry's brakes could overcome the accelerator in all cases even without a brake override, and that stopping distances with a wide-open throttle were largely indiscernible from regular braking.

I read that article, too, but I think the Camry had a 4-cyl and regardless is front wheel drive. It takes a lot more braking force to overcome the torque of a 3.5L V-6 than a 2.4L I-4. The E-brake does a lot better against non-driven wheels.

The Roush Mustang that they tested had some scary data... 700 feet to stop the car!


Given their experience at 120mph I would say that 700 feet represents a partial brake burnout.
 
2010-02-24 03:41:19 PM  
Babwa Wawa: pretty sure the manual on my '06 legacy is direct.

It probably is. But I was referring to automatics, as referenced in the story. Sorry if that wasn't clear.
 
2010-02-24 03:44:15 PM  
ihatedumbpeople: Incident happened in 2006? I wonder when...our AllData system doesn't show the ES350 model was available until the '07 model year.

gee, i would think some wiseass dumbfark "car expert" would know you can buy a model from the next year in the previous year. so she could be driving a brand new 2007 model in 2006. i bought my 2001 wrx in 2000. in fact it happens all the time you dimwitted stupid motherfarker. get off your "i work with cars so i would know" highorse, asshole!
 
2010-02-24 03:45:38 PM  
TheFreshmanWIT: As a software engineer, I have no problem attesting this to a software problem. I've seen some of the clueless people who have jobs in this industry, and wouldn't doubt that severe mistakes like this could be made.

And for the same reason, I'm not convinced they've totally licked this problem yet. And there is a problem, even though I don't believe for certain that this woman had it.
 
2010-02-24 03:46:04 PM  
horsepocket: Katie98_KT: Deucednuisance: Except that's not the parking brake, honey.

Watch where you're throwing them "stupids" around, now

yes, it is. the button above the gear shift with the giant P on it, is a parking brake.

No, it isn't.

This is why we can't have nice things... because people are too stupid to use them.

That is NOT the parking brake. That is the Park gear selection. The emergency brake on a Prius is a foot pedal, which can be clearly seen in the photo you provided. And before you argue with me about Park gear and parking brake, PARK DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY (in Morbo's voice). Park gear has a "pawl," which is a like sticking a metal stick into the gear... this would obviously be bad if the gear is spinning.

I would say that anyone who can't figure out how a car works on a basic level, shouldn't drive that car. I'm not saying you have to be able to repair things, but you really should know where the freaking ebrake is, what hitting the P button does, etc.

In any case, the Lexus is completely different from the Prius and has a pretty standard layout for the transmission. Look at the gear selector box in the pic linked by Smidge204.

My guess is that she slid the the transmission selector over into sport or "manumatic" mode, which allows you to change gears manually on an auto transmission (sort of). The car probably downshifted at speed, revving the hell out of the engine and making it accelerate to a mindbottlingly fast and completely uncontrollable 100mph (which makes sense seeing as it was going full throttle and only 100mph). She then panicked and tried to shift into Neutral, but that just made it upshift. If she was frantically pressing the brakes, there is very little chance she was also applying the emergency brake pedal on the floor.


www.bladesofgloryquotes.com

approves
 
2010-02-24 03:47:37 PM  
Kuroshin: 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.


I *am* a mechanic, and I'm also calling bullshiat on this one.

Every single control system would have to fail all at once in a very specific way for this to happen. The engine ECU would have to set throttle to full and the tranny ECU would have to lock itself in drive, shift gears, and refuse to accept all inputs (that's three failures in one).

Sorry, but no. Car management systems are not designed that way. Two separate computers would have to fail in very specific ways at the same time. The simplest answer is that the lady is lying about the tranny locking up because she is like the local Fark Brigade who wants everything to be Toyota's fault beyond any shadow of a doubt.

She didn't shift to Neutral, the car didn't try to re-start itself when her hubby allegedly moved the gear selector (WTF kind of bullshiat is that?!), and she didn't respond with all of that precision while playing Hercules on the brake pedal (ummmm, power assist and the ABS make that pointless - brake systems are not direct-control anymore).

She's making shiat up. End of story.


I *am* a software engineer on embedded systems, much like an automobile computer, and it is entirely possible that a single glitch in communication between the different systems could cause the car to "runaway".

