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Old 10-26-2009, 09:13 AM   #1
AVANTI R5
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Default New details in crash that prompted Toyota recall

A federal report finds a possible flaw in the gas pedal design of a runaway Lexus that crashed in August, killing CHP Officer Mark Saylor and three family members and leading to a massive recall

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Federal highway safety inspectors have released new details of a fatal car crash that triggered Toyota Motor Corp.'s largest recall, including a finding that the Lexus ES 350 sedan involved had a gas pedal design that could increase the risk of its being obstructed by a floor mat.

Toyota has previously said that the floor mat was improperly installed and may have trapped the accelerator pedal, causing the vehicle to race down Highway 125 in suburban San Diego at more than 100 mph before crashing and bursting into flames, killing off-duty California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor and three members of his family.

The report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration draws no conclusions about the cause of the Aug. 28 accident, but discloses new details, including the fact that the brakes were heavily damaged. That would seem to confirm a frantic 911 call made by Saylor's brother-in-law from the speeding car, during which he said, "There's no brakes."

A Times review of NHTSA documents in a past investigation of Lexus vehicles showed that the agency had found that the Lexus ES braking system loses power-assist when the throttle is fully opened, increasing braking distance fivefold.

The new NHTSA report also indicated that the Lexus' accelerator pedal design may have contributed to the risk of floor mat entrapment.

"Beyond the main pivot, the lever is not hinged and has no means for relieving forces caused by interferences," investigators found.

Toyota has said that among the remedies it is considering in the current recall is an adjustment to the pedals or their design.

The report also notes that the lower edge of the accelerator pedal was "bonded" to the rubber floor mat, shown in a grainy color photograph. The photograph also shows damage to the area of the floor mat surrounding the accelerator pedal.

Saylor owned a different Lexus that was being serviced at Bob Baker Lexus in El Cajon, and was given the 2009 ES 350 as a loaner the day of the accident. Toyota has indicated that the dealership incorrectly installed the mats.

A Toyota spokesman had no immediate comment Saturday. Executives with Bob Baker Lexus could not be reached for comment.

Federal investigators found that the auto had rubber all-weather floor mats for a Lexus RX400h, which is a sport utility vehicle, and that they were unsecured by the vehicle's retaining clips.

Toyota had previously stated that the mats were for a different Lexus vehicle, but had not said which model.

The NHTSA report found that one of the two clips on the Saylor vehicles had pulled out of the carpeting and was lying under the floor mat. The other clip was still attached to the carpeting, but not hooked into the floor mat.

In addition, the vehicle's brake surfaces showed signs that they had been worn down through heavy braking against the full force of the 272-horsepower Lexus engine.

"Rotors were discolored and heated, had very rough surfaces, had substantial deposits of brake pad material, and showed signs of bright orange oxidation on the cooling fins consistent with endured braking," the report said.

NHTSA investigators also noted that instructions for operating the car's keyless ignition, which requires that the power button be pressed for three full seconds to turn off the engine while the car is moving, were "not indicated on the dashboard."

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department is leading the investigation of the crash and has not yet released a final report. The NHTSA report indicated that the Sheriff's Department had recovered an electronic data recorder from the wreck, but that "no attempts to retrieve data from the EDR have yet been made."

Sheriff's Lt. Julie Sutton said Saturday that the department has no comment on the NHTSA report, adding that it is not releasing any more information about the crash at this time.

Last month, Toyota announced the largest recall in its history, asking drivers of 3.8 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles to remove their floor mats until a permanent remedy is devised.

The recall affects the following Toyota models: the 2007 to 2010 Camry, 2005 to 2010 Avalon, the 2004 to 2009 Prius, the 2005 to 2010 Tacoma, and the 2007 to 2010 Tundra.

