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Expert: Electronic Design Flaw Linked to Runaway Toyotas

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Expert: Electronic Design Flaw Linked to Runaway Toyotas

Auto Professor Says Defect in Toyota's 'Fail Safe' System for Acceleration Creates Dangerous Condition


Feb. 22, 2010

A flaw in the design of Toyota's electronic acceleration system prevents the car's onboard computer from detecting and stopping certain short circuits that can trigger sudden speed surges, according to a professor of automotive technology, Dave Gilbert of Southern Illinois University's auto technology department.

Dr. Dave Gilbert recreates 'scary' sudden acceleration with short circuit

As a result, Gilbert told ABC News, the Toyota computers will not record an error code, nor will they activate the "fail safe" system designed to shut down the power and put the car in the "limp home" mode.

"This is a dangerous condition, it is not fail safe," said Gilbert in an interview to be broadcast Monday on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer.

"If there was this kind of fault, it will never set an error code," said Gilbert. As a result, he said, there will be "no fingerprints, no trail" when Toyota engineers inspect a car after an accident or incident of sudden acceleration.

A Toyota executive, John Hanson, told reporters today an electronic cause of sudden acceleration was "extremely unlikely" and that "no actual evidence has been produced" to suggest otherwise.

Safety advocate Sean Kane, of Safety Research & Strategies, who first spotted the trend of owner complaints about "runaway Toyotas," says Gilbert's tests undercut Toyota's claims that its electronic system is not to blame for the sudden acceleration surges.

"This is clearly an electronic problem," said Kane, who is scheduled to testify Tuesday before the House Commerce Committee on the Toyota issue.

"The system is fallible, in fact, it's got some really troubling design strategies that are employed by Toyota that appear to be outside the norm. And their system clearly has design strategy that has a very slim margin of safety."

video at link.



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the press has been brutal on the toyota the last week or two but i still don't sense any big change in the way too many folks talk toyota lately. i can't wait for the auto show in a couple weeks. i want to just hang out in the toyota area and listen to all the one liners.......and heckling.....and then go check out the nice new Opel Regal.

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Toyota's Statement in Regard to ABC News Story: Expert Recreates Sudden Acceleration in Toyota

Toyota spoke with Mr. Gilbert on February 16 in an effort to understand his concerns. During this discussion, Mr. Gilbert explained that he had connected a resistor between the output wires of the two accelerator pedal sensors on a Toyota Tundra. In other words, he had artificially introduced an abnormal connection between two otherwise independent signals coming from the accelerator pedal sensors. Mr. Gilbert advised Toyota that he believed that his intentional misdirection of these signals could cause the vehicle to accelerate unexpectedly.

In response to Mr. Gilbert's claim as communicated to Toyota, Toyota confirmed that what Mr. Gilbert described would not cause unintended acceleration to occur. In fact, under the abnormal condition described last week by Mr. Gilbert, if there is a short with low resistance between the two signals, the electronic throttle control system illuminates the "check engine" light and the vehicle enters into a fail-safe mode of engine idle operation. If there is a short with high resistance, outside the range of "check engine" light illumination, the accelerator pedal continues to be responsive to driver input and the vehicle will return to the idle condition when the foot is taken off of the accelerator pedal. Unintended acceleration would not occur.

After watching the story today on ABC News featuring Mr. Gilbert, Toyota was surprised to learn that Mr. Gilbert appears now to be making a different claim regarding the electronic throttle control system and in a vehicle other than as described to Toyota last week. Although it is difficult to tell from the footage used in the story, Mr. Gilbert appears to be introducing a different external and artificial method to manipulate the throttle. In order to set the record straight, Toyota welcomes the opportunity to evaluate the Toyota Avalon shown in today's story and the method by which Mr. Gilbert allegedly caused the vehicle to accelerate unintentionally. We welcome the attendance of ABC News at any such evaluation of this vehicle and Mr. Gilbert's testing.

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I don't find this story particularly revealing but for how it should have been presented; that Mr. Gilbert identified a possible vulnerability to the system that has the same characteristics as the Toyota vehicles with unintended acceleration. Even without Toyota's statement, there remains no proof that the method Mr. Gilbert employed to create these symptoms have anything to do with Toyota's systems. There's no denying a connection could exist; but it should be identified first before it is plastered all over prime time news for the stupids and the sheeple to get all excited about.

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