What if the main computer thinks the accelerator is pressed when it is not?
What if the main computer also thinks the brake is not being pressed when it is, therefore not providing the brake assist? You just admitted that the brakes are not direct control.
If this is the case, then it is also possible that the main computer is not receiving ANY INFORMATION FROM THE DRIVER, including attempting to shift the car into neutral OR attempting to turn off the car.

At this point, the car thinks the driver wants to go 100mpg and is not receiving any information about the brakes, shifter, or Start/Stop button.

It's fine that you are a mechanic and all, but everything about this story points to a software problem, not a mechanical problem.
 
2010-02-24 03:49:30 PM  
Loren: Thereby killing your steering. That might not be a good idea.

Not all steering columns lock and even the ones that do lock will not lock if you keep the key in the ignition and turned to accessory. But even if the wheel did lock I'd rather gamble on uncontrolled deceleration with a hard e-brake than controlled acceleration with no end, obstacles, turns etc.
 
2010-02-24 03:49:32 PM  
Hairy_Potter:
At this point, the car thinks the driver wants to go 100mpg and is not receiving any information about the brakes, shifter, or Start/Stop button.


Dudebro, I assure you, I want my car to go 100mpg.

/not so sure about the 'ignore all inputs' bit, though.
//can we get it without that bit?
///burma shave

 
2010-02-24 03:50:27 PM  
mrshowrules: You are misrepersenting my point. All I said it "makes you wonder" why Toyota isn't coming out with a statement regarding this testimony. Your point about why they would do this is certainly possible

Now you're not saying Toyota raped and murdered a girl is hiding anything, it just makes you wonder if they didn't rape and murder a gril do anything wrong, why haven't they said so yet?

You are implying Toyota's silence means they've done something wrong. Their silence, their lack of a denial, is not evidence of guilt.

ihatedumbpeople: BlackCat23: ihatedumbpeople: Incident happened in 2006? I wonder when...our AllData system doesn't show the ES350 model was available until the '07 model year.

Which hit the market in '06. Like most models do.(ie: new model years come out in the numerical year before. 07 cars come out in 06, '11 cars come out in '10)

I'm aware of that...just pointing out how small the window had to be for this to happen...if the '07 model was the first ES350 and this happened in 06, that car had to have been damn near brand new...makes you wonder if this was a buggy software glitch or if she's full of crap...


You know how I know you didn't listen to her testimony?

She said it was a new car with ~3,000 miles on it.
 
2010-02-24 03:50:49 PM  
erewhon: Kuroshin: Every single control system would have to fail all at once in a very specific way for this to happen. The engine ECU would have to set throttle to full and the tranny ECU would have to lock itself in drive, shift gears, and refuse to accept all inputs (that's three failures in one).

There's one word you've conveniently omitted here - Maximum Overdrive! What if a comet/alien thingie MADE this happen? HUH? HUH? What then, Mr Smart Mechanic Guy? You know, aliens have taken over Missile Siloes with nucular weapons using waves from there UFOs! So, do you really think Toyota has better designs than the military?!

/ps didn't you evar watch Killdozer?!!


And what about Murdercycle?
 
2010-02-24 03:55:21 PM  
GAT_00:
"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"



Sounds like your starter was just fine, it was the stopper that wasn't working right...
 
2010-02-24 03:55:26 PM  
I had a 442 do this. There was a recall for Oldsmobiles that year for this same problem. Some plastic piece had to be replaced. It didn't become the hysteria circus we're seeing today.

Kick the accelerator a few times to see if it'll break the cycle. Turn off the key. Pop it into neutral/reverse/park. Try screwing with the cruise control. Throw it into 1st gear and then slam on the breaks. I'm pretty sure I'm not grabbing my cell phone and making a call at 100+ mph while looking for a guard rail to smash into.
 
2010-02-24 03:57:02 PM  
With the "Start" buttons, holding the button will kill the engine just as surely as holding the power button on your computer will kill the power. Doesn't matter how hard you locked up your computer, it never fails, and neither will the Start button - power steering, on the other hand...
 
2010-02-24 03:57:23 PM  
darcsun: GoodOmens: darcsun: Story of hers is complete bunk. Throwing a car into reverse at that speed will gernade the transmission, at best. At worst, a RWD car could flip if the driveshaft came loose and pole vaulted the car. Here is a video of a guy racing his mustang and accidentally putting the car in reverse.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNLz9E92-FU

With a electronic transmission the car won't let you put it in reverse, software in the ecu protects the car from this occurring. You can try physically, but nothing will happen.

