• Jan 19, 2010


Toyota
cars are being equipped with brake override systems, that's a fact. The reason behind it isn't the recent and as-yet-unsolved runaway car issues that have plagued the automaker. At least that's what Toyota says; the company maintains that the change was already under development. While other companies have seemingly figured out brake override, Toyota has been busy perfecting its own setup. All of this is according to what Toyota's quality general manager, Hiroyuki Yokoyama, tells Automotive News.

In the interview, Yokoyama admits that part of Toyota's recent quality problems stem in part from from the automaker's rapid growth as it overtook General Motors as the world's biggest-selling automaker. More to the point, Toyota's increase in production numbers and proliferation of model lines made quality harder to bake-in to every product. The competition has also improved in quality, closing the gap between Toyota and its rivals. Yokoyama also challenges the accusation that there are underlying problems with Toyota's electronic throttle systems, citing the number of sensors and failsafes already designed into the system. Nevertheless, Toyota is looking at its pushbutton start/stop, admits Yokoyama. To shut the engine down, the button must be depressed for three seconds, a safety feature to prevent accidental shut-offs, but perhaps that's longer than might be intuitive in an emergency.

Regardless of the reason for Toyota's plan to equip all new models with a brake override system – be it due diligence, face saving or thinly-veiled panic – the immediate priority is to avert any further reputation hits and fix whatever they find.

[Source: Automotive News - sub. req. | Image: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 60 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Toyota is single handedly putting nails in their own coffin. In 10 years we'll all be saying, "Toyota who?"
        • 4 Years Ago
        The same thing could have been said about Audi back in the day with their unintended acceleration issues.

        This too will pass.

      • 4 Years Ago
      Toyota is done...stick a fork in them...People understand Toyota's are LEMONS !!!!!

      3.5 million sludged engines on Camry,Sienna and Lexus 6 cyl models...

      3 million rusted truck frames...

      Unknown true millions of random excelleration vehicles..

      Millions of faulty transmission and camshaft problems..

      Bad sulfer,cancer causing exhaust on its cars you cant even drive them your eyes water,cant breathe.You know that horrible smell when following them Honda/acura has that issue as well..

      Rusting floorboards in 6 months of the Echo...Now you know why they changed the name to Yaris !!

      Who in there right mind would buy a Toyota ? Unless you want endless reliability issues...This is proof Toyota cannot mass produce vehicles,they better go back to a niche manufacturer..


        • 4 Years Ago
        My sister has had an Echo for 9 years, got it used. Only problems she has had are due to her inability to take it in for anything more expensive than an oil change.

        • 4 Years Ago
        @Random:

        Toyota's outsourced component quality control has been pretty bad for the last number of years. That said, I can't think of a single manufacturer that doesn't have problems, or can't improve upon their products.

        I'm not a fan of the current crop of Toyota vehicles, but I would be remiss if I didn't point out the following:
        1. There are not 3.5 million sludged engines. Instead, there were 3.5 million engines made of the designs that exhibit sludging tendencies. That's still a huge problem, but hardly the misrepresentation that you stated.

        2. Similarly, there are not 3 million rusted truck frames. Instead, there were 3 million frames made, some of which exhibit severe rust damage. Again, that's still a huge problem, but hardly the level of problem which you mentioned.

        3. Of the issues that you listed, I'M only concerned about the truck frames, and the runaway vehicles, since those represent a serious safety hazzard to everyone on the road.

        What manufacturer do you like?
        invisiblepigeon3
        • 4 Years Ago
        I stopped reading at "excelleration". Learn how the f*** to spell before you start making unsubstantiated BS claims.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Honestly man it makes me sick to think what Ford went through with the Firestone issue. Heck mention it to a non-car person and they'll probably know what your talking about. Thank the media for bashing Ford, not that Ford didnt deserve it, they did. Now look at this Toyota problem. The media must be paid off to shut up because that same person wouldn't have a clue what your talking about. Great Job Media, bash the home team and praise the visitors, LOL. (NOT blaming autoblog on this) It just frustrates me when I see specific articles drawn out against one company and then shown favortism to an outside company like Toyota. Personally Toyota has it coming worse than Ford, but does the media mention it, heck NO! I can only hope Toyota gets fair treatment a good face bashing but I'm just not seeing it in the media.
      JDM Life
      • 4 Years Ago
      I would like to know how many "runaway" cars where their exactly. I know countless people who owns Toyota's (new models and olds) and none ever had a "runaway".

