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Rep. Engel asks pointed questions of Toyota, expresses doubts

UPDATED at 4:30 p.m.

Rep. Eliot Engel of New York asked Toyota’s James Lentz what he knew and when he knew it. Engel went on to say, "I hope you can appreciate that we are very skeptical because it seems that if you look at the chain of events, there was an attempt to sweep everything under the rug." He questioned why Toyota didn't take apart cars that had reported acceleration issues like Rhonda Smith's.

After hearing Smith talk about her Lexus ES350 going 100 mph and being unable to stop, Engel asked, "Wouldn’t it have been logical to take that car and rip it apart?"

Lentz, head of Toyota North American sales, said a "technical person" looked at Smith's car but that "if they didn't see anything that’s why they didn’t tear it apart.”

"If they had seen a component failure, they would have taken it off. I don't know the specifics on her car."

Lentz said one thing that made it hard to figure out the troubles with some of the cars was the moisture from sticky floor mats was gone by the time an owner got to a dealership.

"There are so many causes," he said. "They’re just very, very difficult to duplicate."

In every case? asked Engel, adding, "Surely you wouldn’t have to be a rocket scientist to say something's wrong."

Lentz responded that Toyota jumped quickly on fixing reported problems with the Corolla steering and Prius brakes.

"We’re digging into that right now to make sure customers are safe and happy with their products," he said.

Engel then asked perhaps the best questions so far: "What do you know that we don’t know yet? What’s going to come out that we don’t know? What bombshell will be next?"

Lentz said: "God, I hope there aren’t anymore. Let’s get back to the good old days of 2009. Right now we have to fix the process so these things don’t happen again. I don’t know what’s behind the curtain. No one knows what defects you could have down the road. It is important we have built-in quality, built-in safety. That’s why our processes are changing so we get back to the company we once were."

He said Toyota has been known for its quality, reliability and safety. "We’ve stubbed our toe," he said. "... We’re going to get back to where we were."

-- Dana Hedgpeth

Rep. Gonzalez asks about Toyota's message for drivers

4:13 p.m.: Rep. Charlie Gonzalez of Texas asked, "What can you tell Toyota owners today regarding the safety of their vehicles?"

Jim Lentz, head of Toyota North American sales, responded: "I would not have my loved ones driving products, recalled or not, if I didn’t feel they were safe. We have new processes in place that are going to ensure more transparency. ... Everybody is going to have defects. Everybody is going to have recalls. How quickly we react, that’s what’s most important." He paused to point out the dealers sitting behind him.

"The way we build trust in our brand is through our dealers," he said. "They are doing a tremendous job in taking care of this situation," noting that 800,000 customers have had repairs made in 20 days. "The customers are understanding," he said. "... They know that for the last 50 years we’ve stood behind our product and done the right thing for them."

The big question: Will customers continue to do so?

-- Dana Hedgpeth and Peter Whoriskey

Toyota's U.S. President Lentz: 'We are confident that no problems exist'

3:09 p.m.: Around 3 p.m. today in the Toyota hearing, James Lentz, president of the automaker's U.S. operations went up for his testimony.

Committee Chairman Henry Waxman immediately called into question the company's claim that its recent fixes to floor mats and sticky pedals will resolve the company's problems with unintended vehicle acceleration.

Lentz said, "We are confident that no problems exist with the electronic throttle control systems in our vehicles."

But under questioning, he acknowledged that he is "not totally" sure that only the pedals and floor mats were causing problems.

He said the company needs to remain "vigilant."

Lentz's appearance comes after an engineer testified that he had discovered that he could introduce electrical problems in the electronic throttle system that were not detected by the engine. It is just such problems that some say could cause the unintended acceleration events.

Lentz cast doubt on the engineer's account, saying it sounded "too good to be true" to have found a defect that the entire industry has been looking for.

Michigan Rep. John Dingell lobbed a series of yes-or-no questions about what Toyota had tested in troubled vehicles. At times, he cut off Lentz’s answers, as Lentz admitted he didn’t know certain answers.

-- Peter Whoriskey and Dana Hedgpeth

Rep. Buyer attempts to undermine research critical of Toyota

2:16 p.m.: Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.) is attempting to undermine the testimony of a safety expert and a college professor who have given testimony critical of Toyota.

First Buyer lit into Sean Kane, president of Safety Research and Strategies, getting him to admit that five law firms "sponsored" his critical report of Toyota and that all five law firms are suing Toyota on behalf of clients.

Buyer then hit Southern Illinois U. tech Prof. David Gilbert, who cracked the Toyota programming and was able to induce unintended acceleration, by finding out that Kane had paid Gilbert $1,800, given him $4,000 worth of testing equipment and is paying him $150 per hour for future research.

"Whatever he's paying me, it's not enough," Gilbert said, drawing laughs from the congressional hearing room.

Buyer then asked Gilbert if he "cut three wires" in the Toyota to rig his test. Gilbert responded that no, he tapped into the wires with an oscilloscope to monitor the current in the wires during the test, which is entirely different and within scientific method.

Gilbert remained steadfast in the face of Buyer's accusations, saying, "I had the decision no whether to push the 'send' button to NHTSA [to report his findings], on my own, I contacted Toyota, on my own, I contacted Mr. Kane," he said. "To be quite honest, at the moment I discovered this, I was sick at my stomach."

Buyer wrapped up with, frankly, a cheap shot: Bringing up the notorious NBC "Dateline" episode in which the show, in 1992, rigged a vehicle with explosions and suggested it was a real explosion.

Buyer noted that manipulating results to exaggerate, "that doesn't work very well." He concluded by saying "smart minds" are going to resolve this problem, which the witnesses probably also took as a shot.

The committee is now in recess.

College prof: Toyota's gas pedal code was the easiest to crack

1:39 p.m.: Southern Illinois U. auto tech professor David Gilbert (read about him below) is the guy who was able to introduce a flaw into Toyota gas pedal control systems and induce runaway acceleration. Turns out, he tried to do the same to a Buick Lucerne and a Ford F-150 pickup.

"None were quite as easy as the Toyota to crack," he said. "The Buick Lucerne, we're still not able to crack."

Wow. That's a big hammer down on Toyota. Not only did this solitary college professor crack mighty Toyota's code and cause a runaway vehicle, he said it was easy to do so.

Moments ago, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) told Gilbert that Toyota lawyers said they were able to duplicate Gilbert's experiment, but that it amounted to "sabotage."

DeGette asked Gilbert: Could what you did happen in real-world conditions?

Gilbert: "In my opinion, yes."

DeGette: Why wasn't Toyota able to find this earlier?

Gilbert: "Maybe they weren't asking the right questions."

Gilbert said that Toyota needs to immediately "reprogram" the electronic throttle control system in its vehicles so the fail-safes will kick in in more circumstances, such as the one he was able to induce in the lab.