True. Almost all cars have reverse lock out.. which is why the story is budarcsun: GoodOmens: darcsun: Story of hers is complete bunk. Throwing a car into reverse at that speed will gernade the transmission, at best. At worst, a RWD car could flip if the driveshaft came loose and pole vaulted the car. Here is a video of a guy racing his mustang and accidentally putting the car in reverse.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNLz9E92-FU

With a electronic transmission the car won't let you put it in reverse, software in the ecu protects the car from this occurring. You can try physically, but nothing will happen.

True. Almost all cars have reverse lock out.. which is why the story is bunk.

So, does the ES350 prevent the driver from moving the stick into the R position while in motion? OR, can you push the stick into R, but the computer senses that you are moving and simple keeps the car in its current gear?

Since ALMOST all cars prevent such an action, you are obviously quite confident that the ES350 behaves like like almost all cars.
 
2010-02-24 03:57:41 PM  
TheBitterest: 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.


Look, I can understand the people who think Jesus was black, and I can tolerate the people who think he was female, but I absolutely refuse to accept the notion that Christ was Canadian...
 
2010-02-24 04:00:18 PM  
Oh-Boy: Doesn't matter how hard you locked up your computer, it never fails, and neither will the Start button

You've obviously never had to pull the battery on your laptop to power it down.
 
2010-02-24 04:00:54 PM  
mrshowrules: I'm pretty sure it is manual on my 2001 Grand Prix.

Mine forced a 2-3 shift at 6000RPM... until I disabled that in the computer. That's when I discovered the GP can do over 100 MPH in 2nd gear (by accident). I have the spreadsheet with the gear ratios that confirms that indeed it can go that fast near the red-line.

Anyway, I believe this lady's story. The transmission in that Lexus is an electronically-shifted transmission, and it's a push-button ignition. From all the specs, it sounds like most of the controls, including ignition, shifter and likely the throttle, are "by-wire" controls.

The 2006 ES350 makes 272 HP and 254 ft-lb of torque. The e-brake, even if it's a fully mechanical linkage, would just slow it down a hair until the brakes wore away. It only engages the rear brakes more than likely, and those have less than half the total stopping power of the full brake system. If it's a fancier system with a dedicated parking brake, it may be even weaker. I've driven my Grand Prix with the e-brake accidentally engaged, and it just made the car sluggish. With its similar torque specs, it can overcome the full braking system if you floor it (ie. power-braking).

As someone else pointed out, at WOT, you only get a couple pumps of assist before vacuum assist gives out because there's very little vacuum. What there was of the brakes was toast afterwards. (Read the written testimony, it's much more informative.)

Even the cellphone part makes sense. It was a Bluetooth hands free system, so as someone else pointed out, it likely required just pushing a single button somewhere and shouting out her husband's name. *click* "EDDIE!"

3 miles at a peak speed of 100 MPH (when she called her husband) would be about 2 to 2.5 minutes into the ordeal. Stopping 6 miles after it all started (and after finally slowing down) means this impromptu joyride probably lasted around 5 minutes. She had plenty of time to try things and make her phone call. She's lucky traffic wasn't clogged on the roads, or she would've hit someone. I imagine traffic around 11:30AM on the Interstate on a Thursday isn't super dense.

Now quite why Grandma needs a car with nearly 300HP is beyond me, but that's what she's driving.

The math and timing works for me. I don't think anyone would sit down and work all the algebra on this just to get on the news. All the facts seem quite plausible to me.
 
2010-02-24 04:02:22 PM  
Smidge204: rigamrts: i've got a problem with the whole battery kill switch idea. the altenator is what runs the car the battery only starts it. so you'd have to put a kill switch on both to kill all power to the car while started. cause even if you kill just the altenator you've got 30 miles of reserve in the battery till that's dead.

False. The battery is an integral part of the charging system. If you remove the battery you break the circuit and the alternator loses its excitation field, shutting it down.
=Smidge=


Do you work at an O'Reilly's auto store? That's what the guy who tried to rip off my mother in law said too.

Told her the battery was fine, her alternator was bad. She called me, I jumped the car off in the parking lot and called him back outside - whereupon I removed both battery cables and asked him to explain how the car was still running. He called me asshole. I laughed and went across the street and bought a new battery at Autozone.

