Unintended Acceleration - Find the Cause

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Comments

  • srs_49srs_49 Member Posts: 1,394
    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.

    But, Hall effect position/rotation sensors are no different in that respect. They put out a constant (low) voltage so long as they are powered, and that voltage is proportional to the rotation of the sensor in the magnetic field - just like a potentiometer. The main difference, IIRC, is the voltage out of a Hall effect sensor itself is a lot lower than what you usually get from a pot connected to a (say) 5V voltage source. But, most Hall effect sensors come with some integrated signal conditioning/amplification electronics, usually in form of an IC, which produces a more easily used signal range, 0 to +2.5V for instance.
  • thetruth7thetruth7 Member Posts: 93
    I noticed you didn't give any automotive real world examples of your theory from any manufacturer yet -

    Your statement "What's happening is that the sensor goes bad and the computer software doesn't figure it out" is completely unsupported by any facts whatsoever. Please share your source for your "bad sensor" claim we'd love to see it.

    You have simply committed the fallacy of taking a number of similar complaints about a certain event and assumed they must be true without any independent verification whatsoever and then created a theory to fit the complaints.
  • busirisbusiris Member Posts: 3,490
    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.

    No offence here, but that "logic" is starting to sound a lot like another conspiracy theory. After all, that's the "conspiracy theorists" mantra... "If the (government/company, etc.) would simply show us all their information, then we could show you the proof... but since they haven't shown us the information (ie., the proof), then, by default, they must be hiding it from us and attempting a cover-up".

    Surely, if the problem is as widespread as many would like us to believe, a a fair number/percentage of these vehicles would still have the issue of unintended acceleration, whether or not they had been back to the repair shop or not.

    Of course, that isn't to say that some cars have a problem...No doubt, there are valid cases of unintended acceleration, but more likely due to unique circumstances related to that particular vehicle.

  • plektoplekto Member Posts: 3,738
    edited May 2010
    Well, let's check it out - first Toyota does a recall and replaces defective sensor units. But the problem is still happening. In fact, an engineer(check Google) has done an analysis of the fail-safe capabilities of Toyota's implementation and found them to be crap. Another one managed to trick the sensors into giving false data.

    So the sensor has to be part of the equation. But, it's still happening even on some units that weren't part of the recall.

    That leaves one cause. The software. There's nothing left for it to possibly be since the entire CAR is run by software. Now, my solution wasn't addressing Toyota so much as the industry in general.

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/exclusive-ttac-takes-apart-both-toyota-gas-peda- - - - ls/

    Here is the first page that addresses the issue. You can see several obvious design flaws in the system.

    http://darisnliz.hsbeads.com/2010/02/03/toyota-pedal-design-e-gas-and-potentiome- - - - ters-vs-hall-effect-position-sensors/
    Here is an analysis of the issue. But I was stating this almost a week earlier here at Edmunds. The larger issue is that hall effect sensors *can* fail in a way that results in a bad reading. A potentiometer will either simply short out or fail to give a signal AND it will give lots of warning signs of wearing out due to age or use. A throttle cable, well, it's so dead-simple that there's no issue at all.

    Seriously read the second link. He does a better analysis than what I did, but the result is the same as mine was. Toyota's system would never be used for anything that NASA or the military uses. Because the fail-safe isn't fail-*safe*. Kinda or Sorta doesn't cut it when people's safety is on the line.

    CAN magnetic sensors work? Sure. But there's a reason they are a bad idea is electronic control systems for anything that has the ability to crash or go out of control. Not when a simple cable never has a problem.
  • bogeymaniibogeymanii Member Posts: 2
    to: thetruth7,
    I have a 2008xk jag that I have experienced FOUR incidents of sudden unintended acceleration. It has not been damaged; only because of my driving experience and quick reaction. Three times in city traffic stopping behind traffic after starting to brake, engine revved up and moved forward against braking. Shifting out of gear did not stop movement. Turning ignition off was only solution. FOURTH incident was sitting still in driveway,engine running,gear in reverse, foot firmly on brake; the vehicle engine suddenly accelerated. I contained the vehicle with brake until I could shut engine down. It left black rubber and skidmarks from both rear tires on driveway! Jaguar will DO NOTHING, won't acknowledge problem. I would like to participate in the million dollar reward if someone could diagnose my vehicle problem!!!!
  • thetruth7thetruth7 Member Posts: 93
    Your third misleading statement - (your first was NHTSA not having EDR readers, your second was stating there was/is proof of faulty sensors) "first Toyota does a recall and replaces defective sensor units." Completely false. Check the recall 09V388000 on NHTSA for the 08 Camry and you'll find absoulutely no where do they mention replacing the sensor assembly. You asked us to "check it out" and I did - So you still not established any factual basis for blaming a sensort of any kind have you? You intentionally did not mention the engineers name you refer to and could have very easily - It's Dr. Gilbert - the same disgraced tech teacher who's theories have been debunked as wild speculation and was being paid by a lawyers representitive. Funny he seems to have disappeared from view since.

    Could you please explain or give an example of exactly how and in which way a Hall Effect sensor could fail in a maneer that will signal and maintain full throttle for 10 or more seconds? Crossing a few corroded wires perhaps?

    Again, if you have some valid proof of a defective hall Effect sensor other than a faulty conclusion please share your source for it. A TSB, a recall anything that could be verified.
  • plektoplekto Member Posts: 3,738
    edited May 2010
    It was all over the news that Toyota was recalling specific units made by CTS and replacing them with different units made by Denso. Toyota says they are the same, but the first link I provided shows that they are completely different inside. It is effectively a replacement and not a bad batch, since the pictures of both being taken apart show that they are physically different. They also tried refitting a metal bar to decrease the pressure on the mechanism as an alternative to swapping the entire thing. I guess it works(for now - it just decreases wear but doesn't eliminate it), but both still point to Toyota being concerned about the pedal/sensor mechanism. You can find this online by following the first link I provided and going to the person's 2nd, 3rd, and 4th (follow-up) reports on the subject. If you actually read it rather than skim it, and look at the pictures, even a 5th grader can tell that they're different from each other in several significant ways.