College prof finds, duplicates runaway acceleration in Toyotas

12:54 p.m.: Okay, this is good stuff: One one side, you've got Japanese auto giant Toyota saying there's no way, no how that electronics are to blame for the runaway Toyota issues.

On the other side, you've got one guy: David Gilbert, a professor of automotive technology at Southern Illinois University, who said he duplicated the runaway problem in a Toyota he tested in his lab and found that yes, there IS a possibility that electronics are to blame.

Talk about David (Gilbert) vs. Goliath.

Gilbert said that he discovered a condition in which the engine could receive an electronic request from the gas pedal to accelerate the vehicle to high speeds and keep it there WITHOUT the on-board computer deciding there is a problem underway and engaging the fail-safe systems Toyota says would shut down the engine to prevent this from happening.

Gilbert said he called Toyota North America in California to tell engineers there what he found, talked to some, but did not get a favorable response. UPDATE: Gilbert just said that he got a call back from Toyota days later and took part in a conference call with designers. They "took it very seriously," he said.

The best part of Gilbert's testimony came when committee chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) asked Gilbert how long it took him to discover this problem.

Gilbert: "I discovered it in about three-and-a-half hours."

Waxman: And how much did you spend?

Gilbert: "With the equipment I had, basically very little, if anything."

Runaway Lexus driver: I'm alive only because God intervened

12:27 p.m.: There's some pretty gripping testimony underway right now at the Toyota hearing before the Energy and Commerce committee on the runaway Toyota problems from Rhonda Smith, the victim of a runaway Lexus ES350.

She said her car took off on its own on a highway and zoomed to maximum speed. It would not stop despite the fact she stood on the brakes with both feet. While looking for a guard rail to aim at, she called her husband on the car's Blue Tooth phone:

"I knew he could not do anything to help me but I wanted to hear his voice one more time," she said, tearing up. "After six miles, God intervened as the car came very slowly to a stop," as she still had both feet on the brakes. "The motor still revved up and down...and would not shut off. Finally...I was able to turn the engine off. After my husband arrived, he found nothing unusual about the accelerator or floor mat, but the dash lights and radio were still on."

Toyota's response: When properly maintained, the brakes will always override the accelerator. "Well, we know that's a lie," Smith said. She believes, as others do, Toyotas and Lexuses have an electronics problem with their gas pedals.

She said NHTSA was no help in the investigation.

"Shame on you Toyota for being so greedy and shame on you NHTSA for not doing your job," Smith said.

Her husband is now testifying and asked lawmakers to put themselves in his shoes and "listen to what you think are the last words you will ever hear from you wife."

While Smith was talking to her husband on her phone, he told her to slam it into reverse to try to get it to stop: "I told her, 'Hopefully the transmission will yank loose. Hang on and hopefully you'll survive the crash."

Akio Toyoda: Toyota managers will actually drive Toyotas

12:12 p.m.: Right now, Toyota's problems are being examined in a Hill hearing before the House Energy and Commerce committee. But tomorrow, Toyota president Akio Toyoda will face the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, which just released the testimony he plans to give.

Toyoda said that he will personally makes sure managers in his company will drive Toyotas to make sure they are okay.

The grandson of Toyota's founder begins his testimony plaintively: "I am Akio Toyoda of Toyota Motor Corporation. I would first like to state that I love cars as much as anyone, and I love Toyota as much as anyone."

His testimony focuses on three areas: "Toyota’s basic philosophy regarding quality control, the cause of the recalls, and how we will manage quality control going forward."

He says the company grew too fast:

"We pursued growth over the speed at which we were able to develop our people and our organization, and we should sincerely be mindful of that. I regret that this has resulted in the safety issues described in the recalls we face today, and I am deeply sorry for any accidents that Toyota drivers have experienced.

Especially, I would like to extend my condolences to the members of the Saylor family, for the accident in San Diego. I would like to send my prayers again, and I will do everything in my power to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again."

Toyoda refers to the 2009 crash of a Lexus with a stuck gas pedal that resulted in a fiery crash and the death of four family members.

Toyoda concludes by saying: "My name is on every car."

Yoshi Inaba, head of Toyota North America, says in his testimony that: "We now understand that we must think more from a customer first perspective rather than a technical perspective in investigating complaints, and that we must communicate faster, better and more effectively with our customers and our regulators.

Is it the electronics?

11:25 a.m.: Toyota and Transportation Department officials are on Capitol Hill this morning for the first of what will likely be two very tough days of grilling from lawmakers on Toyota's quality problems.

The big question today is: Is it possible that Toyota's issues with runaway cars and unintended acceleration were the fault of electronic, not mechanical problems?

"Cars have become moving computers," said House Energy and Commerce committee chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), kicking off the hearing. "The increased reliance on new electronics brings new risks and they need to be examined. But this did not happen."

Waxman pointed to the thousands of pages of documents his committee has received from Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and showing that Toyota and NHTSA ignored increased driver complaints of runaway acceleration after Toyota began installing electronic throttles. Waxman added that NHTSA "still does not have an electronics engineer on staff."

Waxman promised "harrowing" testimony from a female Toyota owner whose car ran away from her when the gas pedal stuck.

"Toyota failed its customers and the government neglected is responsibility," Waxman said. "Today, we will try to find out why."

Waxman added that Toyota is a "great company and I hope it has a great future."

Through both the fall recall (3.8 million vehicles) and the January recall (2.1 million) for unintended acceleration, Toyota has steadfastly maintained the problem is not electronic. First, it was floor mat entrapment of the gas pedal. Then, it was mechanical problems with the gas pedal.

But time and again, Toyota has said it is *not* an electronic problem. Jim Lentz, head of Toyota North American sales, who will testify before an House Energy and Commerce subcommittee beginning at 11 a.m. today, was seen in a CNBC interview earlier this year saying the electronics issue was thoroughly tested and discarded as a possible cause of the runaway cars.

And in testimony he will deliver today, Lentz says:

"We are confident that no problems exist with the electronic throttle control system in our vehicles. We have designed our electronic throttle control system with multiple fail-safe system mechanisms to shut off or reduce engine power in the event of a system failure. We have done extensive testing of this system and have never found a malfunction that caused unintended acceleration."

But the subcommittee said today that the evidence suggests there is a problem with the electronic throttle control and will rake Toyota over the coals for allegedly attempting to cover that up.

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) pointed out that Toyota did a recall 10 years ago in the U.K. for floor mat/gas pedal problems.

The House subcommittee also turned its ire toward the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration for conducting what it called a "cursory and ineffective" probe of the runaway acceleration because it lacked the expertise to run a thorough investigation.

In testimony today, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who oversees NHTSA, will say his agency did indeed look at electronics as a cause of the runaway Toyotas.

