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Data: Toyota drivers experience more runaway acceleration than owners of other vehicles

Speaking about Toyota on MSNBC last Saturday, I said that I was going to spend at least part of this week looking into complaints about runaway acceleration in non-Toyota vehicles, to see whether Toyota's problems were atypical.

Well, auto-research site Edmunds.com beat me to it.

Writing in an op-ed in today's Post, which you can read by clicking here, Edmunds.com chief executive Jeremy Anwyl describes his staff's one-by-one investigation of the more than 52,000 complaints filed at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration since 2005.

The NHTSA site, Safercar.gov, is where drivers can file complaints about their vehicles and search complaints filed by others.

Anwyl writes:

"The database, with more than 760,000 records, is, simply put, a mess. After reading each complaint since model-year 2005, we found that 30 percent of the original complaints were miscategorized; more than 26 percent were duplicates; and hundreds were not complaints but merely comments or suggestions."

Sorting through the mess, Anwyl's team found something interesting: Toyota drivers registered more complaints about unintended acceleration than drivers of any of the six other major brands. Only Ford comes close.

According to the NHTSA complaints, Toyota drivers experienced 4.81 instances of runaway acceleration per 100,000 vehicles sold. With Ford, the number was 3.12 per 100,000. And it went down from there. GM owners filed only 0.81 complaints per 100,000 vehicles sold.

What does this tell us? The NHTSA complaints aren't scientific. Drivers don't know how to diagnose problems. But if we generally accept that they are honest reports of experiences, then the Toyota numbers might be telling.


toyotagraphic.jpg

Follow me on Twitter at @theticker.

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 16, 2010; 11:49 AM ET
Categories:  Autos , Corporations , The Ticker  | Tags: Ford, Runaway acceleration, Toyota Prius, Toyota problems, runaway prius, toyota  
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Comments

I happen to love runaway acceleration. I guess it depends on the kid and what yardstick you use. I asked my brother for a yardstick and my little nephew came into the garage with a stick from the yard and said here's a yardstick. I said, thanks a lot buddy. He's into runaway acceleration too.

Posted by: tossnokia | March 16, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

There's something very mystical about sifting through 760,000 records, winnowing it down to 52,000, then trying to correlate those numbers with car type, number of cars sold [forget about model] and coming up with some kind of conclusion that the auto industry in general and maybe Toyota in particular have a problem.

Clearly, the reporting methodology of these issues is the problem. Beyond that, your data are conclusions are worthless.

Posted by: Josey2006 | March 16, 2010 11:17 PM | Report abuse

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