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Unintended Acceleration - Find the Cause

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    lasandlasand Member Posts: 1
    edited April 2010
    Do I send an email to the NHTSA?

    Is no submission to Edmunds.com required?

    Just where do I send my possible cause and solution concerning SUA to?
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    steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    edited April 2010
    Please see the contest blurb, especially the part about "This description of the Contest is intended to give you the key points to begin work on your Submission and will be supplemented by certain Legal Terms and Conditions, which will be posted, together with the necessary forms for Submissions, at www.edmunds.com/contest (collectively, the "Official Rules"). "

    Edmunds.com's Unintended Acceleration Contest
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    kernickkernick Member Posts: 4,072
    I don't follow your reasoning here discounting external interference as a factor in runaway acceleration.

    That's because I never discounted external interference or said anything about one being more prevalent (probable). What I said was that there are many reasons an electronic system can fail from my experience with factory automation hardware and software. Examples: a sensor can get bumped and misaligned, software locksup (unknown reasons) and a machine needs to be powered down and rebooted, electronic board failure, software upgrades introducing new problems, and 1 designer not integrating their design with the guy designing the other system, amongst others.

    I'm a strong believer in 2 related things: 1) that CHAOS and random events are very important considerations, and 2) relative to the amount of information and knowledge there is in the universe, humanity's intelligence is like the parasite on an ant's bottom. :D

    Think of the UA issue. 50 years ago a vehicle design could be examined and such an issue uncovered within a day by a fairly smart mechanic, technician or engineer. As humanity has increased its knowledge in all fields and technologies, the excact specialization that this creates as mankind is not genetically keeping up its "brain-power" with such increase, the ability of the typical intelligent human to diagnose an issue isn't there. Thus you have an UA issue with hundreds or thousands of experts looking at pieces of the puzzle, but I bet there's no one with enough knowledge to understand the whole issue and the possibilities and do a good job of diagnosing it. Well NASA might have the best shot.

    I'm a proponent of KISS, not adding layer upon layer of electronics and software designed and slapped together by different engineers in a short-time period.
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    jack173jack173 Member Posts: 1
    These electronic systems are so advanced; Toyota unfortunately has optimum transmission and engine compatibility, but they, and others are trying to sell the cars saying it can use 87 or 89 gas. in this bad economy, more gas stations are putting 87 octane in 89 octane pumps. They don't care about the $10,000 fine. They are barely breaking even because of state gas taxes. Sunoco used to sell 94 gas...it really made my dad's 8 cylinder run smooth. I always use 93 gas, even in my 4 cylinder Toyota. I am not affiliated with any oil companies. I once heard ...don't listen to people that don't have money. Spend the extra money on the 93 gas (california, your stuck wiith getting 91). Bad things are way less likely to happen with cleaner and more refined gas.
    I told the highway administration and my case was escalated. My friends are now pausing to think about this.
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    wwestwwest Member Posts: 10,706
    In reality fuel octane rating MATTERS LESS NOW than ever before in our automotive history.

    Not too long ago, say pre turn of the century, engine compression pretty much dictated the octane rating you had to fuel with.

    No more.

    With the advent of electronic fuel injection high compression engines, when operating in the effective high compression rate, simply run a richer mixture to combat knock/ping due to detonation..."dieseling".
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    highwaystarzhighwaystarz Member Posts: 1
    Where do i go to submit the forms D : i been running all over this site. HELP MEEE :cry:
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    beachfish2beachfish2 Member Posts: 177
    "We'll know the cause in a year or less, most likely"

    More than likely, but it leads to the question of why they are doing recalls now, before they have identified what they need to fix.

    Oh right, the government demanded they DO SOMETHING.

    John
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    davidmsmalldavidmsmall Member Posts: 2
    "Submissions for the Contest may be delivered on or after May 3, 2010."

    So that I'm sure I understand this, there's no difference in sending something, say, now (Apr 7) or later in April, as long as it's there on May 3rd?

    I ask because of this:

    "If there are multiple Potential Winners whose Submissions, in the opinion of the judges, represent the same basic cause, only the first Submission received by us will be considered a Winner."

    Many thanks,

    Dave Small
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    thetruth7thetruth7 Member Posts: 93
    Here are the possible exclusions as I read them please feel free to add more;

    1. Driver error, brake pedal misapplication, floor mats etc are out
    2. Sticky pedals - it's a known issue
    3. Electrical, magnetic interference - plausibility and "real world" conditions must be met
    4. Cruise control defect theories, - known theory dating back to Audi
    5. Any type of defective part - most would be known to engineers through TSBs or recalls
    6. Anything an automotive engineer would have anticipated
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    thetruth7thetruth7 Member Posts: 93
    Carquestions on You tube has offered a reward of $2,250 for a defective part or system from any Toyota that has caused it to accelerate out of control and cause an accident. It was posted on You Tube Feb 10, 2010 - looks like Edmund's is stealing a good idea by offering $ 1 million dollars to prove the same thing - chiefly, what is behind all the complaints of sudden acceleration.
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    steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    Information and updates will be posted at this link:

