• Feb 22nd 2010 at 8:56PM
  • 161
Click above to view the video after the jump

Earlier today, ABC News released a report asserting that the cause of Toyota's unintended accelerations issues might not be a faulty accelerator mechanism, but an electronic flaw in the automaker's engine control unit – something that's been suspected, although never confirmed, for some time.

David Gilbert, an automotive technology professor at Southern Illinois University and ABC's primary source for the report, claims to be able to duplicate the effect by short-circuiting one of the controls, which could be caused by moisture, wear or a combination of factors in Toyota vehicles.

Although the report goes into specifics, seeing is believing, and ABC News has done just that, putting Brian Ross behind the wheel as Gilbert trips the switch. The results are rather shocking – particularly since the ECU doesn't record a fault. You can see it for yourself after the jump.

UPDATE: In response to the allegation that an electronic fault is the cause of the unintended acceleration issue, Toyota has released a statement saying that Gilbert talked with the automaker on the Feb. 16 after wiring a Toyota Tundra in a similar manner and causing the acceleration. Make the jump for the release and draw your own conclusions.

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Toyota's Statement in Regard to ABC News Story: Expert Recreates Sudden Acceleration in Toyota

Toyota spoke with Mr. Gilbert on February 16 in an effort to understand his concerns. During this discussion, Mr. Gilbert explained that he had connected a resistor between the output wires of the two accelerator pedal sensors on a Toyota Tundra. In other words, he had artificially introduced an abnormal connection between two otherwise independent signals coming from the accelerator pedal sensors. Mr. Gilbert advised Toyota that he believed that his intentional misdirection of these signals could cause the vehicle to accelerate unexpectedly.

In response to Mr. Gilbert's claim as communicated to Toyota, Toyota confirmed that what Mr. Gilbert described would not cause unintended acceleration to occur. In fact, under the abnormal condition described last week by Mr. Gilbert, if there is a short with low resistance between the two signals, the electronic throttle control system illuminates the "check engine" light and the vehicle enters into a fail-safe mode of engine idle operation. If there is a short with high resistance, outside the range of "check engine" light illumination, the accelerator pedal continues to be responsive to driver input and the vehicle will return to the idle condition when the foot is taken off of the accelerator pedal. Unintended acceleration would not occur.

After watching the story today on ABC News featuring Mr. Gilbert, Toyota was surprised to learn that Mr. Gilbert appears now to be making a different claim regarding the electronic throttle control system and in a vehicle other than as described to Toyota last week. Although it is difficult to tell from the footage used in the story, Mr. Gilbert appears to be introducing a different external and artificial method to manipulate the throttle. In order to set the record straight, Toyota welcomes the opportunity to evaluate the Toyota Avalon shown in today's story and the method by which Mr. Gilbert allegedly caused the vehicle to accelerate unintentionally. We welcome the attendance of ABC News at any such evaluation of this vehicle and Mr. Gilbert's testing.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      News flash to those paranoid to drive their Toyota: There is a built-in failsafe in every Toyota for unintended acceleration. It's labeled "N" on your gear change lever. Thanks!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Since when did Avalons sound like Z's...?
        • 5 Years Ago
        When you uncork the 2gr-fe.
        Above 3600rpm with 60 degrees of throttle opening
        • 5 Years Ago
        Oh, well thanks.
      • 5 Years Ago
      How fast did it go? The vid skipped at that point. Why are the brakes off? Why is there no engine light on dash? Why was the OBD saying "Pass no code"?
      Oh and how many recalls/"fix-its" have GM and Chrysler had during this past year and for what?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Its not ABC or Illinois job to find that out.
        Are you seriously comparing recalls?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Grow up.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Did you even watch the video? They said the car got up to 70 mph. They tried pressing the brakes, but they weren't strong enough. They had to put it in neutral to stop it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Is it me or the front bumper doesn't look like stock?
      • 5 Years Ago
      This "witch hunt" is getting out of control. No car is "flawless" yet the media is pouncing on Toyota now. I think they are definitely at fault for defects, but I'm positive that if the witch hunt shifted to Ford, GM, Honda, or even Mercedes, BMW, and Lexus that they could figure out wires to "short out" and cause problems. I know my brother wishes they'd go after Ford. His 2005 Mustang has had all sorts of problems, only one of which was fixed (the factory car alarm wouldn't allow his car to start repeatedly because of improper installation). Currently he is in debate with several dealerships because his battery won't hold a charge after a week of no driving. Other owners are complaining of this too, yet Ford won't acknowledge or fix it (I have a feeling it is because something in the stereo doesn't shut off when the car is turned off, draining the battery). Why doesn't the media go after all of them.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why did they make the staement that the brakes would not stop the car?
      Brakes are designed to be able to dissipate more energy than the drivetrain can produce, did the defect impair the brakes also? If so, this is a Really big issue.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Did you hear of the phrase "cooking the brakes"?
        Brake pads lose their stopping power as the temperature increases and you overload the amount of energy they can dissipate.
        These cars do not have high performance brake pads and if dragged long enough, you can go past their effective point. All because these numbskulls don't know how to throw it to neutral.
        Also, they said a little tidbit that it'd take much longer for it to stop.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This says it all. "connected a resistor between the output wires of the two accelerator pedal sensors on a Toyota Tundra." This means there are two sensors aka redundent signals. So this short would have to happen in both sensors at the same time for the car to accelerate on its own. What happens when one signal has a resistor and the other one does not. I would expect the system to fault out if there is a significant difference in the voltages from the two sensors. Also what are the chances that a real short circuit would create a voltage in the range the cpu uses without setting the check engine light, on two separate sensor inputs. Very Very remote. News is so much more interesting when someone makes it up. Anybody remember Chevy pickups being hit in the side gas tank by a car with lit road flare taped to the front bumper. This is just about as likely to happen on the road.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Hey guys, let's bypass the potentiometer so we can go straight to WOT! Weeeeeeeeee"
      • 5 Years Ago
      Volume control please?

