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Toyota Sienna Uncontrolled Acceleration

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  • There is a story at ABC News about Toyota, and it mentions the same issue with the 2004 Sienna. Toyota knew about this problem, fixed the ones in production, but did not recall or notify the owners of thousands of vehicles that were already on the road! Eventually, the government forced them to recall the vehicles and repair them.

    It bothers me that Toyota would rather hide a problem and risk lives than admit a mistake and fix it. Makes you wonder how many other things they have swept under the rug.
  • From what I read about the accident, it was the patrolman's brother-in-law who made the call. He was sitting in the passenger seat, and the driver's wife and daughter were in the back seat. You can find the recording of the 911 call online. I have never listened to it myself. It is reported to be a terrible thing to hear.

    I do wonder if the driver attempted to put the vehicle in neutral, and if not, why not? Highway patrolmen and police officers undergo rigorous driving training, so I don't think anyone could say he was a novice driver or likely to panic in an emergency situation.
  • victor23victor23 Posts: 201
    Several facts to ponder:
    1. I browsed through the NHSTA records for a half-a-dozen vehicles of different makes. Uncontrolled acceleration was reported for almost all of them. The only exception was VW CC, probably, just because there are not many of them on the streets.
    2. In old pre-electronic times, stepping on the gas pedal instead of brakes was a very, very common driver's error. Nobody contested that, since there just were no other way around. Nowadays, everything is reported as "Uncontrolled Acceleration".
    3. There is both formal and anectodal evidence of consumers having issues with other electronic components (ABS, traction control, brake assist) on a variety of vehicles.
    This can be seen in two ways:
    a) Drivers' errors still constitute, probably, at least part of reported cases;
    b) Just like any electronics, all automotive electronic components may unpredictably malfunction, whatever the vehicle. Of course, if some of them fares worse than average, it should be rigorously investigated.

    Now, it would be crucial to have real statistics on all those issues.
    All that being said, it has been my impression that Toyota is one of the most user-unfriendly companies in this market at all stages of the ownership experience: information, buying/leasing, maintenance, warranty support.
  • Actually, I bought my Sienna at the end of the model year which was Nov 07, brand new, and my accident was April 09, so that was well before all this info came out. I had never heard of unexpected acceleration until it happened to me. Now I think buying a Toyota is similar to playing Russian Roulette.
  • Bertha06

    Curious, do you recall if your cruise control was engaged??
  • From what I understand, VW has a system that will ensure that the brake over-rides the accelerator.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I browsed through the NHSTA records for a half-a-dozen vehicles of different makes. Uncontrolled acceleration was reported for almost all of them

    What NHTSA has to look for is an abnormal/large percentage of certain models that are affected. Those should stand out. Hence the importance of everyone who experiences the problem reporting it officially.

    I follow the Mazda threads also and a Miata owner was talking about maybe having experienced this - perhaps it is headline news and this is the first thing people will point to if/when it happened to them.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Per Victor's search in the NHTSA site, apparently driving any of 6 different brands/models is also playing Russian Roulette.
  • gc99gc99 Posts: 1
    I have 2006 sienna. And it happened yesterday (2/14/2010) while I was parking the car, slowly turn right then adjust a little bit to the left, then it rushed for about 2-3 feet. fortunately my feet was on break so I could stop on time. I can't believe this thing could happen to me but it does. it is serious.
  • box1carbox1car Posts: 6
    A CLUE is that some of the FLY-BY-WIRE Toyota vehicles had CELL PHONE use
    No one mentions cell phone use in their thread, but we may be experiencing a new
    phenomenon- call it DRIVE BY CELL PHONES, where someone in the vicinity of
    the vehicle just made a phone call on their CELL PHONE which operates in the US
    on 824 to 894MHz or a half-wave length of 7". Any FM antenna of this length would
    be "Tuned" to receive this signal. Can you guess where there's wire conductor of
    this length in the COCKPIT of a Toyota? Try a turn signal arm connected directly to
    the CRUISE CONTROL. NHTSA is testing the Smith's Lexus but will NOT find out
    much because they'd have to acquire her ACTUAL Cell Phone that she used when
    God Intervened AND test the ACTUAL ph.no. she dialed. As for the runaway police
    cruiser, I hear a passenger dialed 911. They sent an RF signal of 112 & 118 along
    with the 911 as the international distress signals. Cruise Control CPU used [non-permissible content removed]'s
    Fuzzy Logic to ignore the 911- didn't make sense, but accepted the instructions
    to accelerate to 112mph, then on to 118mph. Again, you'd have to have ACTUAL
    Cell Phone to prove this out but unfortunately that takes COMMON SENSE
    which ain't that common anymore
  • ha?
    can you do it in english please?
  • ndowserndowser Posts: 5
    Talk about COMMON SENSE why do I think I'm the only one with any, this problem can be fixed VERY EASY, to start with add a pressure sensor to the pedal and if the TPS says wide open throttle and the pressure sensor says no pressure than cut the acceleration and log the event in the computer and have the check engine light come on, also add some sensors in some key spots and log all the voltages of each at the time it happens so you will be able to find the problem.
  • victor23victor23 Posts: 201
    edited March 2010
    1. This solution would disable the cruise control;
    2. Any solutions of this kind (as well as the widely touted override of accelerator by the brake pedal) are not definitive by their nature. They are actually fighting faulty electronics by more electronics. Extra electronics may either fail too, or just be ignored by the already faulty control system.

