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Southern Illinois University automotive technology professor David Gilbert and ABC News Brian Ross

While the real cause of the Toyota unintended acceleration issues are still under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), one news outlet is reporting that they know what's behind it. ABC News tracked down one David Gilbert, an automotive technology professor at Southern Illinois University, who says he knows exactly what it is. According to Gilbert, it's an electronic design flaw in Toyota's 'Fail Safe' system.

Gilbert says the flaw "prevents the car's onboard computer from detecting and stopping certain short circuits that can trigger sudden speed surges." ABC News adds, "he can recreate a short circuit in the electronic throttles of Toyotas that can create a surge of acceleration but can't be detected by Toyota's electronic sensors."

Because the computers won't record an error code in this situation, Gilbert told ABC, "they can't activate the 'fail safe' system designed to shut down the power and put the car in the 'limp home' mode."

John Hanson, a Toyota executive, answered reporters today by saying an electronic cause of the sudden acceleration issues was "extremely unlikely" and that "no actual evidence has been produced" to the contrary.

This report has led safety advocate Sean Kane, of Safety Research & Strategies, to bolster his claims that the electronics are the real culprit. Kane is set to testify before the House Commerce Committee on the Toyota issue on Tuesday. "The system is fallible, in fact, it's got some really troubling design strategies that are employed by Toyota that appear to be outside the norm. And their system clearly has design strategy that has a very slim margin of safety."

And it looks like the House might agree with them. The New York Times is now reporting that leading Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee said Monday that they were disturbed by the fact that, "Toyota had dismissed the notion that computer issues could be at fault for sticking accelerator pedals, relied on a flawed study to draw that conclusion and then made misleading statements on the repairs it said would fix the problem." We'll get you the results of the hearings as they come in tomorrow. Thanks to everyone for the tips!



[Sources: ABC News, New York Times | Image: ABC News]


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  • 63 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Ha.. tell us something we didn't know :)
      • 5 Years Ago
      that's pretty conniving. they create a system where the sensors can't pick up on short circuits, and this executive guy is saying there is no evidence to support that. well duh! If you bought a Toyota, you deserve whatever you get.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I was able to record the video and paused it right about when the rpms went up. It is very strange that the speedmeter was reading 0 and it didn’t move as the revs where going up. The camera didnt move as much when the revs went up. I have own and drive different type of car with an automatic transmission. As you press the pedal all the way down and the revs go up the transmission will downshift to a different gear and it will give you a surge that should have been noticed on the rpm and also on the movement of the camera. I was also able to see that the rpm limiter working as the needle keep going back and fort very sightly. If it were true the rpm needle will have gone over 8000 rpm or at least drop when the car will shift into a higher gear. This was a set up. How come they cut the video rigth before showing the rpm going up and then right after. If it was showing 0 mph while the rpm went up that means they just rev up the engine while in park or neutral. Actually is because the car was in Park. As you are able to see in the video that the Park light is on.
      Can the professor explain why was the speedmeter stuck at 0 mph or that was part of the short. Don’t get me wrong but I also doubt that the car going at 20 MPH will rev up so rapidly to more than 6000 rpm in such a small amount of time. They recorded the reving up the engine while in park and then inserted it into the video to make it more interesting. I also read today that Toyota is also flashin the ECU with a brake overide.
      http://www.just-auto.com/article.aspx?id=103289&lk=dm
      • 5 Years Ago
      I would give my Tax money to the big 3 if they needed it again. Not a problem, take it.

      "AND STILL HAVEN'T FIXED THEIR TROUBLES. DO MORE RESEARCH BEFORE COMMENTING HERE, FORD, DODGE, HONDA, MITSUBISH, AND NISSAN USE SIMILAR PEDAL". LUISDNORIEGA

      New flash:

      Ford recalled the Transit Connect because of this. You're too much of an idiot to realize that, as your head is far up you're a$$.

      "We make it easy" was Toyota's motto. They are finally living up to the name.





      • 5 Years Ago
      I am recalling Dateline NBC.

      What, don't all pickups come pre-wired with explosives?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I know, that was my first thought as well. Only GM trucks come with that option... I get a bad feeling everytime a news outlet tries something like this as their intentions lead them to make a story in many cases. Only time will tell if this test is a true discovery or a way to cook the system. There is always a way to break something that is man made.

        BTW - you will see this post again down the page as Autoblog has yet to fix its own electronic glitch with this reply/posting system.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Ok. Now show me results from the same test applied to other manufacturer's cars and confirm they give the result you want. Dont just pick on toyota and leave it at that without clearing all other cars from the same finding.
        • 5 Years Ago
        agreed. right now, the media brought about a disproportionate amount of misconceptions - and people now believed Toyota cars is the only one producing electronic design flaw and all other cars are far better than any Toyota/Lexus cars, both US and overseas... i hate to believe the work of an ethical researcher or scientist will further perpetuate this flame...
        • 5 Years Ago
        I suspect that given enough wires running all over the place throwing special shorts left and right to prevent the sensors from detecting an acceleration short that pretty much any car with cruise control controlled by the ECU/drive by wire could be made to "suddenly accelerate"
        I mean seriously, look at the inside of his test car-he tore the freakin' dashboard apart and ran wires everywhere to purposely short things out...how exactly is this supposed to happen on a normal car? You might as well start worrying about whether bricks will fly through your window then get stuck on your gas pedal-things don't magically short circuit like this in real life-he went WAY out there to purposely trigger this exact short circuit. I'll bet if you went on an airplane and started d*cking around and short circuiting things left and right eventually you'd bypass the failsafes too. This just proves that Toyotas aren't immune to idiots wiring crap everywhere on purpose-but unless you have people after you I don't think this is an issue.
        • 5 Years Ago
        whoa...thats the first rational post here
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Toyotas also have redundant pedal position sensors and expect them to move in lockstep, it's an industry standard design. You probably won't find a car that doesn't do these things.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't know if this is related but suspect it might be:

      Jaguar XJs (both the X308 and the X350 series) use a Denso throttle position sensor (TPS) on the throttle body and failures of the TPS is a common issue for these cars. When it fails, you have to replace the entire throttle body assembly for $1000+ on an X350 (04-09) like mine or $2400 on the older (98-03) cars. The failure mode on a Jaguar is to go suddenly into a "limp home" mode where the car has absolutely no power--mine failed while I was making a left turn in a gap in traffic which was not cool.

      The Toyota Avalon uses the same TPS with the pins in reverse order. If their ECU software is written differently and results in a different failure mode such as wide open throttle it is quite possible that the professor is correct.
      • 5 Years Ago
      definitely i am agree with you , repairs will fix the problems but it will be a solution only for an uncertain time, but everyone wants a certain future.seems your great efforts on post. well done!
      for information about birds:
      pigeon control
      • 5 Years Ago
      PR aside, just the cost of a massive recall (imagine virtually every Toyota made in the last 5+ years needing extensive rework) could be devastating. Bet Hyundai, Honda, Nissan, Ford, etc. are loving life right now.
      • 5 Years Ago
      A lot of people including myself on this blog said the same thing, that the computer or software was suspect.For the simple reason that every manufacturer has an electronic throttle unit / pedal and does not have near the issues that Toyota has had with theirs.That and the fact that they have been dodging the issue for years.If Toyota came out with some statements like " we don't know what's happening" or we will get to the bottom of it and fix it right, i don't think people would be piling on as much.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I know, that was my first thought as well. Only GM trucks come with that option... I get a bad feeling everytime a news outlet tries something like this as their intentions lead them to make a story in many cases. Only time will tell if this test is a true discovery or a way to cook the system. There is always a way to break something that is man made.
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