March 16, 2010

"Toyota dismisses James Sikes' account of runaway Prius, claims tests prove car was running fine."

Now, this is just really hard to believe:
The automaker stopped short of saying James Sikes had staged a hoax last week but said his account did not square with a series of tests it conducted on the gas-electric hybrid.
But it was James Sikes, a man who bought a Prius — a Prius....



Surely, the man who bought a Prius is virtuous.

59 comments:

Lem said...

The story is running a poll and it favors Toyota 60 to 20.

I remember watching the story and hearing the 911 dispatcher telling him to switch gears to neutral and mr Sikes claiming something to the effect that he was afraid the car would flip.

I thought this guy was watching too many movies.

Its obvious Sikes was alternatively pressing both gas and brake pedals with his two feet.

prairie wind said...

"afraid the car would flip"

Yeah, I heard that, too, and thought something was fishy.

Hey, look! It says "gullible" on the ceiling!

peter hoh said...

Is there something that prevents people in these accelerating cars from turning off the ignition?

Something other than panic?

<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/11/opinion/11schmidt.html?>NYT Op-ed.</a>

Hoosier Daddy said...

The guy looks like a complete tool to begin with.

On the radio I heard that his attorney stated that he had no plans to sue.

Out of curiosity, I wonder why the tool hired a lawyer if he wasn't planning to sue.

k*thy said...

"switch gears to neutral"

When I was first learning to drive, I was out with my dad on a very quiet road and did this, thinking it was the windshield wipers. Opps. The car didn't flip, but I was only going about 10...and I was driving a big, old Buick wagon.

My suspicion comes from the road where this happened - a long, straight-ish away freeway. What luck, eh?

MadisonMan said...

Is there something that prevents people in these accelerating cars from turning off the ignition?

Wouldn't the steering wheel lock?

I'd just shift into neutral if it happened to me, but mine is too old for this problem.

Martha said...

Check out this story in the Guardian:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/mar/15/green-consumers-more-likely-steal

"Do Green Products Make Us Better People is published in the latest edition of the journal Psychological Science. Its authors, Canadian psychologists Nina Mazar and Chen-Bo Zhong, argue that people who wear what they call the "halo of green consumerism" are less likely to be kind to others, and more likely to cheat and steal. "Virtuous acts can license subsequent asocial and unethical behaviours," they write.

ah ha....

Lem said...

Now I hear on the radio that Mr Sikes was behind in his Prius payments.

I hate when that happens.

Original Mike said...

Two things cause me to think all these acceleration accidents are really driver error:

I saw a demonstration (Popular Science website?) in which the driver floored the accelerator after the car got up to 50. Then he applied the brakes while keeping the accelerator floored. The car came to a stop. Lesson: The brakes are stronger than the engine.

I read recently that these events are heavily skewed to older drivers. How does the car know the age of the driver?

Pogo said...

This weekend I went out and bought a Toyota.

I told the salesman part of the reason was this whole story and the govt. involvement in it; that it pissed me off and this was a way to tell them to go to hell.

Leland said...

I'm with K*thy. My suspicion began with the account of WOT, in gear, for 23 minutes or so on a Southern California highway. And he managed to stop the car without an accident.

Diane Wilson said...

Surely, the man who bought a Prius is virtuous.
In which case, the car is correctly called a Pious.

wv: merge - Merge Right! Merge Right! Merge Right!

Original Mike said...

I think MM is right. You do not want to turn off the ignition because the steering wheel will lock. I assume you'll also lose power assist to the brakes.

Lem said...

Years ago it was Audis that had a accelerator problem.

This is not new.

My theory is that aliens (not illegal aliens - i mean aliens from outer space) are conducting experiments with gas pedals to gage our reaction ;)

Fred4Pres said...

I bought a new Tundra. 60 month 0%financing and 2 years free maintenance. Big engine, 4x4, and less expensive than a comperable F-150 and a lot less than the GMC/Chevy.

My wife loves how big it is.

AllenS said...

You can turn the car off. But you can't lock the steering column until you put the car in park, or if you're like me with a three speed on the column, put it in reverse.

Original Mike said...

I do agree with Aridog. Drive by wire seems like a bad idea. Software between you and the brakes???? How dumb is that? All software has bugs. Though I assume it's unavoidable for a hybrid.