    Don't ask me for a solution, I don't know. I like the hypothesis about cell phone interference (post #161): if correct, and all cell phones/PDAs/DVDs were banned, we may solve two problems at once ;-). Also, cell phones contribute for sure in a different manner, by greatly increasing driver's errors (such as pressing the accelerator instead of brakes).
  • c44c44 Posts: 1
    what type of van and what kind of options did the van have?
  • ndowserndowser Posts: 5
    edited March 2010
    This would not disable the cruise control because you program the ECM so that it will deny acceleration of all devices (Trans, CC, Etc.) other than the idle control so only if there is no pressure on the gas pedal and the brake pedal is applied.

    This is a EASY fix, all it takes is to add a pressure sensor to the gas pedal and program the ECM and it won't matter what device is the problem or even any device that is added later on to become a problem.
  • victor23victor23 Posts: 201
    No, you didn't understand. Sorry, I might be not clear enough.
    1. If we assume that TPS fails, why wouldn't the pressure sensor fail at some point too?
    2. Now, you are saying that not only the "no pressure" must be detected (which would disable cruise control where there is also no pressure), but also it must be compared to the status of the brake pedal ("applied"). It is already not a simple input, and should be processed by ECM (see below).
    3. The whole point is that most people suspect the real problem is the failure of ECM itself. Whether it is a software bug or a hardware failure. If ECM malfunctions for whatever reason, it may well ignore the input from the pressure sensor, no matter how do you program it.

    What would be really simple, at least temporarily, while the problem is not found, is to put a big pink handle/button somewhere which would activate (mechanically or electrically) a valve cutting fuel off. But even then I believe there will be many people alleging they pressed it with no effect on acceleration.
  • I had a similar situation with my 2003 sienna, it was luck that i got it under control. The dealer kept telling me about a year ago that it was in my head and they had no code to show it. The frigging jerks toyota told me that it was a problem with the way i drive, hell i have been driving for 55 years and never had that happen. It shakes you up when your car takes off wide open without you pushing the accelerator.
    I send another reply to toyota after a 800 dollar bill to replace parts, i will never own another piece of crap that toyota puts out, they should be put out of business and we should all buy american.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    edited March 2010
    FWIW Siennas are made in Indiana by american workers.

    CTS is also an american company.
  • Do you know if all Toyota's that have gone out of control
    have had BlueTooth installed? Have any that have not had
    BlueTooth installed had the same issue of going out of control?
    Are all cars that have gone out of control from a large metro
    area or had recently before the out of control issue been
    through a large metro area?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    If you saw this on ABC:

    http://jalopnik.com/5488464/the-mechanics-of-abc-news-unintended-toyota-accelera- tion-hoax

    Leave it up to the media to sensationalize it.

    Autoblog showed a close-up of the interior where the tach ran to redline. The car was in park, no seatbelt was on, the parking brake was engaged, and in the reflection you could see the door was wide open.
  • s4f4ms4f4m Posts: 19
    The latest story of guy in SoCal in the Prius today.