I'm live-blogging, so check back here as the hearing unspools. But to get the the freshest coverage, sign up for my Twitter feed, below, because I'll be Tweeting the best lines as they happen.

Follow me on Twitter at @theticker

By Frank Ahrens  |  February 23, 2010; 2:16 AM ET
Categories:  Congress , Corporations , The Ticker  | Tags: Akio Toyoda, Ray LaHood, Toyota problems, Yoshi Inaba, toyota congressional hearings, toyota recall model and years  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Documents show NHTSA closed 2007 probe of runaway Toyota acceleration even though it knew the problem was 'dangerous'
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Comments

I still love Toyotas...and Hondas.

They are far better than the hunks of junk now made by Government Motors.

Posted by: Jerzy | February 23, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

One is forced to wonder when these companies will be respectful of the needs and intellect of their customers. They continue to relieve themselves on us and then tell us that it is raining. We accept their mealy mouthed so called apologies when we find them out and they are forced to admit their willful acts. Whether it is the food industry, pharmaceutical, travel or car industries we fall for the spectacle of them in their thousands dollar outfits and fellow white executives explaining and apologizing before a Congress that they have purchased using funds afforded to them by our business. Toyota is just the latest example. Absent and ineffective (crooked ) regulation is as deadly as drug abuse. We need serious regulation of all these companies along with laws that guarantee serious penalties to crooked regulators. The Dems and the GOP need to be pushed out of the way. This in one for "the people". With our Automotive industry and our Healthcare industry as well as Education and a host of other entities, it is put up or shut up time. We cannot afford to continue falling behind while our compromised, mealy mouthed, ethically compromised and often idiotic representatives look for the closest microphone into which to disgorge the contents of their minds. e nned to make them get into line, not the other way around.

Posted by: Draesop | February 23, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

These problems have nothing to do with Congress, we have government agencies who handle problems like this. Congress needs to do their job, and this isn't part of it. Let the appropiate agency handle this problem, and all in Congress who called for these hearings, need to get a grip, resign, and find another job(and stop wasting taxpayers money, now). We the people are tired of the agencies not doing their jobs properly and tired of Congress butting their noses in where they have no business.

Posted by: citigreg | February 23, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Yes, cars are packed with computers. Most are carefully designed and well tested.

What amazes me, however, is that despite speed limits all over, a desire to reduce oil energy consumption that they are not used more to improve safety.

1. Using GPS and local GPS correction signals, the position of a car can be determined to within a half dozen feet almost all of the time.

2. Using local radio systems, the exact speed limit of any location where a car is can be transmitted to the car.

3. The electronics that control the throttle body and injection system can be used to prevent cars from exceeding speed limits.

Such would drastically reduce speed accidents as well as reduce fuel consumption.

Isn't it odd that we can buy cars that can easily reach 150, ever 200 mph but there is nowhere to drive them legally much above 75 mph?

Put a leash on these cars, increase speed limits a little bit and there will be huge savings in lives, material, energy and money.

Posted by: AlanBrowne | February 23, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Akio, Akio, where art thou Akio!

Posted by: epespinoza43 | February 23, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

I think the entire fleet of Toyota is tied to fewer deaths then the Ford Pinto.

It's going to take Toyota a while to get back broad customer confidence. Fortunately, for Toyota, the 2010 midterms aren't far away and with the SCOTUS decision on Citizens United they'll be able to donate unlimited funds to congressional aspirants.

Not in any sort of a quid pro quo sense. That would be illegal. Just donating to those running who are more understanding of the technical issues that Toyota is going through.

Posted by: James10 | February 23, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

This happens with every manufacturer doing warranty claim analysis. They expect to pay out a certain amount and do everything to disclaim when their defects are too onerous for the shareholders' bottom line. My Honda transmission had to be replaced at my cost after it was recalled, inspected and not deemed deficient for replacement. Of course that was a Honda tech doing the appraisal. NTHSA has pages of complaints on this transmission but Honda gets off the hook for replacing it.

Posted by: jag_fan | February 23, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Adolph Waxman is just another arrogant liberal leech who needs to be sent home.

He has outlived his usefulness.

A real piece of feces.

Posted by: LarryG62 | February 23, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Easy.

I blame Bush -- don't laugh or roll your eyes, here's why:

Like other Republican Presidents, but perhaps more so, "W" made every effort to stuff government agencies with either political cronies who didn't know what they were doing ("heckuva job, Brownie"), or ideologues who believed government should have no role in oversight of consumer products or protecting the American people from shoddy goods.

You know, like Leslie Knope's boss in Parks And Recreation...

http://www.nbc.com/parks-and-recreation/about/bios/nick-offerman/

When you look back at the small slap on the wrist Enron got during the Bush Admin, it announced open season to all corporations (including too big to fail wall street banks) that they could do whatever they want, the law be damned.

So the law was damned.

No more government oversight of certain products, foods and services? Be careful what you wish for.

Like your local construction/contracting site inspections, it is indeed a hassle to deal with inspectors, but they are there for your safety.


Posted by: tony_in_Durham_NC | February 23, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Fifty cars out of 4 million and these pompus asses in Congress are acting like this is some major tragedy because some idiots could not turn the key off in their cars.

Posted by: Pilot1 | February 23, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

There once was a time when American car manufactures wanted to use the Toyota model to manufacture their cars.

Now it looks like these same American car manufactures are gleeful that the Toyota model has holes in it.

As for me, I will continue to buy foreign made cars, until American car manufactures can prove that their cars are just as safe, reliable, and affordable.

With the recent bailouts of American car manufactures, it looks like I may have to wait a little while longer for some proof.

Posted by: lcarter0311 | February 23, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Pilot1, Toyota has most steadfastly refused to admit there was a problem, and you've drunk their Kool-aid. But a NHTSA study in Ohio (reported right here in the Post) suggested that 3-10% of Lexuses in Ohio had sudden acceleration problems. So try 120,000 to 400,000 out of 4 million.

Posted by: Itzajob | February 23, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Waxman and Obama would like nothing better than to have the US government take over and run the auto industry in the US. Of one thing we can be certain- the Obamamobile would be about as serviceable as Soviet cars were. Liberals demand perfection from business. They are utopian in their demands but are very forgiving when it is a question of the efficiency of the government of which they are a part.

Posted by: mhr614 | February 23, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Waxman... before you start pointing your soiled fingers, you should take a long look in the mirror. As far as I can tell, your congressional legislation and financial mismanagement has just about crippled this country. how about a honest mea culpaa.

Posted by: nosuchluck | February 23, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

All of you defending Toyota and claiming that it's "only" fifty cars - would you be willing to take a chance with YOUR family in one of the models of Toyota that have been recalled?

I would like to know why you are defending a huge corporation that makes killer cars over the lives of consumers who were lied to by this huge corporation and the government.

