• Feb 2, 2010
Here's Toyota's line: its two recalls for floormats and sticking accelerator pedals should cover all potential cases of sudden unintended acceleration in its batch of recalled vehicles. Both recalls are for mechanical issues, and Toyota spokesman John Hanson claims, "After man years of exhaustive testing we have not found any evidence of an electronic [software] problem that would have led to unwanted acceleration."

Enter Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple and a jolly guy who knows a thing or two about software. While speaking at the Discovery Forum 2010, the Woz claimed that his 2010 Prius, which is not a part of either recall, has an accelerator that "goes wild but only under certain conditions of cruise control." He also claimed that it's repeatable. Though Woz said he has tried to contact both Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Institute, neither has reportedly investigated his claim.

Why is this news? Because despite Toyota's claim that any potential risk for sudden unintentional acceleration in its recalled vehicles is mechanically related, there are lingering reports of other cases, including ones involving vehicles not affected by either recall, that could be software-related. Proving that software caused an instance of sudden acceleration is tricky, so the fact that Woz claims he can repeat the issue makes his case appear to be one worth investigating.



[Source: CNET | Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 59 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I knew it...the others were close but this might be the actual cigar.

      Problem solving is always much harder when millions and millions of people are expecting an answer right away...in this case Toyota probably settled for a root cause that was seemingly fitting. What's worse? There's almost no way to find out if this is the actual fix unless it never happens again...remember the floormat problem that was not the problem??

      To be safe I'd avoidToyota all together.
        • 4 Years Ago
        My personal experience dealing with warranty on my Tundra led me to ultimately swear off Toyota for good. After 2 yrs of dealing with denials, excuses, wasted shop time and ruined tires, I sold the truck. Less than 2 months later, suddenly a recall on the front ball joints was announced. So the OP is just saying that there are plenty of other choices besides Toyota. Hardly a conspiracy theory. And yes, I still want a convertible MR2 anyway.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You've got to be joking. Even the known problem is statistically insignificant. Now we're speculating about a problem that may not have any basis in truth?

        I guess I just wish this media feeding frenzy was aimed at an automaker I want to buy something from so I could score a new ride on the cheap. Maybe I'll pick up a Land Cruiser at 30% off. Thanks, nut job conspiracy-theorist fear mongers!
        • 4 Years Ago
        "There's almost no way to find out if this is the actual fix unless it never happens again..."

        Didn't Woz indicate he can replicate the issue?
        • 4 Years Ago
        No, the OP is just saying there are plenty of other choices than Toyota, he's implying that Toyota should be written off altogether "just to be safe," which is insane, reactionary and totally hyperbolic. Listen, there isn't a single vehicle Toyota makes that I'm interested in, but what I reject is this sensationalist propaganda that seeks to cement an implication that puting your foot down on the gas pedal of a Toyota is a flip of the coin to see if you'll step out of the car alive, and I honestly don't understand how asking that some semblance of proportion be injected into this debate is worthy of being flamed and "half-starred."

        You all need to grow up and live in the real world. If you think your Toyota's accelerator is going to kill you then you'd sure as hell better have checked your tire pressure lately, made sure your timing belt has been replaced within the service interval, have all of your external lights functioning, buckle your seatbelt every time you get behind the wheel, never let your young child ride when not in a car seat, have your vehicle properly aligned, turn off your cell phone, put down the Big Mac and get your hands at 10 and 2.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @scablaw You seem to be the one well versed in hyperbole. The OP says "To be safe I'd would avoid Toyota all together" He refers somewhat sympathetically to a pattern of events related to Toyota, and considers the huge task of mishandling millions of customers. He and I can choose to avoid Toyota. Would you have me buy a Toyota after my repeated instances similar to the article I commented on. You have come to the conclusion that none of the recent events should apply to a buyers decision, and used belittling others to make your argument. Maybe growing up isn't the answer, try growing down and get some base. Toyota has made its own bed and it's full of bugs. Now they finally get to sleep in it.
      • 4 Years Ago
      By no means am I defending this problem or his account of what happens but this line is classic...

      It's scary because it's so wrong and so out of your normal control

      Out of your normal control? What about tapping the brake pedal?

      And using cruise control at 85+ in your Prius? Maybe just an example but seems like using 65+ would be more relatable.
        • 4 Years Ago
        That doesn't take away from Toyota's mistake.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Woz is a techie, an analyst. He was able to troubleshoot and find a work around for the problem. He is one in one thousand with that ability. Are you saying that everyone that owns a Toyota must have that sort of technical aptitude? Well, I do and I won't buy the pieces of crap.

        The Brakes is not the answer, remember that police officer and his family that died in that Lexus? The investigation revealed that he DID apply the brakes, but the braked had been worn out by prior episodes of demonic acceleration.

        The brakes are your (emergency exit, fire escape, parachute). Once forced to use the braked in this manner, this vehicle should be GROUNDED until the problem is properly resolved. The federal government needs to further investigate this, before allowing Toyota to resume business as usual.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The Lexus ES350 wasn't part of the recall either. Not only was that involved in the CHP officer accident, it has also been part of the cruise control malfunction complaints. Congress needs to get Wozniak in front of Congress.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You have to wonder if Toyota is protecting the Lexus name by not including it in the recall.
      • 4 Years Ago
      If he (or anyone) can produce/replicate the acceleration induced software glitch.

