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Lexus ES 350



  • This was a horrible accident and like many accidents several things in addition to a stuck accelerator must have occurred to end in such a tragedy. I suspect that since the car was a loaner the driver was unfamiliar with the controls. If this had been a normal car with a key ignition then he could have turned the key to turn off the engine; however, I own an ES350 for many years and I didn’t even know that to turn off the engine of my car while driving, I need to hold the On/Off switch for 3 seconds. Also it is common because of the irregular shift pattern on this vehicle, for new drivers to mistakenly drive in the manual shift mode. In this mode the car will still automatically shift when the RPM’s reach a high enough level; however the N for neutral is located adjacent to the up shift position when in manual shift, so if in an emergency you are unaware of this you would push the shift up to the N position but are actually up shifting the gears. As far a breaking, a coworker of mine had a Camry accelerator stick full throttle because of debris in the tube that the accelerator arm travels through and when his accelerator stuck he was unable to stop even uphill with full break force.
  • rcf8000rcf8000 Posts: 619
    My understanding is that no car has enough power to overcome full braking force. Everyone is aware of the fact that you can rev up the engine all you want at a stop light with the car in gear, and, with the brakes applied, the car will not move. Therefore, I have to wonder about claims that a runaway car could not be stopped by the brakes, unless the brakes were faulty.
  • I think it is because the inertia is is much different at say 80mph than a vehicle at a complete stop; although, I'm not going to try it on my own car.
  • Trust me, it's possible. I was also the victim of the stuck accelerator via faulty floor mats. I was on the freeway when my car simply started accelerating like it had a mind of its own. Thank God, the thought of putting the car into neutral entered my mind, and I was able to coast to the side. Prior to doing that, however, my attempts at braking failed, as the car's power was simply too much. It's probably not possible to move a stopped car with brakes fully applied. However, when it's the brakes vs. a car already in motion (i.e., 80 mph), it's a whole 'nother story.
  • as far as i know...police drive cars that are automatics. they spend their lives in them. they receive training on high speed driving and are comfortable driving auto and trained to handle such situations. he should have easily kept his head and shifted to neutral or a low gear. he wasn't a normal person, he was a cop. its their work. esp chp!

    he he was on an officers salary and buying lexus's, perhaps he had financial difficulty....
  • Drive by wire won't drive your car off the road, off the cliff, or jam the throttle open. Your foot, or a heavy floor mat accidentally kicked forward by that same foot might. I hate to say it, bc the driver was probably not a bad human being, but the accident was caused by the driver's failure to be responsible for his driving. In the very unlikely event you are driving a car with something holding the throttle open (nearly though not totally impossible), you have several obvious, trivial, no genius required means to stop the car.
    This case was complicated by a sort of perfect storm; this particular car has a fancy keyless ignition, the driver may have been unfamiliar with the shift pattern and some genius stuck in a cool super-weatherproof floor mat -- made for a different vehicle. The correct mat hooks onto the floor and can't foul the pedals, but this one was a bit too big an maybe not hooked to the floor. Normal foot motion could shove it forward and maybe over the gas pedal. Still, you gotta pay attention and don't just flail about when something unexpected happens.

    1. Step on the brake (duh). The 4 wheel brakes easily overpower the 2 drive wheels (or 4 driven wheels with AWD). I have an AWD car with a turbo and the brakes could easily overpower full throttle. If you are already traveling at highway speeds, you'll need to use some force on the brake pedal and it'll feel strange, but the brakes still outpower the engine. A typical car can stop from 100 to 0 in five seconds; no car has that much accelerating power.

    2. Shift into Neutral, coast to the side of the road.
    3. Turn off the engine. The brakes and steering will still work

    You don't like 1,2, or 3? It's hard to imagine why (artificial legs fell off? Aliens sending high voltage through the ignition key?), but there are more no-brainer options.

    a. Downshift until you reach 1st gear. That takes you down to about 30mph, and engine braking will slow the car.
    b. If it's an automatic you can hit reverse. That might stall the engine or possibly throw the drive wheels into a skid (they'll start turning again on their own) but that's better than screaming, texting your mechanic or staring into space.
    c. If it's a manual shift and you haven't figured this out.... it's hopeless. Pull out your phone and get the video.

    If the service brakes really failed you still have other options, but since the acel and brake systems have no mechanical connection, and there are 2 separate, independent hydraulic brake circuits the only way this would happen is the movie scenario where the evil genius/government agency/alien installs radio controlled gadgets that cuts both your brake lines at once. Even then you have other ways to stop the car.

