As it turns out, they couldn’t find anything wrong with the Toyotas that had accelerator problems. NASA engineers spent 10 months studying the problem and they concluded that the problems were caused by drivers stepping on the accelerator rather than the brake, stuck floor mats and sticky accelerator pedals. Nevertheless, Toyota paid 48 million in fines, recalled 12 million vehicles, their reputation was damaged and new federal regulations will be put into effect. IMHO, the government was all to anxious to demonize Toyota because they are the main competitor of GM (Government Motors). The only surprise is that NASA did not manipulate their data to make Toyota look like a villain. Because the government was wrong about Toyota’s culpability, they fined Toyota and imposed burdensome regulations. The uncountable government regulators probably got raises and/or promotions.
LaHood said engineers from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration “rigorously examined” nine Toyotas driven by consumers who complained of unintended acceleration. NASA reviewed 280,000 lines of software code to look for flaws that could cause the acceleration. Investigators tested mechanical components in Toyotas that could lead to the problem and bombarded vehicles with electro-magnetic radiation to see whether it could make the electronics cause the cars to speed up…..
…NHTSA Deputy Administrator Ron Medford said that in many cases when a driver complained that the brakes were ineffective, the most likely cause was “pedal misapplication,” in which the driver stepped on the accelerator instead of the brakes.
Toyota paid the U.S. government a record $48.8 million in fines for its handling of three recalls. The company has said it has not found any flaws in its electronic throttle control systems and said the previously announced recalls have addressed the safety concerns.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2011/02/08/government-electronic-flaws-toyotas/
I used to work as a Ford technician as an engine performance specialist. Part of my job was to diagnose and repair electronic engine control systems. Most of today’s vehicles are “drive by wire”. This means that there is no mechanical linkage or cable between the accelerator and the engine. The accelerator pedal mechanism contains a set of sensors which send signals to the engine’s computer. Then, the computer controls the vehicle’s acceleration through an electronic throttle body (ETB). In Fords, the gas pedal and the ETB have a triple a redundant fail-safe system. The computer constantly checks the redundant sensors in the gas pedal and the ETB. It also compares these readings to engine RPM and intake air flow. If there are any discrepancies, the computer will default to “limp home mode” or idle. This is a very safe system, however troubleshooting can be difficult because the “discrepancies” are often intermittent.
The most difficult case that I ever diagnosed was caused by “electromagnetic radiation”. The cause was an ignition coil that still worked, however it produced strong electromagnetic interference. It unintentionally created a radio wave the way old time “spark gap” radio transmitters used to work. The defective ignition coil still produced a spark to run the engine but it produced spurious radiations that made the computer think that there was a problem with the ETB and put the system into “limp home mode”.
At fist, I replaced the ETB, a $400 part, but the same problem came back. After exhaustive testing, I was stumped. I called the engineers at Ford in Dearborn and they helped me diagnose the problem. I was surprised when we found that the problem was caused by a defective ignition coil.
I thought that the problem with the Toyotas might have been similar to my experience but they tested for electromagnetic radiation and it was not the culprit. As it turned out, most of the problems with the Toyotas were caused by a loose nut behind the wheel (the driver). lol