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Toyota Camry Hybrid Safety Concerns



  • jcihakjcihak Posts: 60
    I hope you are kidding.

    While there certainly are people who live in areas with almost no EMI (the Amish for example), most of us live in an apartment or house surrounded by AC wiring with a constant flow of current. We live in lightly shielded metal cages!

    Most of our electronics puts out EMI - microwaves, computers, TVs, phones, etc. If you want to eliminate EMI, simply move into a house with no electricity, far away from power lines.

    By the way, I heard that the fabric in the seats is toxic - If you feed a lab rat 100 pounds of the material in one day, it will explode. LOL
  • nkaizernkaizer Posts: 25
    I'd rather not live in a cage surrounded by wires and EMF. Yes, I fly on planes and I use a microwave but I do not let my children stand in front of the microwave when using it. I don't know if EMF emissions from normal usage of hybrid cars are cancerous or not, but it doesn't hurt to have impartial independent studies, does it?

    Who knows, maybe the reduced particulate emissions from a hybrid reduces the incidence of lung cancer so it's all a wash anyway!
  • jcihakjcihak Posts: 60
    My rather sarcastic response was born from having studied probabilistic risk assessment in grad school. I find it incredible that people make decisions as important as personal safety based on emotions, unsubstantiated news stories, or improperly performed "studies". Potential risks must also be weighed against the benefits. Statistics can truly tell the average person anything they are willing to believe.

    The key is to know the actual risk. For example, if 10 million people buy a hybrid and it causes cancer in one person, how does that compare to the reduced risk of the gas/oil savings (troops in Iraq, pollution, money spent on gas instead of health care, explosion when filling up at a gas station, etc)?

    The risks of not buying a hybrid can be measured at least on an order of magnitude. The risks of EMI are speculative at best and are not being compared to the risks of not buying the hybrid.

    Remember, the cost of gas goes far beyond what we pay at the pump.
  • lzclzc Posts: 483
    I agree with you about the value of having "impartial independent studies" on the subject. Too bad the article didn't cite any.

    It artfully conflated that EMF emissions have been studied, without providing results, with anecdotal fears of people who'd self-tested their cars.

    Maybe the fears will prove justified. But let's have a little evidence before fanning the flames.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,741
    "artfully conflated"

    There's a lot of that going around ;)

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  • pat85pat85 Posts: 92
    Since I bought my Hybrid, my daughter's hamster changed from sleeping in the South-West corner of its cage to sleeping in the North -West corner. :)

    Actually, the dude who sold his hybrid because of 100 to 150 milli gauss readings should be told that:
    The strength of the field at the Earth's surface ranges from less than 30 microteslas (0.3 gauss) in an area including most of South America and South Africa to over 60 microteslas (0.6 gauss) around the magnetic poles in northern Canada and south of Australia, and in part of Siberia.
    .3 Gauss is 300 milli-Gauss: .6 Gauss is 600 milli-Gauss.
    The Earth's magnetic field is higher than his readings.
    As far as the electric motor, it is in front of the engine and under the hood. This is what's known as a Farraday shield. Why a car is the safest place in lightning is because it is steel and is a Farraday shield.
    As far as the cables from the batteries under the rear seat to the electric motor, the cables are conducting current to and from the motor.. The current is flowing from the positive battery terminal and returning to the negative terminal. That means that EMF induced bythe positive is cancelled by the EMF induced by the negative currents. The EMF's are self cancelling
    So whatever the dude measured it's less than 1/3 of the Earth's magnetic field.
    Magnetic fields in the car are mostly self cancelling.
    I am not worried.
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    Magnetic fields in the car are mostly self cancelling.
    I am not worried.