    The news stated that he tried EVERYTHING when speaking to the 911 dispatcher. I would be that shifting into Neutral was one of them. (didn't say)

    However, this is not the first time that I heard that shifting into Neutral did NOT work. Is the shifter "throttle by wire" also? In other words, is it purely an electronic system where the position of the shifter engages an electronic control of the transmission? If so, then shifting to Neutral may be all for naught as the "ghost in the machine" overrides that command and continues with the acceleration.

    We have a 2008 Sienna Limited AWD. Really getting concerned...
    1. How is the accelerator any different for the Sienna than the recalled models?
    2. Apparently, latest reports are that the recall fix does not work.
    3. Neutral may not work.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Sorry, that is incorrect...

    I saw an interview with him and he admitted that shifting to neutral was NOT attempted, though he explained that he was under pressure and not thinking straight.

    The dispatcher actually did make the suggestion, but he did NOT try a shift to neutral.

    I heard the 911 call and an interview with the driver, who openly admits this.

    To be very clear, some car mags have tested it and :

    NUETRAL DOES WORK.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The 911 Operator asks him:

    "Is there a way for you to take the car out of gear".

    He didn't respond to that, instead saying:

    "I can't hold the *** **** phone!"

    So he may have put the phone down, but definitely did not hear that advice.

    The police officer pulled up next to him and gave the following instructions in order:

    * put the foot on the brake pedal
    * push emergency brake
    * press Off button

    Later, in interviews, he confirmed that he did not attempt to put it in Neutral.

    The 911 Operator had it right, but he couldn't hear that instruction.

    The cop should have said HOLD the off button, not just press. And he never gave the instruction to try Neutral.

    I'm a bit shocked that with all the attention on this case the driver and police officer didn't know to try that.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoAgIVPTIvk

    Cop says he had the idea to try both the brakes and the emergency brakes, nothing about shifting to Neutral.

    Where is the bang-head emotorcon?

    The driver also said he "hit" the off button. He should have held it for 3 seconds.
  • victor23victor23 Posts: 201
    The whole story is so bizarre and has so many holes... One cannot help wondering if many people are going to (or already started to) try to milk this hysterical situation.
  • snevets23snevets23 Posts: 18
    Why is there so much emphasis on this web site as to what the Prius driver should have done or what the cop should have said to the driver, etc. The BOTTOM LINE is WHY is this happening in the first place with cars such as Lexus, Toyota, etc? and what is being done to prevent this in the future? You "Monday morning quarterbacks" have NO idea what the situtation is like unless you have experienced it such as poor souls as myself and all the others who have encountered this nightmare. Some of us had only seconds to react while others did have a longer timespan -- all the while being in panic mode. Maybe, cars such as Lexus and Toyota should offer a new feature...once their cars race into uncontrolled, sudden acceleration, a flashing light appears instructing the traumatized drivers to attempt putting the car into neutral. Another option would be not to purchase the cars at all to avoid the possibility!!. Been there, done that, and.don't wish to return. After all, first time...shame on you, second time...shame on me! A FORMER Lexus owner
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    edited March 2010
    That information will come up gradually over the next couple of days.

    At one point the driver says the pedal was "stuck", but we'll see.

    PS Toyota sales were way up with the financing incentives, Edmunds is estimating +30% for the month, so plenty of people do not agree with you.
  • snevets23snevets23 Posts: 18
    Regarding ateixeira's comment about Toyota sales, I'm not asking people to agree with me--I'm just relaying my personal saga. I hope these new Toyota owners have the opportunity to enjoy their "financiing incentives" while driving behind the wheel of their new purchases!. After all, these problems happen to someone else, never ME, right?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    2011 models have the brake that overrides the throttle pedal, anyway.

    Search NHTSA and you'll find complaints of sudden acceleration for virtually all models. Someone here looked and found 6 of 7 cars had such complaints.

    The one that didn't? VW Passat CC, which has the same override that the 2011 Sienna has. VW/Audi was raked through the coals by the media when they were accused, so they added this. The proof it worked is in NHTSA ODI database of complaints - there are none.

    If anything, the new Sienna is a safe bet specifically because they added that features, and most competitors don't.
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