Toyota has been plagued by stories that some of its vehicles are prone to sudden, uncontrolled acceleration. After recalling and stopping sales on eight popular Toyota models, the Japanese car company is understandably eager to find a quick and easy fix for the problem. The company claims that the problem is mechanical and can be fixed by installing an additional piece to reinforce the pedal mechanism.
Some experts fear that Toyota’s proposed fix won’t solve the problem because the source of the problem may be in the electronics that control the throttle—not the mechanics of the accelerator pedal.
Toyota claims that it has tested and found no evidence of an electronics problem. But given the bad press Toyota has already received and the likely response if the problem does turn out to be in the complicated electronics, Toyota has every reason to say the problem can be fixed with a simple mechanical repair. And experts see some flaws in the tests Toyota has used to discount a problem in the electronics system.
Toyota is not the only one who has been analyzing the reports of sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles, and some experts who have studied the problem believe that Toyota’s explanations do not account for all of the incidents that they have studied.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has also said that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating the use of electronic throttle system and the possibility of electromagnetic interference with the electronic systems as a factor in the sudden acceleration problems identified in several Toyota vehicle models. It has been suggested that the investigation could present a challenge to the auto industry’s widespread adoption of computerized systems.