    Edmunds.com's Unintended Acceleration Contest
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    lhungsbelhungsbe Member Posts: 1
    I believe the reason for the unintended acceleration is a problem with the programming of the cruise control. I believe turning off the cruise ( not just disengaging it ) will stop the problem. I have experienced the acceleration in an older model chrysler.
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    dlpannebakkerdlpannebakker Member Posts: 1
    I honestly believe that the issue lies with the Stepper Motor. With having experience with a Stepper Motor going rouge on a motorcycle. The engine would rev up and above 3000rpms when at idle. However a Stepper Motor can exceed rpm's while in a safe driving/ proper operations mode. Meaning it can run wild while driving at safe speed. Now if Toyota has by-passed the Stepper Motor, than the condition will lie with the software design or improper calculations by a hardware glitch in the computer which will control what the Stepper Motor is designed to do. The Stepper Motor operation is for starting the engine and allowing it to operate a proper idle with a cold engine. Smoother operation at pulling out from a stop whether cold engine or warm engine. I have experienced everything I mentioned above. No speculation just proven fact. Cure by-pass the Stepper Motor, it is really not needed, just a piece of junk added.
    My experience with a Stepper Motor on a motorcycle will and does operate on any vehicle, car, truck suv or motorcycle.
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    justme17justme17 Member Posts: 1
    I think it is the cruise control too. Sometimes when I use the cruise control at higher speeds (40-50), the car just has a mind of it's own and starts to accelerate even though I'm at the speed that the cruise is set to. You can hear the engine working harder too. The car feels like it's possessed and out of control. I have to hit the brakes in order to get it under control again. I have a 2003 Chevy Monte Carlo SS.
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    hotstuffingahotstuffinga Member Posts: 1
    Lets get real here. Toyota does build a great car...But the problem has nothing to do with the pedal. It has to do with the timing chain sensors. These sensor if they are bad will cause the computer to tell the car to speed up. I have a 2003 Toyota Sequia and sitting at a RED LIGHT in drive, the V8 will jump from 500 rpm to 1700 rpm all on its own. Keep in mind now, my foot is on the brake pedal. Not the gas pedal. So if nothing is on the pedal, it surely has to be the timing chain sensor that is cause the motor to advance. And no, this will not show up on any test that toyota does. The computer does not list every time the sensor causes the motor to advance in rpm. But mark my words...It is the timing chain sensors...I love my Toyota...But toyota has know about this problem for a long time now..Change the sensors
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    tz2026tz2026 Member Posts: 26
    What has not been mentioned is that some metallurgy we should be able to determine if the brakes were applied to the runaway cars. The computer only remembers what its sensors saw. And computers are busier at higher RPM and higher speeds. There may be the embedded equivalent of a Blue-Screen-of-Death, with the watchdog going off or something too busy to notice the brakes are on.

    The switch on the brakes does not pull power to anything that shuts off the fuel or spark. At best it goes directly into the engine controller and asks it to shut it down. At worst, some other module polls this switch and occasionally sends messages over a maybe busy bus to the Engine controller which saves it away and if it isn't busy it might check and eventually decide to shut off the engine. Railroad electronics (including software) and medical devices are subject to stringent quality and verification methods. Cars are not. The problem is likely being over a certain percent busy by being over some RPM (it doesn't happen at low speeds). Maybe doing some OBD sensor checking stuff. Maybe reading the other stuff on the CAN bus. At some time this causes a cascade where it ignores the brake status, or the default is only when it sees N fresh brake messages in M milliseconds, but the unique conditions causes it to timeout so it never meets the criteria for the break status to stop the engine.

    If it is "if switch on, fuel off", fine, but more likely it would take something longer than this article to fully describe all the preconditions between the switch off (including any communications path) and fuel off. The Ariane rocket, or mars probe had one bad number for catastrophic failure. Has anyone OUTSIDE TOYOTA verified the software? Faulty and weak mechanical or electrical components are usually easy to find, but these software "black boxes" might be shining example of perfect code, or may be ugly hack jobs. But who, other than Toyota knows? If the brake rotors are half-melted, oxidized, or otherwise show evidence of strong braking, and the computer says the brakes weren't applied very much, in the words of Groucho - who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?

    I could analyze the software (I have 25+ years of embedded, mostly in Automotive, but if you don't trust me you can find software engineers). Have a panel examine the software in depth for reliability. If a lawsuit goes through this is going to be done anyway. If Toyota is worried, it can be done under nondisclosure, but here is an example of something similar which is indirectly automotive - breathalyzers have sent people to jail despite shoddy software: http://www.dwi.com/new-jersey/state-v-chun http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2009/05/software_proble.html Think about Toyota and the MULTIPLE modules and greater number of lines of software and complexity when reading these findings.

    From that article: "Catastrophic Error Detection Is Disabled: An interrupt that detects that the microprocessor is trying to execute an illegal instruction is disabled, meaning that the Alcotest software could appear to run correctly while executing wild branches or invalid code for a period of time. Other interrupts ignored are the Computer Operating Property (a watchdog timer), and the Software Interrupt. Basically, the system was designed to return some sort of result regardless.' Such software sends people to jail.

    Although I have only read the news reports (detailed) - I will say now that if the software is analyzed, they will find some rare but not improbable cascade failure that prevents the normal behavior under some combination of conditions which won't be seen in 100 or 1000 cars, but the 1 in 10000 or 100000 driven daily by ordinary drivers eventually hit it. The conditions in San Diego seem to cause it more than elsewhere. The system doesn't see the break is being applied in a manner that would cause it to stop the engine because the chain between the cause and desired effect is very long and one link is broken, but the break is infrequent.

