• Feb 12, 2010
Toyota's got its sticky-pedal fix in high gear, with dealers exorcising an impressive 50,000 unintended acceleration demons per day. Thus far, 225,000 of the several million recalled vehicles have already been repaired. Going all-in on the fix was the only choice for Toyota, anything less would telegraph an attitude of apathy toward safety, and brand perception has tumbled precipitously lately.

There's a long way to go to finish all the fixes for the various massive recalls of Toyota vehicles, but there have been positives lately, too. MotorWeek named the Prius its 2010 Car of the Year, overall customer complaints have been low for the past decade, and a refreshed Avalon rolled out in Chicago. On the other hand, some members of Congress would like Akio Toyoda, president of the company, to pay a visit to Capitol Hill for what's likely to be a less pleasant experience.

As a result of the runaway acceleration issues, Toyota is also considering forward-looking revisions to its Smart Key pushbutton start system. The changes wouldn't be part of any recalls, and would be for yet-to-be-birthed cars. Adding a three-press shutdown feature, instead of the current mode of holding the start button for three-plus seconds is a change that would bring Toyota in line with other automakers that use pushbutton start. The hope is that in an emergency, shutting down the vehicle will be quicker and more intuitive.

[Source: Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post]


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  • 52 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I don't think that's the good idea, the better idea is to "educate" more drivers to shift into neutral, because shutting down the vehicle, is what can get you killed should your vehicle become a runaway car. If anything, maybe implement throttle shut-down when the brakes are depressed.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I am just wondering. Do cars still have steering wheel locks?

      How would a push button start affect them?

      I just finally bought a car with an electronic key (the regular key with a small chip in it).
      • 4 Years Ago
      "The hope is that in an emergency, shutting down the vehicle will be quicker and more intuitive. "

      aka people who just mash buttons, pump pedals, and generally curl up into the fetal position when even the slightest thing goes wrong.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @mapoftazifosho

        Whatever, dude. You know and I know that its been decades since a great many people took driver's ed that are still allowed to drive. Some people didn't take it all. And some people just aren't good in pressure situations, especially not when they're talking, texting, listening to music, eating, or whatever it is some people do behind the wheels of cars. We don't need a careless automaker neglecting to fix a potentially killer flaw to their vehicles.

        I'm sure you wouldn't be as presumptuous if one of these people ran into you while driving, or worse you happen to be in a crosswalk or sidewalk if they were to lose control. How would your drving skills help you then?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Um, yeah. Because there was a time when this kinda stuff happened with cars on semi-regular basis and people were prepared to handle it. I was trained how to handle a stuck accelerator in driver's ed...is that not commonplace anymore?
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Toyota is also considering forward-looking revisions to its Smart Key pushbutton start system... that would bring Toyota in line with other automakers that use pushbutton start."

      I'm sorry but what? What next? 'Toyota is also considering a forward-looking revisions to its brake system to allow brakes to override throttle, which would bring toyota in line with other automakers that use brakes and accelerators.'

      What part of bringing your car up to standards already set by competing automakers if forward-looking?

      Let’s cut the bs.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @why not the LS2LS7? - no. and it's beyond pride, it's the business culture. Spend some time over there, or talk with folks who work in the business culture in japan. I have a feeling books will be written after this debacle about business culture and consumer culture in differing countries.

        It is board line hysterical now, though, all the back pedaling and positive spin they're putting on being a decade behind on some of these basic safety features.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @invisiblepigeon3 - lol obviously why? Both the book and film reassert my points. Why on earth are you providing examples in an attempt to refute me which substantiate the things i've said. What the hell is wrong with you man.
        invisiblepigeon3
        • 4 Years Ago
        I have no illusions about Japanese culture, even if you do about European culture. I've actually lived overseas for almost 2 years, so I'm not sheltered from the world, like many Americans are.

        I'm a white American born citizen, despite everyone on here calling me ethnic Japanese. I happen to like a lot of Japanese culture, because they do have many strong points. Like all human cultures, they've got their weaknesses too. You seem to think that some kind of irrational pride will overcome objectivity, but it can't.

        You can't live vicariously though others and be original either.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Amen. Nissan already has smart pedals. GM has them on at least the cars they think can overcome their brakes. Chrysler does on their cars with ETC. All the Germans do. Hyundai doesn't, but they say they'll have them by the END OF THE MONTH, according to The Wall Street Journal. Toyota will only commit to the 2011 model year. What's the hold up for Toyota if Hyundai can do it in a month?

