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Toyota denies Tacoma is defective

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Toyota denies Tacoma is defective

Media inspired acceleration claims, it says

BY JUSTIN HYDE • FREE PRESS WASHINGTON STAFF • June 10, 2008

WASHINGTON -- Some 431 customers from around the country have reported unintended or sudden acceleration in their Toyota Tacoma pickups, resulting in 51 crashes and 12 injuries, but the automaker said there are no flaws in the trucks and that many reports were "inspired by publicity."

Federal regulators are still weighing whether to upgrade the investigation launched in February, which has broadened to include 775,000 Tacomas sold between the 2004 and 2008 model years. That probe was spurred by a Tacoma owner who noted 32 complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over acceleration problems.

A deeper investigation could force Toyota to recall the trucks if officials find a defect, and raise questions about sudden-acceleration claims that safety regulators and automakers have blamed on driver error for years. It could also address why no pickup model other than the Tacoma has garnered more than a few complaints of unexpected acceleration to the NHTSA during the same period.

Yet the NHTSA typically ends probes that don't uncover a clear fault in vehicles, and has previously ruled that without such evidence, driver error is an inescapable conclusion.

Toyota told the NHTSA last month that most of the claims to itself and the agency dealt with minor engine speed changes that have no relation to safety, and that its own investigation last October of 12 trucks reported to have sudden acceleration problems found no defects.

It also said "extensive media coverage" spurred additional reports and could explain why no other pickup has similar complaints.

"Toyota believes that it is likely that many of the consumer complaints about the general issue of unwanted acceleration ... as well as many of the complaints about this subject that have been received by Toyota, were inspired by publicity," Toyota said in a letter to the NHTSA released Thursday.

"But even taking them at face value, it is clear that the majority of the complaints are related to minor drivability issues and are not indicative of a safety-related defect."

That's not the way Hal Burtzloff sees it. A firefighter from Commerce Township, Burtzloff owns a 2007 Tacoma that he said surged on him in January as he turned off his cruise control to exit a freeway.

Burtzloff said he had to dodge a couple of vehicles as the truck's engine revved, despite having his foot on the brake, and that he was able to stop only by putting the truck in neutral gear, where the engine revved to the limit. The truck hasn't surged since, a dealer found nothing wrong, and Burtzloff said he's taking Toyota to arbitration.

"I think about it constantly," said Burtzloff, who added that he had not heard of acceleration complaints with the Tacoma before his incident. "I don't use the cruise control, and I've got my hand on the shift knob all the time."

Toyota's explanation

The Tacoma uses a drive-by-wire system, where computer controls replace a direct physical connection between the accelerator pedal and the throttle. Toyota said its system was designed to report an error in case the accelerator pedal and throttle are mismatched, and that it has not found error codes in vehicles inspected either by technicians or mechanics at dealerships.

While Toyota told regulators that "extensive media coverage and Internet references" fueled the surge of reports, it doesn't offer specifics. The first local TV report of the problem came from a Nashville station in October 2007. According to data obtained by the Free Press, 403 of the 514 complaints Toyota reported to the NHTSA were received before then.

NHTSA records show that 18 complaints of sudden acceleration in Tacomas were made before then, with the earliest from February 2006. Media databases show no reporting in a U.S. newspaper about the problems until a Free Press story early this April.

Toyota spokesman Bill Kwong said tests by the automaker and the NHTSA revealed no problems that would explain the complaints. He said the problems were not as prevalent as the number of complaints suggested, saying the NHTSA asked for any cases where engine idle speed increased.

"We remain confident in the safety of the vehicles," Kwong said.

Action urged

William Kronholm, a retired journalist in Montana whose petition to the NHTSA spurred the investigation, said Toyota's explanation should force the NHTSA to look more closely at the Tacoma.

"The reasonable possibility of a safety-related defect should be the standard," Kronholm said in a letter to regulators Saturday. "And that possibility is supported."

Link to original article HERE

Looks like the Toyota spin doctors are at it again! I'll refrain from making any judgements as to whether or not there is an actual problem until the investigation is complete but I like how they are blaming everything on the media. I also like how the media is firing back by showing most of the complaints were made BEFORE the media reported on the issue.

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It seems like utter BS that all of these so-called "sudden acceleration" problems in various cars are all true.

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>>"The Tacoma uses a drive-by-wire system, where computer controls replace a direct physical connection between the accelerator pedal and the throttle."<<

Single, stupidest, most needlessly complicated change ever done to automobiles.