      I don't think Toyota is according to AB "plagued" in anyway. The media (AB) loves to exaggerate when they get the opportunity to do so.

      Theres many things that could cause a car to "runaway" that could not relate to the manufacture at all.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @JDM Life
        @JDM:

        I'm sure that Toyota would like to know exactly how many runaway cars they've produced, too.

        So you don't know anyone it's happened to? Well, congratulations... I guess it must not be a problem, then.

        I, however, DO know someone it happened to... my mother. She has a Solara that stuck at WOT while merging onto the freeway from an uphill entrance ramp. She lifted at 70mph (when she was at sufficient speed to merge), and the car remained at WOT.

        Fortunately, she had the presence of mind to put the car into neutral, then shut it down. She acted quickly, but estimates that she was going 80 or 85 by the time she realized what was going on and got the car into neutral. At that point, you are chewing up about half a football field a second, and are still accelerating.

        Like you, I know other people who own Toyotas and Lexuses. Aside from my mother, I don't know of anyone else that has had the problem. That is not evidence that the unintended acceleration isn't a problem. To the contrary, the fact that more and more reports keep coming in strongly indicate that it IS a problem. I don't agree with your assertion that AB is exaggerating this in any way... it's called reporting. Toyota makes a ton of vehicles, and AB is putting information out there for anyone that owns, is thinking about owning, or knows someone that owns one of the affected vehicles.

        Your statement that there are "many things that could cause a car to "runaway" that could not relate to the manufacture at all" - is false. There are some possible causes, but certainly not many - in fact, I would be surprised if you could name even a dozen. It's probably just a really suble error in a rarely executed code branch in the ECM - hopefully, Toyota has some of their best people looking through it line-by-line.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @JDM Life
        I agree, if it were entirely up to stuff on the media we'd learn things like only attractive white women get kidnapped, all muslims were out to kill us, and everything around us will cause us to die from cancer.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @JDM Life
        For example, not having a brake override system like everyone else has..
        • 4 Years Ago
        @JDM Life
        This happened to my father and his Camry twice. It had nothing do with floor mats. Are you on the Toyota Payroll? Toyota's day of reckoning will be coming soon, JDMsan, and you will be crying in your Saki when it does.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Man will look back fondly one day when all you had to do to shut your car off was turn and take out the key.
      When you wanted to reverse, you just put the gear in reverse, not flip some paddles and push a button.
      Key and gated shifter (automatic or manual) have been working great for years, never understood the need to get rid of them.
      I hate push button keyless start and stop.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This reeks of corporate cover-up. It appears that not only so-called "evil" American Corporations are guilty of doing so.

      Furthermore, Toyota is becoming irrelevant in the automotive world. As the article stated, the completion's quality is up there as well, so is the only remaining reason to buy a Toyota is to get a blandly-styled car?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Wow, Toyota learned bad spin from Old GM!

        Nice.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Rhawb - yea......rrrrrright. So you mean to tell me that all of your friends make such a big dent in Toyota sales that Toyota is now irrelevant? I don't need to say that you're one bias son of a gun because your HUGE Mazda icon says it all.

        • 4 Years Ago
        What's wrong with what he said? Best I can tell, they're well on their way to driving away even their most loyal customers, and it's not even like they have an exciting lineup or reliability to back them up anymore. I honestly can't remember the last time any of my friends or family members chose a Toyota over competing vehicles - they're all going with Honda, Hyundai, Mazda, even Ford, but not Toyota. Not anymore at least. Now, obviously they're not in any real trouble yet, but if they don't start turning this ship around soon they're in for some seriously troubled times ahead.
      • 4 Years Ago
      So the Toyota of today is the old GM of yesterday?

      • 4 Years Ago
      $20 says that unverifiable "unintended acceleration" will still be reported with these cars.
      • 4 Years Ago
      >>To shut the engine down, the button must be depressed for three seconds, a safety feature to prevent accidental shut-offs, but perhaps that's longer than might be intuitive in an emergency.

