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Study reveals electronic throttle is probable cause of Toyota’s unintended acceleration problems

Study reveals electronic throttle is probable cause of Toyota unintended acceleration problems.

A new scientific study published by Quality Control Systems Corporation of Crownsville Maryland has found substantial evidence that the sudden, unintended acceleration problem that has plagued so many vehicle models for years is linked to Toyota electronic throttle control system (ETCS-i).

The study, conducted by Randy and Alice Whitfield, sought to test Toyota’s conclusion that there was “no indication” of a throttle or electronic control system malfunction in the recalled vehicles. The research involved analyzing sudden acceleration data pulled from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s records.

That QCS report found that, contrary to Toyota’s claim, there were actually some very strong indications that the electronic throttle system is the more probable cause of some of Toyota’s unintended acceleration cases. The researchers found that the proportion of consumer complaints relating to speed control was substantially higher for models containing ETCS-I than for the same models without the electronic throttle control.

“The report also finds the proportion of reported speed control failures among complaints in the non-recalled Toyota Camrys with electronic throttle control compared to the recalled Camrys with electronic throttle control particularly troubling,” said Safety Research & Strategies, Inc.

For more than 10 years, owners of certain Toyota models have complained that their vehicles have accelerated suddenly and unintentionally. 2,262 incidents involving unintended acceleration of Toyota vehicles have been recorded since 1999. These incidents led to 815 separate crashes resulting in 19 deaths and 341 injuries.

In addressing the issue, Toyota has always maintained that improperly installed floor mats or poor floor mat design were to blame. In September 2007, Toyota recalled 55,000 2007 and 2008 Camry and Lexus ES models for floor mat interference. That small recall represented the extent of their efforts to correct the acceleration problems.

The highly publicized case of a California Highway Patrol officer and three of his family members who died in a runaway Lexus in August 2009 finally prompted Toyota to take action. A month after that tragic accident, the car manufacturer announced it would recall a record number of vehicles for possible floor mat entrapment.

Responding to pressure from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Toyota announced a second recall of millions more model year vehicles in January 2010, this time over the potential for some accelerator assemblies to stick.

However, many Toyota vehicle owners and safety experts alike insisted that floor mats and sticking accelerator pedals were not to blame. Well documented cases of unintended acceleration both before and after the recall announcements substantiate allegations that something else is to blame.

“On the basis of the consumer complaint data, we believe there is evidence both to question and to reject this hypothesis for the recalled vehicles in our study,” the OCS report said.

The report also casts new light on the complaint patterns linked to some specific Toyota models with ETCS-i in their engines compared to the very same models without ETCS-I. The troubling results of the study also reveal that even among non-recalled models, complaints about acceleration problems were reported at a higher rate in the 3 models containing ETCS-i.


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