    The problem is that many people are not driving their cars, they're passengers holding the wheel. Once something goes wrong they simply stare out the windshield and allow any reflexes they may have to take over.
  • Based on personal experience, I would like to suggest that option 2 is probably the better/easiest choice in a panic situation. While coasting to the side with my car in neutral, the engine was redlining the whole time. That incident occurred a year ago, and my car's engine is still in pristine condition. People,'re driving a Lexus. It may look all elegant on the outside, but it's truly a rock on the inside.
  • WOW! Toyota designed a Christine! And not just one! 3.8 Million!

    (Christine is a horror novel by Stephen King, published in 1983. It tells the story of a
    vintage automobile apparently possessed by supernatural forces.) .html

    So, if the floormat catches the accelerator petal or computer controlled throttle
    malfunctions, the keyless start/stop feature can not be enabled in a "WIDE OPEN THROTTLE" until it is held down for 3 seconds. In 3 seconds you can be at 45mph!
    How many seconds would it take you to figure this "3 second feature" out if your in panic mode and accelerating towards 100mph!?

    They designed a car with out a kill switch and blame it on the car owner which installs a floormat and not aware of the 3 second kill delay?
    Now thats smart ;)

    Here are some additional information about Toyota's quality and engineering practices:

    "Consumer groups are watching and If the allegations are correct that Toyota destroyed or withheld (electronic) data, it has the potential to reopen hundreds of Toyota rollover cases."

    "Consumers saddled with sludge-clogged Toyota engines may soon get some help from the Japanese auto giant under the terms of a class-action lawsuit settlement that covers roughly3.5 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles damaged by engine oil sludge."

  • tedescm1tedescm1 Posts: 309
    For the last few years, I keep reading about Toyota cars that accelerate on their own. I believe this also affects the ES-350.

    Is this an ongoing problem with cars made from Toyota?

    I'm thinking of buying a Toyota but I'm a little concerned about the problems and the length of time the problem has been around.

    Why can't they fix it? :lemon:
  • It may be possible to make a throttle stick, but here are the laws of physics:
    No car can overpower its brakes! From any speed. If your foot is on the brake pedal the car will come to a stop. From 10, 20, 80, 120 MPH. I have personally done this on a closed track. When people say the car continues to accelerate despite "pressing with all their might" on the brakes, their foot wasn't on the brake pedal.

    Simple. End of story.
  • No it is not possible. I have $100 for anyone who can make any car with a properly functioning braking system continue accelerating while pressing the brake pedal.

    It is impossible.
  • I think the lexus is safe, This guy should have been wiped of off the face of the earth a long time ago. You have time to make a phone call but not put the vehicle in neutral or shut it off? That is the "N" on the shifter for all of you inteligent Premium car drivers out there. This guy was a cop! I am sorry but use you head people. Don't drive a car if you can't pay attention, you are stupid, or have no mechanical aptitude. I like Drunks better than stupid people because they have an excuse an accident. Good luck, Don't let your self propelled lawn mower get you if it runs away and you can't let go of the saftey bar.
  • I bought my 2010 ES350 from a CA dealer where front license plates are required. In the state I live - they're not required so now I have 4 holes in my front bumper. Dealer in CA doesn't want to help me resolve the problem. My questions:

    1. Any ideas on how to convince the dealer to help me?
    2. If the dealer won't help me, any suggestions on how to inexpensively hide the license plate holes?

  • MikeMike Posts: 13
    Just found an additional whine. In addition to the multitude of design errors such as no hanger hooks, poor linterior lighting, poor cabin storage, no fold down seat passing thru to trunk, the ES350 has no way to hook or tie down the trunk in the rare event that it becomes necessary. The guys that designed this car had their heads where the "sun don't shine". These are easy fixes and by 2010, I have my fingers crossed. Has anyone heard of corrections for the 2010? The competition in this class is brutal.

    After owning this 2008 for some time though, it is still pretty to look at and a great highway car that gets very nice fuel efficiency.
  • johnvajohnva Posts: 3
    I would 2nd your previous comment about the design virtues of an Audi A6. We leased an '03 that was a great car. We have returned to another ES after the Audi and an Acura TL.

    Regarding your complaints about the design errors in the ES, I would say that they have corrected one, the hanger hooks, but that the others still remain. I have heard that the front armrest storage has improved for 2010, but can't verify.

