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Engine failures in MR2 Spyders

6/11/2014 - Updated the original post by entering direct links to reference material, and added remarks about the legal issues involved with...

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Hardware and/or software problem exposed in Camry Hybrid brakes

Maybe Michael Barr - the computer expert whose testimony prompted a guilty verdict in the sudden unintended acceleration case in Oklahoma - should be asked to examine the computer issues associated with brake failures in '07 and '08 Camry gas-electric hybrids. Complaints to NHTSA are increasing.

Pesky little problem. Seems those "trouble codes" don't necessarily show up. Kinda reminds ya of instances of sudden unintended acceleration. Brings to mind motorists in runaway cars insisting that they had both feet on the brake pedal.

In one of the complaints to NHTSA, after a dealer finally said there was a problem with the brake control computer, the owner wrote that “Toyota is behaving immoral not recalling the faulty parts that in many cases cannot even be diagnosed.” Hmm... "Difficulties" diagnosing a problem, blabber about "computer codes," and accusations that Toyota is somewhat less than a paragon of morality. Sound familiar? Next thing ya know, Toyota will be blamin' the problem on floor mats, and customers getting the brake pedal confused with the accelerator.

Not to worry. Toyota says they're "cooperating with NHTSA." Problem is, there's growing evidence of a bit too much "cooperation" twixt NHTSA and the Recall King. Sudden unintended acceleration cases ad nauseum, yet it's taken many years and lawsuits galore for the facts to come out. Not to mention deaths, injuries, and one Toyota driver - Koua Fong Lee - who wound up spending years in prison before charges were finally dropped. I'd like to see singer-songwriter Kris Kitko, who produced the superb music video, "Toyota, Where are Ya?" produce a follow-up asking where NHTSA has been all these years.

Things are heatin' up - literally - for the Recall King. NHTSA is considering yet another possible recall, this one associated with the fabric used for heated seats in Camrys and other models. Whew. Will Toyota's parade of defects ever end?

Oh, well. At least everyone can rest assured that NHTSA, our illustrious little government watchdog, will continue to represent the interests of those it serves.

Update 2/1/2014 - Mainstream media is keeping quiet about the evidence of computer problems. AP and Washington Post are the only ones I know of that have mentioned it. Bombshell considering the case in Oklahoma. Should be makin' headlines. As is the case with engine failures in MR2 Spyders, Toyota rakes in big bucks for "servicing" defective products, and has been fined for delays in reporting such items. Consumers have good reason to question how long the Recall King has been aware of the Camry brake issue.  

Monday, January 27, 2014

Toyota accused of cover-up regarding software causing sudden unintended acceleration

The founder of the firm that won the big case against Toyota in Oklahoma has produced a video accusing Toyota of a cover-up.

"Toyota knew before the first recalls that there was a problem with the Electronic Throttle Control System, in regards to sudden unintended acceleration, as early as 2004. When you go back and look at the beginning of this problem, they knew about the problem, that's the real tragedy." Jere Beasley, Founder, Beasley Law Firm

No wonder the Recall King now blabbers about needing to be "reborn" in the eyes of its customers. Toyota can talk the talk. But when it comes to walkin' the walk...

Listen up, Akio. "Select shops" don't stonewall about obvious defects that cause engines to suddenly disintegrate, ruin exhaust systems, and deplete customers' bank accounts of the better part of ten thousand dollars. Pocket change to you. Big bucks to most folks. And "select shops" don't make national headlines for every misdeed imaginable, along with a never-ending parade of defects, safety and otherwise. "Select shops" are competent, honest, and treat customers with respect. Toyota is a long way from being viewed as a "select shop" by informed consumers.

The impact of the Oklahoma case cannot be overstated. The Recall King is now in "settlement mode," exemplified by Toyota's response to a sudden unintended acceleration case in West Virginia shortly after the guilty verdict in Oklahoma:

“There seemed to be a pretty clear purpose on Toyota’s part to get a deal done” and keep the case out of court, attorney Edgar “Hike” Heiskell said. “There was a real sense of motivation on that side of the table.” A spokeswoman for Toyota declined comment.

More to the point, Toyota is now rushing to institute a "global settlement that would resolve all of the personal injury and wrongful death product liability cases." Of course, we can expect such a settlement to be structured with Toyota's trademark of confidentiality agreements, thereby keeping incriminating technical data quiet, buttressed with language makin' it crystal clear that the ol' Recall King admits to no wrongdoing. Never mind the ongoing risk to consumers as instances of sudden unintended acceleration continue to make headlines.