    The breathalyzer seems most appropriate as an analogy, but there are hundreds of software disasters, you just have to google for them. Maybe I'm wrong, but Toyota has the keys to the black box in question, or perhaps those hackers at black hat or defcon can extract the code and analyze it. Note you can get images for most modules using J2534 tools which update the modules.
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    tz2026tz2026 Member Posts: 26
    edited April 2010
    Someone mentioned that you would just have to monitor the bus communication (you might do that at the j1962 connector). It won't work if the problem involves the communication - if the brake module forgets or sends wrong switch status?

    Pressure on the brake pedal, same on the accelerator, and measure the injector pulse width.

    As I've noted above, I believe it is a cascade failure in software. Some task is getting starved under some very specific conditions such that the code and/or communication path between the brake and the fuel-cut-off never actually happens.

    All it takes is for ONE part of it to end up with a low priority so the few lines of critical code never execute.

    The first condition is high-rpm, then second is probably something emissions, OBD, or fuel optimization related which occurs in San Diego weather conditions (this includes morning mist of 100% humidity on everything). The third might be a stuck accelerator, but a drive-by-wire missing the brake changed might also miss polling the accelerator. Yes, something has to go out and ask "what is the position of the pedal", and then "send the signals to move the motor" (for the throttle) or override the fuel (rich/lean) mixture to shut off all fuel. Fourth, I think you have to hit the brake - which is why I think something is strange with the software. Generally on freeways and roads without lights, people coast down. It is possible hitting the break causes a priority inversion given the other conditions.
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    davidmsmalldavidmsmall Member Posts: 2
    Hi --

    I'm looking for people around Denver, Colorado, who are interested in working on this problem. I'm an embedded engineer & technical writer in the Denver Tech Center.

    If you're in the Front Range, in general, that can work, just depends on who needs to go where. ( Any excuse to drive next to the Rockies is terrific! *grin* )

    Drop me an email me at: davetracer (at) aol (dot) com [ I'm not putting the email characters ("@, .") in for the usual anti-spam reasons. ]

    Thanks,

    David Small
    (formerly: Gadgets by Small)
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    beachfish2beachfish2 Member Posts: 177
    "Carquestions on You tube has offered a reward of $2,250 for a defective part or system from any Toyota that has caused it to accelerate out of control and cause an accident."

    Somebody should send them their right shoe and try to collect. Or maybe their entire right foot.
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    duckluva1duckluva1 Member Posts: 3
    I have had the sudden acceleration problem occur on a pontiac sunfire convertable.
    The Cause, Cruise control had been set at a higher speed previously (while on the highway). I applied the brakes releasing the cruise control and did my local shopping without problems. However, when I got back on the highway and accelerated the car took on a life of its own. The cruisecontrol which had been set at highway speed suddenly kicked in to try and bring the car up to full speed as indicated by the previous speed setting, Thou I had been accelerating I could feel the pedal sink out from under my foot as the car sped up,way beyond the level traffic would permit. I applied my brakes and simultaneously disengaged the cruise control bringing the car back to my control. The brake cutout feature worked. However, this occurred in a matter of moments, had I been unobservant I would have not noticed the accelerator pedal actually depress itself further by itself. I believe a possable cause of this sudden acceleration is a combination of factors: ***Driver Error And Cruisecontrol left set at highway speed will cause sudden unwanted acceleration when accelerating to speed.***
    When the car recognized acceleration it automatically chose the level preset from its last use on the highway. (an automatic reset if the car is shut off is needed?) I was fortunate to respond quickly as I was entering traffic and alert to my vechicle.THE PROBLEM CAN BE REPLICATED. If I were to bring my car to a highway speed and set the cruise control it will disengage properly when I hit the brakes.HOWEVER, when I accelerate again if I get near the preset speed the car reads this as ACCELERATE to PRESET LEVEL and accelerates by itself past where I wish it choosing the preset speed level. (Could you put a dashboard light announcing CRUISECONTROL is ENGAGED whenever the car is being driven?) .I assume if I were to 'stomp' on the pedal while driving the cruisecontrol would acknowledge this and comply.(My fuel control is an "AIWA"(All-I WAnt) The problem is both DRIVER Error and Cruisecontrol being pre-set without realizing it. Sudden pedal depression and acceleration causes the car to beleive it is suppossed to be at its pre-set speed while the differance between actual speed and preset speed may be a differance of 15 mph or more from the speed actually being selected. My engine is a powerful 4.2 litre housed in a lightweight convertable body, it is a sports car and responds appropriatly. I maintain my hoses and vacumn lines. The Cruisecontrol is mounted on the steering column and may be engaged by a mere deft flick on the extension control, Realizing the Cruisecontrol is still 'on' while traveling below speed becomes alarmingly apparant when aproaching the pre-set level and the car suddenly accelerates by itself.
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    srs_49srs_49 Member Posts: 1,394
    Your cruise control should have completely reset itself when you turned the engine off to go shopping. It should not have "remembered" the last highway speed setting.
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    musicman45241musicman45241 Member Posts: 5
    I agree that it must be controlled, the Hall Effects cause different issues, the
    industry has almost completely done away with Potentiometers and went
    digital, I wrote a solution earlier, what I would like to say is that I have
    a 2008 Toyota Tacoma, unmodified, and it is doing it. I actually retract
    my initial response, this is real, repeatable, and I can replocate it.
    One response indicated EMI, LOL, not sure. My thoughts are, I have one,
    It does it, I'm a EE that has worked for a top Auto manufacturer, no games,
    let's make a small team, study my truck and split it. let me know.
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    plektoplekto Member Posts: 3,738
    edited April 2010
    And, as I mentioned on page two (before that - like 2-3 weeks into this mess) that the REAL issue is that as long as the devices are digital, such errors can and will happen. There *has* to be an analog sensor in the chain so that complete failures can't happen in a worst-case scenario. Or, more simply put, that they are immediately recognizable as a large voltage difference or short versus a number in a computer.

