Salvage Cars Auction Blog

Salvage Cars Auction Blog

Salvage Cars Auction Blog

Monday, November 16, 2009

TOYOTA’s Acceleration Problem

Federal safety regulators from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration («NHTSA») have issued a statement that sharply rebuked Toyota Motor Corp. for issuing «inaccurate and misleading» statements asserting that no defect exists in the 3.8 million vehicles it recalled after a Lexus accelerated out of control in San Diego County, killing four people. The NHTSA stated that some Toyota and Lexus vehicles may have an «underlying defect» that involves the design of the accelerator and the driver’s foot well and not only «the gas pedal’s interaction with the floor mat». In addition, in NHTSA’s invetigations, the safety regulators found that Toyota’s brakes would lose most of their power and effectiveness when the throttle is fully opened—an event called «brake fade»; and that the Toyota and Lexus push button ignition systems could add risk in sudden acceleration events. Sadly, Toyota continual focus on the floor mats alone and refusal to make a full system evaluation—inluding an examination of the electronic throttle control system, has many of their customers troubled.

After reading the above information, I asked myself, would you support a family member if they wanted to buy a used or new Toyota or Lexus? Would you recommend Toyota Corp. vehicles to buyers looking for a used or new car?

I really think that the acceleration problem is becoming a big issue for Toyota Corp. because they have a long history of quality vehicles and seldom recall complaints when compared to other vehicle makers, Ford or Chevy for example. Think about it, any defect will be more noticeable from a perfectionist that someone prone to mistakes, right? Well I think this is what is happening here, since even for this acceleration problem, statistics show that the percentage of reported deficient Toyotas/Lexus are less than 1% of the vehicles Toyota has sold. Therefore, if I was to base my advice in historical records, and comparable options, I would have to say that Toyota and Lexus can still be good buys. Lets face it, I think we are all aware that we cannot trust any car 100%, no matter what consumer reports show, since cars are put together by humans and machines and both are prone to errors, right?

Now, me stating that it is still ok to buy Toyotas and Lexus, does not mean that I agree with Toyota’s disregard of the accelerator problem: The NHTSA should still continue to pressure Toyota to have their engineers research the possible causes of the acceleration problem and test possible solutions; Toyota and Lexus drivers should still make sure they report any problems to the NHTSA, so that statistics can stay up to date; And, overall, Toyota should take responsibility and educate their service representatives, whom should in turn educate their customers on what to do in the event a car accelerator or brake stop working.

Since, I am stating that buying a Toyota or a Lexus is not so bad, I would like to take responsibility of my advice and provide some tips on what to do if you have an acceleration or brake problem. Yet, please note that I have not encountered this problem and am only restating tips that have been offered by people that know about these problems:

Things to do If Your Accelerator Ever Gets Stuck

1. First of all this happens rarely, but if it does the most important thing is DO NOT PANIC.

2. Try to hit the pedal to make sure nothing is forcing it down.

3. Next, put the car is neutral, immediately and gently start to break, being aware of the traffic around you, and pull the car to the side of the street or road as soon as possible. (Do not turn off engine until the vehicle stops if possible, since you won’t have power brakes or steering and you may engage the steering wheel lock.)

4. The last resort is to turn off the ignition (not the car), but you have to make sure you do not lock the steering wheel. You will lose your power in the brakes and steering. DO NOT try to drive the vehicle, as it will rev the engine to a dangerous level. You will have to get your car towed and looked at by a mechanic.

Salvage Cars Auction Blog

Things to do If Your Brake Fades

1. If your brake fades, i.e. the stopping power reduces after repeated application of the brakes, and you are traversing a downhill road, select a lowr gear rather than applying the brakes to slow down the vehicle. (In a vehicle with automatic transmission, you should apply the brakes first before switching to a lower gear.)

2. Instead of applying constant pressure to your brakes, «tap» the brakes periodically, give the brakes an opportunity to cool between applications, therefore reducing brake fade.

3. Another thing you can do to prevent brake fade is to purchase high performance brakes. These are made from better materials, and there isn’t as much brake fade involved. However, they are more expensive than regular brakes, but will last longer.

Note: After replacing your brakes, try not to over-brake or put too much strain on them within the first 100-150 miles. If you can afford them, high performance brakes and rotors provide better stopping powr with less brake fade due to higher-quality materials used that increases friction while decreasing the amount of concentrated heat applied to the brakes.

REMEMBER: «Knowing what to do in a potential emergency is what makes a driver a driver. Anyone can step on the gas and go straight, but do you know how to avoid a collision or something like this?» —Mr. Traffic

Statistics: Toyotas and Lexus that could have Acceleration Problem 2007-2010 Toyota Camry; 2005-2010 Toyota Avalon; 2004-2009 Toyota Prius; 2005-2010 Toyota Tacoma; 2007-2010 Toyota Tundra; 2007-2010 Lexus ES350; 2006-2010 Lexus IS250; and 2006-2010 Lexus IS 350.


Leave a Reply