        I hope for the start button, they'll make the choice Hyundai-Kia did: none. Either a 3-second press or 3 presses will kill the engine. That way it's not a matter of what you consider more intuitive. I like the idea of the twist-knob, but it does somewhat negate the advantage for people who have arthritis and other issues manipulating knobs.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Forward-looking to catch up.

        I guess we're getting a lesson in how do you try to put safety features on your car you should have had all along without potentially exposing yourself to lawsuits claiming you were negligent for not having them.

        And I don't get the 3 press thing. Is it somehow shameful to just copy the 2 press system others use? Maybe I'm just racist, but it feels like Japanese pride is still a huge factor here.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "aka people who just mash buttons, pump pedals, and generally curl up into the fetal position when even the slightest thing goes wrong."

      Hilarous and yet sad at the same time.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Hey Toyota:

      I love what you do for me: Lying repeatedly and failing to investigate with an open mind about what truly is causing Toyota cars alone to accelerate suddenly. Your customers want a honest investigation and a honest answer.

      If you fail to do this, I am sorry but it's going to be terrible for you and your management and employees.

      This recall story is not over by any means. I pity all the customers like me, the employees, and the holders of Toyota Motor stock because come Monday (which is a slow news day), I expect most major news papers and web sites to pick up on the fiasco that is their PEDAL FIX from a RECALL BLOG that is authoritative.

      http://www.toyotarecall.org/feedback/toyota-sticky-accelerator-recall/

      When that news hits, what is going to happen to Toyota stock (TM)? Will a down 10% (that's limit down in Tokyo) make Toyota see reason? Or does it have to be bankruptcy?

      FINALLY, HERE IS MY OPEN CHALLENGE TO TOYOTA MANAGEMENT:

      Admit the truth and investigate all ECU's with an OPEN MIND or See all your sales evaporate and you file for bankruptcy by the end of the year!

      This is my final warning to Toyota Management from a loyal Toyota customer of 20 years. I just bought 2 new Toyota's recently.

      IF you don't investigate the throttle control unit and the engine control electronics, you are finished this year with ZERO SALES.

      No body, and I mean, Nobody can sustain themselves with zero sales. Toyota's arrogant Management is going to find out this the hard way. It does not have to end this way. FOR GOD'S SAKE, CHANGE YOUR COURSE IMMEDIATELY!
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm still perplexed by those who just push the button for a moment to turn off the car/motor in a impending accident or a run away situation. I've talked to several people and we all agreed we'd be pushing that button down till the SOB turned off and not just a simple push once and freak out. Though part of me is curious and I'll ask here (may get a answer who knows), if one was driving and the car did go out of control, could one simply toss their FoB out the window and would the car die out since its no longer there? I've heard conflicting answers from friends on this some say yes while others say no.

      I agree with other posters though bring back the normal key and most of this issue will be a dead horse.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Same with a Cadillac CTS. It says "key fob not detected, restart disallowed", but keeps running. This can be used for some interesting things, like valet parking where they don't even have your key, they just park it, turn it off and can't get back in or drive it until you come back and give them your key.
        invisiblepigeon3
        • 4 Years Ago
        I have an IS250. It gives you a warning that the key is not in the car, but it doesn't stop the engine.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I am not trusting motor week's opinion then, voting the toyota prius when it has brake problems. Something as important as brakes is a must on a vehicle.
      • 4 Years Ago
      3 button stop eh?

      I do the same 3 fingered salute when my computer doesn't respond. How long before somoene makes some kind of aftermarket button labels Ctrl, Alt and Del.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The push button start should just be a rotary switch that simulates a key.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Anyone who thinks any ignition system today is a simple, old fashion starter system is seriously mistaken. Even the cheapest cars with what may be percieved to average people without much car knowledge as a "key" and an "ignition switch" could not be more incorrect.

      The pushbuton "keyless" ignitions work with the same exact principles as a modern "key", because all cars today have computer coded ignition systems. The car won't start if the key with the computer code is not present, even if the key physically fits the hole. So, the pushbutton ignitions are actually cheaper to make now and contain less parts than the keyed ignition. We will see all cars with keyless ignition in a few years.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Bring back the old fashioned key. It's cheaper than the electronic keyless proximity system and all. And when it breaks, you won't have to pay a mortgage payment worth of money for repairs. What's a new key cut at Lowes cost these days, a few bucks?
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Yea and screw cellphones, bring back payphones!"