    This can be as easy as a relay or a fuse that trips and turns the throttle system off if there is a short, for instance - completely idiot proof. And potentiometers or analog systems don't suddenly die in any other way - you either get a sudden zero voltage or short condition or there is weeks or months of warning as the throttle is gummy and sluggish or intermittently lurches and jumps a bit.

    *Why* it happened isn't the bigger issue that is plaguing the industry at large. It's the technology that they are using and what happens in a worst-case scenario. What we will likely get is "we know why Toyota is having this problem"(some software or other idiocy that's a symptom of the sensor type used) and yet they don't change the sensors. They find the "problem" in the error-correcting or redundancy parts of the system and wrongly think that if they correct the code they can make it all right.

    It's like putting a better firewall on your computer as a solution to getting hacked rather than just yanking the stupid bittorrent program and not visiting porn sites. :confuse:

    See, I can't prove what causes these cars to fail like this. But I can prove what will keep them from having the problem ever occur.(note - a throttle cable also will work here!) Too bad the rules are gimped to make it very hard to get a dime for anything other than the first question as opposed to the real solution to the problem. :sick:
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    lmaceachernlmaceachern Member Posts: 4
    I am a Toyota owner with 30 years experience in electronics, manufacturing and engineering. In following the recent "accelerator & braking" issues I would like to submit this to you:
    • I DO NOT believe the issue is floor mats, sticky accelerators or braking systems
    • I DO BELIEVE the issue is INTERMITTENT/TTF FAILURE OF THE AIR MASS SENSOR IC

    >> THIS HAPPENED 12 YEARS AGO WITH MY 1992 CHEVROLET!! REPEATEDLY!! <<
    1. While driving at normal speed the vehicle would simply start to accelerate on its own. Letting off the accelerator did nothing but release the pedal to its normal position. It was not stuck. I had no floor mats. &#147;Acceleration&#148; of the vehicle continued.
    2. Braking systems worked properly &#150; IF the car was in NEUTRAL.
    3. Each time the vehicle was shifted into neutral, pulled over, & shut off. Restarting immediately produced the same "acceleration". Restarted hours later after it cooled resulted in normal operation.
    4. The failure was totally intermittent and DID NOT occur every time the engine got hot.
    5. One instance was less than 5 minutes after the vehicle was started for the first time that day. Another instance occurred after it had been started and stopped repeatedly over a period of hours. Yet another occurrence was after it had been running continuously for over an hour at highway speed.
    6. Repeated computer diagnoses DID NOT pick up the failure.
    7. Replacement of the AIR MASS SENSOR IC resolved the issue.

    Intermittent or TTF (Time To Fail) issues are extremely difficult to diagnose and nearly impossible to replicate in a controlled environment with a random sample. My experience in the industry would lead me to investigate the possibility of a bad lot or date code, unqualified supplier, or sub-standard quality of these components.

    This scenario would account for the apparently random failures across various brands, models, and years; the inability to determine cause & affect; the inability to demonstrate in a controlled environment a repeatable factor that will cause an unmodified new vehicle to accelerate suddenly and unexpectedly; and the fact that Toyota, though currently the most obvious, is not the only manufacturer affected.

    In my case the rapid uncontrolled acceleration was only able to be replicated by exerting pressure or tapping on the surface of the AIR MASS SENSOR IC while the car was running. I had asked the technician to check the seating of the components and when pressure was exerted on this chip it immediately triggered the anomaly. The new sensor was pressed and tapped repeatedly after installation and produced no associated response. There was never another incident with this vehicle and it was driven for a number of years, including a 2500 mile cross country trip in 3 days!

    I have already sent this information to both Toyota & the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. I hope this will help or possibly lead to another path that will result in a timely & positive resolution of this matter.
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    lmaceachernlmaceachern Member Posts: 4
    An Addendum:
    I love digital computers and what they can do, but I wouldn't keep my PC in the garden shed and don't believe they belong under the hood of a car. Give me electro-mechanical any day!
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    musicman45241musicman45241 Member Posts: 5
    I see your point, I can and yes the floor mat issue is not correct.
    When my Tacoma does this, it feels like "something" is taking control
    of the throttle cable, I cannot verify that, but that is the feeling I get.
    Not sure, but I suspect that this is root of the problem.

