Saturday, March 6, 2010

It's Time to Get an "Obama Discount" On a Slightly Used Toyota

Popular Mechanics senior automotive editor Mike Allen explains in the most recent issue why the Toyota is a solid car and the hysteria over a pedal defect questionable. The anti-Toyota campaign appears to be by some inside Toyota as an Obama led campaign to direct buyers to GM cars. Here's Allen with an overview of the mechanics:

Toyota has recalled millions of cars and trucks—4.2 million to replace floor mats that might impede throttle-pedal travel, and 2.4 million to install a shim behind the electronic pedal assembly. All of the affected pedal assemblies were made by Canadian supplier CTS. Toyota's boffins have documented a problem that can make a few of these pedals slow to return, and maybe even stick down. Problem solved.

But the media, Congress—and personal-injury lawyers—smell the blood in the water. Not to diminish the injuries and a few deaths attributable to these very real mechanical problems, but they're statistically only a very small blip, which may explain why Toyota took so long to identify the issue, especially when it has symptoms similar to the similarly documented floor mat recall. Plus, sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) is notoriously difficult to diagnose because, more often then not, the problem can't be repeated in front of a mechanic. Let's not forget the Audi SUA episode back in the '80s; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration eventually concluded that there was no mechanical problem. The culprit, as hard as this is to admit, was most likely driver error. To put the issue into context, in the last decade, there were about 24,000 customer complaints about SUA involving almost every major automaker. The NHTSA investigated fewer than 50. ..

Bottom line: The system is not only redundant, it's double-redundant. The signal lines from the pedal to the ECM are isolated. The voltages used in the system are DC voltages—any RF voltages introduced into the system, by, say, that microwave oven you have in the passenger seat, would be AC voltages, which the ECM's conditioned inputs would simply ignore. Neither your cellphone nor Johnny's PlayStation have the power to induce much confusion into the system.

These throttle-by-wire systems are very difficult to confuse—they're designed to be robust, and any conceivable failure is engineered to command not an open throttle but an error message.

So what to make of the unintended acceleration cases popping up by the dozens? Not the ones explainable by problem sticky pedals, but the ones documented by people who claim their vehicle ran away on its own, with no input, and resisted all attempts to stop it? Some can probably be explained as an attempt to get rid of a car consumers no longer desire. Some are probably the result of Audi 5000 Syndrome, where drivers simply lost track of their feet and depressed the gas instead of the brake. It's happened to me: Luckily I recognized the phenomenon and corrected before it went bang. Others may not have the presence of mind.

But the possibility that a vehicle could go from idling at a traffic light to terrific, uncalled-for and uncontrollable acceleration because the guy next to you at a traffic light answered his cellphone? Or some ghost in the machine or a hacker caused a software glitch that made your car run away and the brakes suddenly simultaneously fail? Not in the least bit likely. Toyota deserves a better deal than the media and Congress are giving it.
In other words, the media, Congress and the Obama Administration for no good reason have put out enough propaganda so that the price of used Toyotas are most assuredly down.

According to a USA Today/Gallup poll published recently, 31 percent of Americans think it is unsafe to be in a Toyota or Lexus product, and 55 percent said that Toyota did not respond promptly to the safety problems.

Simple supply and demand economic analysis tells you that with this many people fearing Toyotas, the price of used Toyotas is down.

If you are in the market for a car, it's a great time to go out and get the "Obama discount" on a slightly used Toyota.


  1. The Toyotas, are "Drive by Wire" cars and trucks. Accelerator, brakes and steering plus other non-safety or control related items are controlled by the master computer. There is no mechanical linkage.

    This technology was developed by Airbus Industrie and Boeing along with other software and hardware companies to control aircraft.

    These computers are not properly shielded from stray voltage from whatever source.

    One need not look to hard to find many incidents of engine shutdown in flight or un-commanded turns in various modern aircraft to find similar problems.

    The only ones that make the news are the ones that hit the ground off airport... and even then the computer is never blamed. It's always the pilots.

  2. I had a 2007 Camry V-6 SE that would accelerate on its own: sitting at idle, it would suddenly rev and lurch forward. Luckily I have a quick brake foot. Was told by service person that it was a minor design thing that would work itself out as it broke in. Knew that was bogus, traded it. It was electronic, not mechanical.

    Big mess to fix.

  3. The hubbub surrounding the Toyota "recall" is about, and only about foreign policy and political campaign chests.

    Toyota is a non-union shop. Union leadership sat on the boards of all US automakers as they declined into a dinosaur graveyard of planned obsolescence and gasoline addiction. Union leadership sat next to other care nothing and know nothings in US auto boards. Example, why would an automaker, GM, have a Pfizer executive on it's board chawing down with UAW gangsters? Well, one reason would be the health plan that Pfizer colluded with (bribed) UAW board leadership to offer rank and file included coverage for Viagra. That coverage cost GM 17 Million bucks a year. GM may have been building over priced rattle traps and packaging them as unsellable cars, but GM workers maintained righteous boners! Union leadership may or may not have used Pfizer's favors for the boner clause in GM's health plan to augment it's K-Street bribe slush fund, but it's easy to get a line worker with a continuous stiffy to vote yes to fill the coffers of our equally corrupt and hard boned politicos!

    It's hard to use rank and file dues to game a system of corruption if there's no shop - and there ain't no shop at Toyota - Toyota workers get their boners the old fashion way!

    Foreign policy gangsters in our alleged government are awful upset that Japan exited the War on Terror. A few months back, the Japanese government ended it's Indian Ocean refueling of US war assets. But that ain't all. The citizens of Okinawa want to close the US base there. They even elected a mayor who's primary task is to assure that happens. As the US War Banksters shopped for another location to continue the occupation of Japan, they got more than an ear full of "not the f*ck here Yank!".

    The strikes against Toyota are 2 fold: 1) To pressure Toyota into opening plants in Union Shop locations to enhance the greasing of the corrupt hands inside the beltway and 2) to pressure the Japanese government to rejoin the mass murder and genocide so fondly referred to as the "War On Terror", as well as the putting down of the natives to allow the continued occupation of Japan by the US Jolly Green Killing Machine.

    Want to see a bunch of really p*ssed off Americans go wild - tell them they can't drive high quality Toyota - tell them they can't work at a modern well paying Toyota plant. That's one dare the wall around the beltway won't be able to protect the altar boy grabbers in government from.

  4. I live in the city where that cop died from that alleged pedal problem.

    Let me assure you, if he hadn't been a cop, none of this would be going on.

  5. This is all about pay backs and pushing.
    Right now Japan is trying to push the US Marine base out of Okinawa and the US is using this newly found leverage the same way that Japan had done to the US during the mad cow days.
    Japan was dumping steel, the US blocked them, US got mad cow from Canada and then Japan dropped beef from their market.
    The both opened the doors again quite quickly.
    It's all politics.
    When was the last time that one of the big three had a congressional meet for one of their vehicles being defective? Think about it.
    I agree with this author nearly 100%