I just don't understand why anybody would defend this, at the possible cost of the lives of their own families - unless you are just plain nuts.

Posted by: solsticebelle | February 23, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Hooray for the facts gettin' exposed, and the opening testimony was certainly appropriate. At least Mrs. Smith lived to tell about her horrifying experience.

Insofar as Toyota and the NHTSA are concerned, right on for the criminal investigation.

http://uc2.blogspot.com

Posted by: ParrisBoyd | February 23, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

NOTHING NEW HERE... Federal regulators turn the other way because the govt doesn't want to interfere with making money... happens all the time...
--------------

Feds weigh cell phone ban for bus, truck drivers
WASHINGTON - Safety investigators told federal regulators three years ago that it was dangerous for bus drivers to talk on cell phones while driving and recommended a ban.

The National Transportation Safety Board put that recommendation on its list of most important safety measures. Industry and safety groups had no objections.

Yet the regulatory agency that would write new rules on cell phone use by commercial drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, has done little more than study the issue. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33001645/ns/technology_and_science-wireless/
----------

SEC Chairman Cox Admits Deregulation Caused Crisis
Bush Appointee Christopher Cox, Head of the SEC, who admitted the credit crisis was due to deregulation, burned the oil wells as the Republicans left the White House along with all of the various agency heads. http://tinyurl.com/nzz25g

Posted by: kkrimmer | February 23, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I can't help but chuckle every time I see Henry Waxman's name. When the dems too k control of congress in Jan '07, Waxman's committee's highest priority was investigating Roger Clemons.....instead of housing bubble, subprime, runaway oil prices, leveraged financial products and anything else that led to our economic collapse. Go ahead and blame repubs for the meltdown but also know while Rome was burning, the dems were investigating Clemons. This guy is a joke!

Posted by: Tostitos | February 23, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I can't help but chuckle every time I see Henry Waxman's name. When the dems too k control of congress in Jan '07, Waxman's committee's highest priority was investigating Roger Clemons.....instead of housing bubble, subprime, runaway oil prices, leveraged financial products and anything else that led to our economic collapse. Go ahead and blame repubs for the meltdown but also know while Rome was burning, the dems were investigating Clemons. This guy is a joke!

Posted by: Tostitos | February 23, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I don't believe Rhonda Smith's claim that "she stood on the brakes with both feet." Back in the 1980s, people made the same claim about Audis; the cars allegedly took off by themselves and no matter how hard the drivers hit the brake, the car wouldn't stop.

Subsequent tests showed that an Audi with the gas pedal to the floor would not move if you stepped hard on the brake; the engine was simply unable to override the brake.

Smith claims that even though she was standing on the brake with both feet, the car "zoomed to maximum speed." Really? The car wouldn't even slow down? I call BS.

Here's what probably really happened: She got momentarily distracted (maybe from being on the phone, hm?) and accidentally stepped hard on the gas when she intended to step on the brake. Then when the car sped up, she panicked, and thinking she was stepping on the brake, pressed down even harder.

That, people, is a lot more plausible than claiming that the car kept accelerating to maximum speed even as she was jamming on the brakes.

Unfortunately, the truth is a lot less dramatic than a wild claim, and doesn't play nearly as well to C-SPAN's cameras. Which is what Waxman really wants.

Posted by: gilbertbp | February 23, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

We need to get government out of our lives. Reduce government regulation, cut taxes, and let the private sector solve problems.

The free market will solve all problems!

Posted by: AlanGoldberg54 | February 23, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Toyota put profits above lives.

Posted by: jckdoors | February 23, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Why does it go unstated that simply putting the car in neutral would fix this problem? I once owned a 1992 BMW 325i where the plastic part of the gas pedal that made it stick to the floor was broken. Occasionally, the plastic hinge at the top of the pedal would invert and the pedal would lock in place at full acceleration. Anytime that happened, I put the car in neutral, turned off the engine and coasted to a safe spot (using brakes as necessary and appropriate) and fixed my pedal. Sometimes, I just had to put it in neutral and turn the engine off and was able to fix the pedal with my foot. But I never was afraid I would die because I could always take the car out of gear. So can these people and I don't know why this is not pointed out.

Posted by: jneeriem | February 23, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Is there a reason these cars could not be put in neutral?

Posted by: AlanGoldberg54 | February 23, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Stuck accelerator? Very very simple. Shift into neutral and start slowing down. Then turn off ignition and turn on emergency blinkers. Yes, as soon as you shift into neutral, engine will red line. So what! This is your wife with a baby inside. Screw the engine. I'm sure Toyota would replace the engine if necessary.

Posted by: dgldsn | February 23, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

jneeriem: "But I never was afraid I would die because I could always take the car out of gear. So can these people and I don't know why this is not pointed out."
||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||
Because God forbid a congressman should ever tell a voter and a taxpayer he or she is wrong, when there's a big fat corporation standing around to whack like a piñata.

Or, as Dave Barry once wrote, our Founding Father said right in the Constitution, that "if anything bad happens to any citizen for any reason, it's probably the fault of a large corporation with deep pockets, if you get our drift."

Posted by: gilbertbp | February 23, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

I always thought Toyotas were overpriced and not worth the money. Accordingly, I never owned one and now with this mess, never will.

Posted by: truth1 | February 23, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse


Cheney/Bush the gift that keeps on giving...

I guess big government regulations might not be such a bad idea after all...

and government regulators who take their responsibilities seriously and act to protect consumers rather than Cheney/Bush Republican teabaggers who take their taxpayer funded paychecks and benefits and then tell those same taxpayers to go pound sand when they actually have a complaint...

Cheney/Bush appointees...

climate change—fudge the numbers

FAA failures standing passengers on the ruway—buy a book

cars out of control—learn to drive, take it to arbitration...

buyers beware...

voters beware...


Posted by: teoc2 | February 23, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse


Henry Waxman has always been an arrogant demagogue and this is no exception.

Posted by: screwjob2 | February 23, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Why is it so hard for some people to admit that Toyota has a MAJOR quality problem with some of their cars and that Ford and Government Motors cars are well made? Time to wake up and look at the calendar. It says 2010.

Posted by: StJohn1 | February 23, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse


They have no shame. For severe punishment they should make them drive one of their own cars. Better yet, make them drive an American car.

Posted by: maphound | February 23, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Every meddling has its consequences, whether from the manufacurer,congress or the Federal government
An automobile cannot be made fool-proof, it also involves the drivers behind the wheel. We tend to drive at reckless speeds and the only alternative would be to walk. Accidents do happen, otherwise, why do we have to have INSURANCE. I want to see how the GOVERNMENT MOTORS act. The same government is proposing HEALTH INSURANCE, why?, because we are unable to take care of our lives.What if the GM car fails, close the government or bring the lawyers in. The congress is even unable to bring TORT REFORM.