        You missed the point that Rick C. was making. Cell phones have a benefit to the user. Push button starts offer nothing to the user other than gee-wiz factor. It is a gimmick that is adding problems and expense to the car. It is not needed.
        • 4 Years Ago
        you can't get a key cut for any new car for a couple of bucks anymore. They all have chips in them, and are $150+ to replace and recode. So what's the difference if you twist or push?
        • 4 Years Ago
        What the heck do cell phones and payphones have to do with "stepping backwards" to keyed ignitions? Shoot, I'd probably NOT buy a car because it has push button start. Gimme a key anyday. Or maybe they should just put a kill switch like a bike/snowmobile have or a tether you can tie to your wrist in case of a sudden need to kill the power. Just one good yank and you'd kill the engine. Or maybe some simple schoolin' on how to put the car in neutral would be another choice.

        And to Rick, when's the last time you bought a key for your car? Try anywhere from $30 to $100 depending on the dealer. My Ford keys cost around $28 Cdn, and the dealer charges another $45 to "flash it" - which, BTW the instructions for are in the owners manual. But why would I take 3 minutes to read that section, 2 minutes to "reflash" my new key, when I can pay the dealer $80 for it? My friend paid $100 in the US...for what would have cost him half here. So I don't think you're going to find a $3 key unless you're driving a 76 Chevy or something.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Bob: Pushbutton start allows you to keep your key in your pocket and open the doors with touch instead of fiddling.
        There's a very real safety benefit: single woman in empty parking garage comes to mind.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Kumar:
        All that stuff is there already. It knows who is driving from which fob is in the driver's seat. Furthermore this isn't even really new, My 2000 Audi knew from who pressed the unlock button to unlock the car which person was driving and would adjust the seat and mirrors accordingly, so you don't even really need the keyless start system to get that kind of function. The 1997 Corvette had the same thing but with keyless entry too, just not keyless start.

        I have a CTS with the system where you have a key that just doesn't remove instead of a pushbutton. I'd rather have a button, and furthermore, we all will have buttons next time around, because it's cheaper to make. The SRX already has pushbutton start, it will be on the CTS next time around.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Nobody had a problem with keyless ignition until all this Toyota mess happened. Sure, holding the button for 3 seconds to turn off the car in an *emergency* is confusing to some people... but how many times have you needed to do this before Toyota's problems? The Nissan Altima has had push-button start standard since 2007... but those cars don't suddenly accelerate out of control.

        Most luxury cars, and even Kias and the Nissan Versa, have keyless ignitions. It's a nice thing to have.
        invisiblepigeon3
        • 4 Years Ago
        Rick C

        You do realize that any rolling code electronic key that's linked to the engine immobilizer is extremely expensive. For instance, the IS300 key is about 300 dollars. The IS250 transponder is about 500. When you're driving an expensive car, 200 a difference of 200 dollars when you lose your key, isn't really a consideration.

        Plus the key fob you never have to take out of your pocket is less likely to get dropped or lost, since it's always in your pocket or purse.

        Unless you want a car without an anti-theft system, your argument is a moot point. All electronic keys are expensive to replace or repair. It's not a simple matter of going and having one re-cut. If you lose 2 of them, they won't make you another with the same code, and the whole anti-theft system has to be reprogrammed, at a huge expense. I forgot what it was, but for my old Lexus it's over a thousand dollars to reprogram and get new keys if you lose 2.

        The key fobs that never leave your pocket are smarter to have, more convenient when you're getting in and out of your car, and make quick getaways much easier than fumbling in your pocket for keys. It's just a better system all around, and as I own both types of cars, I can say that from first hand experience. Do you have a car with pushbutton start?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Push buttons don't bring anything??

        Sorry that's incorrect, statistics have shown that Push Button ingition is more durable!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Actually, keys like Chrysler/Dodge's RFID thing cost a good $40-60 for a key blank on eBay.

        If you get a regular non-RFID key cut, it'll start, but cut the fuel pump after 3 seconds. Well, at least it'll open the doors?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yea and screw cellphones, bring back payphones!
        • 4 Years Ago
        James, I find it weird that you mention a computer since almost all computers shut off when you hold their power buttons for about 3 seconds. I think Toyota just figured people would think of that, which they probably would when they're not panicking.
        Still...if people read their owners manuals it's really a non-issue. Or just have the salespeople like tell people how to shut their cars off.
        Or just make it always 3 seconds to shut it off, every time and not just when it's in drive.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I like the system available in the Cadillac CTS. The "push button" isn't a button at all, its a big thumb switch shaped like a key, but you still have the benefit of just walking up to the car and opening the door without fumbling around for a key or a fob. Best of both worlds I think.

        Plus, if you want the car off, as in RIGHT NOW, you twist it and the car is off. Just like a key.
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