• Mar 25, 2010

Click on the image above to watch the video after the jump

We've seen demonstrations that show how to stop a vehicle experiencing unintended acceleration before, but this newest video from Consumer Reports demonstrates just how crucial a brake override function can be in stopping a throttle gone wild. CR engineer Jake Fisher lines up a pre-recall 2010 Toyota Avalon and a post-repair Camry to compare and contrast the amount of time it takes to bring a vehicle at full throttle to a stop. Hint: There's a big difference.

The Avalon went first, and at 60 mph with the throttle open, it took over 500 feet to come to a complete stop – nearly four times the distance of a normally operating vehicle. Even worse, when the brakes were pumped, the ability to stop the Avalon diminished greatly. Pump the brake two or three times and CR shows that you might as well be driving downhill on a sheet of ice.

Next comes the Camry, which has been retrofitted with a brake override system courtesy of Toyota's recall. The Camry stops at wide open throttle as though the gas pedal is totally disconnected. The result of CR's little video shows that vehicles equipped with brake override can quickly come to a stop even when the throttle is pegged, making unintended acceleration a non-issue. Hit the jump to watch the six-minute video for yourself and let us know if you think all automakers should adapt this technology in the post-jump comments.

[Source : Consumer Reports]



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  • 59 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      What ever happen to just popping the tranny into neutral?! No one has really ever talked about that as an option this whole time with Toyota. If the engine blows, that's Toyotas fault... they can buy you a new non- Toyota!
        • 4 Years Ago
        It should be common sense to most, but things like this should really be in Driver's Ed.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "It has been mentioned several times. Even in the fake runaway incident the 911 operator was trying to tell the guy to put it in Neutral but he claimed he couldn't"

        No. In that incident, the operator tells him several times to put it into neutral, and he makes no response or other indication that he actually TRIED to put it into neutral. He didn't want to because he knew that would stop his fake "runaway" incident right there, with no drama.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I always wonder about this whenever I see a runaway acceleration story. I've been driving manuals all of my life and would simply floor the clutch, but why not pop the slushbox into N? As you say, worrying about grenading the engine would be the last thing on my mind if I couldn't get the car to stop.

        Granted, in a panic situation you might not think of this, but isn't that part of being a good driver -- understanding how to react in emergency situations?
        • 4 Years Ago
        It has been mentioned several times. Even in the fake runaway incident the 911 operator was trying to tell the guy to put it in Neutral but he claimed he couldn't. It is worth pointing out that they are lucky they were not driving Fords. Ford insists on making you press the button or pull the column shift towards you to shift an automatic. This makes it possible to actually throw it into park or even reverse while in motion. Everyone else designs their slushboxes so that you can shift between the drive gears without pressing the button or pulling the column shift. This makes it possible to safely and easily gear down a runaway automatic as well.

        Some of the most fun to drive European vehicles already come with this over ride feature. It is like power windows that reverse if they encounter a hand. One of those common sense safety features that they have in Europe that really should be in every car.

        It is not like this changes much anyway. Cars are no longer simple machines that just do what you tell them to do. With electric Nannies and computers they have instead started taking "user input" and interpreting it into what the computer thinks you want to do. Since we have already reached that level we need to add this basic over ride to the programming so that a simple glitch doesn't have the capacity to kill people.
        • 4 Years Ago
        THANK YOU! our society has become a bunch of morons. Just shift to neutral or shut the F'er off. what a bunch of idiots. back in the day it was not an unheard of thing for your gas pedal to stick. everyone knew what to do by common sense. I had the cruise control on my late 70's chevy stick in the accel mode. it took me maybe 5 seconds to kill the engine once i tried turning the sucker off and it wouldn't. Americans are always looking for someone else to take the blame. You can't make something idiot proof and when a bigger and bigger % of your population is becoming idiots... look out.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Brake override is the WRONG solution, in fact makes the problem worse. The original problem is caused by a complex computer system controlling the throttle. Adding an override to that system make it MORE COMPLEX. Complex systems by their very nature produce unintended outcomes.

      We must come to grip with fact that these "safety" systems are making us less safe. Get rid of stability control systems and give driving back to the drivers.
        • 4 Years Ago
        They will get rid of stability control programs as soon as humans grow four feet, and cars come with four brake pedals.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It may be a good idea, but I'm REALLY tired of incompetant drivers, AND the nanny state. I also abhor paying for things I don't want/need. These include: extra airbags, shift lock, Electronic Brake Distribution, ULEV, and stability control. All of these unnecessarily raise the cost of new and used cars equipped with them, especially the low cost models.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Yet another soon-to-be-mandated safety feature that every new car will have to have.

      How is it so hard to understand that if the accelerator sticks, you PUT THE CAR IN NEUTRAL?! Are we as a nation this stupid?
        • 4 Years Ago
        'Yet another soon-to-be-mandated safety feature'

        Yes, he said it was going to be mandated and then complained it was going to be mandated. He's railing against his own ideas.
        • 4 Years Ago
        ND: That's why modern cars have rev limiters. The engine will make a lot of noise, but it will be fine.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The excuse that I heard is that the engine might blow. I rather have the engine blow up than run into an intersection at 120 MPH.
        • 4 Years Ago
        katshot, why you have trouble understanding it I don't know.

