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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...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Picketing resumes over engine failures in MR2 Spyders

The Toyota Center - where my MR2 Spyder engine was rebuilt - has now moved into fancy new digs about two miles from my house, under the name Fred Anderson Toyota. Day before yesterday, I got an e-mail inviting me to "join" them for their grand opening.

So I did.

I arrived yesterday afternoon by bicycle, with a sign that read "BEWARE OF TOYOTA" on one side, and this blog's address on the other. It's been quite a while since I picketed a Toyota dealership, and it was good to be back. The thousands of dollars I lost when the engine disintegrated in my MR2 Spyder are still missing from my bank account. I'm just as fed up with now-acknowledged-crook Toyota as I ever was, and I wanna thank passing motorists for the friendly beeps, thumbs ups, and waves. As I've come to expect from Toyota dealerships, several unpleasantries were instigated by dealership personnel.

My previous blog post explains what's going on with MR2 Spyders. I've also had a couple of articles published about the issue, here are links to those:

Torque News
Design News' "Made by Monkeys"

Over the years - as this blog indicates - my gripe with Toyota has come to be about a lot more than engines disintegrating in MR2 Spyders. Toyota is a murderous, dishonest corporation - backed by a corporate-controlled government - that treats people like dirt. At first, it was a simple effort to get my money back over an obvious manufacturing defect that had been all over the Internet for years. Then I found out about Toyota's disgraceful shenanigans regarding oil sludge. Then the unintended acceleration scandal broke loose, amidst revelations of cover-ups, federal criminal investigations, record-setting fines, deaths and injuries galore, and an endless parade of recalls for every defect imaginable. Not that the government has disciplined the Recall King. It hasn't. Toyota is a filthy rich corporate slob with cash stockpiled to the tune of some $60 billion. Unfazed - as the government well knows - even by payola in the billion dollar range forked over to end criminal investigations. The "Just Us" Department functions primarily as a corporate-controlled tool to make sure crooked auto executives like those at Toyota and GM don't do prison time for their unconscionable deeds.

Currently, Toyota, the government, and the government's mainstream media stooges are trying every trick in the book to keep things quiet about compelling evidence of electronic defects in Toyota's throttle control. Evidence which raises questions about the reliability of electronic throttle controls in every brand, amidst an epidemic of runaway vehicles crashing into buildings. The brand most often involved is Toyota, but other brands are far from immune.

My journey with Toyota had scarcely begun when I began to realize what a profoundly crooked corporation I was dealing with. I just LOVE the Toyota dealership's new location. Now I won't have to rent storage space for my car to make sure it isn't vandalized while I'm picketing.

Update 6/12/2014 - Toyota's junk parade continues with another recall. A whopping 2.27 million vehicles because airbags could fail, also involving a fire hazzard. 20 models are on the list, including the Corolla, Yaris, and Noah. Note that as part of Toyota's recent federal criminal settlement, "...the automaker admitted that it lied when it insisted that it had addressed the "root cause" of the (unintended acceleration) problem by fixing floor mats that could trap the accelerator."

Update 6/14/2014 - Here's a video which puts Toyota's unintended acceleration scandal in proper perspective. There's now evidence GALORE of electronic defects in Toyota's throttle control. Read "Toyota's killer firmware: Bad design and its consequences." Embedded systems expert Michael Barr found the following, resulting in a guilty verdict in the landmark unintended acceleration case last October in Oklahoma:
* Toyota's electronic throttle control system (ETCS) source code is of unreasonable quality.
* Toyota's source code is defective and contains bugs, including bugs that can cause unintended acceleration (UA)
* Code-quality metrics predict presence of additional bugs.
* Toyota's fail safes are defective and inadequate (referring to them as a 'house of cards' safety architecture).
* Misbehaviours of Toyota's ETCS are a cause of UA

Acknowledged crook Toyota is being allowed to ignore Mr. Barr's findings, and drivers of runaway vehicles involved in crashes are being unjustifiably found at fault and charged accordingly.

Update 6/18/2014 - For another account of Mr. Barr's findings, published 2/26/2014, read "Toyota Code Could Be Lethal." As the author says, "Put simply, it's frightening enough to make you buy a pre-computer car." There's been a mainstream media news blackout regarding Mr. Barr's findings. Only a few trade journals have dared to publicize the facts. 

Update 7/9/14 - Million thanks to Clarence Ditlow and Michael Brooks for posting a link to this blog on the Center for Auto Safety website.  

Update 7/10/14 - See 6/14 update above. Mr. Barr's findings raise questions about the reliability of electronic throttle controls in all brands, and the facts are being exposed as the auto industry tries to delay having to implement fail-safes that have been mandated for years in the airline industry. Today there's news that Honda has admitted to electronic defects causing unintended acceleration and has recalled 175,000 hybrid vehicles. THIS IS THE FIRST TIME AN AUTOMAKER HAS MADE SUCH AN ADMISSION. STAY TUNED.    