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Well, at least there is no throttle cable to rust with the frame of the truck. Zero media coverage of this around here. Millions of GM trucks use drive by wire and have had no problems.

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Remember when sudden acceleration issues were really common on Audi's? It got so bad people jokingly said Audi stood for Accelerates Under Demonic Influence. :lol: If I remember correctly, the "defect" turned out to be that their pedal setup was shifted outboard which put the gas pedal in close proximity to where the brake pedal would be on most cars.

I, too, am skeptical of sudden acceleration issues which is why I said I'll reserve judgement until the investigation is complete. I'm just amazed with the statements of the Toyota PR machine blaming the media for the problem.

Edited by 2QuickZ's
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I think we all know that acceleration issues are always due to cheap Chinese outsourced floor mats. :AH-HA_wink:

Remember when sudden acceleration issues were really common on Audi's? It got so bad people jokingly said Audi stood for Accelerates Under Demonic Influence. :lol:

lol, nice.

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My question would be what Toyota thinks would be any reason for other owners to complain about the same thing when it may not have happened. If Toyota is confident that all buyers are satisfied with their product, who would bother complaining about nothing? That just doesn't add up.

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>>"The Tacoma uses a drive-by-wire system, where computer controls replace a direct physical connection between the accelerator pedal and the throttle."<<

Single, stupidest, most needlessly complicated change ever done to automobiles.

Agreed, as of 2008 it takes the cake... but just wait

a few years & Toyopets will have DRIVE-BY-WIRE

brakes and steering.

Don't laugh, it's probably true. :mellow:

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>>"The Tacoma uses a drive-by-wire system, where computer controls replace a direct physical connection between the accelerator pedal and the throttle."<<

Single, stupidest, most needlessly complicated change ever done to automobiles.

DBW is very common and essential for many stability control systems. It is a technological improvement, and removes the need for a physical cable which may require adjusting and can rust or become loose. As with all electronics on a vehicle, there is a chance that they could fail where a mechanical device wouldn't have. But that has been an argument ongoing since the very first automobiles. It is clear that electronics are generally better than their mechanical counterparts, although sometimes the first generations of those electronic improvements have issues that need to be sorted out. For the most part, the worst thing DBW has done is have a slight throttle response delay or poor pedal feel compared to mechanical.

The GM Hywire uses all electronic controls, no cables or anything, even steering.

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DBW is very common and essential for many stability control systems. It is a technological improvement, and removes the need for a physical cable which may require adjusting and can rust or become loose. As with all electronics on a vehicle, there is a chance that they could fail where a mechanical device wouldn't have. But that has been an argument ongoing since the very first automobiles. It is clear that electronics are generally better than their mechanical counterparts, although sometimes the first generations of those electronic improvements have issues that need to be sorted out. For the most part, the worst thing DBW has done is have a slight throttle response delay or poor pedal feel compared to mechanical.

The GM Hywire uses all electronic controls, no cables or anything, even steering.

Right, I think stability control systems poll the exact position of the throttle a hundred times a second or so.

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Millions of GM trucks use drive by wire

I honestly did not know that. Thanks for the enlightenment. :blush:

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Even the GMDAT program cars like the Optra/Optra5 (Suzuki Forenza/Reno) use throttle-by-wire after 2005. Necessary or not, it sure had better work!

Edited by ShadowDog
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>>"DBW is very common and essential for many stability control systems. It is a technological improvement, and removes the need for a physical cable which may require adjusting and can rust or become loose. As with all electronics on a vehicle, there is a chance that they could fail where a mechanical device wouldn't have. But that has been an argument ongoing since the very first automobiles. It is clear that electronics are generally better than their mechanical counterparts, although sometimes the first generations of those electronic improvements have issues that need to be sorted out. For the most part, the worst thing DBW has done is have a slight throttle response delay or poor pedal feel compared to mechanical."<<

It's not a technical improvement, it's a technical necessity due to other electronics. They are not "generally better" without the electronics that accompany them, and when they fail, they fail completely.

Mechanical throttle linkages are not subseptible to falling out of adjustment, rusting or becoming loose. Oh; it could happen, but it's not even a legitimate worry, nevermind likely. Regardless, it's entirely possible to have a mechanical connection yet still have it trigger electronics for stability functions, and maintain the insurance & reliability of that connection.