        He made up the idea that it will be made mandatory so he can complain about it. There is no movement to make it mandatory.

        It's called a strawman, it's of his own making and he's complaining about it when he only has himself to blame for it, he created the hypothesis out of thin air.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @ why not the LS2LS7?:
        Read his post. He never said it was mandated. Considering all the hype, and talk by legislators on the subject, it's certainly reasonable to assume this type of safety system WILL be mandated. And he's right to be frustrated by the ever-increasing number of electronic nannies we seem to need in our lives.
        • 4 Years Ago
        If you have a lot of space in front of you, putting it into neutral may work fine. But everyone is going to instinctively go to the brakes if you're about to hit something. And if it accelerates on a busy street or parking lot, shifting to neutral takes too long and won't be the first thing you'll think of anyway. Plus WOT can cause brake assist to not work correctly, as they demonstrated here. So braking even after shifting to neutral may be very difficult still.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's not mandated, you made that up and then complain it's stupid. Well, you're the one who made it up, so who are you calling stupid?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Say good-bye to "power-braking". Just another reason to get a manual trans!
        • 4 Years Ago
        You're right. I should've watched the video.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Or you could watch the video.
      • 4 Years Ago
      To everyone complaining about people not putting the car in neutral when SUA happens:

      Most of the wrecks/fatalities from this are situations where the driver had very little time to respond. Even if they'd have gone to neutral like a pro at the first sign of trouble a lot of them wouldn't have been able to avoid getting into a collision. The 20 minute SUA events you see on the news are by far the outlier in this situation. It's still a really dangerous problem. They probably should mandate brake override, as most manufacturers already include it. A lot of them even include a feature to let you brake lightly while accelerating if you're looking to hot rod it.
      • 4 Years Ago
      You NEVER EVER pump the brakes with ABS as you essentially cancel ABS out and reduce braking dramatically.

      Also, with cars equipped with EBD and EBA you get maximum braking power in an instant.

      http://www.parkers.co.uk/glossary/?term=Electronic+brake+assist+%28EBA%29
      http://www.roadtripamerica.com/forum/content.php?79
        • 4 Years Ago
        Maybe I should have been more clear, "brake assist" not power brake functionality [vacuum assist].
        Pumping the brakes does activate the quick take-up valve. Useful if there is a hemorrhage of the brake line(s). Racers do it because of pad knockback.


        I have a story...
        A neighbor purchased a new E39 530i, and was offered to take it on a shakedown. Who am I to turn down such an offer?
        I lifted off the throttle at 125mph, nailed the brakes at 120mph, lifted partially off the brakes at 80mph. To my surprise, the car continued to decelerate at maximum braking power-until I lifted completely off at 60mph.
        Then I remembered, Oh "brake assist"!
        Downshifted to a stop, got out and smelled the brakes-fully broken in.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is stupid. What happens when the electronic throttle motor gearworks jam wide open? Yes, folks, at the end of all those wires and electronics is a plain old DC motor and a gear train that moves the throttle plate. And yes, mechanical stuff like that fails, probably with the same frequency as old-fashioned throttle cables and cams.

      Neutral. Foolproof, safe, effective, cheap.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I don't get it.

      In the tests that Edmund's and Car and Driver did with Camrys without the brake override they didn't take much longer to stop with the throttle wide open than closed. How come Consumer Reports' Avalon took so much longer to stop wide open even though he's "pushing with all his might"?

      F.Y.I. I am not a Consumer Reports basher. I actually subscribe to the magazine.
        • 4 Years Ago
        No, the test said that a Mustang would stop with the gas nailed almost as short as some other car (a Camry?) without it nailed. But the stopping distance on the Mustang with the gas not nailed was still significantly shorter than with it nailed.
      • 4 Years Ago
      BLAH blah blah....
      • 4 Years Ago
      Well I have to say that I'm convinced that brake override is a good thing now that I've been assured that we can still do dumb crap like burnouts. Although I feel like that burnout wasn't nearly as spectacular as it could have been.
      • 4 Years Ago
      To be honest, the most interesting part of the video (to me) is how you apparently only get one shot at power assisted brakes on the Avalon.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I know how the system works, I'm just shocked the car reportedly had no power assist after one brake application. I guess they could be exaggerating the situation but it just hit me as odd. As I mentioned before, I'm not sure what kind of brake boost system this car uses, so it's kind of hard to comment much on it. Do you know if the Avalon has vacuum-assisted brakes?
        Oh, BTW, Diesels in light-duty applications (non air brake) generally use a vacuum pump if the brakes are vacuum-assisted type, or they use a hydraulic-booster powered either by the P/S system, or an auxiliary pump. The problem with these systems is they generally lose boost if the engine stalls.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Turn off your car and use the brakes (all the way to the floor) a couple times. You'll notice even the 2nd application isn't the same as the first. By the 3rd application you'll notice you're doing all the work.

        There is generally less than 2 full applications of boost reserve in a car. Try it yourself.
        • 4 Years Ago
        What, you're saying they're using a "hydra-boost" system on these Avalon's?
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