It also affects the following Lexus models: the 2007 to 2010 ES 350, and the 2006 to 2010 IS 250 and IS 350.
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationwo...,2288195.story
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Old 10-26-2009, 02:01 PM   #2
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Keyless ignition = fail. Among other stupid things they are doing to cars these days. I'll stick with my 95 Legacy thank you.
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Old 10-26-2009, 02:09 PM   #3
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That's your opinion, I would tend to agree for the most part about start buttons. It is nice to be able to have the door unlock when you touch the door handle and push the start button to start the car, all with the key fob still in your pocket. (had an is250 while my is300 was in for service)

What I don't understand is someone in the car had time to call and connect to 911, but couldn't figure out how to put the car in nuetral? I do not care how confusing the gates are for the auto trans, I would think a semi intelligent driver could figure it out after a few seconds.
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Old 10-26-2009, 02:35 PM   #4
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It's mostly a dumb hinge design for the pedal. My prius' gas pedal keeps taking bites out of my winter floor mats because of the design.
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Old 10-26-2009, 02:42 PM   #5
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I, too, still find it hard to believe they drove for several minutes with the floormat causing the gas pedal to stick and called 911 during that time. Either this was a very very weird situation or there was some serious fail under pressure.
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Old 10-26-2009, 05:30 PM   #6
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+1 for OnStar
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Old 10-26-2009, 05:39 PM   #7
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Had the same thing happen to a lady that brought her car to me once. Car wouldn't go down past 4k rpms. Floormat on the gas pedal. That's why I like the brackets that hold them and bolt to the seat bottom... instead of that dinky hole in the carpet with a plastic clip.
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Old 10-26-2009, 06:21 PM   #8
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Am I the only one who is surprised that they can determine all of this from a car that "burst into flames"? It must have been put out pretty quickly.
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Old 10-26-2009, 06:23 PM   #9
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+1 for going into another gear.
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Old 10-26-2009, 06:30 PM   #10
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did most of you miss the other thread?
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Old 10-26-2009, 06:55 PM   #11
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did most of you miss the other thread?
i sure did
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Old 10-26-2009, 08:54 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by AVANTI R5 View Post
NHTSA investigators also noted that instructions for operating the car's keyless ignition, which requires that the power button be pressed for three full seconds to turn off the engine while the car is moving, were "not indicated on the dashboard."
Another reason I'm against push button start/stop. Just give me a key with an actual switch.
Just sayin.
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Old 10-27-2009, 09:18 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by delongedoug View Post
I, too, still find it hard to believe they drove for several minutes with the floormat causing the gas pedal to stick and called 911 during that time. Either this was a very very weird situation or there was some serious fail under pressure.
It was found that model would NOT shift into a neural with out a procedure documented in the manual. It was not straight foward at all and considering this was not his car.
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Old 10-27-2009, 09:27 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by RichM View Post
Another reason I'm against push button start/stop. Just give me a key with an actual switch.
Just sayin.
I have push start, but still need a key in the ignition.

--kC
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Old 10-27-2009, 09:28 AM   #15
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Quote:
A Times review of NHTSA documents in a past investigation of Lexus vehicles showed that the agency had found that the Lexus ES braking system loses power-assist when the throttle is fully opened, increasing braking distance fivefold.
This seems like a pretty serious design error.
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Old 10-27-2009, 09:31 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by delongedoug View Post
I, too, still find it hard to believe they drove for several minutes with the floormat causing the gas pedal to stick and called 911 during that time. Either this was a very very weird situation or there was some serious fail under pressure.
Agreed. It makes me wonder how a floor mat could inhibit the gas pedal such that a CHP officer couldn't troubleshoot the problem. I understand the effect of panic and being scared s-less, but this is a CHP officer...
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Old 10-27-2009, 09:39 AM   #17
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Agreed. It makes me wonder how a floor mat could inhibit the gas pedal such that a CHP officer couldn't troubleshoot the problem. I understand the effect of panic and being scared s-less, but this is a CHP officer...
Yeah, well it's the same CHP that couldn't find neutral in the shift gate and didn't put it in park when that failed.
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Old 10-27-2009, 09:52 AM   #18
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Yeah, well it's the same CHP that couldn't find neutral in the shift gate and didn't put it in park when that failed.
as stated in the other thread:

Quote:
Now about the transmission. From all "apearances" the left gate is the one you would use. It is lit, shows neutral, drive, lower gears. The right gate is for reverse and park. The very short center gate appears to do nothing. So with gear selection lever in the left gate and in the drive positon I pushed the gear selector all the way forward to neutral. Nothing. I accelerated and while accelerating pushed the lever all the way against the neutral position which is as far forward as it will go in the left gate. Again nothing, the transmission stays engaged.

