• May 9th 2010 at 10:05AM
  • 35
With all the news reports about issues with unintended acceleration in Toyotas in recent months, it was only a matter of time before an aftermarket company stepped up with a purported solution. Santa Barbara-based Solutions Group Inc. is now marketing a device called the Decelerator, which they claim provides a brake override to prevent the car from taking off on the driver.

We spoke with Sean O'Neil, the CEO of the Solutions Group, to learn more about the Decelerator. The device is another box of electronics that can intercept and modify signals to the engine throttle body from the electronic control unit (ECU). Installation is straightforward. The wiring harness from the ECU to the throttle body is unplugged and connected to device, which is then plugged into the ECU. A second connector goes to the brake pedal switch. The brake pedal input provides the 5 volts needed to power the Decelerator.

Inside the Decelerator is a micro-controller and some firmware that sits idle until the brake pedal is pressed. While the brake is off, there's no power and the pulse-width-modulated (PWM) signal to the throttle body is simply passed through unmodified. Read on to find out what happens after the brake is applied.

[Source: Solutions Group Inc]

As soon the driver applies the brake, the device boots up and starts comparing the throttle body control signal to the brake pedal. According to O'Neil, the patented algorithm looks for a sustained or increasing throttle control signal while the brake is applied. If it sees such a condition, the micro-controller modifies the PWM signal to start ramping down the throttle, gradually slowing the vehicle. As soon as the driver releases the brake the signal returns to normal. So far, so good.

Here's where things start to get a bit hairy. According to O'Neil, the Decelerator does not void the factory warranty and he cites the Magnuson-Moss Warranty - Federal Trade Commission Improvement Act of 1975. That law says that a warranty cannot be voided unless the original manufacturer (in this case Toyota) can prove that the modification caused a flaw. Based on O'Neil's description of the functionality, it would certainly seem that using the decelerator shouldn't cause a problem that would void the warranty.

Recall, however, that the auto industry is the most regulated in the world - covering everything from safety to emissions. O'Neil explains that the Decelerator has been through a thorough battery of both electromagnetic interference (EMI) and electrostatic discharge (ESD) tests. The device is claimed to comply with all relevant Federal Communications Commission and European Union regulations. O'Neil also tells Autoblog that the device has been tested on at least six different Toyota models and found to work.

Since the Decelerator can modify the throttle control signals, there's a likelihood that it may well have some measurable impact on emissions, which apparently has not been tested. This could potentially void the emissions warranty on the vehicle. We also don't know the extent to which the firmware of the device has been evaluated and demonstrated to be robust. The EMI and ESD tests are an important part of validating vehicle electronics but any control software inside also needs to be validated. If the controls affect emissions the device will require some degree of self-diagnostics and reporting capability.

We've contacted Toyota for a comment on this device and the claims that it does not void the warranty. The automaker is still investigating the Decelerator and has yet to respond to Autoblog.

We can't tell you whether you should install this $199 device on your Toyota or Lexus. Only you can decide for certain. Keep in mind, however, that the number of verified cases of unintended acceleration on Toyotas is somewhere in the dozens or, at worst, low hundreds. The number of news reports exceed actual cases by several orders of magnitude. That's out of the millions of cars and trucks on the road. There might well be a problem that has not yet been identified with these vehicles. Ultimately, throwing another unknown (in the form of the Decelerator) into the electronic soup that is a modern vehicle may not be the wisest course of action.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 35 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Lol.. this cheapo box should not be necessary.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Stupid electronics....

      I use an Anchor and a short chain.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hey, that's fantastic. Let's take a system that we're currently not certain is really fixed and let's introduce a new variable to it!
      • 5 Years Ago
      pathetic
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think I'll start selling Sudden Acceleration Safety Stickers... "IN CASE OF UNINTENDED ACCELERATION MOVE SHIFTER HERE!" Only $99!
        • 5 Years Ago
        There's a built in throttle override in the car already ... it's called the shifter. Toss the car in neutral, no more acceleration.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What a waste of money. I pity the fool that buys this.
        • 5 Years Ago
        A fool and his money are soon parte.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Chicken Littles are easily scared. I can see some people falling for this. (the same ones that would support legislation on it)
      • 5 Years Ago
      Oh man, I hope the Venn diagram of suckers who would buy this and people who buy Toyotas doesn't even have a point of intersection.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Kinda smart of them to target the company in the spot light about UA.

      I'll wager that the feds will intro legislation to make all cars override the throttle input if the brakes are applied. (kiss those powerbrake burnouts g'bye).
        • 5 Years Ago
        Wonder if it also overrides when the e-brake is used? Most cars are FWD these days... ;)
        • 5 Years Ago
        Dude, gets your bets in quick or better yet keep up better with AB; that legislation's already been introduced.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Interesting blog and comments. First, I'll have you know that I have a Decelerator on the family car and it works flawlessly (and yes, I'm able to test and confirm its operation whenever I choose). My family's safety is not a joke. US Congress and Toyota Motor Corp. both agree that there is a real need for a brake override system in Electronic Throttle Controlled vehicles and, in fact, is on its way to being Federal law much like the air bags and anti-rollover control systems that we now take for granted. Toyota Motor Corp., along with other carmakers, is scrambling to put brake override systems in their current model vehicles and are even going back a few years. Don't think for a second that they would take on this added expense if 'Sudden Unintended Acceleration' were baseless? And what of the millions of 2002-2006 Toyota models (with Delco ECUs) that do not have any type of brake override system once or ever? I have yet to hear what Toyota Motor Corp. intends to do for those millions of Toyota owners. I have the Decelerator on my car and I now drive with a degree of confidence that the Toyota recalls didn't provided me or my family.

      The Decelerator works!
        • 5 Years Ago
        I don't care if it "works" or not. The brakes on your car are capable of producing a lot more horsepower than your engine can output, so anyone that is unable to stop their car if the accelerator gets stuck is just plain dumb.

        This product is just another way to make money off of people's fears, nothing more. Sounds like you got suckered into the scam.
      • 5 Years Ago
      How am I suppose to do brake stands with my Corolla now?

      Basic driver training school is ~$300 and it's transferable to every car you drive!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Using more electronics to fix an electronic problem... great.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This sounds like it could cause more SUA issues than owning a vehicle with ETC in the first place. You're usually better off buying OEM than aftermarket when it comes to safety...
        • 5 Years Ago
        For embedded safety items, sure. Those are things that really have no need for upgrades (this custom airbag deploys n milliseconds quicker - and has a wonderful pine scent). But these overrides, even in OEM form, are rather silly. Throttle input is a simple thing, and switching to DBW (drive by wire) should not be difficult to implement. And having an 'override' just means the techs could not even get a throttle input right.
      • 5 Years Ago
      They must have run out of snake oil to sell
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