      To the contrary, three seconds is enough, I would say the engine accidentally shutting off while your vehicle is in motion is much more dangerous then the possibility of your floor mats somehow being stuck below the accelerator.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I think another assumption everyone is making is that people will even *think* to shut off the ignition. It's possible that they might, but I suspect that the large majority of people are very inexperienced at coasting at speed with a stalled engine. In addition, will they pump the brakes instead of just holding it down, thus exhausting the booster? Will they even know what is going on when that happens? When they slow down, will they know why their steering wheel suddenly feels way, way heavier? Remember, these are the same people who don't put it in neutral because the "engine will race!!111"

        Even if there was no such thing as a rev limiter, I don't know how people think that this comparison makes sense:

        Killing yourself, your passengers, and whoever you run into >> Blown engine

        I feel that while Toyota should address their problems, there's also a significant dearth of emergency operating procedures among drivers. It's like everyone expects some electronic nanny to save them, and never expects anything bad to ever happen to them. Always to the other guy, right? People are living in a fantasy world.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I can't hardly imagine someone would unintentionally push the button for three seconds while driving. The odd is as much or even less than turning your key accidentally because that doesn't even take 1 second.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Instead of having to depress the button for 3 valuable seconds in case of emergency, why don't they just put a plastic cover over the button to prevent accidental shut-off? (e.g. something similar to a toggle switch cover.)

        http://www.binbin.net/photos/generic/mis/missile-style-toggle-switch-cover-toggle-switch-cover-.jpg

        invisiblepigeon3
        • 4 Years Ago
        Akboss

        The electronics in a modern key fob are there to prevent the car from being hotwired. They're part of the engine immobilizer system that makes it much harder to steal than a car that needs nothing but a mechanical key to operate.

        The fact that you go to Wal Mart pretty much says all I need to know about you though.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @RSR

        My point, three seconds is probably ideal, 1 or 2 seconds there might be a possibility of making things more dangerous.

        The reality is, you need to weigh what the real world dangers are.

        What is the real world probability of jamming your floor mat in the accelerator (especially not that they have been recalled the mats and had the accelerator modified) versus how many people would accidentally hit the button for 1 second or 2 second accidentally shutting off the engine, etc?

        In the real world both are unlikely to happen for the most part, but there will be a handful of people no matter how small for each side. Its a matter of probabilities. A balance needs to be struck if you want to increase or decrease the time before engine shut-off.

        The reality is that many silly and stupid things cause accidents, 2,600 deaths and 330,000 injures are caused by automotive cellphone usage in the US. Many other distractions can cause a death or an injury to the passenger if its poorly implemented. This automatic shut-off can be another one of those factors if its not properly implemented.
        • 4 Years Ago
        When you're in an emergency situation, 3sec will seem like an eternity. That's also assuming that most of the owners even know that they need to hold it for 3sec to turn the car off while driving.

        Most will be use to just pressing it for a short time like they do when they shut the car off normally and then will panic when the car doesn't respond and the engine stays on.

        I think a much more reasonable solution (barring a return to keys) would be a system like Infiniti has in which it recognizes a panic situation and shuts off the engine after 3 short presses of the start-stop button.

        • 4 Years Ago
        montoym, none of that directly points to that any of this is caused by an ECU or software error. And neither of your links really pointed to that. There are tons of anecdotal experiences related to most car problems, however the true diagnosis is usually different. Which is why anecdotal evidence is merely that. The NHTSA haven't found anything in their investigation, rather then the obvious. Floor mats and pedal shape. A classic example of Occam's razor

        Toyota adding an auto shut-off doesn't mean that there was a software issue that was at fault.

        More likely they are covering their legal asses.
        • 4 Years Ago
        http://www.leftlanenews.com/toyota-avalon-displays-unintended-acceleration-without-floor-mat.html

        Toyota also seems to agree that it's an issue too,

        http://www.autoblog.com/2010/01/12/breaking-toyota-said-to-install-brake-override-systems-in-all-c/
        quote - "From the "things that should probably already be there" file comes the announcement that Toyota will be installing brake override systems in response to recent incidents of runaway cars. Toyota North America president Yoshi Inaba told Automotive News that the system will force the engine into idle if it senses the driver is trying to apply the brakes unsuccessfully.............The automaker is attributing reports of runaway cars on floor mat interference with the pedals, though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reportedly remains suspicious of other contributing factors." -

        Beyond that though, it only makes sense to implement these other fixes as well. Especially considering that other automakers have already addressed this issue years ago. That's the main issue myself and other have with this. That Toyota dragged their feet and chose to blame floor mats instead of solving the larger issue until it all blew up in their face.

        For instance, regardless of floor mats or whatever holding your pedal down, it still makes sense that when you press heavily on the brake pedal (signifying an emergency), the brake signal should override the throttle input and allow the car to slow down without the engine fighting it the whole way. Slamming on the brakes is the most common and natural reaction to a situation like this.