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Video: Runaway RAV4 plows into library - electronics at issue

Update 6/7/2014 - This article (unusually detailed) underscores the all-too-common circumstances in which crashes suggestive of electronically-induced unintended acceleration take place. Note that the Gilmans' car was an '03 Camry. NASA physicist Henning Leidecker is warning of increased risk of unintended acceleration in '02-'06 Camrys, calling it a game of Russian roulette.

Last Tuesday, a runaway RAV4 smashed into Finkelstein Memorial Library in Spring Valley, New York. Security-cam video caught the entire event. The RAV4 was SLOWLY turning into the parking lot when the vehicle suddenly took off like a rocket. Consistent with the video, the driver says his foot was on the brake pedal when he heard the engine rev up as the RAV4 simultaneously accelerated. This makes at least three cases during the past two months suggesting electronically-induced unintended acceleration in runaway Toyotas. Common denominators include parking lots, turning corners, slow speeds when the events begin, and driver complaints that the brakes failed to stop the vehicles. None of the drivers in these crashes (injuries galore, death of a four-year-old) have been elderly. All of the vehicles crashed into public buildings. A Solara into a daycare, a Lexus into a church, now the RAV4 into a library. 

Okay. If ol' Sammy is gonna let acknowledged crooks like Toyota ignore compelling evidence of electronic defects in throttle controls, ya gotta put barriers up. 'Specially twixt public buildings and parking lots. 'Cause parking lots are where so many unintended accelerations occur.

Who needs expensive, proper designs for electronic throttle controls when ya can have storefront barriers?

Believe it or not, that seems to be the attitude of the rapidly growing storefront-barrier movement, 'cause I've yet to see wunna their websites even so much as mention the issue of electronically-induced unintended acceleration. Not that automotive interests would dupe the public by promoting notions of "driver error," but such websites are poppin' up as fast as runaway Toyotas...

Meanwhile, runaway-vehicle events are happening far more frequently than most folks realize. The exceptionally well-credentialed electrical engineer Dr. Antony Anderson estimates that on a worldwide basis, 10,000 electronically-associated runaways take place each year. How many of these events result in vehicles crashing into public buildings is anyone's guess, but it's an alarming consideration.

One thing's for sure: The barrier people got it wrong for the runaway RAV4. Barriers placed at the library entrance - which happens to be in a direct line to a parking lot entrance that requires motorists to make a 90 degree turn, apply brakes, and travel at slow speed - were spaced so far apart that even a vehicle the size of a RAV4 could zoom between 'em unscathed, leaving the "scathed" part for the library, people inside, furniture, desks, chairs, books...

Not only proper spacing. Ya also gotta make sure those storefront barriers are strong enough to stop an out-of-control vehicle, and some haven't been. Fact is, cars have become giant computers that can even be hacked. So just think how nice it would be - since automakers seem a bit slack in designing electronic throttle controls - if barriers were most everywhere, and folks were confident that runaway vehicles, especially Toyotas, were no match for those ever-present barriers.

No, it wouldn't be a cure-all.

You'd still be on yer own until - and unless - you could get to wherever you needed to go to have safety barriers twixt you and any vehicles - notably Toyotas - in the vicinity, especially if they were lurking around those pesky parking lots where drivers are apt to be maneuvering at extremely slow speeds, foot on the brake, moving shift levers, entering or exiting parking spaces, or turning corners. As video of the runaway RAV4 demonstrates, they don't call it "sudden" unintended acceleration fer nuthin'.   

No informed consumer was surprised by Tuesday's library crash. It displayed classic circumstances in which these events take place, and the security-cam video corroborated everything the driver said. Extremely slow speed, a 90 degree turn into the parking lot, then the engine suddenly revs up as the vehicle takes off like a rocket, barrels out of control, and the brakes fail to stop it. One of the people inside the library thought the place had been bombed, and a 14 year old girl wound up pinned beneath the RAV4, lucky not to have been critically injured or killed.

From the article "Toyota's killer firmware: Bad design and its consequences," let's review once again the findings of embedded systems expert Michael Barr:

* Toyota's electronic throttle control system (ETCS) source code is of unreasonable quality.
* Toyota's source code is defective and contains bugs, including bugs that can cause unintended acceleration (UA)
* Code-quality metrics predict presence of additional bugs.
* Toyota's fail-safes are defective and inadequate (referring to them as a 'house of cards' safety architecture).
* Misbehaviours of Toyota's ETCS are a cause of UA

There's no excuse for this government allowing automakers - especially an acknowledged crook like Toyota - to ignore evidence of defective electronics associated with unintended acceleration. As things now stand, valid safety measures are being exploited as part of a perverse effort to save corporations big bucks. Storefront barriers are no substitute for proper designs in electronic throttle controls.

Update 6/04/2014 - I just now learned of a second runaway Lexus event that happened in April, this one in Ridgewood, New Jersey as the driver was attmepting to park. "Parking" may be the most common denominator of all. While Toyotas are most likely to be involved, other brands are not immune, demonstrated by this deadly, sudden unintended acceleration of a Subaru into a hair salon on 5/30/2014 in Jefferson Township, Pennsylvania.