    But let's get to the actual crux of the problem. It's a plain and simple fact that Hall Effect sensors require a redundant unit as a fail-safe and Toyota's implementation, while present(there is a second sensor) isn't actually a complete second independent sensor system. There are a couple of points where they share the same electrical or signal path before they reach the computer and that means that the system really has no way to tell if the sensor went bad aside from the software. Not 100% of the time.

    Any beginning engineer would look at the wiring diagram and those pictures and say that it's not a proper implementation of a fail-safe system because it's not completely independent . Simple logic dictates that either the sensor is bad or the software. Since the sensors have design problems and physical differences from each other, we can't rule that out as a potential cause.

    Also, you wanted an example of how it could fail. One is a simple buffer overload which would take several second potentially to clear. The fact that that case had exactly a 255 value points to an 8-bit chip or computer somewhere in the chain. These are notoriously slow and I can verify that on older systems like an Atari 800 or Apple IIe or similar, if you overflowed the keyboard buffer, it would take several seconds to clear.

    Also, as the previous poster pointed out, the three times it happened to him, he had to turn off the key. This in his case points to a computer crash and his having to manually reboot it.(exactly the same as when your PC crashes in a game and the same sound sample endlessly gets stuck or repeats until you kill the program or reboot).

    The sensor? Well, everything in the Universe eventually fails. The question is what happens when these sensors do go bad? The answer is you get output values that are all over the place or that are stuck at a specific value because it had a physical fault and is stuck. The only fail-safe once that does happen is the software shutting down the system like it should.

    As for the computers, no, we're not talking EDR readers. That just shows how little you know about what's going on. We're talking access to Toyota's source code which Toyota is claiming that they only have one machine in the U.S. that can access it.(which they aren't producing) All of this is made harder by the fact that the entire OS for their vehicles is flashed onto chips much like your CMOS in your computer is. It's horrendously hard to access the underlying code for that even on a typical PC where you have full access. I'm not talking about accessing the BIOS, or ever re-flashing it, either, but the actual machine code underneath it - and reproducing it in some easy to view manner so it can be analyzed. With Toyota not giving us their tools to do so, we're stuck staring at magical mystery chips.

    This goes way beyond EDR readers. But without Toyota's cooperation in the matter, we're out of luck and will never likely be able to prove anything. That's why I keep bringing it up that the larger issue isn't anything to do with Toyota at all but that the industry is using a technology that can potentially fail in a bad way and needs to stop using it. Just go back to a throttle cable and stop turning cars into video games.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457
    edited May 2010
    It's Dr. Gilbert - the same disgraced tech teacher who's theories have been debunked as wild speculation and was being paid by a lawyers representative.

    Sounds like you've been reading the Exponet press releases - you know, the firm of experts hired by Toyota's lawyers to put their own slant on things.

    Dr. Gilbert still shows up on the faculty page at the Automotive Division at the Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Doesn't seem to be in any disgrace to me. And I suspect he'll show up as an expert witness when the lawsuits get to the trial stage; he's probably already giving depositions.

    What I understand is that Gilbert was able to cause a voltage fault in the throttle position sensors that didn't get recorded by the computer. He never said that his example was the root cause of SUA. Disgraceful eh? Bah.

    Attacking individuals like this instead of attacting the facts is a poor substitute for getting to the truth, imo.
  • bogeymaniibogeymanii Member Posts: 2
    Message for (carguyfrank),
    Don't show your ignorance by opening your mouth unless you have experienced this unINTENDED acceleration!! Hopefully, some day, without serious result, you have the "pleasure" of your vehicle going WOT with your foot on the brake(both feet), with the car surging forward against 200 pounds of human panic, and then shift into NEUTRAL while the car continues to go forward!! And only after you manage to kill the engine will you STOP.
    "Experts" = a drip under pressure.
  • thetruth7thetruth7 Member Posts: 93
    It seems you rely on the "news" for your research. "All over the news..." Gathering your facts from CNN and ABC isn't going to get you very far in a court. Your fourth false statement to date. Denso pedals where used in the recalled Toyotas is a completely false suggestion to make since no such thing was ever done under a recall.
    All the changes made under the recall (if you read the source documents on NHTSA) are aimed clearly at driver error - brake overide, reshape the bottom of the pedal and reshape the floor. Where do you get the idea its "pointing" to the sensor from those changes clearly listed in the recall? Clearly you are ignoring what has actually occurred, You then adopt this as a fact and continue on your argument about the differences basing it all on your faulty conclusions. It's truly amazing.

    You still didn't provide any real world auto examples of the type of sensor failures you've been talking about. Certainly SAE must have studies or papers on your theories? I know NHTSA and DOT have ones on driver error and brake pedal misapplication, I could list them if you provide some of your own.

    If you are afraid of ETC systems you'd better stay away from all jets, trains and cars since most have eletronic computer controlled throttles.
  • busirisbusiris Member Posts: 3,490
    edited May 2010
    While I wouldn't say Dr. Gilbert is disgraced in any way, the point, as I read it, was that ...yes, external artificial stimulus injected into the electronic circuitry can alter the intended performance of the circuit and cause it to do unpredictable things. However, as I read the report from Exponent, no evidence could be found that such conditions actually exists or existed in the real world environment... ie., in the automobile.

    I haven't seen any response from Dr. Gilbert that conflicts with that opinion. There may be a response from him that does exactly that, but I haven't seen it.