This is not life and death, we have thousands of reasons to die

Posted by: jayrkay | February 23, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

DARIWN AT WORK.

Posted by: SofaKingCool2009 | February 23, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Henry Waxman, now there's my science idol! He refuses to admit there might be a problem with his position on global climate change and you expect me to accept this idiots views on automotive engineering! His headphones play the recording, "breath-in -- breath-out -- breath-in"

Posted by: 312capri | February 23, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

"I guess big government regulations might not be such a bad idea after all..."

The word regulation is used too loosely. Talk to a business man or women starting a new business or trying to survive in this environment. Some regulations are necessary (protect consumers) but many are just money generators for gov't and ultimately stifle employment and growth. Look at all the regulations/permits to build a house and you'll see lots of waste. Besides, your example was a bad one...regulations were in place and not followed. Gheitner was the NY Fed Chief during the financial collapse, had oversite and ability to "speak up" and chose not to.

Posted by: Tostitos | February 23, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Putting the cars in neutral is irrelevant. The sudden acceleration shouldn't happen in the first place!

Posted by: thetan | February 23, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, building regulations are a waste.

I was in a foreign country a few years ago where some town buildings started falling down. It turns out the builders hadn't bothered to put in foundations.

Damn government regulations drove those poor builders out of business.

Posted by: AlanGoldberg54 | February 23, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Putting the cars in neutral is irrelevant. The sudden acceleration shouldn't happen in the first place!
-------------------------------------------
In Tucson, where I live, years ago, a lady was driving along a busy 2 lane street in a
1972 Oldsmobile 88. The accelerator hung up. There was traffic in front of her and oncomming. She panicked and turned into a cemetery to the right going very fast. The car flipped and killed her and her child.
IMHO, the 1972 Olds was one of the greatest cars ever built; domestic or foreign.

S__t happens, even with the best and yes, if she had only shifted into nertral and put on the brakes.

Posted by: dgldsn | February 23, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I find it interesting that the country that is trying to build robots has not read the book "I Robot" by Isaac Asimov to experience the worst that can happen.

Now.. the problem is in the software "IF" statements. Have Toyota, the government, a couple of good computer schools that still write code and look at the "IF" statements in that code and my hunch is very high that the problem lies there.

And please...do not sweep this under the floor mats!

Posted by: nestorb98 | February 23, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

More ignorance:

"Stuck accelerator? Very very simple. Shift into neutral and start slowing down. Then turn off ignition"

These steps are ineffectual in modern cars. These controls are not connected directly, they are merely computer inputs. If the computer has gone haywire, you can play with those controls all day and nothing will happen.

Wake up folks, learn about a modern car before you make an ignorant post.

Posted by: frantaylor | February 23, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

With modern cars, you are not even really driving the car. You are driving the computer, and the computer is really the one driving the car. Heaven help you if the computer goes on the fritz.

Posted by: frantaylor | February 23, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

OH Sh_t I just bought my wife a 350!!

Posted by: pconnolly2 | February 23, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Oh Shoot I just bought my wife a 350!!

Posted by: pconnolly2 | February 23, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Congress has no business holding hearings on Toyota's problems. First and foremost they have a conflict of interest problem considering they own GM and Chrysler. Second, some of the "problems" and responses, sound eerily similar to dealing with the Federal Bureaucracy and of late, the White House. This is all for show and nothing more.
Toyota will fix their problems because they know they will continue to lose business if they don't.

Let's get on with more important stuff.

Posted by: sandynh | February 23, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

"Congress has no business holding hearings on Toyota's problems. First and foremost they have a conflict of interest problem considering they own GM and Chrysler."

This is a totally bogus argument. Of course government can investigate itself. Who else CAN investigate the government?

Maybe you should go back to the web site where you picked up that useless argument and try to find another.

Posted by: frantaylor | February 23, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Three separate propositions so do not combine them:

1. Toyota has safety problems

2. Ford vehicles are well made

3. General Motors vehicles are well made

1 is true, 2 is debatable, and 3 is demonstrably false.

Posted by: screwjob2 | February 23, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Can't imagine how we came to have electronic accelerators in the first place. Blowed if I'd trust one - or anyone in the average repair shop here in the UK with fixing it either!

Once had a 2-stroke motorcycle with a penchant for stuck accelerator cables. Interesting thing about that is that it would carry on running even if you turned off the fuel and the electrics - because when it got hot enough it could just burn the engine oil and self ignite.

How did I stop it?
Easy: Put in the choke!
What?
You don't have one of those either!?

Seems to me these things are being deliberately over-engineered to stop people for being able to maintain them themselves: not for any real improvement.

S

Posted by: Spamlet1 | February 23, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Gotta agree with Spamlet1

Take a lesson from aircraft: even the newest fly-by-wire planes still have old-fashioned cable controls in the cockpit for when (not if) the computer fails.

Posted by: frantaylor | February 23, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse


Fifty cars out of 4 million and these pompus asses in Congress are acting like this is some major tragedy because some idiots could not turn the key off in their cars.

Posted by: Pilot1 | February 23, 2010 12:22 Pm

Idiots? What kind of idiot would turn off
the ignition (key) and lose power steering and power brakes before getting the car under control. First, put the transmission in neutral. Second, steer the vehicle to the side of the road. Third, turn the ignition off and call for a tow. Rather simple! I hope Pilot1 is never in a speeding Toyota for his solution could result in other peoples death. Also I hope he is not a commercial pilot.

Posted by: jslivesay | February 23, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Hey frantaylor, you need to make sure that YOU know what you're talking about. Yes, most modern cars have electronically controlled accellerators, but steering, brakes and most automatic gear boxes are still mechanical systems. BTW, the reason that manufacturers install electronic accellerators is to help them meet ever increasing emissions requirements.

Posted by: UberDave | February 23, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Hey frantaylor

From Car and Driver...
October 19, 2009

Putting a car in Neutral might save your life

More than a few readers were surprised when our tests proved that a car’s brakes may not be enough to stop a car with a stuck throttle while traveling at highway speeds. A horrific fatal crash in Southern California last August drew attention to the possibility that a misplaced floor-mat could jam a car’s throttle down. Other culprits can cause the same problem, including a stuck cable or linkage or malfunctioning throttle body. Whatever the cause of runaway acceleration, there’s a simple solution that could save your life.

Here’s all you have to do:
Move the transmission to Neutral.
Use the brakes to come to a stop safely on the side (or off) the road
Shut off the engine with the transmission in Neutral
Put the car into Park.

Fran, do some research or STFU!

Posted by: dgldsn | February 23, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

If your gas pedal is out of control, shift to neutral, this will disconnect the engine from the wheels nullifying the gas pedal's affect, then apply brakes to bring the car to a stop in a safe place and then turn off the ignition. I am surprised this temporary fix is not being published prominently as lot of Toyota drivers will not just stop driving until their cars are fixed.