        If the Brake input would override the throttle input, then it doesn't matter what's in the way of the pedal or how you want to shut the engine off, the car will still slow down. That's why I'm saying that this is really the more important fix.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You're making the assumption that the floor mat is the culprit. Other examples have shown that some Toyota vehicles have the propensity to accelerate on their own without a floor mat in the way. It's an issue with the ECU that this change is addressing.

        If Toyota believed it was solely the floor mats, why would they go through the trouble of these other fixes as well?

        That said, I agree that the odds of it occurring are very slim, but that doesn't mean that they shouldn't build their vehicles to anticipate such a situation. I surely hope I don't have to use the airbags in my car, but I am glad they are there even if the odds of me getting into an accident are slim.
        • 4 Years Ago
        >>When you're in an emergency situation, 3sec will seem like an eternity. That's also assuming that most of the owners even know that they need to hold it for 3sec to turn the car off while driving.

        The most rational thing is merely pull the stuck floor mat out under the pedal or unjam it. It'll probably take less then 3 seconds, and the accident that started all this had the time to call 911 while his floor mat was stuck so there is obviously time to spare.

        Much like the Audi 5000 situation, the chances of you getting your pedal stuck is incredibly small, most people won't even need this forced shut off 'function, but the chances of you accidentally depressing the power button for a few seconds in probably much higher.

        But depressing the power button is probably what most people would do instinctual, being that that's what you do to turn off most devices. That's also how I force shutdown my Mac and PC.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I wonder if anyone has tried yet to use this as a defense against a speeding ticket while driving a Toyota. "but but your Honor, it wasn't , my fault. it was THE CAR"
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wikipedia claims that the 1ZZ-FE and 2ZZ-GE, 2ZR-FE, and 2AZ-FE engines that the Vibe/Matrix have used are Toyota engines. Plus, isn't one of them also used in the Lotus Elise? I've never heard that it came with a Yamaha engine, always a Toyota one.
        • 4 Years Ago
        supposed to be a reply.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I thought push button start was just a silly gimmick that allowed automakers to change more for their cars. I figured the worst it could do was leave you stranded and unable to start the car if the fob was removed from the car somewhere along your journey. I never thought about the danger of being unable to immediatly turn a key to kill the engine.

      I see no upside to the pointless pushbutton.
      Key > Pushbutton
        invisiblepigeon3
        • 4 Years Ago
        akboss

        Quit bitching because your car doesn't have one. Push button ignition is a big convenience and doesn't require "more time" and manufacturers like Lexus don't seem to be charging any more for them than the old keys.

        My old car has a regular key, and my new one has push button start. I find that the pushbutton start is a lot more convenient, since I never have to take it out of my pocket to get into the car, start it, lock it, open the trunk. It is all done with the key in your pocket, so it's like you've got the magic touch to command the car to do what you want it to.

        It's also better for personal security to have the car unlock your door when you grab the handle, rather than fumbling with a key to do it. Even if its just pushing the button on a key fob, that takes a hand to do, and takes time to dig it out of your pocket. If you've gotta get in the car and get away fast, it's a great thing to have.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "fumbling around with it to get it lined up with a hole that I can't really see"

        Really? Is that really a problem for you? I have never met a person with a lisence that experiences difficulty inserting their key in the ignition. As as for the glove, if removing the glove to grab the key is too difficult, then grab the key before putting the glove on.

        What about this scenario:

        You are carpooling with your wife to work. You think you have your fob on you because the car starts. You drop her off at work and continue on to your office. At the end of the day you realize you never had your fob after all. The car had started because your wife had her fob in her purse. Now you are miles away from either fob with a car that cannot be started. Suddenly removing a glove and inserting a key does not sound like such a hassle.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Erik

        In regards to your scenario with the wife's purse. Most cars I've been in that have a smartkey system would require your wife's purse to be on your lap, in your floorboard or on the center console. I am not saying what you are saying can't happen, but they do try to make sure the driver is the one with the key fob in the car and not anyone sitting in any other seat.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Key" in my pocket >> Key that I have to pull out of my pocket when my gloves don't allow my hands to fit in there and then fumbling around with it to get it lined up with a hole that I can't really see

        The button itself is not the point. The lack of a mechanical key is the point.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @akboss,

        Space savings is just one benefit, but space is very important to vehicle design. Companies really struggle and work hard to save space. Just consider how much people complain about not having enough 'storage space.' And designs often get compromised due to space.

        Just put it on the floor? hahaha.
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