And obviously... the argument of electronics vs. mechanical has not been going on since "the very first automobiles", why you typed that I have no idea.

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I have seen old timers lament the rise of PCMs and fuel injection because they can't do their own tuning and adjustments, like the old days. There are some people who are just automatically suspicious of electronic enhancements.

Perhaps people have not been arguing over electronics since the very first automobiles, but I'll bet there were those who protested automatic spark advance and other improvements at one time. :lol:

GM seems to get their programming done right the first time, for the most part. (Notable exception: the Epica, but I wonder how much of that was GM and not Daewoo.) Even with their trannies: why do GM's 4 spds still seem smoother than Toyota's 'newer' 5 spd: its in the programming.

I thing DBW is one of those technologies that just slipped through undetected. Most people wouldn't even be aware that their vehicle has no throttle cable. There are probably a hundred major improvements on vehicles in the past several years that buyers don't have a clue about, like coil on plug designs, etc.

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Blatant blame shifting by Toyota - even in the face of facts to the contrary. That's BS.

What may also be BS is the problem itself - maybe.

As for DBW, I certainly don't trust it and would advocate redundant mechnical systems that actually move the throttle with the electonics in a monitoring role.

Now MB had (or has) all electronic braking on the SL500 (at least) and that is a damn scary system! I drove one of these when they first came out (boss bought one) and the system was flat terrible. You would approach a stop sign and apply the brakes only to have nothing happen! At the last possible moment, the brakes would engage with loud clunking sounds and you would stop just in time. Driving that car was anything but enjoyable.

I will never own a car with electronic braking, very, very, bad idea.

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I know someone in the mountains northeast of LA who has a 2005 Tacoma like the one mentioned, he's had this happen to him as well and it scared the living crap out of him.

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There was a letter in "Click and Clack" ( I know, those two are about useless) by a woman that had her electronic power steering fail in her first-gen Prius. Scared the hell out of her. Hmm.

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>>"Now MB had (or has) all electronic braking on the SL500 (at least) and that is a damn scary system! I drove one of these when they first came out (boss bought one) and the system was flat terrible. You would approach a stop sign and apply the brakes only to have nothing happen! At the last possible moment, the brakes would engage with loud clunking sounds and you would stop just in time. Driving that car was anything but enjoyable."<<

About 5 years ago I drove a E430 sedan, hammered on it pretty good actually. Not only did it have the same floaty, disconnected braking lag, but it also had an accelerator lag of about 1-2 seconds. I have no idea if that car had electronicnanny controls or not, but the experience was likewise not enjoyable at all. Are all mercedes built this way?

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I have seen old timers lament the rise of PCMs and fuel injection because they can't do their own tuning and adjustments, like the old days. There are some people who are just automatically suspicious of electronic enhancements.

Perhaps people have not been arguing over electronics since the very first automobiles, but I'll bet there were those who protested automatic spark advance and other improvements at one time. :lol:

i have a cousin that chided me for putting electronic ignition on my impala and getting rid of the points system on it. he said with points you can fix it if something goes wrong, you can get points anywhere. my reply? now i dont have to routinely adjust them, i get a hotter spark and its a bit more reliable

Edited by cletus8269
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You guys are so biased, you're seeing this Tacoma thing all backwards. Toyota, in their infinite wisdom, actually made the Tacoma more than a truck. It, in fact, evolves like a living creature. How else can you explain 5-10 year old trucks developing new features such as a tilt bed?

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TACOMA

Throttle

Applied

Controls

Offering

Maniacal

Acceleration

:lol: :lol: :lol:

Edited by 2QuickZ's
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You guys are so biased, you're seeing this Tacoma thing all backwards. Toyota, in their infinite wisdom, actually made the Tacoma more than a truck. It, in fact, evolves like a living creature. How else can you explain 5-10 year old trucks developing new features such as a tilt bed?

Remember: Toyota is the 'green' car company. The Tacoma is biodegradable. No need to scrap them; they merely dissolve in water.

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Based on the number of old people that have driven Buicks into buildings around here, I have to assume that Buicks suffer the same unintended acceleration. :AH-HA_wink:

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Based on the number of old people that have driven Buicks into buildings around here, I have to assume that Buicks suffer the same unintended acceleration. :AH-HA_wink:

I'll gladly drive my Roadmonser into the side of the building

next to my wife's work... its the HQ for Toyota Financial

America/North East. Now who has bail money?

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