    The interior lighting still seems weak and there's only the ski pass-thru to the trunk. Better than nothing, but we'd prefer fold down seats.

    Unfortunately, as good as the A6 is, the price has gone to the stratosphere with options that we have on our ES. We considered the A4, which has almost reached the size of the old A6, but even it's price comes to the mid 40's with just the 4 cylinder engine.

    Whatever it's shortcomings, the ES continues to offer an incredible value for the price. That, and the good dealer sales & service experience we had with our previous ES brought us back. Once again, the sales experience was absolutely first class.
  • MikeMike Posts: 13
    Yes, I noticed the creeping price differential. The A6 Audi is way up there now. The ES350 does have many virtues. Many of the design errors that have been noted could be solved with a small expenditure of effort and money that it is hard to understand why there has been no execution. I read all the car mags and the top line of many lower regarded marques have more and smarter features. Was just reading about the Subaru Outback Sedan. Yeah, the rear seats fold down! And in Audi-like fashion, all wheel drive. But, the Lexus marque has considerable "snoot" factor that has been earned by producing a high quality product. That counts too.
    Regards, Mike
  • kennynmdkennynmd Posts: 424
    Come on now...I am a police officer as well and I own a 45k MDX. You do not know what model he could have been a MY 2000 that he bought for 10k. Also, how do you know that his wife didn't have a well paying job that he could of afforded a Lexus. Since he was 45, he could have been a CHP for over 20 years and making near a $100k. For you to say that he had financial difficulty without knowing anything about his life is plain old stupid!!! Trust me, cops ARE normal people. We panic like everyone else. I have never been trained to drive a car that has the accelerator being stuck. He had his family in the car and everyone was probably yelling and panicking that maybe he couldnt concentrate as well. Don't know if the car had a fault or not, but your statements that you made were idiotic.
  • MikeMike Posts: 13
    Another stupid design feature or lack thereof, is the lack of any tiedown capability for the trunk. We have a truck up north but when we are in Florida for the winter this Lexis becomes a hauler on occasion. The A6 Audi with fold down rear seats beat this by a mile. I would love to talk to someone involved in the design of this car. The design team had their heads where the sun doesn't shine. I hear the mistakes are uncorrected even into 2010.

    For all of these negatives, it is still a nice car as far as I am concerned. And from a safety standpoint, OK. RE: sudden acceleration -I can see that if the mats were deliberately unfastened, this could be problematic but, DAH, nothing movable except the drivers feet should should be in the drivers footwell.
  • I bought a 2009 ES350 just about a year ago. It was my first Lexus. Since then I have had numerous chipped paint spots on the car. I owned a Ford Taurus for 10 years and might have had 2 or 3 spots in all those years. After I noticed the first one, I bought some touch up paint and since then I've practically gone through a small bottle.

    Sometimes the damage is obvious, like someone opening a door against the car, or front bumper hitting a parking garage wall when trying to park to close. Others are very small, the size of the head of a pin. I found a forum dedicated to this exact problem and even an attorney's web page looking to start a class action suit. So I know I'm not alone. Anyone with similar experience and suggestions for getting Lexus to fix it?
  • MikeMike Posts: 13
    Have same problem and have read other similar comments. Paint seems very thin like the cars of 1978-1980 or so. Did not know about a possible class action lawsuit. I have never complained to the dealer because I bought with 14K miles and do not know the previous history. But, I know the paint is not right. Class action would be of interest to me.
  • bilmatbilmat Posts: 53
    I concur with kennynmd. I spent 32 years as a cop in a large department in Northern California. Trust me, compared to many citizens, we (cops) are uber-normal.

    I followed the news about the accident involving the CHP officer and members of his family intently, not because I'm a retired cop, but because I purchased an '09 ES350 a few weeks before the accident made the news. From what I have read and seen in news reports, the loaner Lexus the CHP officer was driving was outfitted with an all-weather floor mat installed by the dealer and not intended for the vehicle. It was believed to have been the cause of the jammed accelerator. The 911 call was made from the officer's brother-in-law who was sitting in the back seat. An audio recording of the 911 call was released to the media a few weeks ago. Having heard it twice, it was apparent that the brother-in-law was on the line with the 911 operator right up to the moment of the accident.

