Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Beware: Toyota Accelerator Sticking (AU) Facebook Page

  • Short Description
    Just stumbled on this Facebook page. Toyota Corolla SUA victim.

    This is the Precaution Facebook page for all Australian Toyota drivers - just be wary that it can happen to anyone at anytime without warning. If you've had the same incident, please post!

  • Long Description

    On the 30th August at 5.10pm on my way home from work I encountered a problem with my 2007 model Toyota Corolla. Whilst driving on the Cumberland Hwy (close to the intersection with Old Windsor Road, Northmead) I accelerated to merge into the left lane and found after releasing the accelerator pedal that my car was still accelerating with high REVS noise coming from the engine (as if I had just floored on the gas pedal and kept it there). I turned the corner at approximately 70km/hr and continued to try and stop or brake the car by putting my gear into park, reverse, neutral and even pulling up the handbrake and leaving it there. I drove up a hill and back down to the other side with the gear in parked and my handbrakes up with my foot slammed on the brake pedal (which only slowed the acceleration but did not stop the car). In the end I figured that the only way to stop the car was to turn off the engine to which my car skidded and steering wheel locked. Luckily at that time I had no car behind or in front of me or in the lane next to me to swerve into, however if any of you have been on Cumberland Hwy during peak hour, you would know that I was EXTREMELY lucky to drive through two traffic lights (green, thankfully) without hurting myself or anyone else on the road!

    One week later and dozens of phone calls to Toyota to chase up the problem, they managed to get an inspector out and have concluded that my car is in perfect condition with no electrical or mechanical fault and that I'm silly stupid driver as the "Floor mats" must have gotten "caught" in between the pedal. However they will replace my acceleration pedal anyway just as a "precaution". The dealer ordered in the pedal yesterday and apparently it should've came today to fix up my car, however when it arrived, they realised that they had ordered the wrong one. Does anyone think this is ridiculous? A Toyota Dealership ordering the wrong pedal for a Toyota model car?!

    So to sum up, I just wanted every Toyota driver (2007-2010) to keep my incident in the back of their mind and make sure that if it happens to you that you take the floor mat out and throw it out your car window, else you'd be too dead to argue the case with Toyota that it wasn't the floor mat!!!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Safety Agency is Failing the Public on Air Bags

Safety agency is failing the public on air bags

A crash test of a 2003 Toyota Corolla, one of the models subject to a recall to repair faulty air bags. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is warning 7.8 million car owners that inflator mechanisms in the air bags can rupture, causing metal fragments to fly out when the bags are deployed
A crash test of a 2003 Toyota Corolla, one of the models subject to a recall to repair faulty air bags. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is warning 7.8 million car owners that inflator mechanisms in the air bags can rupture, causing metal fragments to fly out when the bags are deployed Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Jeff Gelles, Inquirer Business Columnist
Is an auto-safety system reliant on manufacturers' recalls no more trustworthy, say, than an aging Takata air bag in a hot, humid climate?

That's how it looks to advocates like Clarence Ditlow, director of the Center for Auto Safety. Ironically, thanks to the failures of the system he criticizes, you may not realize just how perilous Takata air bags can be - even if you have one in your car.

As many as 30 million U.S. vehicles may be equipped with air bags whose deteriorating inflators could blow apart and send shards flying like shrapnel. But since Tokyo-based Takata says the risk is linked to hot, humid climates, fewer than 1 in 3 have been recalled.

To Ditlow, this is a flashing red light signaling an old problem: a safety system still broken 14 years after Congress supposedly fixed it with 2000's TREAD Act - passed after a furor over injuries and deaths blamed on Firestone tires with separating tread, many on Ford Explorer SUVs.

As with those tires and the rollover crashes they triggered, it took years for regulators to wake up to more recent hazards, such as faulty ignition switches that can turn GM cars into death traps if a key ring weighs too much.

Each delay likely leads to more injury and death. Yet the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, charged with shepherding defect probes, at best seems underfinanced and overmatched by the auto industry. Ditlow sees a deeper issue, too. With a revolving door linking NHTSA to the industry, he says, it's become a classic "captive regulator," loyal more to the firms it oversees than to the customers it is supposed to protect.

"Obviously, Congress didn't get it right," Ditlow told me while outlining the failures of TREAD - the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act.

For instance, the law requires automakers to report each death and injury that might be tied to a defective part. But instead of requiring documentation that could speed investigations, NHTSA accepts vague summaries.

"They have a category of 'air bag,' and now 60 percent of death and injury reports say 'air bag,' " Ditlow says. That can include air bags that fired when they shouldn't or didn't seem to deploy properly. The case of the Takata air bags is completely different: The hazard apparently arises when an inflator's casing rots so much that it flies apart when an air bag, as designed, fires with explosive force.

So far, Takata has confirmed two deaths, and two more are suspected. Three of those four are outside the recall zone. In one, Ditlow says, "investigators thought it was a homicide. They'd never seen such sharp-edged wounds."

One question, which arises in every big defect case, is how many deaths or serious injuries are buried by the civil-justice system. Victims and their families are pushed to sign nondisclosure orders in return for settlements. The money may cover the costs of treatment or ease the pain of a severe injury or family's loss. But the gag order likely means more future victims, because fewer people will hear of the hazard.

How do you know if you're at risk from the Takata defect? It's not easy - one reason about 30 percent of all recall repairs never get done. Last month, NHTSA published a list of 7.8 million vehicles affected - mostly older Hondas, but also from nine other automakers. You can find it at or call 888-327-4236.

If you search NHTSA's site by your vehicle's VIN number, the regionally limited recalls mean you may not learn you have a suspect air bag. And if you call a Philadelphia-area dealer, you'll get a response that varies by manufacturer, says one local service manager. Nissan has plenty of parts. Toyota won't have them until New Year's. Honda has some, but it's prioritizing places with persistent heat and humidity.

And if your Accord, say, spent most of its first 10 years at Mom and Dad's Florida retirement condo? Make noise, and ask for an exception. Or follow Toyota's advice: Avoid the front passenger seat until the repair is done.

Could the defect be tied to age rather than just climate, as Ditlow speculates? Could NHTSA do more, and quicker - such as use its power to speed replacement parts from third-party suppliers?
Yes, and yes. But nothing is likely to happen unless the agency gets a stronger directive, and more support, from Congress.

The Obama administration has ordered a review of the "safety culture" at NHTSA. That's a start. But the problem isn't just culture. The problem is a system that allows evidence of a defect to be buried along with its victims. 215-854-2776 @jeffgelles

Jeff GellesInquirer Business Columnist