    Rats, I assumed the effects of the EMF is the reason I was able to give up Viagra. I was going to patent that. :)
  • pat85pat85 Posts: 92
    Rats, I assumed the effects of the EMF is the reason I was able to give up Viagra. I was going to patent that

    Oh I made a mistake.
    Those EMF's will make you larger like Enzyte and make Vagra unnecessary.
  • stoogotzstoogotz Posts: 4
    One thing I experienced was that if I kept the remote entry fob for my TCH near my security key from work (the kind you hold against a pad to gain entry), the security key ceased to function and had to be reprogrammed. I keep them separated and now there's no problem.
  • pat85pat85 Posts: 92
    The TCH smart key uses a radio frequency (RF) code to be identified by the car's computer system.
    There are many I..D. badge systems in use today.
    Older badge systems used encrypted wires that started a timing sequence. The length of time identified a user. Not used much today.
    Most newer I.D. Badge systems have a computerized chip that is read by a RF signal relayed to a security computer usually behind a secure barrier.. These were called "Smart cards." by their manufacturer. You can see a gold computer chip embedded in the. I.D.card
    The TCH RF signal could have blocked or corrupted the computer chip on your badge. There is something in the owner's manual about the TCH smart key may interfere with some pacemakers.
    I have a BSEE. I worked for many years in physical security systems for the US.. Navy. I was the program manager for the Physical Security of Arms, Ammunition and Explosives as well as Managing the Security of special weapons.
    I am now retired
    I am curious to know how you knew to ask me that question ?
  • pat85pat85 Posts: 92
    As far as the electric motor, it is in front of the engine and under the hood. This is what's known as a Farraday shield. Why a car is the safest place in lightning is because it is steel and is a Farraday shield.
    As far as the cables from the batteries under the rear seat to the electric motor, the cables are conducting current to and from the motor.. It is an electric circuit. The current is flowing from the positive battery terminal and returning to the negative terminal. That means that EMF induced by the positive is cancelled by the EMF induced by the negative currents. The EMF's are self cancelling
    Most measurements will measure the earth's magnetic field. which varies from 300
    to 600 milli- Gauss. EMF's are not detectable by smell.
    The Plasmacluster filter has 3 levels of filters which filter successively smaller particles. It is called a micron filter. The last stage adds negative ions to counteract the accumulating positive ions. I looked in the fuses in the owners manual. There is not a specific fuse for the filter or it would be simple to disable
    I look at positive ions as havining on OH ion Strong bases have positive ions
    A negative ion could be viewed as having a H ion. Strong acids have Hydrogen ions
    If you look at the reaction between an OH and H you get HOH or H2O.
    I find it difficult to explain the symptoms you are experiencing. They come and go in severity, so it is hard to pinpoint.
    I have not had my heater blow any air while off.
    I have it set on auto with my temp set at 68. My wife has her side set at 72. Nothing happens when heat is called for until the engine has warmed up enough for heat. So even when my heater is "on"" it may delay blowing any air.

    The plastic components emit gases as they age. It may be that is what you are smelling as a metallic taste. I have had vehicles that looked like someone had smoked cigarettes in them as dirty as the inside windows got from plastic out- gassing. Clean your inside windows and look at the paper towels and see if they don't show up as some what dirty from the plastic out gases that collect on them
  • gc77584gc77584 Posts: 65
    I've had my Camry Hybrid for 2 years + 1 week. Ironically enough, the day the steering went kaput was exactly two years from the day of purchase. Less than 24k miles, preventative maintenance like clock-work from dealer.

    A week ago I was backing out of a parking space inside a parking garage. Granted, it was a typical hot May day in Houston, but the car had been parked inside a garage, in the off position for at least 5 hours. As I completed backing out of the space - with no problem - and went to turn the wheel to begin going straight, it completely locked up. Pulling with two hands with all my might (such as it is for a short, middle-aged female) I was able to jerk my way forward, turning the wheel a tiny bit at at time, until the front wheels were almost straight and I could pull catty-wompass into a large space where two vehicles would normally fit - just so I could get out of the way of other cars.

    Turns out - unbeknownst to me or the know-it-all tow truck driver - the hybrids use electronic power steering, which I now know is different from plain old power steering. Another ironically enough, yesterday, there was an article in the Houston Chronicle automotive section about this same thing (electronic power steering shutdown) in a 2003 Prius. In my case, the "computer chip" or whatever it is that controls the entire steering mechanism detected - or thought it did - that the system had overheated, so it shut down steering capability altogether. (Thus the previous comment about it being parked inside a parking garage for at least 5 hours prior to the incident. Overheated??) That's what the dealer's diagnostic computer told them.