    Therefore, even if he were to testify in a trial, its doubtful that his testimony would carry any significant weight as to how UA could have happened...that is, unless he (or someone else) can show how the external forces were indeed present in the vehicle at the time of an UA event.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457
    external artificial stimulus

    Like, say, dampness?

    The point of his exercise was that he could induce a fault that wasn't recorded by the computer.
  • plektoplekto Member Posts: 3,738
    Wow you really didn't read what I wrote. I wrote that the CTS (defective) units were replaced with good Denso units and written off as a "bad batch". Yet, when experts took the two apart and compared them, they realized that they were two entirely different mechanisms with more than a dozen structural and component differences. Toyota right there lied and then kept on lying about many other things.

    Toyota's claims of driver error, floor mats(had to laugh at that one) and other idiocy is part of a clear pattern of blaming it on anything but themselves. They built the car and all they can come up with is "not our fault". Well, Ford tried that with the Pinto and GM with their faulty cruise controls and so on in the past. What makes you think Toyota is any different in wanting to blow smoke and cover their rear ends when it's hitting the fan?

    Interesting note - I heard on NPR today an expert who brought up in a talk about government control over industry this issue and he said that the NHTSA doesn't even have people on its staff that understand the basics of electronic systems. These are a bunch of paper pushing brearucrats and not computer engineers. Cars are now heavily computerized and the supposed watchdogs of the industry are still operating as if it's 1980. The NHTSA are woefully uninformed in this area and are apt to believe whatever Toyota's "experts" tell them because they don't do programming or engineering themselves.

    Also, the ETC systems on aircraft are properly safeguarded and redundant. And they have data recorders to double-check after any accident. Passenger cars are not properly redundant nor do they have data recorders. There's a massive difference between the two in the level of safety and careful engineering and it just goes to show how little you really understand about that's involved here.
  • busirisbusiris Member Posts: 3,490
    edited May 2010
    Maybe you have some information that I have't seen. Exactly where did dampness enter into his research and testing?

    In my 55 years of experience, and to my knowledge, it is reasonably impossible to design a system that will prove 100% effective in every possible circumstance.

    But, I do agree that Toyota should never have made the statements that suggested all conceivable faults would be recorded. That, however, is no "smoking gun" supporting UA in their products, in and of itself.

    I have no "dog in the Toyota hunt". Whether or not their vehicles are subject to self-induced UA has yet to be determined. Personally, I have yet to see any evidence, other than anecdotal, that demonstrates a failure of their equipment.

    In a more dire scenario, things like this make me wonder about the ability of any society to continue down the path of technological progress.

    Personally, I recently took delivery of a 2010 BMW 328i with iDrive. Understanding the technological capabilities of this car takes some time and some study. For example, there are around 100 separate voice-actuated commands available. And, that's just the voice command structure - a small piece of the "pie". It takes a while to get a handle on all the features available.

    I can easily see how the advent of new technology in cars is creating 2 new problems...

    1- Just the sheer complexity of integrating all the systems and features...
    and
    2- The ability of the average driver to comprehend the systems available to them. Getting a driver's license requires painfully little understanding of a modern vehicle in order to get a permit to operate it.

    Not to create my own little "conspiracy theory", but I often wonder what will happen if we continue down this path, building a technology "pyramid" when only a few at the top really understand all the aspects of the machinery we have created.

    As an example, most modern commercial copiers built in this century have an embedded hard drive that stores every image copied on the machine. Few copier operators are aware of this, so when the copier is replaced, all those images (read - potentially sensitive information) go with it...to who knows where. Painfully few of those hard drives are ever "swiped" before going to the resale market. So, those sensitive documents you copied at Kinko's are still residing on the machine, years after the copies were made.

    And, its only going to get more complex....
  • thetruth7thetruth7 Member Posts: 93
    Sure I have read Exponents research and Gilbert's testimony, I'd expect anyone giving an opinion on them to read both and much more.

    I apologize if I have offended anyone's sensibilities here. I should have said it the way this gentleman put it in a Washington Post article;

    “Toyota really chipped away at the evidence provided by Dr. Gilbert during the congressional hearings, Toyota demonstrated today that Gilbert’s hardware test does not provide a uniform probable cause for all unintended acceleration claims.

    Who is the gentleman who made this comment? You may have heard of him, award winning Edmund's Senior Editor Bill Visnic.

    Again I apologize, I should have said automotive instructor David Gilbert has had his SUA theory discredited by a well known automotive authority with whom I'm in agreement. I was at all times referring to his work on Toyota SUA not his physical appearance etc. So I take exception to your insinuation that I was attacking him personally and not his work.

    A determination of credibility based on a persons work and public statements must be made in each case where someone voluntarily puts themselves in the public eye, otherwise we just end up spreading nonsense theories to each other and that doesn't further the cause of truth at all. I'm sure you'd agree
  • thetruth7thetruth7 Member Posts: 93
    This is exactly correct. There have been broken engine mounts on GM's back in the early seventies (in the millions) that caused SUA, sticking throttle plates from icing and carbon build up etc. But to date - (and I would dearly love to be the one to find it) there has never been a single investigation that proved an electronic fault of any kind caused a car to accelerate out of control and cause an accident by itself.
  • thetruth7thetruth7 Member Posts: 93
    You know your American automotive history I'm happy to say. You're right. All the things being said today were said 24 years ago in the Audi case. Including scared women on national TV claiming a car killed someone (google Kristi Bradosky) to someone who claimed it almost killed them, (Rhonda Smith). Three years later a blue ribbon team proved Audi's claim that the car was not the fault. No one could produce a faulty Audi or part back then - just like today, so CBS rigged one to show on TV, just like ABC did today with Gilbert's test.
  • thetruth7thetruth7 Member Posts: 93
    Firstly you have to accept two possibilities. 1. Your car is defective. I'll do a little research on your car and get back to you - tsb's, recalls, complaints etc. 2. Depending on your age,(50 +) mileage on the car (low) frequency of use (low) transmission type (auto) and a driving record (clean for 30 years) you statistically cannot rule out driver error. You can check out my video "shielded gas pedal" on youtube and make a shield yourself in the meantime or give the vehicle to someone younger for a few weeks and see if they have any issues with it.You need to rule yourself in or out for your own safety and that of passengers. In the mean time I'll check out this Jag for defects.
  • thetruth7thetruth7 Member Posts: 93
    Dampness, moisture, humidity? Do you think these things are mysteries to investigators and researchers? You do know every car manufacturer on the planet has weather chamber that produces all these effects don't you? It would be a simple matter to subject a car to these environmental conditions if that's all it took to prove a transient short circuit. The dampness and disappearing evidence was a favorite theory of Sam Sero, back in the 80's a hired court expert. He didn't get anywhere with it in court when faced with the fact he could never find a real world example of his theory.
  • busirisbusiris Member Posts: 3,490
    edited May 2010
    Well, I agree.