Posted by: rajaramnarayana | February 23, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse


Fifty cars out of 4 million and these pompus asses in Congress are acting like this is some major tragedy because some idiots could not turn the key off in their cars.

Posted by: Pilot1 | February 23, 2010 12:22 Pm

Idiots? What kind of idiot would turn off
the ignition (key) and lose power steering and power brakes before getting the car under control. First, put the transmission in neutral. Second, steer the vehicle to the side of the road. Third, turn the ignition off and call for a tow. Rather simple! I hope Pilot1 is never in a speeding Toyota for his solution could result in other peoples death. Also I hope he is not a commercial pilot.

Posted by: jslivesay | February 23, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Fifty cars out of 4 million and these pompus asses in Congress are acting like this is some major tragedy because some idiots could not turn the key off in their cars.

Posted by: Pilot1 | February 23, 2010 12:22 Pm

Idiots? What kind of idiot would turn off
the ignition (key) and lose power steering and power brakes before getting the car under control. First, put the transmission in neutral. Second, steer the vehicle to the side of the road. Third, turn the ignition off and call for a tow. Rather simple! I hope Pilot1 is never in a speeding Toyota for his solution could result in other peoples death. Also I hope he is not a commercial pilot.

Posted by: jslivesay | February 23, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I give Toyota credit, they are TRYING to admit and fix the problem[s]. Where was Congress when Chrysler had the 2.7 oil sludge problem and still does? Those cars should have had a recall....my sebring is on it's 3rd engine.

Posted by: cynder7 | February 23, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Boy.. now that the govt owns GM and Chrysler.. I'm sure they are loving this.

Posted by: redsky28 | February 23, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

"Idiots? What kind of idiot would turn off
the ignition (key) and lose power steering and power brakes before getting the car under control. First, put the transmission in neutral. Second, steer the vehicle to the side of the road. Third, turn the ignition off and call for a tow. Rather simple! I hope Pilot1 is never in a speeding Toyota for his solution could result in other peoples death. Also I hope he is not a commercial pilot.

Posted by: jslivesay"
-------------------------------------------

Just in case anyone took this post seriously, the poster is F.O.S!

True, power steering is lost when the engine stops. But, this is not a problem as several generations of drivers made do without it. I've driven power steering-equipped cars many miles after a failure of the system without difficulty. The only time power steering is a real neccessity is at very slow speeds and tight turns.

Assuming the power brake booster is working properly, there will four or five vacuam-assisted brake applications remaining after the engine is turned off. After that, the brakes will still work very well but will require additional pressure on the brake pedal. I've experienced a stuck accelerator pedal a few times as it was pretty common in the days of cable operated fuel delivery systems. My solution was to switch the key off and stop. Not a big deal at all. In a modern car with a keyless system, move the transmission selector into neutral. And, FWIW, I'm an airline transport pilot.

Posted by: jhfleet | February 23, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

All you dumb dumb dummies.. if your car accelerates by itself.. put it in Neutral. Then pull safely off the road. Do not call 911 and tell them your car is accelerating..

Posted by: redsky28 | February 23, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Hello,- I love my 2002 Toyota Corolla! It is dependable, in-expensive, and low-on-gas. Even though the 'Engine Light' has been on for 3+years!? ha! - 3 different mechanics can Not find the problem. ALL vehicles have minor faults. My 2002 Toyota always starts, and keeps a-purring-along,- and has caused me less problems, at less $expense than the other 24 American made vehicles combined. If 'cry-babies' want to blame Toyota, then also include FORD & Voltwagen & GM & BMW,- of which in all, I had dangerous brake, suspension, and steering problems with, in the past. - Actually it is mostly the fault of CONGRESS for accepting $$bribes / hush-$money from the $Corporate Lobbyists. -- #1 being the INSURANCE $crooks, whom are a monopoly,- violate Trust-laws, and cause millions of injuries & deaths each year,- and they don't produce any tangible products!? - da! -- Oh yea,- don't forget the Criminal $Rip-Off PHARMACEUTICALS,- whose $prices can drive you insane, and their' Negligent so-called MEDs kill over 400,000 each year!!??

Posted by: jward52 | February 23, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

"but steering, brakes and most automatic gear boxes are still mechanical systems."

Yes they are mechanical systems but they are controlled by servos and interlock mechanisms that are computer controlled.

Example: your ABS system is designed to thwart your attempts to brake excessively, so theoretically it CAN disable your ability to brake.

Example: the Prius power steering is assisted by an electric motor. Its failure mode is to crank the steering all the way over to one side. Even though you still have direct control of the steering, you will crash unless you can overcome the force of the power steering motor.

Even if you still have "direct" control of the vehicle, this control can be taken away from you by an out-of-control engine computer.

Posted by: frantaylor | February 23, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

At the time that the Toyota electronics were designed, the 'electronic environment' wasn't filled with WIRELESS INTERNET AND CELLPHONE SIGNALS as exists NOW.

These signals COULD overwhelm the DRIVE CONTROL ELECTRONICS in the COMPUTER of the car!

Where the hell are the FREAKING ENGINEERS?

Oh, that's right! The engineers don't want to be PILLORIED by the CONGRESS, which is STARVED for RED MEAT to enhance their well-deserved SORRY AND PATHETIC IMAGES with the VOTERS.

Posted by: wpjunk | February 23, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

gee.

it's too bad that our government could give a rat's a_zz over human life needlessly slaughtered in iraq and afghanistan and soon to be iran...

... but they line up in droves to attack a japanese car maker.

pathetic.

hey congress... isn't there someone teenager using steroids you can go and harass? or maybe a teenage looking olympic athlete from china you can try and disqualify?

you people are *worthless*.

Posted by: AuthoritativeAuthoritarian | February 23, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

wpjunk: three things:

1. Look up "Faraday Cage"

2. Toyota turns around car designs in 2-3 years. It's not the 80's anymore.

3. The spark plugs in your car generate FAR more radio noise than any radio transmitter. Car electronics have been well shielded from the very beginning.

4. Tell me, does your laptop freak out when you use your phone right next to it? I didn't think so.

Posted by: frantaylor | February 23, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse


the u.s.. put an embargo on all japanese meat a couple of years ago.. it hurt the united states.

now, all japan has to do, is SHUT DOWN ALL JAPANESE PLANTS IN THE UNITED STATES and once again build them in japan... sure, americans will pay another $1,000 for the cars, but two things will happen.

1) america will have cars built to a higher standard..

and;

2) america will add another MILLION poeple to the jobless column.

way to go congress!

why doesn't congress WORK with the japanese instead of trying to crucify them?

Posted by: AuthoritativeAuthoritarian | February 23, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

You can stop pretending that there is no problem.

They Chairman of Toyota has admitted that they have problems and he has apologized for the deaths.

