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Feds look to summer for Toyota acceleration fix

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Feds look to summer for Toyota acceleration fix



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Federal safety regulators are looking at a variety of potential solutions to the unintended acceleration issue at the root of Toyota’s recall of nearly 6 million vehicles in the U.S., but won’t know more about the problem’s cause until this summer at the earliest, said David Strickland, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“We are looking at one-button on-off controls, smart brakes and electronic data recorders,” said Strickland, who spoke today at the Society of Automotive Engineers 2010 World Congress at Cobo Center.

A task force of NASA scientists is looking at the possible influence of electromagnetic interference, software coding and cosmic rays on electronic engine controls. They are expected to report their finding to NHTSA this summer. Another group from the National Academy of Science has started a 15-month research project looking at similar issues.

Toyota executives have said the problem, which more than 1,100 owners have reported to NHTSA and is allegedly the cause of hundreds of accidents that resulted in deaths and injuries, is caused by one of two mechanical issues. One is the possible that out of place floor mats can become entrapped beneath the gas pedal. The second involves gas pedals that may stick in a partially engaged position because of excess friction. Toyota is more than halfway through repairing or replacing gas pedals on 2.3 million vehicles.

Toyota has until Monday to pay or appeal a $16.4-million fine, the largest NHTSA has ever issued, for delaying that recall after receiving reports of the problem.

Separately, Strickland said NHTSA has not asked Toyota to recall its 2010 Lexus GX460, which the automaker’s U.S. Lexus dealers stopped selling this week after Consumer Reports warned its readers not to buy the SUV because it showed an unacceptable risk of rolling over during the magazine’s tests of an electronic stability control system.

“After we get the preliminary report from Consumer Reports we will conduct our own tests,” Strickland said. “We have made no decision until we assess the risk.”

He did commend Toyota’s quick response to stop selling the vehicle until the automaker reviewed Consumer Reports’ test and conducted its own evaluation of the Lexus SUV’s stability.



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