    While Dr. Gilbert did successfully show that an error condition could possibly miss detection, he did nothing in the arena to promote the possibility of widespread UA in Toyota vehicles. So far, all he has done is to prove Toyota's statement incorrect in that all error conditions are detected. No doubt, the folks in charge of Toyota's PR dept. wish that statement had never been made in quite the way it was.

    For many, there is no difference between the two, but for the scientifically inclined, they are apples and oranges. It is demonstratively impossible to prove a negative...

    Absence of innocence in and of itself does not prove guilt. That's why our court system convicts folks based upon "guilt beyond a reasonable doubt", not "innocent beyond a reasonable doubt".
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457
    edited May 2010
    years later a blue ribbon team proved Audi's claim that the car was not the fault.

    Automotive history is apparently still being written. The original Audi case was back before the jury after two decades of appeals back in October. I haven't read anything about it recently.

    The Swedish government, unlike the US, Japan and Canada, blamed Audi SUA on the cruise control btw.

    I haven't checked my links lately to see if they still work.

    (And thanks for your comments about Dr. Gilbert).
  • thetruth7thetruth7 Member Posts: 93
    You really are having difficulty with the facts. Again you claim "CTS (defective) units were replaced with good Denso units" This is completely false and lacks any basis in fact whatsoever. Toyota, according to NHTSA (recall 09V388000) never did any such thing and your simply quoting a TV news story were they got their research wrong. Your whole argument rests on statements like this.

    The floor mat was a real hazard and was found to be the cause in the Saylor Lexus crash - read the official police report yourself here - http://autos.aol.com/gallery/saylor-crash-report/ there was also a DOT investigation concluding the same thing exactly but you laugh at official investigative reports from government agencies?

    Your question - "What makes you think Toyota is any different.." Seems your knowledge of automotive history with respect to "sudden acceleration" is woefully lacking. The most publicized automotive example in history (till now) of this exact subject we are discussing was the Audi 5000 - they claimed the same thing as Toyota - "its not the car" - pretty close analogy don't you think? Do you have a better analogy or example? The blue ribbon panel of experts that investigated the Audi issued a report in 89 stating it wasn't the car - it was brake pedal. misapplication. So to answer your question - that's what makes me think this is different than Ford Pintos and GM.

    As far as airplanes go my knowledge is limited beyond the fact that they use the ETC systems - but I do recall that the air speed sensors were replaced on all AirBus planes after the Air France crash in the ocean from Brazil last year. Come to think of it I believe they checked other planes and found faulty sensors.

    So can you or can you not provide a real world example of a faulty Hall effect sensor such as you describe?
  • thetruth7thetruth7 Member Posts: 93
    I'm glad you mentioned the Audi case - we need more information on it since I believe history will repeat itself.

    About the Audi case you mentioned. It may interest people to know (if we are talking about the same Illinois court case) that this particular suit has had its original claims amended (claims changed) six times. The case initially claimed that there were defective parts or systems that caused the car to accelerate by itself (just like Toyota is facing today) when other similar court cases at the time started to fail with the same claims the plaintiffs changed (amended) their claims from defective parts to defective design, an entirely different strategy. The original claims tried to prove faulty parts/systems but it never held up in court so they changed the claim to defective design and used the Sussman and Pollard report (the blue ribbon panel I referred to) as proof the brake and gas pedal position/size was the cause.

    This case essentially now proves that the original complainants changed there well publicized claims that the car had defective systems (mechanical electrical btw just like Toyota today) to a claim where they admit committing brake pedal misapplication because of a defect in the pedal design. source - http://www.classactionprofessor.com/CAFA_cases/InreAudi.pdf

    The Audi case cannot be forgotten - too many people don't know the whole story, if they did they would completely change their position and cut Toyota the proper amount of slack.
  • thetruth7thetruth7 Member Posts: 93
    Your vehicle has a cruise control defect TSB ref # JTB00086 - get this checked out right away
  • beegee3beegee3 Member Posts: 1
    I have worked for Toyota for over 20 years on the front line and looking at every complaint possible. I am no scientist or educated nut about electronics. All I know is in 20 years I had never had a complaint about a gas pedal sticking until the news media got a hold and bashed Toyota. Only thing I can go by is experience and I do not see any problems with these cars. I would like to say as well I have drove more Toyotas then anyone here on this forum and have never experienced any gas pedal issues.
  • busirisbusiris Member Posts: 3,490
    Great posting.

    From the amended complaint....

    Sixth Am. Compl. ¶ 27.5 The supplement identifies the following design or manufacturing defects:
    (a) the break and gas pedal placement and separation;
    (b) defects in the Idle valve or high idling in general;
    (c) the similarities between the shape and size of the gas pedal and the break pedal;
    (d) failure to install the shift lock system;
    (e) the floor mat design or ill fitting floor mats;
    (f) the break pedal’s inability to override the accelerator when pressure was applied
    to both pedals simultaneously


    Now, to me, that pretty much deletes vehilce induced UA from the complaint. I guess its all in the "eye of the beholder"....