    Due to this "electronic power steering" which is run by the electric motor when the gas motor isn't needed (such as in the garage), as opposed to "power steering that use hydraulic power-steering pumps, run by the engine", I'm assuming - and need to get my manual out to verify - that the Camry Hybrid has no power steering fluid. That's the first thing that the know-it-all tow truck driver assumed - lack of fluid.

    Fortunately, I was not really in motion when this occurred, and double-fortunately, the cost of replacing the entire electronic rack & pinion steering assembly - close to $2000 - was covered under warranty (and the dealer threw in a free rental car since it was over Memorial Day weekend and they would have to order an entire new electronic rack & pinion system that wouldn't come in until 4 days later). Unfortunately, I don't know if this will happen again at some point, since it seems to be a computer glitch. This is one time I'm glad I bought an extended warranty, which I would normally never do - but did on the Camry Hybrid since it was a brand new model and had no real-life performance history. I asked the guy I was dealing with in the service department if he was aware of this happening to any other Camry Hybrids, and he said no, all he knew of was it happening to one Prius (wonder if it was the same one in the Chronicle article?).

    I drove a Yaris sedan for four days (my choices were a Tundra pick-up or a Yaris - not much of a decision) and while it was more than acceptable as a rental - and kind of fun in a zippy vroom vroom way - I was very happy to have my Camry back! I bought the car, barely sight-unseen - saw it from the outside and looked in the windows, but couldn't get in it or drive it since it had just come off the truck - and have never once regretted purchasing it and still don't.

    But...just wanted to let others know of this potential problem with this "new" electronic power steering.

    Gretchen in Houston
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    "Fortunately, I was not really in motion when this occurred, and double-fortunately, the cost of replacing the entire electronic rack & pinion steering assembly - close to $2000 - was covered under warranty "

    Having an electric motor over heat should not cause you to have to replace the entire rack and pinion. Something else failed. If electric motors overheat, the computer shuts them down. When they cool down, the computer lets them run again.

    Electric boosted power steering is needed because the HSD shuts down the engine while the vehicle is running - and you wouldn't want to lose steering boost at those times!
  • gc77584gc77584 Posts: 65
    "Having an electric motor over heat should not cause you to have to replace the entire rack and pinion."

    According to the service guy, it wasn't the electric motor itself that the computer chip said overheated. The computer chip "thought" the rack & pinion steering assembly overheated. Sorry if I wasn't clear on that point. The car started and ran fine (and I did turn it off and on several times to see if it would "reset") - it just had no steering capability. And I say "thought" in quotes because it seems totally ridiculous to me since the car had been sitting in the off position for over five hours, and this failure occurred less than 2 minutes after starting it - I had barely backed out of the parking space.

    Personally, I don't think anything overheated. I think the computer or computer chip or whatever the heck controls the steering thing had a glitch and gave an erroneous reading. However, the service guy does what the diagnostic computer tells him to do, whether it makes sense or not, and as long as it's not on my dime, I'm not terribly concerned that he's replacing an expensive part that may not need replacing. Nor is he since it's under warranty and I assume Toyota winds up paying for it, not the dealership.
  • tbone0526tbone0526 Posts: 8
    "...the day the steering went kaput was exactly two years from the day of purchase. Less than 24k miles....
    This is one time I'm glad I bought an extended warranty..."

    I'd like to point out that based on time and mileage, this repair would have been covered anyway under the car's 3-year/36,000 mile basic warranty.
  • gc77584gc77584 Posts: 65
    It wasn't necessary for you to point that out. I'm well aware that it was covered under the basic warranty.