    Kurt
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    musicman45241musicman45241 Member Posts: 5
    What is your age, curious.?
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    thetruth7thetruth7 Member Posts: 93
    Acceleration is a very subjective term - do you mean full throttle or something close to it?. The reason I ask is that in 92 GM used mechanical cable controlled throttle valves and no matter what malfunction occured electronically an IC engine needs a large volume of air to run at high engine speeds and this would be physically impossible with a closed throttle valve - The only other source of air would be through the IAC valve but it isn't large enough to run an engine at high speeds. Did you check for TSB's at the time?
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    musicman45241musicman45241 Member Posts: 5
    The problem feels mechanical, like a cable as you described, I thought
    it might be related to the speed control. I haven't brought it in yet, they
    won't fix it the first time anyway. I had sent a post earlier, but I think we
    could put a team on it and fix it.
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    lmaceachernlmaceachern Member Posts: 4
    Careful...most wormen would be offended. I am not most women - 50 and proud of it!
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    lmaceachernlmaceachern Member Posts: 4
    edited May 2010
    I may be mistaken on the year of the vehicle as I haven't had it for over 6 years now. It may have been a 1993 or 1994, it may have been a Cavalier, it may have been a Pontiac 6000, I have owned many cars. I purchased it in 1998 for not much at a vehicle auction. When I had the repeated, unresolvable problem I assumed that is why it was sold.

    I use the term acceleration because that is what everyone else is calling it. That is also the response the vehicle exhibited when the revs of the engine started to increase with no associated input from me. The increase when driving was quick but gradual, not as in a catastrophic or instantaneous failure and I stopped the car and shut it off before it could get to what I would term "full throttle" so I couldn't say if it would have. I had a similar but very different experience with a 1992 Chev truck years earlier where there was a catastrophic failure of some mechanical throttle cable linkage and THAT was instantly "full throttle" and I was amazed that engine didn't throw a piston before I could pull over. This is a very different type of "acceleration".

    Each time the car exhibited this problem I took it to a licensed mechanic. Each time they hooked it up for computer diagnosis and gave it a thorough check. Nothing could be found. No, I didn't check for TSB's nor did I ask the mechanics to. That should have been part of the paid service they provided in trying to solve my problem.

    It was getting to be quite a costly issue by the 3rd time around. I was rebuilding engines, fixing cars, and doing body work in the 1970s and had worked with computers for years but hadn't actually looked at the changes to the ignition and firing systems in the newer cars until then. I asked the mechanic to explain it to me and that is when I noticed the IC/socket assemblies and requested him to check the seating of the components. When he pressed on the Air Mass Sensor IC while the car was running the anomaly was triggered. When he let the pressure off the revs decreased slowly. Tapping on the chip quickly with a screwdriver handle resulted in the same response, with quicker increase and decrease. The replacement component ran me $400, but I never had another problem and the car was driven daily for at least 3 more years.

    I don't say I am right. I am only stating fact. I do want people to consider and investigate the possibility. I am extremely concerned that I may be sitting on the solution and someone who doesn't know how to use the neutral gear, and others, may die while everyone else battles for a million bucks.

    If my theory is correct it could not be demonstrated within the rules of the contest.
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    dodge440dodge440 Member Posts: 10
    Yes....it could be a MAF sensor or a number of other things; possibly a crankshaft position sensor. If in fact it is a MAF sensor problem, then an OBDII code should be present in the computer for evaluation. At any rate, Toyota's software is flawed- i.e.: no brake override, fly-by-wire throttle all controlled by software. I would start by re-implementing a tried/true cable actuated throttle with brake interlock / overrride and address EMI / RFI vulnerabilities via filtered connectors on all I/O ports to and from the ECU module. Then test using various high power RF modulation schemes and high power electronic noise generators to prove the new design.

    On a broader scale, the Toyota problem is so elusive that if it were NOT EMI / RFI induced, then I contend we should see many more instances of sudden acceleration among Toyota owners. Same idea with the left / right pedal-confusion / carpet argument - if people were getting the gas & brake pedals mixed up, we should then see a broader problem among ALL drivers on the road regardless of auto manufacturer, since in theory, the standard deviation of a dyslexic populace would be more-or-less evenly distributed among all owners' auto manufacturers rather than every sudden acceleration case being a Toyota vehicle - which seems to be the case. This is not to say that other manufacturers have not had EMI / RFI problems.
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    steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    On Monday, Edmunds announced the advisors for its million-dollar unintended acceleration contest. These advisors will lend their expertise to help Edmunds evaluate contest entries and determine the cause of unintended acceleration. "Recently, prize-driven open innovation initiatives have been shown to be excellent ways to drive real breakthrough solutions to some of the toughest challenges," commented Kevin Stark of NineSigma, Inc., who earned his MS and PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University and is serving as an advisor for the contest.

    Edmunds Announces Advisors for Unintended Acceleration Contest
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    tz2026tz2026 Member Posts: 26
    One of the requirements states: "a well defined testing protocol which allows us to replicate that acceleration under controlled conditions".

    They have likely failed before they have started.

    Software that isn't handling things in real-time is often mind-numbingly complex. Adding a real time component makes it all but impossible to repeat any set of conditions internally. An a complex cascade failure won't be repeatable on demand.