    Gotta hand it to the lawyers....If nothing else, they are certainly persisting in their efforts...
  • ponderpointponderpoint Member Posts: 277
    I wrote it before, I'll write it again.

    The most dangerous thing people will do before the day runs out is.....

    Drive from point A. to point B.

    It's a normal mundane daily task and has become a "consumer item" of convenience.

    IT IS NOT!

    It involves machinery that is capable of incredible disaster and mayhem and people treat cars like kleenex these days, once it runs out buy another one. They can't even be bothered to casually glance into the owners manual.

    When something goes wrong or is "perceived" to go wrong (unintended acceleration) and they slam into the back of a minivan it is, of course,
    somebody elses fault..... Ah, The witch hunt begins.

    The witch everybody is hunting for is the modern American Hyper Consumer that can't be bothered to treat incredibly dangerous machinery with respect anymore.

    Geez, my Pinto just blew up in flames, I better text the emergency responders!!!
  • busirisbusiris Member Posts: 3,490
    edited May 2010
    It involves machinery that is capable of incredible disaster and mayhem and people treat cars like kleenex these days, once it runs out buy another one. They can't even be bothered to casually glance into the owners manual.

    When something goes wrong or is "perceived" to go wrong (unintended acceleration) and they slam into the back of a minivan it is, of course,
    somebody elses fault..... Ah, The witch hunt begins.

    The witch everybody is hunting for is the modern American Hyper Consumer that can't be bothered to treat incredibly dangerous machinery with respect anymore.


    You've hit the nail on the head....

    We live in an environment that spends more time showing a clerk at McDonalds how to use a cash register (with pictures on the keys) than a new car dealer does explaining the features (many of them quite complex) of a new car to its new owner.

    As an example, many BMW owners now complain about the lack of an oil dipstick on new models, but I understand why BMW has done it....Only a small percentage of the driving population knows how to check the oil level using a dipstick....or check the air pressure in their tires (ergo, tire pressuse monitoring systems).... and even less actually check these things.

    The list goes on and on.

    Look at the warning labels on a new hair dryer..."Do not use in the shower".

    Really?!?!? Is that necessary?

    But, one thing is for sure....

    If something bad happens to you, its always someone else's fault....and, some amount of money will make it all "OK".

    The real problem arises when someone actually has been harmed by a truly defective product, tries to get restitution in some form... and is viewed by many as one looking for a free ride.

    Welcome to modern America....
  • srs_49srs_49 Member Posts: 1,394
    Automotive history is apparently still being written. The original Audi case was back before the jury after two decades of appeals back in October. I haven't read anything about it recently

    From what I was able to gather about the Audi UAE's, the results of the investigation were never made public. They were sealed (under a court order, maybe to protect the guilty), with the long term results being that no lessons learned came out of those investigations for future automotive designers to take advantage of. Think I mentioned this in an earlier post.
  • Steve EliasSteve Elias Member Posts: 2,207
    srs, i don't recall the audi situation being sealed/coverup in any way.
    i recall that there was no defect unless you consider a centimeter offset of brake-pedal placement a cause/defect.
    instead the cause was determined to be driver error in each/every individual case. also, very small/insufficient sample-size compared to the toyota situation today.

    soon there ought to be some statistical data that can be shown
    to be consistent/inconsistent with toyota having already found/fixed the cause(s) of their vehicles' UA. ?
  • thetruth7thetruth7 Member Posts: 93
    Its a common myth the investigation was sealed, never made public, etc. ...completely false. The biggest study ever done on the issue and used in SUA court cases all the time (to prove there is no such thing as true SUA) is called "An Examination of Sudden Acceleration" and was published in 1989. If only half the people discussing this issue today had bothered to read it we'd have the real cause determined (again) and lots of working solutions by this point. Please get your copy here;

    http://www.autosafety.org/nhtsa-study-examination-sudden-acceleration-jan-1989
  • tz2026tz2026 Member Posts: 26
    If there are such things as witches, and they are going around causing death and destruction, there is reason to stop them. But that is the question.

    I do believe that ALL cases involving Audi 20 years ago were driver error. They had pedals placed close, and much of the SUA was when starting like in the Garage.

    Toyota is different. I can't believe a CHP officer while talking over 911 for miles can't find the right pedal. Nor someone else on a road only a few miles away. And Toyota says they hit the brakes several times - either the computer is right but the brakes failed to stop the car, or they are wrong and the brakes weren't applied, or were applied and did not stop the car.

    I don't think others might be the same cause, but the "drive by wire" does worry me - I have no evidence they are using advanced fault and safety analysis in their modules (required by law for railroads and medical devices).

    Playing Sherlock Holmes - when you eliminate all other possibilities, the remaining one, however unlikely, must be the cause. I can't really do that since the software and to some extent the electronics in the modules are a "black box".

    That black box might be a highly tuned, carefully vetted, as safe as humanly possible piece of master engineering. Or it might be a bunch of software bailing wire and duct-tape. I don't know, but I've seen actual module code from other manufacturers and it is closer to the latter.

    I am not finding it guilty, but I do suspect the place where everyone is saying I can't look.
  • thetruth7thetruth7 Member Posts: 93
    "I can't believe a CHP officer ..." - I can't believe over 10 fellow CHP officers who investigated their fellow officer's death would leave out the computer system if that was the cause of the crash, or that a second investigation by the DOT would do the same or that both investigations would point to the floor mat as the cause.