/2001 Tracker, your mileage may vary.
//I know, cool story bro.
 
2010-02-24 04:03:31 PM  
try fect taa daa: Urinal Gum: FTFA: After 6 miles God intervened as the car came very slowly to a stop.

All Lexus needed to do was tell this woman that it was God (or the Devil) who made her car react that way and that it was in no way Lexus's fault.

thats just awesome. I'm gonna start blaming random shiat on the devil.


Careful! It only works on naive folks who believe in such things!
 
2010-02-24 04:04:42 PM  
This should definitely be investigated by the owners of General Motors.
 
2010-02-24 04:06:03 PM  
William Shakesbeer: TheBitterest: 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.

Look, I can understand the people who think Jesus was black, and I can tolerate the people who think he was female, but I absolutely refuse to accept the notion that Christ was Canadian...


Easy to walk on water when it's frozen, eh.
 
2010-02-24 04:07:20 PM  
Talon: mrshowrules: You are misrepersenting my point. All I said it "makes you wonder" why Toyota isn't coming out with a statement regarding this testimony. Your point about why they would do this is certainly possible

Now you're not saying Toyota raped and murdered a girl is hiding anything, it just makes you wonder if they didn't rape and murder a gril do anything wrong, why haven't they said so yet?

You are implying Toyota's silence means they've done something wrong. Their silence, their lack of a denial, is not evidence of guilt.


No. That's what you are inferring. The context of the post I was responding to indicated that a simultaneous failure of two electronic systems was required which is highly unlikely. If this was the case and Toyota knew it, I was wondering why they wouldn't say something to that effect in a statement.

a) they are not because of your point(s)
b) it isn't in fact two seperate systems (but one)
c) they have no freaking clue (sorta related to the first point)
d) they think she is wrong but it would be politically wrong to say so right now because she is sympathetic

you brought up the subject of "guilt" and Toyota doing something wrong on purpose as if I implied something like that which I hadn't. I am actually sympathetic to Toyota right now.
 
2010-02-24 04:07:51 PM  
im14u2c: The math and timing works for me. I don't think anyone would sit down and work all the algebra on this just to get on the news. All the facts seem quite plausible to me.

So a Lexus has crappier brakes than a Camry?
www.caranddriver.com
 
2010-02-24 04:08:57 PM  
You people are not listening.
Well, maybe you are, and that could be what is causing this.


Link (USA Today)
 
2010-02-24 04:09:26 PM  
im14u2c: As someone else pointed out, at WOT, you only get a couple pumps of assist before vacuum assist gives out because there's very little vacuum. What there was of the brakes was toast afterwards. (Read the written testimony, it's much more informative.)

Oh, and I should add, the car had less than 3000 miles on it. Unless she was always riding the brakes, there's no other reason the brakes should already be that destroyed that young in the car's life. It hadn't even had its first oil-change yet, more than likely.

This almost sounds like "infant mortality failure", on the steep left slope of the so-called "bathtub curve." Insufficient burn-in on a critical control system? Could be!
 
2010-02-24 04:12:01 PM  
im14u2c: mrshowrules: I'm pretty sure it is manual on my 2001 Grand Prix.

Mine forced a 2-3 shift at 6000RPM... until I disabled that in the computer. That's when I discovered the GP can do over 100 MPH in 2nd gear (by accident). I have the spreadsheet with the gear ratios that confirms that indeed it can go that fast near the red-line.

Anyway, I believe this lady's story. The transmission in that Lexus is an electronically-shifted transmission, and it's a push-button ignition. From all the specs, it sounds like most of the controls, including ignition, shifter and likely the throttle, are "by-wire" controls.

The 2006 ES350 makes 272 HP and 254 ft-lb of torque. The e-brake, even if it's a fully mechanical linkage, would just slow it down a hair until the brakes wore away. It only engages the rear brakes more than likely, and those have less than half the total stopping power of the full brake system. If it's a fancier system with a dedicated parking brake, it may be even weaker. I've driven my Grand Prix with the e-brake accidentally engaged, and it just made the car sluggish. With its similar torque specs, it can overcome the full braking system if you floor it (ie. power-braking).

As someone else pointed out, at WOT, you only get a couple pumps of assist before vacuum assist gives out because there's very little vacuum. What there was of the brakes was toast afterwards. (Read the written testimony, it's much more informative.)