    And these are extremely rare failures - Two in San Diego, but different models, but many identical cars were on the road at nearly the same time (Hence same conditions) and didn't seem to be affected.

    There may be millions of unique states in the software, and maybe a dozen would show the problem, none of which can be easily entered intentionally or directly, under "controlled conditions". Not that anyone is going to be able to see the Software even under an NDA.

    It is like the old joke. Person is looking on the ground under a streetlamp. Man asks "what are you looking for". Person replies "I lost my keys in that dark alley". Man asks "then why are you looking here for them?". Person replies "the light is much better under the streetlamp".

    My first question to anyone on the distinguished panel is if you were personally assigned to determine the cause, would you find rules equivalent of this contest acceptable and reasonable?
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    plektoplekto Member Posts: 3,738
    But as I pointed out, it's actually worse than that, even. The "rules" require it to be verifiable, which means you need a dyno and a full setup to test the car. You need access to the engine diagnostics, the proprietary software(good luck with that one) and so on.

    In essence, it can't be done outside of a major company or university, and even then, their cracking and reverse-engineering the entire process is likely to end them up in court. Individuals, even if they have the correct idea are simply out of luck.

    In short, it's not worth really wasting your time on as you'll never be able to collect on it.
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    stannardsstannards Member Posts: 16
    Please please please extend your efforts to brands other than Toyota. Your forum on Hyundai Santa Fes now has approaching 30 incidents recorded, mostly quite recent, and just the other day someone with mechanical experience reported that in their view these vehicles have a cable run design fault which could cause SUA in any Santa Fe with cruise control and a V6 engine. How can we get the authorities to investigate this worldwide as Hyundai just don't want to know??
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    fwschroederfwschroeder Member Posts: 5
    Where is the Forum you are refering to ?
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    steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    edited May 2010
    Anyone experience Sudden Unintended Acceleration in a Santa Fe is the Hyundai SUA discussion here. There's also one for the Lexus RX 300/330/350 (Unintended Acceleration) and Lumina Unintended Acceleration.

    As it says on the contest link page:

    "Every car company has received complaints from consumers relating to vehicles that suffered unintended acceleration."

    The contest overview page says:

    " For the purposes of the Contest, a "consumer vehicle" means any 2006-2011 factory stock United States light passenger vehicle"
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    plektoplekto Member Posts: 3,738
    I already covered this as well on page #2.

    There is the "Toyota" problem. And there is the larger problem that's plaguing the industry. And the cause is simply that hall effect sensors are an unacceptable technology to be using in this sort of application due to HOW they fail when they actually do fail.

    But nobody is paying attention and there is no reward for figuring that out according to the contest's rules. At least not unless they change it(and in which case I was the first here to figure it out...) hey maybe I get a pat on the back and a letter of thanks - I'm not expecting anything more, really, given how hard Edmunds is making it for normal people to compete. I'd love part of the prize money, of course, but that's pretty much a pipe-dream. They are rewarding a solution that will stand up in court and that they can use to sue Toyota with and not a "solution" to the problem that is plaguing the industry in general.

    ie - solve a billion+ dollar problem for us(if proven, Toyota is for sure going to see a billion dollar plus total bill from the lawsuits) and we'll give you a bit of pocket change... Joy. At least give the people who come up with the idea for the solution first enough to get a better used car or something.

    The solution IS already solved. Don't use purely electronic throttle position sensors. There has to be an analog component in the chain to act as a fail-safe. The entire industry in an effort to turn your cars into remote-controlled-by-the-police-if-necessary(just see the recent GM ads) went too far and forgot to tell the engineers to design the throttle systems around a 100% iron-clad fail-safe mode. Not as some software error-correction routine.

    Nobody ever asked "what happens if everything does fail?" Nobody designed the system with the assumption that it WOULD fail at some point. Kind of like, say, forgetting to put an emergency brake on a new car... I mean, transmissions hardly ever slip out of park. Right? :sick:
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    ponderpointponderpoint Member Posts: 277
    "Every car company has received complaints from consumers relating to vehicles that suffered unintended acceleration."

    Wow.... Shocker.....

    If you go on a witch hunt, maybe you should actually have a witch.
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    srs_49srs_49 Member Posts: 1,394
    If you go on a witch hunt, maybe you should actually have a witch.

    Exactly. I mean, what's the use for a witch hunter if there are no witches to be found :P ?
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    thetruth7thetruth7 Member Posts: 93
    To all of you going on about Hall Effect sensors and other computer related glitches. This has already been studied back in 89 by a blue ribbon panel - see Sussman and Pollard report. I've been fixing cars since I was a kid and can't think of a single electronic failure that couldn't be shown or duplicated in the real world. From radio displays to faulty sensor of any kind they could always be shown to a witness at some point under some conditions. In the Toyota case no one can show a single example. Try focusing on this for a minute. Since electronics have been in cars since roughly 1972 (in Chrysler ignition systems) and tested in small numbers in the 60's, there have been 100's of millions of vehicles produced. Unless you want to look as foolish as Sam Sero I suggest you start providing some real world examples of automotive electronics that have failed the way you say they have.