    The fact is the same vehicle had an SUA problem three days before and it went unreported. The fact is the wrong floor mat jammed the pedal every time it was tested. The fact is the distance between where he picked the vehicle up and where he crashed was much shorter than most people imagine. The fact is the EDR was too badly damaged by fire to read. The facts are here if you'd like to read them;

    http://autos.aol.com/gallery/saylor-crash-report/
  • busirisbusiris Member Posts: 3,490
    Please do youself a service and learn the details about the CHP officer incident.

    No offense intended here, but its very clear from your comments that all you have is "hearsay" information...and much of it incorrect.

    While there may indeed be some sort of gremlin in Toyotas causing UA, or there may not be.... there is a significant amount of history and factual information on this specific vehicle.

    A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.... especially what that little bit of knowledge is completely erroneous.
  • plektoplekto Member Posts: 3,738
    edited May 2010
    But, there's an issue here with the Audi lawsuit, which is that they were not dealing with a completely computer controlled throttle and braking system.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correlation_does_not_imply_causation

    The sheer number of logical errors and conclusions that people make on this site is amazing.(the above article covers more than a dozen types of logical fallacies)

    Every case is unique, and because none in the past have been proven to be the real thing does not mean anything at all about this time. This is why so many people also lose their shirts in Vegas. They simply don't understand that what happened in the past has no impact on the present when all of the variables have changed. It may look like the same outcome, but simply by the fact that these are some of the first completely computer controlled throttle and braking system(both in the same car), it's a whole new scenario.

    What worries me is that everything goes into a computer and it essentially drives the car for you, controlling the brakes and acceleration. Toyota is essentially saying that their software can't be at fault but they won't hand it over to be looked at. Then they claim it's all driver error.

    But the problem is that the issue of software and how it interacts with the hardware never was adequately addressed. Toyota said "trust us" and refused to give us any real data to back that claim up. So until they do, it remains a potential factor. And, for anyone who knows even a little bit about computers or engineering, a very worrying one at that.
  • busirisbusiris Member Posts: 3,490
    edited May 2010
    The sheer number of logical errors and conclusions that people make on this site is amazing.(the above article covers more than a dozen types of logical fallacies)

    Thats correct.

    Lets apply that idea to the Toyota situation for a minute.

    First, the work that Dr. Gilbert produced. While he was correct in showing an unexpected input to a circuit could result in an unexpected (and unsensed, therefore non-recorded) result, how does that actually relate to the UA condition?

    Well, probably none at all. Most sensor based code works on the premise that an execution happens ONLY if an expected input has been received. In the case of Dr. Gilbert's work, he was able to produce an unexpected input that wasn't recognized....therefore, the action that would be based on this erroneous input would probably be .... NOTHING. I can't imagine any modern software used on a product at this level not reverting to "safe" (ie., non-executing) mode based upon any recognized but unintelligible input. Of course, any non-recognized input would have absolutely no effect whatsoever.

    Maybe Toyota is different... None of us knows that answer. Personally, however, I doubt the Toyota engineers are that stupid.

    Secondly, those that think Toyota lied when it said no inputs could happen that would not be recorded. Most folks of the engineering persuasion would understand that comment in the context of the circuit, as it was designed and constructed. An analogy might be useful here. I'm sure that GE would tell you that there is no way one of their alarm clocks could ever explode. Yet, disconnect the buzzer, hook up those wires to a blasting cap and dynamite, and....Oooops! Explosive alarm clock. In essence, that is the very same thing Dr. Gilbert did in his experiment. He introduced an input into the circuit that would not be anticipated in the real world.

    Unless (or until) he or someone else can produce such a condition as Dr. Gilbert did without intentionally tampering with the circuitry, under real-world conditions, then the test is, for all intents and purposes...meaningless.

    Third, the idea that the US government has no ability to force Toyota to show its software source code. Absolutely FALSE. The US is their largest market, and if its is deemed by the government that they are selling unsafe products or not meeting prescribed standards as required by law, sales can be halted.

    Don't you think that might get a copy of the source code?

    If you don't believe sales can be halted because of government-set conditions, why did the air cooled VW Beetle disappear from the US market?

    Lastly, if the situation was reversed, do you think Ford or GM would happily hand over their proprietary software code to a foreign country? What do you think would happen if, say... Japan claimed that drinking Coke was causing deaths in their country, and demanded Coke give them their recipe?

    No company is simply going to hand over proprietary information without sound reasoning. I wouldn't, and I doubt any corporate CEO would, either.

    I'll say once again... I have no idea whether there is electronically induced UA in Toyota products, sensor error caused UA, or for that matter, any UA at all. I don't have access to enough material to make that judgment, and I suspect no one on this forum does, either.

    What I DO know, however, is that, by far, the vast majority of posters on forums such as this make their very first comment with an already pre-conceived notion of what the facts are, and very, very few ever change their position, regardless what facts eventually get presented.

    As a famous Senator once said, "You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts!".
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457
    I can't imagine any modern software used on a product at this level not reverting to "safe" (ie., non-executing) mode based upon any recognized but unintelligible input.

    And that seems to happen to us all the time. Our computers hang or the cell phone cuts off or the navigation system has to be reset. All for no good reason and often there's no way to reproduce the error. So the system goes into non-executing mode and the keyboard quits working.

    Or the shift by wire won't go to neutral.

    Or the throttle input pegs.