Posted by: frantaylor | February 23, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

The fact that Toyota is so adamant about it NOT being a problem with the electronic control system tells me that they regard the prospect of recalling all their vehicles with that system to be a nightmare that they don't even want to talk about in public.

Posted by: rkerg | February 23, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Is it possible that Rep. Buyer represents a district in Indiana that has a Toyota factory or major parts supplier?

Posted by: rkerg | February 23, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

You can't say there are "no problems". No engineer can ever say that about any engineered product. There are always things that are not tested, and there are always hidden problems. Always. It doesn't matter whether it is a bridge or a building or a dam or a word processor or a car.

All you can ever say is that you haven't found any problems.

This is basic engineering 101.

Posted by: frantaylor | February 23, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

You think the Toyota lovers are mad now, just wait until their retail value goes down. Keep on buying those junks. I almost forgot, their credit rating took a hit today also, I'm all broken up.

Posted by: shipfreakbo214 | February 23, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Toyota's U.S. President Lentz: 'We are confident that no problems exist'

The THREE MONKEYS of Toyota:
We See No Problems,
We Hear of No Problems, and
We Speak of No Problems.

Posted by: TeaPartyPatriot | February 23, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Having spent my career of 63 years in electro-mechanical equipment maintenance, it is easy to see how the problem exists, and also how it would go unresolved.
Too many service personnel practice what I call "Negative Trouble-shooting". They approach the problem with the intent of proving that there is no problem, and that it must have been caused by the customer. This is especially true if the problem must be corrected at no expense to the customer.
The finding of "No fault in Design" by the engineering firm that analyzed the problem for Toyoto is ridiculous. They already knew that under normal operating conditions the design was 99.9% effective. When the problem occurs, there is a good possibility that it is not a single defect, but rather a combination of unintended circumstances, or defects including both mechanical and/or electrical, that causes the problem. Only a positive analysis to prove that the problem can occur will result in a solution.

Posted by: leberk | February 23, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

I've driven a lot of POS cars over the years that have had various problems, but I could always rely on shifting a car into neutral, or running the steering and brakes with a failed engine.

I have to say though, frantaylor has me wondering about my new 2010 Prius and the ability to shift into neutral using a system where the shift lever is just a joystick, and doesn't go through the floor into the gearbox.

At the same time, it doesn't track that the accelerator system and shifter system would fail at the same time. Even if the car is accelerating due to a failed sensor or CPU in the accelerator, why would the the shift joystick fail too?

As for the electric steering motor jamming the steering wheel when power fails, I will have to test that one out..

Posted by: john65001 | February 23, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Toyota responded quickly when I had a warranty issue on my 2008 Tacoma. My spare tire disappeared in traffic one December day in 2008. When I took the truck in to get the spare replaced, expaining that the thing had dropped off while the truck was moving on the freeway, the dealer explained to me that that could not have happened. He said that it must have been taken off by thieves, which made it an insurance claim.
Since the truck was moving when the warning light came on I could not get the sense of his response, so I contacted Toyota, Inc to get my money (600.00) for the cost of the replacement and repair. They denied my claim saying the dealer could not be wrong. They were fst alreight. Fast to claim my 600.00 and ignore a warranty repair. Toyota is not a reliable company. Buyer beware!

Posted by: stevensp1 | February 23, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Will Congress look into how many lives were lost or ruined due to these stuck accelerators? How many people were killed, cited, charged, or incarcerated as the result of acceleration accidents in Toyotas?

Will Congress do anything to help these people and their families?

Hopefully Congress will give it at least half of the attention that steroid use in baseball has gotten...

Posted by: jgmann | February 23, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

There are multiple causes for acceleration problems with the Toyota/Lexus...


First, is a sticky gas pedal... This is the plastic friction device they are currently replacing..


Next, is the mat catching the bottom of the accelerator pedal and holding it down...


For both of these you need to go into neutral to stop the runaway, hit the brakes, and then use either your foot or hand to physically pull the pedal back out/up...


Next is the driver who swears they were standing on the brake but they really had the throttle pinned to the floor... There is no cure for this... Stupid goes all the way to the bone and Toyota can't cure that...


Lastly is the AIRBUS SYNDROME, where the computer takes command and does not respond to pilot/driver inputs... This is the one giving Toyoda San nightmares because it means the recall of every car ever manufactured by Toyota Corporation that has electronic throttle control - it will bankrupt them... He will do ANYTHING to avoid admitting it is a problem...


I have a young neighbor who is a mechanic and races motorcycles, etc,. who had his Toyota take off across the intersection as the light turned green, the instant he took his foot off the brake pedal - tires spinning and screeching... It had been idling normally during the red light with his right foot on the brake and still in DRIVE, and the engine went full throttle when he raised his foot from the brake - he never got his foot to the throttle... He reflexively popped the gear shift into neutral and stomped the brake pedal which brought the spinning, smoking tires to a screeching halt in the middle of the intersection... The engine raced for another half second or so and then went back to behaving normally... He got rid of the car soon after...

denny-o

Posted by: ad4hk2004 | February 23, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Does NHTSA investigate German cars or are BMW and Porsche exempt?

Posted by: EliPeyton | February 23, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

1. Hey, FRANTAYLOR, the AlQuaeda terrorists use CELL PHONES to detonate some of their bombs. Would you like to put your little FARADAY CAGE up against an AlQaeda CELL PHONE/IED just to see who 'wins'?

Look up 'Computer Firewall'. If somebody, say YOU, were to design a firewall for a PC then, that should be it, right? Your 'firewall' is ABSOLUTE protection, unassailable, right? Then WHY, after so many years of professional electronic engineering effort by people who might even know more than even YOU do, does the FIREWALL still not work perfectly?

How can so many breeches of the 'protection' take place after all engineering efforts? The answer is that the conditions have changed. There are more failure modes now, many unpublished waiting to be discovered by hackers OR BY ACCIDENT.

2. What? So NOBODY drives old cars where you live?
Oh, so the OLD cars are JUST FINE. So, it's the NEW cars that have these pesky DEADLY problems, RIGHT? And, what's the diff between how the OLD cars were accellerated versus the NEW cars? Electronics? Thought so.
A lady testifying before Congress today had a practically new Toy. Are you some sort of Toyota dealer, FRANTAYLOR?

Just a few paras from her testimony.................

http://energycommerce.house.gov/Press_111/20100223/Eddie.Rhonda.Smith.Testimony.pdf

Among many other things, read how the car tried to start itself as they were trying to tow it away to the dealership.

3. Hey FRANTAYLOR, I don't have to tell you JACK. This lady, testifying before Congress, is trying to tell you and YOU'RE NOT LISTENING, just like Toyota is too arrogant and rich to listen to a complaining customer, so is FRANTAYLOR.

