The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was sued by an auto-safety firm over the federal regulator's probe into the possible case of unintended acceleration in a 2003 Toyota Prius, the New York Times said, citing legal documents filed by the firm.

Massachusetts-based Safety Research and Strategies alleges that NHTSA withheld documentation that may have proven that the occurrence of unintended acceleration of a Prius owned by a U.S. government official may have been the result of the car's electronic systems, not the floor mats or pedals that have been subject to Toyota recalls, the newspaper reported. Safety Research is seeking documents from a May 2011 visit by NHTSA investigators to the Pennsylvania home of car owner Joseph McClelland, the Times said.

NHTSA confirmed the investigation of the 2003 Prius and the findings stating that there was no proof that the car's electronic throttle system caused the acceleration, the Times reported, adding that McClelland hasn't responded to requests for an interview.

Toyota in September 2009 recalled 3.8 million vehicles – the Japanese automaker's largest ever – because of what the company and NHTSA said were floor mats that caused some of the vehicles' accelerators to get stuck in the wide-open throttle position. The 2003 Prius that's the subject of the Safety Research lawsuit wasn't part of that recall, which included 2004-2010 model year Prius vehicles as well as Camrys, Avalons and other makes ranging between the model years 2004 and 2010.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 14 Comments
      Taggart
      • 2 Years Ago
      If this is an issue, it seems way overblown when the Prius keeps placing at the top of reliability rankings: JD Power named the Prius the "Highest Ranked Compact Car" in Dependability (long-term reliability) in their 2011 Dependability Study. This involves the 2004-2010 model mentioned in the above article that was involved in a different recall for the alleged unintended acceleration problem that Steve Wozniak called "A big hoax". Hard to believe scrutiny of the 2003 Prius will turn up anything new. And TUV-report, Germany's reliability testing program, ranked the Prius and Porsche 911 as their most reliable cars in their 2011 report. In fact, the Prius got the smallest complaint rate--1.9%--of all the vehicles tested! TUV stated: “Especially impressive: The complex hybrid technology of the Toyota Prius works perfectly. In second place, also a Toyota: The Auris usually masters the first TÜV check without fail.” So the Germans, who are known to be meticulous in general, as well as serious about driving, rate the Toyota Prius as their most trouble-free car. That's gotta mean something. Interestingly, in the TUV survey of 11 year-old cars, 4 Toyota models come in the top 10.
        axiomatik
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Taggart
        Couple of points. First, unintended acceleration cases should not effect reliability surveys. Unintended acceleration is scary, and makes big headlines. If it was happening often enough to skew reliability surveys, there would be very serious problems. Second, the TUV report isn't a report on reliability, it is a report on what percentage of cars are "road-worthy", ie, the tires are in good condition, the brake lights aren't burned out, you aren't driving on blown shocks, etc. According to the TUV report, the biggest factor in cars failing the test are burned out light bulbs. Hardly a measure of a vehicle's reliability.
      EZEE
      • 2 Years Ago
      With the exception of late 1970's fords slipping out of gear, have any of these lawsuits ever panned out (acceleration or otherwise?)
      • 2 Years Ago
      i suspect this case has some merit on it. i had a 2001 prius that would show me the triangular screen of death every time i tried to pulse and drive. by trial and error i found i could clear the error code by rebooting the computer 3 times. by rebooting i meant turning off car before the computer could boot upon ignition. toyota wouldn't even listen to me hard as i tried to telling them of the problem. so about twice a month i'd find myself in turtle mode limping into some strange alleys doing my reboots. got rid of the car after 2 years.
        Chris M
        • 2 Years Ago
        I suspect your problem is the way you were trying to "pulse and glide", probably by shifting into neutral while still rolling. Not a good idea, and it could easily cause the type of malfunction you describe. Better to just drive it easy and not go for extreme hypermiling techniques.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Chris M
          nope. never shifted to neutral chris. my google efforts back then came up with others suffering the same problem, some suggesting the electronic control unit was suffering some sort of interference. the dealer suggested we replace the unit for $500. i balked insisting it was a design problem and should be fixed under warranty. toyota played hardball and i sold the car in disgust.
        • 2 Years Ago
        oh, i forgot i stayed with the toyota phone rep for almost an hour and would have stayed all day if i didn't began to feel sorry for the toyota CSR.
      Mike Dimmick
      • 2 Years Ago
      Ironically this model did suffer from an electronic acceleration issue. Over time the potentiometer tracks would wear and change in resistance, which would cause the car to *not* accelerate as hard as requested. It's known to owners as 'big hand' syndrome, and some owners offered to refurbish accelerator pedals that suffered from the problem. http://625k.com/products/pri_acc.html Incidentally the described behaviour indicates that the failsafe system *does* work correctly. Newer Prius - the hatchback models - and other Toyota hybrids use a Hall-effect sensor which has no electrical contact to wear down, so should be more reliable. The actual pedal assembly recall did not affect the Prius either - that was for assemblies built outside Japan.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mike Dimmick
        Beat me to it. Thanks. As for Marc below, shame on your dealer/service provider not to have taken care of this.
        Arun Murali
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mike Dimmick
        Unintededly, not accelerating. That could be a problem you can sue Toyota over. Ooh, lets get a lawyer. ;)
      mapoftazifosho
      • 2 Years Ago
      Effing lawyers...
      usbseawolf2000
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why wait 3 years to sue? Is this another James Sikes attempt at Prius?
      george costanza
      • 2 Years Ago
      when I still drove american cars they would always have recalls. brakes etc which you would think would be of same caliber or 'emergency' as 'unintended' acceleration if you dont have fuI*89ing brakes!!! never ever made news the recalls were so common....maybe as number one in world toyota is just a target of desperate US bailed out car cos. I like my car. I will buy a new plug in in future. dont need to even buy winter tires anymore as we have no fu*ing snow anymore and it is fifty today instead of minus twenty as it was five yrs ago this date in this same location. all good, right???? nobody can see any 'downside' and all perfectly natural right fu**(ing denialists? I cant wait to see gas prices go above $10/gallon and how all ignorant denialists will all be totally shocked!!!! like it is all a total mystery and all obama's fault!!!! right????
      george costanza
      • 2 Years Ago
      at this same time this occurred I had a new prius. I knew 100% this was total bullshit when roy hood told all prius drivers to leave car in garage. even while chevy etc at the SAME TIME all had recalls for actual engine probs. but our fu*9ed up biased media in US wne to work on their typical bu!!hist hysteria fear mongreing xenophobic protectionist garbage!
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