    That's the nice thing about not being an engineer - you can observe stuff acting weird without knowing that it absolutely can't happen. :shades:
  • thetruth7thetruth7 Member Posts: 93
    Sorry - you seem to have made an error in logic, ironic as that sounds since you started talking about everyone's mistakes in logic. Your error? You clearly inferred that the Audi investigation didn't reach the conclusion the car was the problem and that SUA is caused by a car defect and not driver error when you said "none in the past have proven to be the real thing" "Real Thing"? Your choice of words betrays you. The definition of "real" is something that is widely accepted to be valid, true, not imaginary. By "Thing" you obviously are referring to is SUA or the cause of SUA. The former is currently a fact and the latter ("cause") was also established as a fact in the Audi case that has not be disproved in over 24 years by the scientific study "An Examination of Sudden Acceleration"

    Your error in logic? You can't begin an argument with a conclusion that SUA is caused by a defect in the vehicle since this simply has never been established as a fact in the Audi or any other case and you did just that when you said "real thing"

    What you are doing is simply challenging an established set of facts. I for one wish you all the luck. A real world example of an Audi or Toyota would most certainly bring the current set of facts into the realm of discarded truths, of this, there is no question. The rest of us are simply defending the current set of facts in one manner or another, something that needs to be done in any academic argument otherwise we'd be living in a world completely lacking in factual information, don't you agree?
  • thetruth7thetruth7 Member Posts: 93
    I must have seen this computer analogy a hundred times and not once has it been correct. Why? yes we have all had computers that malfunctioned but in each case we could easily (given enough time) have filmed the malfunction, shown it to 10 other people, delivered it back to HP for them to see or given it to grandma or Bill Gates and let them experience it. In short, in the vast majority of computer malfunctions we can easily demonstrate the problem over and over and verify it scientifically a hundred ways to Sunday.

    If you haven't noticed yet, in the Toyota case no single individual complaint can be repeated filmed or verified by any other individual or expert, hence the analogy is faulty.
  • busirisbusiris Member Posts: 3,490
    edited May 2010
    That's the nice thing about not being an engineer - you can observe stuff acting weird without knowing that it absolutely can't happen.

    A perfect example of what I stated earlier....

    Formulate the opinion (not a theory - big difference), then attempt to justify it without any substantiating evidence.

    No one said it can't happen. However, there isn't any solid substantiated evidence that it HAS happened.

    I may not be a degreed engineer, but at least I do understand the scientific method, along with a few others here.

    Simply coming up with wild theories about a condition does not constitute proof, no matter how badly one wishes to believe it to be so...
  • plektoplekto Member Posts: 3,738
    First, the work that Dr. Gilbert produced. While he was correct in showing an unexpected input to a circuit could result in an unexpected (and unsensed, therefore non-recorded) result, how does that actually relate to the UA condition?

    He fell into the trap that many researchers do. Namely, he extrapolated a result from the data. The only thing that he shows us was that if the sensor was faulty, it could easily trick the computer into believing something else was happening.

    He should have left it at that. Any good engineer would have and move on, but he wanted his fifteen minutes of fame and well, the rest was history as they say.

    But, nonetheless, it still is a critical and worrying result. What we have is a sensor and a computer that reads it and then adjusts the throttle and braking system to compensate.

    I can't imagine any modern software used on a product at this level not reverting to "safe" (ie., non-executing) mode based upon any recognized but unintelligible input

    One would seriously hope that this was the case. But as we've seen with even aircraft, screw-ups happen and they are far more strenuously maintained and designed than any car on the planet. I seriously doubt if the code controlling the throttle in fact is much more advanced than a simple 8 bit computer. The incident showing 255 brake presses pretty much confirms an 8-bit processor. And, to be honest, that's far overkill for this application.

    Ie - it's not some fancy AI routine - it's a simple I/O processing routine most likely and Toyota, having to deal with thousanhds of other things to design a car, isn't going to spend hundreds of hours on such a supposedly simple system.

    Except... other engineers have taken the assembly apart and noticed how while it is redundant, it is in no way properly fail-safe.

    Put the two together and you can't say that there's no way that the computer or sensor can't have been part of the equation. Toyota won't let anyone look at their source code to see if that is the case, either.

    Third, the idea that the US government has no ability to force Toyota to show its software source code. Absolutely FALSE. The US is their largest market, and if its is deemed by the government that they are selling unsafe products or not meeting prescribed standards as required by law, sales can be halted.

    Don't you think that might get a copy of the source code?


    So far this is almost exactly what has happened(and Toyota has stopped selling certain models as required). But Toyota has not done a thing about it. They keep stalling. They are "too big" and most importantly, not in the U.S. - The U.S. has no legal way to force them to divulge it, though maybe the Japanese Government could.
  • busirisbusiris Member Posts: 3,490
    edited May 2010
    So far this is almost exactly what has happened(and Toyota has stopped selling certain models as required). But Toyota has not done a thing about it. They keep stalling. They are "too big" and most importantly, not in the U.S. - The U.S. has no legal way to force them to divulge it, though maybe the Japanese Government could.

    Please update me...I wasn't aware of any Toyota models currently being with-held non-voluntarily by the US government from the market due to UA suspicions.

    Which models are they?
  • thetruth7thetruth7 Member Posts: 93
    Where are you getting your information when you make statements like this:

    "other engineers have taken the assembly apart and noticed how while it is redundant, it is in no way properly fail-safe."

    Would you please share your source for this claim - I would love to know what American engineer said that. You didn't make this up did you plekto?
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457
    edited May 2010
    yes we have all had computers that malfunctioned but in each case we could easily (given enough time) have filmed the malfunction

    I think that's the purpose of the million dollar prize. :shades: I think Gilbert could introduce an external problem to the accelerator assembly, cause a fault, and show that the computer didn't record the fault. Every time. So who's to say that someone reading this discussion won't have an even better theory - one that could happen in the real world and is recordable and repeatable?

    The problem I have with the pat "can't happen" answers is the Saylor case. The stuck mat I can see happening. The 3 second power off button is a design fault in my opinion, but ok, let's give that a pass. What makes no sense is why there was no shifting into neutral. The guy wasn't senile, suicidal, talking on the phone or untrained in how vehicles work.

    Back to the Audi case, as I understand it, Audi moved the pedals further apart. If people can be trained to operate the brake and gas pedals correctly, why bother to change the pedal position?

