Filed under: Government/Legal , Japan , Safety , Toyota Automotive News reports Toyota may have known about the problem behind the company’s recall of 7.43 million vehicles . The recall covers faulty window switches that may get stuck or catch fire if improperly lubricated. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration received its first complaint about the issue some four years ago, which singled out American supplier, Tram Inc., and its Japanese parent company, Tokai Rika Co., as being to blame for the trouble. The faulty switches in question were described as emitting a strange smell and were sent back to the supplier for analysis. Tokai Rika couldn’t discern a cause for the failure. Toyota dropped the case in that instance, but continued to monitor the switches. Similar reports flared up once again in 2010, this time with the components actually smoking, and Toyota launched a full-fledged internal investigation that eventually led to the recent recall. The campaign covers nearly 2.5 million vehicles in the US alone. Why did it take Toyota so long to launch the recall? The company says it was trying to discern why the switches were failing before it issued a fix.
Filed under: Government/Legal , Safety , Toyota National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Administrator David Strickland has released a letter defending the agency’s handling of investigations into claims of unintended acceleration by Toyota owners. Republican Senator Charles Grassley has said questions remain about what caused unintended acceleration instances in the Japanese manufacturer’s vehicles, specifically whether or not the trouble was caused by electronic glitches. Grassley specifically questioned whether NHTSA had the experience necessary to diagnose the defect. The senator also wondered why NHTSA investigators called in NASA scientists for assistance during the investigation. Strickland, meanwhile, has responded by saying NHTSA did, in fact, have the requisite experience and that NASA was called upon for a second opinion. The administrator underscored the fact that neither NHTSA nor NASA could find an electronic reason for the claims of unintended acceleration. As you may recall, the government agency concluded in early 2011 that faulty gas pedals and floor mats were to blame for the runaway syndrome. According to The Washington Post , Grassley’s letter stemmed from tips from whistleblowers who claim the runaway vehicles were actually caused by errant strands of solder within the pedal assembly itself. Those strands could reportedly cause shorts within the system. Strickland responded by saying NHTSA investigated the solder issue, otherwise known as “tin whiskers,” and found the issue to cause no more than a jumpy throttle, a stance Toyota agrees with.
Filed under: Government/Legal , Recalls , Safety , Technology , Toyota Toyota is facing further fallout from its recent unintended acceleration debacle, with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) calling on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to reopen its investigation into the situation that led Toyota to recall some eight million vehicles. According to TheDetroitBureau.com, Grassley has written a letter to NHTSA director David Strickland, stating in part, “Key questions about the cause of unintended acceleration remain unanswered.” Grassley’s contention is that because neither of the two independent investigations into the issue produced a definitive cause or explanation, further digging is necessary. Most of the unintended acceleration incidents in the NASA and National Academy of Sciences reports not attributed to trapped floormats or other problems with accelerator pedals were blamed on driver error, according to the report, but both studies concluded that other unknown issues could be at play. According to Automotive News , Grassley is particularly concerned about the “tin whiskers” phenomenon, in which tiny threads of conductive crystal can grow on circuit boards. Toyota has responded to the Grassley letter, issuing a statement that reads, in part, “There is no problem with the electronic throttle control systems in Toyota vehicles – and all the scientific evidence confirms it. So-called ‘tin whiskers’ are not a new phenomenon and do not represent a mysterious or undetectable problem in a vehicle’s electronics.” Sen Grassley asks if Toyota got off easy with unintended acceleration debacle originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 13 Jul 2012 13:27:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink
Filed under: Government/Legal , Safety , Technology , Videos , Lexus , Toyota CNN revealed a confidential memo written in Japanese on the Anderson Cooper 360 show last night that it contends shows Toyota engineers found an electrical problem that caused sudden unintended acceleration in a pre-production test vehicle. The news organization commissioned three separate translations of the documents, though Toyota has objected to the accuracy of each. Findings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and National Research Council have both supported Toyota’s original explanation of sudden unintended acceleration being caused by either sticky gas pedals, trapped floor mats or human error. Toyota has never admitted that electronic or software issues were to blame for any reported cases of SUA, and every investigation into the matter has failed to identify the automaker as responsible. Toyota does admit the document in question was not provided to the federal government during their investigations, but explains that “the test and document had nothing to do with unintended acceleration, or a defect, or a safety flaw of any kind.” Rather, Toyota insists the document refers to pre-production testing of the company’s adaptive cruise control system on a version of the Lexus LS 460 sold in Japan and Europe. A Toyota electrical engineer told CNN that the cruise control system acted exactly as it should when they input an abnormal signal, and that the test resulted in further refinements to the system. We’ve embedded the CNN video report after the jump , which also includes anecdotal testimony from one Lexus owner who claims that she has experienced SUA in the period since federal investigators released their findings. Toyota inspected her vehicle and provided data from sensors in her car that showed in her case, acceleration was caused by pedal misapplication. You can also read Toyota’s official response just below the video. Continue reading CNN reveals Toyota memo that purports to show sudden acceleration caused by electronics CNN reveals Toyota memo that purports to show sudden acceleration caused by electronics originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 02 Mar 2012 10:30:00 EST.