Aridog said...

Original Mike said: "I read recently that these events are heavily skewed to older drivers."

Yep. I saw the graph published for that. Nice manipulation of numbers in Powerpointless format. If you add up the numbers for "Over 60" and then those for "under 60" you get equivalent totals.

For the other question by "Madison Man"...not the steering whell will not lock up if you shift to neutral, otherwise you'd not be able to shift from "Drive" to "Reverse" when parking either. Steering wheel lock is integrated with the "Park" transmission position.

Fred4Pres said...

I drove a Prius as a rental. Not bad. Roomy for a small car. I might get one just to have a small car for parking in the city when I go and to save on gasoline and the big truck for heading to the wilds (and Lowe's).

Big Mike said...

All software has bugs.

Not the stuff I write!

;-)

AllenS said...

Brakes on vehicles are not operated by electricity. They work hydraulicly.

M.E. said...

I heard the guy's lawyer say, "Of course you can't replicate what happened. It's the ghost in the engine doing this."

OK, then.

When I first heard the 911 recording, I got a real Susan Smith vibe. Fake, fake, fake.

And all the others this is happening to: Driver error, mass hysteria.

The gov't is piling on to try to hurt Toyota and prop up Government Moters. Makes me ill.

Pogo, I'd love to go out and buy a new Toyota right now, and tell the dealer the same thing you did. I have a Sienna van and love it but really can't justify the expense of a brand new one.

Lem said...

People who buy hybrids are just trying to prove they are not racist ;)

Original Mike said...

"Not the stuff I write!"

Typical softhead.

Seven Machos said...

The story Martha cites: basically, it suggests through experimentation that people treat environmental do-gooderism as church indulgences, and they trea indulgences as a license to go ahead and behave immorally in some other arena.

Truly fascinating.

Pogo said...

@M.E.:
I would rather have not bought a car right now, but we own 3 and magically we only have one at home. If my wife goes somewhere at night I am trapped -trapped!!- at home.

Where are the other two cars?

Somehow, my son and daughter have them; one at her apartment, one at college. Slowly over time, they owned them as squatters do.

Toyota is sticking it to GM, though, because they are financing the cars with no interest. Zero. None. Hell, with any inflation at all, they are giving me thousands of dollars off the price.

Aridog said...

Pogo..."Popular Mechanics" has a nifty little qualifer in their text: "Not the ones explainable by problem sticky pedals..."

This focus on denial or assertion is counter productive. Focus on a solution might be in order about now.

With Toyota itself talking about a "software" fix I'm guessing they've found something electronic.

Hope they find it soon...because the hybrids and full elecic cars require a "drive by wire" throttle...literally a potentiometer (linear rheostat) in the pedal mechansim to manage the power to the drive motors.

A manual kill switch of some type, for the battery bank, is absolutely necesary. Even modern electic forklifts have them.

That said, I repeat, having the same "drive by wire" thing for the gasoline or diesel models is just nuts. Just as any interlock preventing ignition turn off in gear is nuts. Heck, how will the teenagers of tomorrow have the fun of creating engine backfires by doing it while driving?

Lem said...

I'm getting an offer to lease one fro $197.00 a month, no money down.

themightypuck said...

@dianne wilson

Haha, nice one. I'm going to use it.

Pious.

NewHam said...

Mark my words: By the time it's all over, Mr. James Sikes will admit he was paid to concoct this hoax.

This is all part of the union thuggery that's going on within the Obama Administration.

The Drill SGT said...

Sikes is the 1 armed man from the Fugitive. Because he had only 1 arm, he couldn't reach the shifter (which was 3 inches from the wheel)

Seriously, his story is pure BS.

NHTSA and Toyota spent hours taking the car apart. No problems.

He was afraid to take a hand off the wheel to reach the shift, but had no trouble hold the wheel with one hand and using the other to talk on his cell phone for 20 minutes?

All modern cars have brake systems that will dominate the accelerator at full throttle. The wimpy Prius is a wuss.

He's a porn site operator, who owes on his Prius lease and who is filing for bankruptcy. He also has lots of things stolen for which he files insurance claims.

holdfast said...

Killing the engine by turning the ignition back/off will not lock the steering wheel. Removing the key from the ignition might, but many cars these days won't let you do that until you are in Park anyway.