Even the cellphone part makes sense. It was a Bluetooth hands free system, so as someone else pointed out, it likely required just pushing a single button somewhere and shouting out her husband's name. *click* "EDDIE!"

3 miles at a peak speed of 100 MPH (when she called her husband) would be about 2 to 2.5 minutes into the ordeal. Stopping 6 miles after it all started (and after finally slowing down) means this impromptu joyride probably lasted around 5 minutes. She had plenty of time to try things and make her phone call. She's lucky traffic wasn't clogged on the roads, or she would've hit someone. I imagine traffic around 11:30AM on the Interstate on a Thursday isn't super dense.

Now quite why Grandma needs a car with nearly 300HP is beyond me, but that's what she's driving.

The math and timing works for me. I don't think anyone would sit down and work all the algebra on this just to get on the news. All the facts seem quite plausible to me.


Good info. I believe her too. Just some lingering doubts regarding the attempts to shift to meutral but when you mention the amount of time involved, I guess I believe her completely.
 
2010-02-24 04:12:34 PM  
Smidge204 False. The battery is an integral part of the charging system. If you remove the battery you break the circuit and the alternator loses its excitation field, shutting it down.
=Smidge=


Maybe I'm simple, but...

2 things.... Why is the easiest way to see if you have a faulty alternator is by removing the positive (that's the "+" side of the battery) cable from the battery? Car dies, faulty alternator. Car runs, good alternator.

Please explain to me how it is possible I have taken a fully charged battery out of a car that was running to put it in a vehicle that wasn't (didn't have jumper cables) put said battery in a vehicle with a dead battery, started it, removed the good battery and put dead battery back in to be charged and replaced the original battery in the 1st car WITHOUT turning either off.


(Here's a formula for the mathematicals out there:

Car with good battery= AG
Car with bad battery=BB

AG-G= Car running
BB-B+G= Car started charging system working
BG-G+B= Car started, charging system charging, battery being charged
A+G= Car running original battery replaced
Sum: 2 cars with working charging system both running at one point or another without a battery.
 
2010-02-24 04:14:49 PM  
icy_one: So a Lexus has crappier brakes than a Camry?

In a controlled test with a driver that's going to hit the brakes once, hard, and hold them, I can see you getting a different result than from an old lady who's tried hitting the brakes a few times before she finally wedges herself against the seat to push them with both feet. Your graph shows "best case."

If you've hit the brakes a few times already without stopping the vehicle, you've probably heated them into "fade" territory. And she likely hit the brake first with one foot, and added the second only when the car didn't slow down much, further pushing you into "fade" territory. The ride was short enough that they wouldn't have cooled really at all.
 
2010-02-24 04:18:39 PM  
im14u2c: icy_one: So a Lexus has crappier brakes than a Camry?

In a controlled test with a driver that's going to hit the brakes once, hard, and hold them, I can see you getting a different result than from an old lady who's tried hitting the brakes a few times before she finally wedges herself against the seat to push them with both feet. Your graph shows "best case."

If you've hit the brakes a few times already without stopping the vehicle, you've probably heated them into "fade" territory. And she likely hit the brake first with one foot, and added the second only when the car didn't slow down much, further pushing you into "fade" territory. The ride was short enough that they wouldn't have cooled really at all.


So we're in agreement that she's a terrible driver? I don't know how many times I've seen it on the news just this winter that when you lose control of your vehicle you do not pump the brakes but apply firm pressure.
 
2010-02-24 04:19:10 PM  
Loren: My last ditch resort would be to hit something at a very low angle. Around here most of the freeways in the city have noise barriers--given an unstoppable car I would move over and scrape the barrier.

I've actually done this to a K-rail concrete barrier. Not on purpose, but as an accident. I was going 65 mph at the time of impact and did an extremely glancing blow that meant the only parts of my car that hit the K-rail were the wheels and the wing mirror.

It was unpleasant, and I got bounced around and knocked my side off the door, but I was totally uninjured and the car was fixed with 2 new wheels and wheel bearings.

You'd probably survive if you employed this strategy.
 
2010-02-24 04:19:34 PM  
I know I'm now posting in no-man's land, but I have a simple, simple question for whomever reads this:

Why did the car stop accelerating at 100 mph?
 
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