    While I'm not privy to the CHP's MAIT report of the accident, it has been reported that several witnesses have given statements saying that they saw smoke coming from all four wheels of the Lexus, indicating that the officer was applying full brake force while the car was speeding out of control. No one knows at what point the officer began applying the brakes. Presumably it was the moment he realized the car was accelerating on its own, and since he was on the highway as opposed to a surface street, it seem likely that he was already traveling at 60 or better. With the car under full throttle, the Lexus would have shifted down one or two gears, giving a significant amount of acceleration power for the brakes to overcome. In a matter of seconds the brakes would have become overheated and next to worthless at stopping the car with the accelerator pedal still floored.

    I'm sure that kennynmd can testify to the fact that a surge of adrenalin can radically alter what would normally be common sense responses during moments of panic. Ask any officer who has experienced a wild hot chase.

    Early in my career I responded to a call of an in-progress burglary at 2:30 in the morning in a residential area. As I crept up to the address in my 1970 Plymouth patrol car, the burglar took off in his late '60s Impala. I tried to stop him with my reds and a blurp from my siren, but he took off, and we were soon traveling in excess of 70 mph on surface streets. At the time, I was a two-footed driver, using my left foot for the brake and my right for the accelerator. (This was long before my department developed a high-speed driving course we had to attend annually to sharpen our driving skills.)

    When the burglar attempted to make a 90-degree left-hand turn onto a main thoroughfare in the heart of the city, I instinctively knew he was going far too fast to make it. Sure enough, he slid sideways into a light standard at the intersection. I didn't even attempt to make the turn. Instead, I kept the patrol car headed straight and stood on the brakes. Hard. Really hard. As hard as I possibly could, but my car wouldn't stop. It was no longer accelerating, but it wouldn't stop. It then flashed in my mind that I was pushing as hard on the brake with my left food as I was pushing on the throttle with my right. After immediately removing my right foot from the accelerator, the brakes were so hot by then they would only have a minimal slowing effect. When my partner and I finally bailed out of our patrol car that was now stopped in the middle of the street a half block beyond the crashed burglar's car, the first thing we noticed was the smoke and smell coming from the our car's brakes. This incident cured me from being a two-footed driver. It also taught me what it's like to try and stop a car at speed using the brakes while the throttle is pressed against the floorboard.

    I feel it's unfair to make any judgments about what the officer behind the wheel in the loaner Lexus did or didn't do, especially without knowing all the facts. And I suspect that the officers who made up the elite CHP MAIT team that investigated the accident would say the same thing. The only thing everyone should agree on is that it was a terrible tragedy.

    I will say this: Every time I get behind the wheel of my '09 ES350, I glance down at my factory floor mat to make sure I can see that the hook in the floor extends through the hole in the mat. And I am fully aware that if I need to shut the engine down at speed, I need to depress the Ignition Start button for three seconds.
  • You could save three seconds by shifting into neutral.
  • I have a 1 month old 2010 ES and I have seen at least 2 paint chips.
  • msj09msj09 Posts: 31
    My understanding is that this is the safer way to go.(shifting into neutral, coasting to a stop, and then turning the engine off). I have heard that turning off the engine at speed will result in loss of the power steering.
  • What color is your car?
  • sanishsanish Posts: 66
    Lexus dealers are modifying gas pedals and updating software for brake override for ES and IS vehicles that are in last year's recall for unintended acceleration.
  • it perplexes me why the shift into N wasnt done in this case, and why its so hard to figure out...

    what am i missing?
  • zhiminwenzhiminwen Posts: 17
    To follow up on this, are there anyone who got their ES350's gas pedal modified and the brake override software installed? Did the new software cause any problem?

    Read in the news for some Toyota owners, these fixes didn't solve their unintended acceleration problem, and for others, the new software causes all kind of warning lights on.
  • johngreisjohngreis Posts: 70
    Had it done 3 weeks ago. No problems.
  • radar6radar6 Posts: 28
    I haven't had it done to my 2009 and I don't know if I'm going to get it done. From what i have seen they cut bottom of gas pedal I have seen some on TV done on camrys and it dosnt look great. I told Lexus rep the other day they can replace the pedal with one of the newly redesigned ones that there shipping to their factory's. For the price of the car they can replace the whole system. As far as software goes just saw ABC news and they show it dosnt work. As far as the pedal goes if the mat is installed correctly there's no issue its only when people put mat on top of mat that there is a clearance issue. Toyota does have some issues with unintended acceleration .
This discussion has been closed.