      Toyota is then going to have a MAJOR crap storm on their hands.
        • 4 Years Ago
        My 05 Tacoma cruise control is poorly designed. It is a drive by wire system and it lets the speed drop 5-10 mph below the set speed before it reacts. Then it opens the throttle a lot, which causes the transimssion to downshift one or two gears - the truck accelerates like crazy, shoots past the set speed - kills the throttle and repeats. This only happens on hilly roads - it does OK on level freeways - but it is poorly implemented. And like Woz, I write software for a living. I have done many applications that interact with hardware, and this is not rocket science.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @jld - yeah... designing effective systems is hard, brake that overrides throttle, adequate cruise control, quality isn't the name of the game when slash and burning costs. I'll try this on my camry and see what happens.
      • 4 Years Ago
      a mechanic looks for a mechanical problem, a computer guy looks for a software problem, a boss looks for an administrative problem, a supervisor looks for a personnel problem, H.R. people look for a training problem, the union leader calls for a "sit down" and slower assembly lines....the owner just wants the damn thing fixed and safe to drive.

      who can say how many problems are fixed by duct tape, WD40, some rubber bands and a couple of paper clips.
      • 4 Years Ago
      2010 Prius isn't even part of the recall. All of a sudden every cars now has a unintended acceleration after they hear about the news.
        • 4 Years Ago
        And I guess the co-inventor of the personal computer is just an idiot because you are a fanboy of Toyota?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Here are the conditions, which Woz actually posted on Slashdot a while back:

      http://tech.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1430048&cid=29973870

      "Let's say that I'm in some place where the speed 85 mph is legal. I can nudge my cruise control speed lever and my speed barely goes up, say from 80 to 81. I nudge at again and again, up to 83. Then I nudge it again and the car takes off, no speed limit. Nudging the cruise speed control lever down has no effect until I've done it about 10 times or more. By then my Prius is doing 97. It's scary because it's so wrong and so out of your normal control. I tested this over and over the night I observed it."
        • 4 Years Ago
        @mapoftazifosho

        Woz is a *really* smart guy. I've met him a couple of times, and I'd believe him when he says something is designed wrong, rather than assuming he doesn't know how to use it. He has no ego and would admit if he simply didn't know how to use the thing. If he says it's a "normal use" scenario, I believe him, even if he isn't describing it properly.

        It may not be as serious as "throttle-gate", but it should be looked at more closely than it seems toyota has. If anything, toyota should discuss the issue with Woz directly - he really is a bright person whose opinion should matter even to a big company like Toyota.

        Incidentally, I really don't think cruise control should ever hit WOT - I know my 2004 Audi S4 won't - if I repeatedly tap the "up" speed on the cruise control, it accelerates, but not as fast as WOT. Because really, your car shouldn't hit WOT unless you're directly in control of it - that's just unsafe. Most cars might do it, but it's probably a practice that automakers should end.
        -Taylor
        • 4 Years Ago
        134hp is a lot of hp. I don't find 97 unreasonable (unless the car has a limiter).

        I got a Chevette up to over 90 and those things had what, 80hp?
        • 4 Years Ago
        "By then my Prius is doing 97"

        So is his Prius supercharged?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Two of my cars will do this with the cruise control. Neither are Toyotas...

        Simply put, It takes a gentle touch to increase your speed marginally using the cruise control buttons. If you hold down the increase speed button for a longer time...the car will go near WOT...nothing that I would consider dangerous...I told the car to do it by holding it down for an extended time...

        Tap the brakes or disengage the cruise control...problem solved.

        This recall is really pissing me off because self-proclaimed know-it-alls are coming out of the wood work claiming they have suffered unintentional acceleration and blah blah blah...

        Learn to use your cars people!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Sounds to me he basically having issues with cruise control. Or doesn't know how to use it.

        He's nudging the cruise control lever over and over again, and the Prius isn't able to get up to his desired speed quickly enough (understandable if you're going 80+ mph in a Prius), so he keeps pressing it "again and again" in his words.

        Obviously something as underpowered as a Prius is not going to suddenly jump to 97mph from 80mph in an instant, it seems to me that time it takes for the Prius to meet his speed expectations on an 85mph highway he has has hit the speed up lever a bunch of times.

        So eventually the Prius is doing 97 mph because he nudged up the speed lever on the cruise control "again and again" and "ten times more."

        Of course even with that all he has to do is disengage cruise control, by lightly touching the brakes.
      • 4 Years Ago
      such a bad news for toyota. this quarter just stinks for them...

      it was firestone for ford, and now it is mal-designed stupid gas pedal and software that are literally ruining toyota

      40 years' worth of reputation is just evaporating effortlessly in such a short period.

      i hope they'd get it over
      • 4 Years Ago
      yawn .....

      I can see some people who unfortunately do not react well under pressure being taken aback by actual sudden acceleration if it occurs and not thinking to put the car in neutral.
      However, if you've just been futzing your speed up with the cruise control and it suddenly starts going too fast and you don't think to just shut the cruise control off (or hit the damned brake which WILL shut the cruise off) then come on.... this is just becoming ridiculous.
      I lost a bit of respect for woz over Kathy Griffin.
      This just goes to show that all people are people and so sometimes subject to idiocy.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Obviously there are Toyota lovers (or employees) that refuse to recognize that "any thing" could be wrong with their wonder cars.....
      and others that cant contain themselves from the opportunity to bash Toyota...

      They are devices created by humans.....they will have problems.
      I personally dont like any Japanese cars....
      but Toyota seems to be trying to do what they can to fix the problem.
      Government Motors will attempt to use this as an opportunity to rescue their investments..

      • 4 Years Ago
      Interesting - I had a similar issue with the cruise control on an older Lexus. Both the dealer and Lexus said I was imagining it. Guess not.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Toyota talks from both sides of it's mouth. Toyota and Consumer Report should both taken into court for misleading the public.
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