    We can find one person in over 300 million in 56 hours but no one anywhere can find a single car with a faulty electrical system that causes it to accelerate out of control as has been the suggestion with Toyota? Any person investigating any subject matter would change their focus faced with those facts. We don't need more theories from electronic experts with a slight interest in cars, we need a behavioral psychologist to explain why people will do things with their feet and lie about it after the fact.
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    plektoplekto Member Posts: 3,738
    Unfortunately, since Toyota won't release their code to, well, anyone at all, we have no way to easily replicate the problem. We're forced to either brute-force decompile the code or figure it out without access to the code itself. As you can imagine, this makes it hundreds of times harder if not nearly impossible. And it's not all people making it up, either. Many cases are verified as having happened. Your "theory" sounds completely silly as well. *Everyone* has been lying and making it up?

    You might know cars, but I know computers. And sometimes you'll go for months or weeks until you get the exact right scenario to cause a crash or problem. Often it's not related to the code, either, but a hardware or external fault - like water, ozone or other similar agents causing physical decay, a bad capacitor or noisy/bad power, some faulty sensor, a batch of bad memory, or EM interference. Well, that and the code's inability to deal with the external problem properly. See, with PCs, when things go bad, they just crash. There is almost no failsafe mode on most OSs.(maybe you get lucky and it crashes to the desktop and everything else is still running).

    My guess is that it might be easier to find a U.S. maker that has similar problems and get Congress to force them to hand over the code and figure out why it happens to them as well, then use that to get at Toyota, who does nothing but deny and dodge(and we can't touch as Japan isn't the U.S.).
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    thetruth7thetruth7 Member Posts: 93
    When you had a problem with a computer didn't you verify there was a real problem first? Didn't you replicate the fault yourself or test the machine until it failed in some way? Did you repair computers and replace parts without ever finding a single faulty part? When you did find a fault you could give or describe it to anyone skilled with computers and they could verify your results couldn't they? When there were times you couldn't duplicate the fault in any way did you demand IBM send you their source code?

    Mechanics are trained about the car and it's computer and how to troubleshoot both, I don't believe computer people are trained about cars. Therefore my training includes both, yours is lacking the car part.

    Get around this fact - Toyotas have had ETC since 2002, 40 million vehicles and counting, add in the other manufacturers and it tops 100 million. In all the cars ever made (well over a billion) no one has ever found a single one that had an electrical problem that made a car accelerate out of control by itself and cause an accident. There have been many blue ribbon panels of experts research this problem already and every single one without exception have reached the same conclusion to date - driver error. By any statistical measure you are barking up the wrong tree. I invite you to find a single documented case where trained experts found the vehicle be at fault. I doesn't matter what country or what car, any will do.
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    plektoplekto Member Posts: 3,738
    edited May 2010
    Unfortunately even with repairing computers, it's often an enormous process of trial and error and brute-force swapping of components until you narrow it down.

    But many times, even all of that doesn't replicate the problem reliably. It could be something as obscure as your neighbor's cell phone interacting with some chip on your sound card when it's beyond a certain signal strength. Often times, we just can't figure it out and have to resort to doing a "clean install" and starting over from scratch(nearly 50% of OS problems eventually require this to really properly fix)

    There is no magic in computer repair. That's Hollywood. In real life, fixes are few and reformats and replacing parts is the norm.

    And, it's a lot the same if you deal with Windows. Microsoft doesn't tell you *jack* about its OS so you have to read and try to find it online or just start messing around and maybe get lucky. Since we don't even have access to a machine that can even read the code on these Toyotas, let alone know what to do with it, we're essentially left staring at a computer with no screen or keyboard and wondering why it's not working right.

    Also, you brouhgt up "electrical problem". Well, it's not. What's happening is that the sensor goes bad and the computer software doesn't figure it out and reacts as if it still was getting a proper signal from the broken part.

    The entire problem IS that there is no electrical connection in place. It's a sensor that gives a digital value and a software that interprets the value. A closer analogy would be your optical mouse. If it is getting bad data, there's no way for the computer to know that it went bad. Your mouse just jumps and skips around.

    Now, in a computer that's annoying. In a car at 60mph, that's potentially dangerous. The issue beyond Toyota's problem is that relying on a digital sensor and a computer program alone with no electrical(eg: a potentiometer or resistor or similar) or analog connection(eg: throttle cable) in the chain is absurd when we're talking about brakes, steering, or the accelerator.

    Our biggest problem is that we can't find an original non-recalled one that is defective to mess around with. The ones that have crashed are all in the hands of Toyota or the insurance companies, and they're not telling the public one word about what's really going on.(obviously some press release isn't real news)

    Edmunds seems willing to bet a million dollars that it's a real problem and not just driver error. And Toyota's response of stonewalling on everything and covering it up suggests that it's also not just driver error.