    MY point is that Toyotas are known for their reliability, and having driven four different Camrys over the past 12 years (not as long as you, I'm sure) and NEVER having anything that "catastrophic" go wrong, whether within the basic warranty period or out of it, it came as quite a shock for something like this to occur. Given that it DID occur on a 2 year old car with less than 24k miles, it makes me wonder what else might go wrong down the road since at the time my car came off the boat in May 2006, it was a brand new model ... thus the comment about the extended warranty.

    Obviously it was pointless to post on this forum since you obviously know everything and nobody else's input is correct or necessary. I won't bother again.
  • lzclzc Posts: 483
    You will find interesting this Q&A from the Car Talk column:

    "Q Dear Tom and Ray:

    I was driving home in my beloved 2003 Toyota Prius on Friday. I turned right a few blocks from my house, and the wheel froze in the turned position. I had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting a parked truck. With all my might, I forced the wheels straight enough to get it home. I had it towed to a dealer, and they say it's an electrical connection between the steering column and the rack and pinion, and will cost about $2,000 in parts and labor. I'm at about 70,000 miles -- way past the 36,000-mile warranty. I know there was a recall having to do with the steering system on Priuses made just after mine, but the dealer says it doesn't apply. Do I have any recourse?

    -- Rebecca

    A RAY: I'm afraid the dealer is right, Rebecca. The later steering recall is for a different issue entirely, so it wouldn't apply to your car.

    TOM: And he's right that what you probably need is a rack and pinion, which will cost you two grand.

    RAY: Welcome to the world of new technology! One of the many ways the Prius saves fuel is with electric power steering.

    TOM: It works by using sensors in the steering column that tell a computer how far, how hard and how quickly you're turning the steering wheel. The computer then sends an appropriate amount of electrical "boost" to the electric power-steering motor.

    RAY: This electric system saves fuel by being smaller and lighter, and by running off electric power only when that power is needed, instead of off the gasoline engine all the time. The disadvantage of it is that it's new, and apparently it can fail catastrophically.

    TOM: So, you're a guinea pig, Rebecca.

    RAY: You can try asking to speak to the dealer's zone manager. You can make your case to him or her, and ask whether he or she will help you with the cost of the repair, since you almost died -- and now that you're still alive, if he or she treats you well, you'd be around to buy more Toyotas." pf.html
  • gc77584gc77584 Posts: 65
    Yes, that's the exact article to which I was referring, only it was in the Houston Chronicle and not available online. Thanks for posting it.
  • We purchased a new 2007 Camry Hybrid when they first came out. We have owned the car for two years and have 20,000 mile on it. We have followed the recommended service scedual and taken it to the same dealership we bought it from. Two months ago we heard a strange clicking almost cracking noise in the front end when we turned the car to the left or right when moving from a parked position or slowing down to turn. The noise could be felt in the steering column when the clicking occured. We took it to the dealership and after several hours was told there was a rock sitting on the brake caliper. Having worked on the brakes of all my privious Toyotas the diagnosis sounded strange but I was assured the problem was resolved so I drove off. Within 15 minutes of driving and parking the noise came back and it was even louder then before. I called the dealership and took the car back. We were unable to duplicate the sound with a tec so I took the car home. Pulling in to my driveway the sound was there again so I made an apointment to have the car examined over several days. The car was kept for several days and the sound would not duplicate itself so I picked my car up. Soon enough the sound was back. I took the car back in and test drove it with the lead Tec and was able to duplicate the sound. I left the car for repair. I was informed that the there was actually an alert from Toyota about the clicking noise and it requiered the intermediate steering column be replaced. In the mean time the service manager called to say that Toyota had reengineered the grease and that was the problem. I called toyota and was informed no grease had been reengineered to resolve the issue. Crossed wires between service manager and service guy we were dealing with would account for this information. We picked our car up and after 40 miles of mostly straight driving we heard the noise again as we turned into a parking lot and it was even louder then the first time. I called the dealership and was told it might be the brake pads. We are having them changed tomorrow. I am not sure what to make of all of this. We enjoy driving our Hybrid, however, feel somewhat comprimised in driving it. We have been told it is not a safety issue but I am not so sure about this. Anyone out there have any thoughts on this or experianced something of this nature please advise.
  • bdymentbdyment Posts: 569
    This problem is the intermediate steering shaft. It should be replaced ASAP by the dealer. This concern is well known and has affected other Toyota models--Highlander, etc. Keep after the dealer.
  • Thanks for the info about the intermediate column steering problem. The deal is, I don't believe they changed the column to begin with because when I asked to see the part and was told I could see the part I was informed it was sent back to Toyota. I asked to see the invoice that the part even came in and was told they could not provide the invoice that the invoice belonged to Toyota. This will be our 5th attempt at resolving the problem. We feel that the car could be unsafe to drive because the original problem was never honestly resolved. Does anyone know if the intermediate steering column requiers grease to function properly?
  • bdymentbdyment Posts: 569
    Yes like any moving part it requires lubricant. If it was low on grease or the wrong type of grease was installed it would be noisy and probably have a binding effect. However, the main concern is the steering shaft. Someone at the dealership or Toyota USA should be able to confirm if the shaft was actually replaced.
  • mrpatmrpat Posts: 24
    from mrpat0038 to [pat85] I dont know if I am replying correctly as this is my first reply. I appreciate the knowledgable reply you gave on the EMF issue.

