• Mar 8, 2010

Late last month we wrote a lengthy post about problems with an ABC News report that purported to show a Toyota Avalon racing out of control without setting a diagnostic fault code. While we primarily focused on the technical side and analyzed whether the problem was realistic, the crew at Gawker took a hard look at the video in question and noticed something fishy.

It appears that an editor or producer at ABC felt they could pull a fast one on the audience and used some B-roll in the report showing the tachometer needle sweeping rapidly from near idle to over 6,000 rpm. That clip was injected at the precise moment when David Gilbert triggered his simulated sudden acceleration. As you can see from the screen cap above, the shot of the tachometer clearly shows the warning lights for the parking brake on, the doors open and the transmission indicator in park. The camera operator shot this segment separately so it could be used to illustrate a point in the report, and ABC claims that getting a steady shot during the test would've been both difficult and dangerous.

The B-roll shot doesn't indicate anything conclusive one way or the other about the validity of the test and certainly doesn't stand as proof of anything being rigged. However, the lack of transparency by ABC and Mr. Gilbert regarding the specific procedure doesn't add to the credibility of either the claims or the report, and the lack of clarity by Toyota in its response to Gilbert's assertions doesn't do the automaker any favors, either.

[Source: Gawker]



Tired of Toyota recall news? Try out the recall-free version of Autoblog.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 106 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      You have to be out of your mind to buy a Toyota/Lexus product..
      Even GM suffered from Toyota's lack of quality/reliability..It's Cobalt steering unit is made by Toyota !!!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Don't defame Yugo.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Your brain was made by Yugo.
      FRED
      • 4 Years Ago
      You are so right. Add to the fact that thee folks who had responsibility for oversight of our financial institutions weren't up to the job, yet they "investigated" and found Toyota negligent in a couple of hearings. We're lucky Toyota is making cars, and politicians are running a government nobody takes all that seriously.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The "Faking" in this news report is being way over stated. That tach clip shouldn't diminish the original news report. The ABC News producer probably doesn't know a fuel injector from a muffler bearing and used the tachometer sweep for dramatic effect only. Better to omit the B-roll to begin with.

      It's only a matter of time till somebody captures a SUA event in real time on their cell or video cam. They're everywhere..........It's gonna happen.
      Susan Harrington
      • 4 Years Ago
      l bought a 2009 Toyota Corolla last year , and l love my car, l dont have a single problem with it.my brakes,my gas pedal,mats, etc are all working properly.. l cant complain about a damned thing.
      • 4 Years Ago
      What this is is dishonest journalism - period. If it was necessary from a production point of view it should have been disclosed. I also suspect that the rate the tachometer climbed may have been different from (maybe faster) the actual rate in the experiment.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Faked" isn't the right term here. The shot doesn't match even without looking at the shifter indicator, it was clearly there just for illustrative purposes.

      As to the lack of clarity about the specific procedure from ABC news, I figured that was so that Toyota would have a chance to look at the procedure before it became public. I mean, if the failure he simulated really is easy to happen (i.e. can be done just by stripping a wire instead of needing a 200 ohm resistor) then you would want to let Toyota know first so they can fix their system instead of giving an opportunity to dishonest people who might fake it and try to sue.

      Now why Toyota didn't give more detail I'm not sure. Once they declare it unlikely to happen and requiring the insertion of easy detectable items like a 200 Ohm resistor, why not tell people how it was done so that people can understand how this guy was really doing a simulation of something that is unlikely to happen.

      I admit I'm still baffled as to how it only takes a single 200 Ohm resistor to do this. I imagine his circuit to create one pedal position signal from the other doesn't quite make a linear signal, which should be catchable by the ECU. For that matter, even if it is linear, it should be possible for Toyota's system to periodically ground the power supply rail from one of the sensors (or both alternately), if you see a corresponding drop in the signal from the sensor you didn't just alter the power supply for, then the sensor systems are no longer independent and you can go into limp mode. Then this hack on TV wouldn't work. And it wouldn't cost more than $1 in parts and software to do this.

      I wonder if any other manufacturer does this. Frankly, they all should start. For that matter they should stop using an analog signal for the data, they should switch to a pulse train like a speedo signal, preferably differentially signaled so as to be noise immune. A single sensor like this would be more reliable and cheaper than the current dual-signal setup.
      • 4 Years Ago
      IT unreal....... This is politics against the leading automaker......... the one who got the bulk of the clucker monies......cause everyone knew its a great vehicle and it was a great savings to get their hands on........ and the automaker that has pissed off.... the unions in the usa.......

      Any one whom owns a toyota....... knows the truth....... its a well made vehicle......

      shame on you ABC......... cablevision DONT PAY THEM........ WHO NEEDS THEM.... LET THEM PAY THEIR CEO.......... THE BIG BUCKS......
      uneasy toyota owner
      • 4 Years Ago
      I own a 2009 Rave4 and love it but you guys scare me. I have only had it 7 months and would take a bath on it if I get rid of it.This is my third Toyota and I have never felt this uneasy. Who am I to believe ?????
      I have been reading all of the reports and am really conflicted.
        uneasy toyota owner
        • 4 Years Ago
        @uneasy toyota owner
        Thanks for the reply but I went to a Ford Dealer yesterday and was told that I would indeed take a bath if I traded . I think I am just not going to take any long higher speed trips and see how this whole thing plays out.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Yeah, this Liberal media is still screwing with us. Ya just can't believe them. Like Obama, they have compromised their credibility too many times.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This does not lower my opinion of ABC. They report what they want to. "C" used to stand for corrupt. After the last election "C" now stands for Chicago mob.
      • 4 Years Ago
      You need to look up how many recalls Ford and GM products have had in the last few years. You don't seem to have any real solid facts. Just a lot of misplaced emotional stuff. Toyota and Lexus products are exceptional. I've driven them for over 40 years and every single one was just exceptional. One last thing...we didn't have to bail out Toyota. Ford and GM products have plenty of problems. That's why you and I just had to bail them OUT. Get it?
      • 4 Years Ago
      We seem to be focusing an awful lot of attention on Toyota lately but forgetting that General Motors had the same issues in 2004 with SEVERAL of their models. Since the government owns GM, trying to push Toyota out of the market is a conflict of interest. Try getting GM to fix their cars--we have one--it is a circus!!
    • Load More Comments