    And that one claim that the driver pressed the brake 255 times is jaw-dropping idiocy not to have noticed. Not 254 or 260 or something, but exactly 255, which points to a computer buffer filling up.(and likely being a lot more) The chances of the driver not pressing anything at all are just as likely, though, because when a digital sensor goes bad or gets stuck, this is exactly what happens. Just hold down your keyboard key for a minute or so. The computer should beep at you eventually - that's the buffer maxing out. But it's programmed to alert you. I wonder if Toyota's system even cares or bothers to check for a buffer overflow.(but again, without the code, we're stuck going nowhere)
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    thetruth7thetruth7 Member Posts: 93
    You and others are still jumping to conclusions. Where is your evidence to support the suggestion that there is any electronic issues? Are there any known faulty sensors sending funny signals? I have research that supports the idea if you swap out the driver with a younger one the problem disappears. That matches your troubleshooting process exactly, does it mean we have solved the problem? Rhonda Smith (the congress complainer) sold her car at 3000 k - the next driver put 30,000 k on it and experienced no problems at all. Did you know that? NHTSA has bought the car from the second owner and has it now - they can't find or replicate her problem either, are they not smart enough? no automotive computer experts on staff?

    What do you mean you can't find a car? Someone in your family surely has a Toyota built in the last 8 years.

    So you still can't point to one car in 100 million that has had any problem such as you suggest - just give us one car example of what you say
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    iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Member Posts: 7,709
    Toyota uh-huh
    Slap-happy engineering
    for the still masses

    2021 Kia Soul LX 6-speed stick

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    tz2026tz2026 Member Posts: 26
    edited May 2010
    First, every auto maker may have had reports of unintended acceleration, but few were reported over several miles and included a 911 call where you could hear it in real time, and the original Toyota case is a CHP officer who you would think would know how to drive. Another case was the 255 presses - he was being tailed and the officer didn't seem to notice the brake light flashing like a strobe.

    Second, few if any are claiming a single electronic glitch. What they are blaming is the rube-goldberg contraption that would be the diagram charting the 100+ step path from anything sensing the brakes to anything which could disable the engine. The contraption usually works. 99.99% of the time. The 0.01% is the problem. And it can be anything along any of the hundreds of steps.

    Third, having some simple and direct system for a cut-off, e.g. the brake cuts power to the fuel pump, though there are probably far more elegant methods would make the problem disappear completely even if we never found a "cause".

    Fourth, it doesn't matter how smart you are. The best Doctor can't do a proper diagnosis without blood tests or CAT or MRI scans when there are few and common externally visible symptoms. It is worse with software in the modules. It has a very large and complex set of code doing hundreds if not thousands of functions. There probably already have been recalls to recalibrate so it wasn't perfect the first time. The circuit diagram and source code are like the information a doctor needs to make a diagnosis. Without being able to look inside, it is like a doctor trying to diagnose an acute abdomen without being able to touch or x-ray or otherwise test the patient. Maybe the analysis will be negative, but you can't know that until you look.

    What I'm personally saying is that if the full information about the signal path was made available (under limited NDA if required) - it could be mathematically provable that there were not just one but several possible internal conditions where pressing the break would not result in de-energization of the engine even if every sensor and actuator worked properly. There is some gap in the contraption that appears only rarely, but when it does it causes the observed behavior.

    I can't know that the complex hardware-software-communication system is the source of the problem, but I resent being told "It can't possibly be there so we won't let you in, look somewhere else".
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    plektoplekto Member Posts: 3,738
    edited May 2010
    What do you mean you can't find a car? Someone in your family surely has a Toyota built in the last 8 years.

    The issue is that we need one that has already had the failure AND never went in for any service or recall despite Toyota's recall being issued.(ie - the person ignored it and never took it in AND it failed AND they never fixed it after-wards or turned it in

    Oh, and I need one plus a dyno so I can test it at real speeds and a set of full test equipment and diagnostic software.(this last part Toyota hasn't even turned over to the U.S. Government - how in the world can any of us hope to obtain it?

    Then again, it was shown by several people online elsewhere that the hall effect sensors can actually fail in predictably catastrophic ways. Toyota does supposedly have code to catch this if it happens. Whether it works properly or not... well... who knows.

    Two things to think about, though. Once you turn the car off and on again, the system resets and any buffer overflow issues reset to a clean state. And there 40 million lines of code in the Windows XP core. There are FIVE TIMES THAT MANY in a Camry's computers.

    Finding that needle in a haystack even with full access to all of the code would take months or years. Without? Impossible, barring literal miracle-level luck. And Toyota knows it. As long as nobody has any access to the code, well, they never will have to pay a dime in wrongful death suits.

    Yet... my point still stands. If the system had a potentiometer it would give constant electrical feedback that could be easily detected. GM uses potentiometers for the most part and while they are far less reliable, there hasn't been a single case of this in any of their cars. That said, there have been tens of thousands of cases where the throttle is jittery, not working right, and so on - and the solution is to get the part replaced. They give plenty of warning before they fail or are dead-simple to detect if they physically break. The car goes into "limp home mode" and the sensor gets replaced. It's annoying but not potentially lethal.

    Toyota and others thought that they could use a hall effect setup because it would last longer. And thereby cause fewer warranty claims. It looked good until you realize that it's dangerous in a worst-case scenario, unlike the other two technologies, which are not.(ie - a throttle cable simply can't cause this scenario even if everything went horribly wrong)
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    ponderpointponderpoint Member Posts: 277
    The Salem Witch Trials..... Historic.

    Motor Vehicles accelerating out of control..... Historic.

    I guess my "simplistic" viewpoint of this whole thread is that unintended acceleration is nothing new.

    As anyone researched the whole unintended acceleration throughout automotive history? I think some people want this to be a new digital age phenomenon with the associated excitement but it's nothing new.....
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