So, what about downshifting? As I expected you can downshift progressively with each pull of the gear selector toward the rear. Downshift up to a point that is. The ECU controls how far down you can shift or if you can downshift at all, based on speed. At speed you cannot downshift. Reverse is locked out.

But what does that short center section do. No lights, no nothing but it is a gate. So I shifted into it. Here my options are drive and neutral, nothing else and nothing marked as best I could tell. Push forward on the gear selection lever in the center gate and the transmission goes into neutral regardless of throttle position. Yes, the engine will rev when in heavy acceleration and idle if you push the lever to neutral. Just like it should. What is a problem is that if you weren't familiar with the car and in a panic you might not recognize this gate as a viable option. I only tried it because I was testing everything. Wasn't my car. So, there is a functioning, non computer locked out neutral.

Next I tried the start/stop button. Punching it will do nothing to turn the engine off whether moving slowly, coasting or accelerating. On the other hand, holding it in continuously for several seconds will kill the engine regardless of throttle position and the car is completely controllable. A quick punch restarts the engine with all the normal start up lights on the dash lighting.
The car was a loaner so he would have had no experience in it, much less the unmarked neutral and unability to move it to park.
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Old 10-27-2009, 10:56 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mh_WRX View Post
as stated in the other thread:



The car was a loaner so he would have had no experience in it, much less the unmarked neutral and unability to move it to park.
It has been said multiple times in the other thread: the neutral on this car was in the same damn space that it is on every other car, right before your Reverse gear. For a bit car savy person it's a no brainer, for everyone else it should be a logical thing that they should've been able to observe for the past years of their driving time.
seriously...
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Old 10-27-2009, 11:08 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by rallymaniac View Post
It has been said multiple times in the other thread: the neutral on this car was in the same damn space that it is on every other car, right before your Reverse gear. For a bit car savy person it's a no brainer, for everyone else it should be a logical thing that they should've been able to observe for the past years of their driving time.
seriously...
really...

so looking at this:


"everyone" would assume you would have to pause in the center gate and then push up to engage neutral?

Looks like neutral is marked as the up most position on the left.
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Old 10-27-2009, 11:48 AM   #21
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I have no idea how to navigate that corn maze they call an automatic transmission.
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Old 10-27-2009, 12:13 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by delongedoug View Post
I have no idea how to navigate that corn maze they call an automatic transmission.
just push it up with a rightwards bias and it will go into neutral..

pull it down and it will go into gear.

its not that difficult.
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Old 10-27-2009, 12:35 PM   #23
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This seems like a pretty serious design error.
Most cars use vacuum assist, there is not much manifold vacuum when the throttle is fully open.
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Old 10-27-2009, 12:43 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Mike Wevrick View Post
This seems like a pretty serious design error.
Try it out in your car sometime. Unless you have servo-assisted brakes you can't pump the pedal more than a few times at WOT without losing the power brakes. Vacuum assist needs just that, vacuum, to work. At WOT your intake manifold is at or near atmospheric pressure (unless you have forced induction of course), which is where the brake booster gets it's source of vacuum. There is a check valve usually inline from the manifold to the brake booster that will give the driver a little reserve boost (sometimes just in the design of the booster itself), but after a few pumps this is gone and you're standing on the pedal to get your car to slow down. I would have thought that you could still bring the car to a stop, or at least slower without brake assist, but unfortunately this was not the case here.
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Old 10-27-2009, 01:46 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by owace View Post
just push it up with a rightwards bias and it will go into neutral..

pull it down and it will go into gear.

its not that difficult.
it doesn't work like that either. It has to go 90 degrees right, then up.
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