Posted by: wpjunk | February 23, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

While I am normally against capital punishment, in this case I will make an exception.

Every top level American Toyota executive should be tossed into jail and face execution if there is one more sudden acceleration death.

Maybe THEN, they'd take this seriously and stop spouting their phony double talk.

Posted by: solsticebelle | February 23, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

It happened to me once in my 2004 Prius, once throughout my full duration of ownership. It doesn't surprise me that they can't reproduce it. By comparison it makes finding the proverbial needle in a haystack seem like child's play.

Mr. Lentz mentioned, "moisture from sticky floor mats was gone by the time an owner got to a dealership". When it happened to me I went directly to the Toyota dealership which was about five minutes away. They got right on it but found nothing. And .. there certainly wasn't time enough for this questionable sticky floor mat moisture to be gone in that short a time.

Posted by: kcooper35 | February 23, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't our Congress have more important business to conduct? I think this is going to find its way to the courts and it will be worked out there. I guess these yahoos needed some press coverage so they can pretend they work for a living.

Posted by: staterighter | February 23, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Barry can always name a Toyota Czar, that should fix the problem or at least take the heat off of Barry ???

Posted by: thgirbla | February 23, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Not denying that Toyota has a problem but have any of these people simply put the car into neutral instead of keeping it in drive?

Posted by: MKadyman | February 23, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

"The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"

Ronald biggest dpsht in the universe Reagan

Die (non-teabag) people!

Government is the problem!

Haley Barbour is right: Toyota has a constitutional right to kill you with its product.

Posted by: lichtme | February 23, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

This kangaroo court is disgusting. If I were "Mr. Toyota" I'd tell Rangel and company to go pound sand. I'll fix the problems - and if you don't like it, I'll close all USA plants and move them to Europe.
We deserve it......................

Posted by: sandynh | February 23, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Toyota owners should be riding bicycles. You are to anti american to drive american cars, but your japanese junketts should be mandated off the road until a real fix is done instead of endangering more live. There are plenty of japanese made bicycles out there you dont have to buy American. Just park your Toyotas for now.

Posted by: BeaverCleavage | February 23, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Nothing like a Libbie Federal Judge to fly off the Handle;

abuse the F' out of their position;

and slander a NON-UNION Manufacturer!

Welcome to the Socialist Federation of the Estupida States of America!

Where Capitalist Business' are GUILTY until proven INNOCENT!

Reminds me of Ronnie Earle's cheesy stunt of indicting Tom DeLay;

only to have NOTHING happen;

OTHER, than the Hammer's reputation get tarnished;

and his exit from the Speaker's position!

Reality Check time for the Twits on that Hill, and the Media Spin Doctors:


The Consumer Confidence levels are already bad enough;

and there is not anybody with an objective view, who does NOT Realize:


Toyota is NOT alone in these developments!

Toyota is simply NOT Union, and its Stock is over $70!


O'Bomba-Nation...

He's not just the President;

He's the CEO!


...of Government Motors! :-(

Posted by: SAINT---The | February 23, 2010 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Thank god the government has stepped in. Toyota would blame it on improper tire pressure if the could get away with it to save another $1mill. and the sad thing is some of its drivers would beleive it because they know Toyota MUST love them and is looking out for them because they are a family! Thank god the government has stepped in to think for them.

Posted by: matrox | February 23, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Toyota has attempted for years to avoid admitting a real problem because if it actually is in the electronics it can wipe them out if they can not find a real solution for this problem quickly. Redesigning the electronics and then updating each recalled vehicles could cost billions. Sure there have been many recalls from other manufacturers but this one is of the worst kind if there is no simple fix. Most recalls are easily identified and fixed. This one should not have been ignored and swept under the rug but now it may very well bite them in the a$$.

Posted by: matrox | February 23, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Sorry guys but this seems like a witch hunt. Where were the Congressional Hearings when Fords were rolling over on the expressways? Where were they when Bridgestone was going down in flames because their lawyers were not as good as Fords...?..Now do not get me wrong. I, as an American am EXTREMELY proud of the accomplishments that Ford has made recently. However, I cannot, with good faith believe that these hearings are not politically biased. The U.S. Government owns a massive amount of stock in GM and Chrysler...Are they protecting their investment?.......

Posted by: jacob21703 | February 23, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

And as far as tony_in_Durham_NC post goes.....That is the MOST IDIOTIC thing I have ever heard.....Stop politicking already.

Posted by: jacob21703 | February 23, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

The Post, disengenuously, omitted from the coverage of Dingell that, only at the end of his interrogation, did he ask--and discover--that Lentz had absolutely no responsibility for engineering or manufacturing. The grandstanding, dim Congressman had tried to nail him on a long list of questions in those areas and harrumphed that Lentz seemed to have no answers. Stupido on the congressman's part, no? Is it too much to expect skilled reporting?

Posted by: axolotl | February 23, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

I give Toyota credit, they are TRYING to admit and fix the problem[s]. Where was Congress when Chrysler had the 2.7 oil sludge problem and still does? Those cars should have had a recall....my sebring is on it's 3rd engine.

Posted by: cynder7 | February 23, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse
------------------------------

Yes they are trying to fix this problem...because they got caught. Sebring with engine sludge?? Toyota wrote the book on engine sludge. Class action lawsuites all over the place with Toyota engine failures because of sludge, almost as many as the RAV4 transmission failures.

Posted by: matrox | February 23, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

For those doubters about whether a car could be stopped with a "stuck" accelerator by either brakes or throwing it into neutral-- it's more complicated than that.
I had an 89 Accord that did just what the Lexus did -- suddenly accelerated to 80-90-100 mph, in my case on a wet road that had narrowed to 2 lanes. Brakes alone would not fix the problem, because the car was fighting itself, both continuously accelerating and braking at the same time -- either the brakes or the engine will lose. Pressing in the clutch (equivalent of throwing it into neutral) caused the engine to redline (it continued to "accelerate" even without the transmission being engaged). I swept under the accelerator with my foot thinking it was the floor mat or some other problem hanging up the accelerator, and could feel the pedal moving on its own, as if in cruise control -- except I wasn't using cruise control.
In the end, as I approached a stop sign at a T-intersection and had no other choice, I slammed on the brakes as much as possible, which only slowed but did not stop the car. But, because it was a stick shift, this choked out the ca - at which point I was able to stop the car fully. (Had I been in an automatic I suppose the only option would have been to turn off the car and hope I didn't need power assist brakes and steering.)
I learned from the mechanic that another solution would have been to disengage the entire cruise control system (a button on the dash) because it had shorted out and that's what caused the car to accelerate (even though I was not using cruise control at the time). So, the idea that Toyota's issues are an electrical not a mechanical problem makes a lot of sense to me. So does the idea that drivers would have few options when this problem occurred.

Posted by: sms11 | February 24, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

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