      In any rate, as someone suggested, they also should've shown result for other automaker's cars.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I find it hilarious that the douchbags frequenting these forums vote down Snowdog's comment because he states the obvious. Big 3 fanboys are out in full force here that's for sure...
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's surprising to me just how much faith [some] people have in computers. Even those who will admit that a computer can fail - will very often find it hard to believe that a computer would fail to acknowledge that failure. [i.e report the failure via a 'fail code']

      I have said all along [To family, friends and on the Internet] that it's very unlikely that two completely unrelated 'failures' [i.e. the floor mats and the gas pedal] could coincidentally cause the exact same problem. Logic tells ME that is HAS to be the computer itself.

      And it matters NOT if short-circuiting the computers on cars other than Toyota's would have the same reaction. I'm sure they would. But it seems quite obvious that there is a design flaw in the Toyota computers that is not present in the computers used by other auto-manufactures.
        • 5 Years Ago
        And not just Toyotas in general, but specifically US-made Toyota models.
        • 5 Years Ago

        "Logic tells ME that it HAS to be the computer itself", [Quoting myself] is quite different than saying, "I KNOW it's a computer problem." So proof shall not be forthcoming! Besides - at this stage - all of us are basing our opinions on whatever information we have so far been able to gather. And nothing more than that. For I am quite sure that you are no more likely [Are you?] than I am to be tearing apart any part of any Toyota to find the truth. We are all basing our opinions on what we think makes the most sense. And basing our opinions on who we feel is more credible. My logic tells me [Among other things] that given Toyota's recently revealed [And understandable - given the fact that most companies are run by accountants] reluctance to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to fix a fault - it would be in their best financial interest to NOT find fault with those computers. It is far FAR cheaper [Is it not?] to add floor mat hooks and to jam a quarter sized piece of steel into the accelerator pedal assembly than it would to recall and the replace millions of computers.

        That all said.... I hope Toyota finds a way out of this mess. It would NOT be good for any of us if Toyota were to vanish into nothing.
        • 5 Years Ago

        If your going to claim that you know it's a computer problem, then perhaps you could provide proof.

        Do you know what slander is?

        As much as people claim to know whats going on, I've yet so see actual proof. This "smoking gun" left out all the technical information on what was done. The guy calls a engineered connection a short and then says this could happen. How could it happen? Prove that it is happening. Find a real car with this connection making a failed short that makes the exact same connection that this guy engineered to make.

        • 5 Years Ago

        Some of the cars recalled in Europe are made in Japan. And most of the Toyota models use Denso ECU and ETC anyway, which is owned by Toyota.

        I am not picking on you today. : )
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