Filed under: Etc. , Government/Legal , Safety , Chrysler , Ford , GM , Honda , Kia , Nissan , Subaru , Toyota The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating a number of vehicles for potentially faulty side airbags , according to The Detroit News . The airbags may have been manufactured with an ineffective mix of inflation gasses, which could leave the bags flat in the event of a collision. The defective hardware has found its way into models from Toyota , Honda , Subaru and Nissan , and has resulted in the recall of around 2,700 units so far. If NHTSA finds the defective airbags in other vehicles, that number could swell substantially. The defective airbag inflators were manufactured by a Autoliv, a Swedish supplier. According to the report, Autoliv shipped a total of 10,500 faulty inflators to manufacturers as well as two other airbag makers. Chrysler , Ford , General Motors , Kia and Suzuki all purchased the defective parts, though it’s unclear exactly which models were equipped with the Autoliv pieces. Ford, GM and Chrysler have all said their airbag inflators work differently than those used by other automakers. The companies haven’t seen any failures in extensive testing.
Filed under: Sedan , Government/Legal , Recalls , Safety , Crossover , Toyota According to a report from The Associated Press , the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened a probe into possible driver-side door fires in 2007 Toyota Camry sedans and RAV4 crossovers. A total of 830,000 vehicles may be affected. Six fires have been reported to NHTSA, all stemming from the door-mounted power window switch. Five of the fires are said to have been minor, with one resulting in the total loss of a Camry that burnt to a crisp before firefighters were able to respond. It’s important to note that this is not (yet) a recall. NHTSA opened an investigation on Monday, February 6, and a recall could potentially be announced depending on NHTSA’s findings. Toyota has said in a statement that it is cooperating fully with the investigation. Feds investigating Toyota Camry and RAV4 over door fires originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 10 Feb 2012 16:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink
Filed under: Government/Legal , Safety , Technology , Toyota “We couldn’t find anything, but we’re still blaming the car.” That’s the gist of the statement from a National Academy of Sciences panel headed by New Jersey Institute of Technology physics professor Louis Lanzerotti. The NAS supports U.S. regulators shutting down investigation of Toyota unintended acceleration incidents without finding electronic faults that would cause the behavior. However, at the same time, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is planning to call for further oversight and more study to attempt to rule out electronic causes. About the only thing that’s concrete is that crashes happened. To be fair, electronic faults can be tricky to pin down, even with far simpler systems than the networked-computing setups that modern cars universally employ. That’s why event data recording is already part of many automotive systems, along with a high degree of redundancy and fault tolerance. Many carmakers also already program engine management to douse the throttle with brake application in certain situations. Few are more interested in catching intermittent, potentially catastrophic problems than the companies building the cars, and most have already implemented the systems these organs of the state are calling for. Even so, the NAS and NHTSA appear keen to write these tendencies into law.
Filed under: Etc. , Government/Legal , Safety , Cadillac , Toyota , Fiat The 2012 Toyota Camry and 2012 Cadillac CTS have joined the ranks of vehicles that have earned the coveted five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration . The vehicles mark the 15th and 16th models to nab the top rating under the tougher NHTSA crash test standards enacted for 2011 models. Last year, the 2011 Camry took home four stars in the evaluations. Toyota reminds us that the 2012 Camry is built with high-strength steel to help protect the passenger cell against deflection in the event of an accident, and that the vehicle comes standard with 10 airbags, all of which contribute to the new model’s superior score. The Fiat 500 , meanwhile, didn’t fare so well under the range of crash evaluations. The tiny hatchback collected just three stars overall. The side-impact test was particularly cruel to the Italian compact, with NHTSA awarding the vehicle two stars in that category – a somewhat surprising result considering that Fiat went to the trouble of redesigning the 500 for U.S. crash test compatibility. The 500 finds itself in the company of the Dodge Caliber and outgoing Ford Escape as the only models tested so far to receive the three-star designation.