    The answer of course, is because it was a design fault. See the "Insufficient height differential between the accelerator and brake pedals" recalls back in the early 80's and also the recalls to add the brake shift interlock. (link)

    Since I'm picking on them, I'll show you another Audi design fault:

    powderhound1, "Audi Q7 Maintenance and Repair" #403, 23 Oct 2009 1:57 am
  • busirisbusiris Member Posts: 3,490
    edited May 2010
    Back to the Audi case, as I understand it, Audi moved the pedals further apart. If people can be trained to operate the brake and gas pedals correctly, why bother to change the pedal position?

    The answer of course, is because it was a design fault. See the "Insufficient height differential between the accelerator and brake pedals" recalls back in the early 80's and also the recalls to add the brake shift interlock. (link)


    LOL!!!!!!!!

    What a stretch...

    I addressed your reasoning of "If people can be trained to operate the brake and gas pedals correctly, why bother to change the pedal position? " in an earlier post, discussing why BMW is eliminating oil dipsticks as well as why TPMS is now available on new vehicles.

    The simple answer is ... People don't want to bother themselves with being trained.

    So, in that regard (and ONLY that regard), could it be considered a "design fault". No different than having the duplex electrical receptacles in your home mounted vertical or horizontal. That hardly qualifies as a "design flaw".

    Not from an engineering standpoint.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457
    edited May 2010
    No fault, then why all the recalls?

    Surely one or two engineers at NHTSA and Audi were involved. :D
  • busirisbusiris Member Posts: 3,490
    edited May 2010
    Since you obviously see things differently than I do, here's a question or two for you.

    The shifter mechanism in many new BMW X5's are totally different on many models than the traditional shifters in, say, Toyotas.

    Its still functional, yet the operator must learn how to use it in order to drive the vehicle safely (or at all).

    Does that fall under your definition of "design flaw"?

    Why or why not?

    Would you say that cars that came equipped with radios in the 80's that allowed the user to control the different audio frequency ranges by adjusting 4 or 5 "slide-levers" (equalizer) instead of a single "tone" knob fit into your definition of a design flaw?

    How about if a car came equipped with a "push-button" transmission like Chrysler had in the 50-60's? Design flaw?

    If the brake pedal in a Toyota is 1/2 inch further from the gas pedal in a Chevy, is that a design flaw? What if the brake pedal is 1 " wider in the Chevy than in a Crown Vic?

    Go to the Nissan section and look at the complaints on the CVT (constant velocity transmission). Many consider it a flawed product design, but different does not equal flawed. In fact, the CVT is far more efficient than any other automatic transmission, and not understanding the operational characteristics of the CVT doesn't mean its a flawed design..

    Under your definition, any change in a vehicle via recall (required or voluntary) translates into a design flaw, when it might simply be a move to better suit the customer's needs or desires.

    This trend of .blaming the manufacturer for the user's lack of knowledge on how to adequately operate the product is exactly why so many manufacturers do NOT voluntarily upgrade their products. Any change is seen as a product liability, suggesting to some law firm that the previous design was somehow "flawed" and needed fixing. So, anyone with the old design deserves compensation. Ultimately, that hinders progress.

    Now, that isn't to say some flaws don't exist...and, many can be valid complaints. Even the best ideas just don't work out so well sometimes. The cupholder location you referenced sounds like an appropriate example. But, different doesn't equal FLAW.

    What I'm attempting to do is get you to give us some feeling for how you define "design flaw".

    But, exactly what does all this have to do with UA? Its already been proven that no evidence of vehicle caused UA has ever been documented in Audi's...That is, unless you wish to re-define and reclassify UA...
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457
    edited May 2010
    That sounds like a question best answered by a car valet. I don't have a link but I seem to recall various efforts over the years to standardize car controls so that people wouldn't be confused when operating a strange car for the first time. The most vivid example I remember is a Popular Mechanics article back in the 60's where the steering wheel was replaced with "thumb controls". But I'm dating myself (there was a push button Valient in my family when I was a pre-teen, so I guess I'm really dated). BMWs iDrive sure got a lot of complaints the first couple of years, and that just covers secondary functions.

    The funniest stories are those where car thieves try to boost a car only to discover it's a manual transmission and they don't know how to shift one.

    I think the answer is - if people are having a higher rate of accidents than the norm, and the cause is due to the layout of the controls, then yeah, that sounds like the design engineer failed.

    There's a link I posted in here a couple of months ago where the Audi UA was blamed on the cruise control by the Swedes. I don't like to say never (and I like shades of gray, unlike most of my engineer friends).
  • thetruth7thetruth7 Member Posts: 93
    Plekto, How do you reconcile your positions on aircraft ETCs?

    In your post 606 you said this: "Also, the ETC systems on aircraft are properly safeguarded and redundant."

    In your post 634 you said this: "But as we've seen with even aircraft, screw-ups happen"

    I've noticed there are a lot of questions being asked in posts and the replies don't appear to answer the question directly. The above question is a test - I'm guessing my single question above will demonstrate this theory of mine.
  • thetruth7thetruth7 Member Posts: 93
    I would completely agree with your answer Steve - "I think the answer is - if people are having a higher rate of accidents than the norm, and the cause is due to the layout of the controls, then yeah, that sounds like the design engineer failed. "

    another way to put it "good technology fits people, not the other way around" There are such things as behavioral psychologists, ergonomic engineers etc. etc. and these professions have not been invited into the SUA discussion at all. It is regrettable since the body and mind have been studied for some time and there is much I'm sure we could learn from them.

    After all I don't think anyone in their right mind can overlook the fact that manual transmission vehicles don't generate SUA complaints even when the same vehicle equipped with an automatic transmission does. You can't blame lines of codes or faulty sensors when the two vehicles have exactly the same components except for the transmission, shifter and pedals and this can be demonstrated no matter what manufacturer you pick.
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