    When we first got our 2007 tch I noticed a faint unpleasant odor. Over time I have associated it with moisture in the AC. I started garaging it with the windows open and ran it at 80 deg til it warmed up as advised in someone elses post. I had the cabin air filter changed because of the odor a month ago, no help.

    Yesterday it began smelling like chemicals when the ac compressor runs. I now leave the compressor off for fear of having a bad heat exchanger. Has anyone had similar problems . Is there a tsb out on it?
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    I typically have my AC on. When I do turn it off for an extended time I do smell an annoying musty odor. If I turn the AC back on it will go away. I've had mine since May 06
  • In your response to emf concerns I have three problems. First, the Faraday cage does not apply to magnetic fields which are the concern. Second, the primary and return wires must be bound together as in residential wiring to achieve cancellation. In cars the return is usually through the car body and there isn't a return wire. Thirdly, the health concerns are with time varying magnetic fields and not static fields like the earth's. Typical equipment blocks out he static fields to only provide time varying or ac magnetic field data.
  • For this poster and any to follow, I got rid of the hybrid camry.
    It did make me sick. I am no longer experiencing the symptoms I
    had. This was my personal experience. I did not come here with
    an agenda. No further answers to my post are necessary. Thanks to
    all who offered me assistance. For those who answer with argument
    against concerns of my post, you are wasting your time. I did not
    post this to "flame" those who staunchly believe in hybrids. I solved
    my very real issue. The End.
  • pat85pat85 Posts: 92
    First. on some 12 volt starter batteries, the car body is connected to one of the terminals. Usually the negative terminal, but I once had an MG with a positive ground.
    That is not true of the hybrid batteries. Each terminal,is connected to the electric motor (and charging circuitry.) Although they are not intertwined like house wiring which is 220 volts center tap and which are no longer intertwined in fuze boxes, junction boxes and wire pull boxes. The hybrid battery wires are physically close enough to cancel EMF's. look at how close he contacts are on the motor.
    In any case the Emf's basically cancel.
    As for the induced magnetic fields they are described in Maxwell's Equations. Firrst, there are no magnetic dipoles. The Delta operator times the B vector field is zero. There are magnetic field generated by a wire carrying current, Each wire induces a magnetic field according to,the right- hand-rule. If the thumb is pointed in the direction of the current, the magnetic field lines will be in the direction of the curled fingers. If you do that for both wires from the hybrid battery, current is going in opposite directions, so the magnetic fields cancel.
  • acco20acco20 Posts: 211
    Yeah....what he said...
  • i have a 2009 TCH with nav, 23,480 miles, the car was in storage for about 3months, now even after putting a new 12v battery, the car wont start, "CHECK HYBRID SYSTEM" and "CHECK VSC" message is being displayed...please help what should I do? Can I fix the problem my self? Will appreciate expert help. Did anyone have the same problem...and how was it resolved?
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