Meanwhile, David Strickland, former top dawg at NHTSA, has wormed his way into lobbying for the auto industry:

"We think that the thing industry will be most impressed by was the pass David Strickland gave Toyota's electronics in the Unintended Acceleration crisis. Sure, the government fined Toyota to the max. But the automaker only had to pay penalties for failing to mount timely recalls for floor mat interference and sticky accelerator pedals. NHTSA whitewashed the problems of Toyota's electronic throttle control system."

It's probably no coincidence that Mr. Strickland left NHTSA shortly after Toyota was read the riot act by that jury in Oklahoma. His newfound occupation epitomizes the ol' revolvin' door game, helpin' to insure that unfair business practices continue:

"In perhaps the most glaring case, Toyota staffed up with former NHTSA officials as it faced an inquiry into sudden acceleration in its Toyota and Lexus vehicles. Over 10 years, more motorists died from such accidents in Toyota and Lexus vehicles than in cars from all other manufacturers combined." (Emphasis mine)

Engineers are taking notice of the incriminating evidence against Toyota. The exceptionally well-credentialed Michael Barr, who testified in the Oklahoma case, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker for an EE Times conference set for March 31st through April 3rd.

I just love it when the truth comes out.

Update 2/20/2014 - Actually, the truth came out about Toyota's slick manuevering way back in 2010. "Toyota's deadly secrets" presents a scathing review. "Statistically, Toyota had one speed-control-crash complaint per 20,454 vehicles sold in the United States. This figure is significant when compared to other major auto manufacturers such as Ford: one complaint per 64,679 vehicles; Honda: one complaint per 70,112 vehicles; and General Motors: one complaint per 197,821 vehicles."       

Friday, January 17, 2014

Toyota guilty verdict renews interest in sudden unintended acceleration

On the heels of a gulty verdict in a sudden unintended acceleration case in Oklahoma, news of an out-of-control Camry, and cops have nixed the notion of driver error. A 2003 Camry took off immediately after the driver - who was parking the vehicle and still had his foot on the brake - heard a loud, metallic bang. The vehicle - which was totalled - crashed through a wall, seriously injuring the driver's wife.

Meanwhile, in another case involving an out-of-control Camry, plaintiffs are being represented by the same law firm that successfully represented the folks in Oklahoma. "Mr. Kitrys’ 2004 Toyota Camry suddenly and without warning surged out of control and he was unable to stop the vehicle. As the uncontrollable Camry approached an intersection and concrete barrier, Mr. Kitrys jumped from the vehicle but received injuries that caused his death." 

Let's hope Toyota doesn't "examine" these vehicles unless both sides are present. I remember the case of Koua Fong Lee, wherein Toyota acted like Koua's Camry belonged to them insteada him.

Meanwhile, electrical engineers are speaking out in favor of the Oklahoma verdict, and Shawn Kane of Safety Research and Strategies, Inc. has offered a detailed summary of the trial's technical issues, noting that experts used the term "spaghetti," which is programmer's slang for badly written and badly structured source code. The trial also revealed that back in 2007, even one of Toyota's own programmers had used the term when referring to the engine control application. Mr. Kane testified on Capitol Hill when congress "investigated" Toyota back in 2010.

Previous congressional testimony - especially from victims of sudden unintended acceleration - takes on new meaning in light of the technical disclosures associated with the guilty verdict in Oklahoma. Great time to recall the testimony of Clarence Ditlow, Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety. Mr. Ditlow told our illustrious elected officials there was a cover-up, and implicated (gasp) NHTSA. I've maintained from the get go that a corporation that would behave like Toyota has about engine failures in MR2 Spyders simply cannot be trusted. Ditto for a government that lets 'em get away with it.

Amidst the heavy downpour of incriminating technical data from the Oklahoma case, Toyota's NHTSA-congressional whitewash is flakin' off. Not so easy anymore for the Recall King to get away with dumping problems on their customers. Of course, Toyota's USA president even testified back then that 70% of sudden unintended acceleration cases couldn't be explained by driver error, floor mats, or sticky gas pedals. Thanks, Oklahoma. Thank you, thank you, thank you. It's a hoot seein' the Recall King forced into a runnin'-scared rush to settle hundreds of remaining cases - 'bout 450 of 'em - lest there be further technical revelations, along with the fearsome prospect of juried determinations of punitive damages.