If this jackhole genuinely believe that putting the engine into neutral would flip the car, then his license should be immediately removed. If you can't put a car into neutral while moving, how does he plan to get out of a skid on ice?

Michael said...

I heard the tape of this guy going down the road and he is both a fraud and a bad actor. The statistics are pretty revealing. There have been 10 or more times more incidents of "stuck accelerators" since the first few began to make headlines. The press piles on and the next thing you know this is going on everywhere. Everywhere!! Note the similarity to shark attack stories. Attack! Then you get the pictures of the pods of sharks milling around in the clear waters of south Florida. Then another attack, then.... Hurricane season!!

Henry said...

What Reality Show is this guy auditioning for? UFO Balloons are so last summer.

Pogo said...

"With Toyota itself talking about a "software" fix I'm guessing they've found something electronic. "

Dunno 'bout that. More likely they found something that's another belt on their belts-and-suspenders approach to this potential problem. Good for them.

But that don't mean they actually discovered anything at all, other than that it's hard to play on a field that ain't level, and the ref makes extra calls against your side because the ref owns the other team.

Was a "sticking problem" really discovered? Hard to tell from the reports. I know they made a fix for it, but was there really a problem?

Again, it's hard to tell still if anything happened at all. I'd love to read a dispassionate take on it.

garage mahal said...

Why I would never buy a tin can rice burning POS in the first place. Especially new.

AllenS said...

Are rice burning cars considered green?

garage mahal said...

But that don't mean they actually discovered anything at all, other than that it's hard to play on a field that ain't level, and the ref makes extra calls against your side because the ref owns the other team.

European and Asian automakers regularly receive billions from their home countries for research and development, and for when times are rough. Most, if not all, also provide free health insurance for their workers, like that new Toyota you just bought. And I bet nobody in those countries trash their own country's brand, and come up with loopy conspiracy theories of tampering with foreign competitors vehicles. So asinine.

BigFire said...

I drives a 2005 Prius. And yes, if you just turn off the ignition, the car will slow to a stop.

LarsPorsena said...

@Pogo:
"This weekend I went out and bought a Toyota...."

Me too, but I didn't use your bargaining strategy.

If my new Camry LE runs away with me, I'll let everyone on this board know.

Pastafarian said...

garage mahal, you racist xenophobe you. Riceburner? Really?

Re. the calls for a return to the good old days of cables and mechanical linkages: Horseshit. Hall effect sensors and low-power DC systems like this are more reliable than purely mechanical designs. Hell, they basically are purely mechanical, it's just a strand of electrons being pushed and pulled instead of a steel cable (that can fray and rust and snap and stick).

This story smelled like BS from the outset, and now it absolutely reeks of it. There's nothing wrong with Toyotas. Pedals occasionally stick; deal with it. They stick in 10 year old Chevys and 20 year old Fords, too.

This is the AGW of the automotive world.

Pastafarian said...

What is "my own country's brand", garage? I'd really like to know, so that I can "buy uhmurrican" next time. Is it the Chevy assembled in Canada, or the Ford assembled in Mexico?

I don't blame Ford for assembling vehicles in Mexico; they have no choice, it's the only way that they can afford to overpay their unionized employees.

Our (proudly non-union) machining facility once had the opportunity to bid on a project for Ford. They wanted us to bend over and allow them to make sweet, sweet love to us on price, so that they could afford to pay their unionized employees $40 per hour to play cards.

I told them to pound sand. We're still open. I'd wager that the machine shop that won that contract isn't. Why would I pay more, when comparing apples to apples, for a product so that the company can overpay their employees, who then turn around and purchase made-in-China junk with their paycheck and vote Obama into office?

I feel more of a kinship to the people who assembled my Honda (here in Ohio) and the people who designed it (in Japan) than I do to the assholes in Detroit making $40 per hour to play cards.

wwide408 said...

Toyota is no doubt suffering in the court of public opinion. Their perceived lack of concern for their customers will have lasting affects. But Ford Motors comes in 2nd with over 50+ “Sudden Unintended Acceleration” cases. My Pontiac Car had a bad anti lock brake control unit so GM has also had serious recalls this year. I looked on http://www.carpedalrecall.com and found the recall info and local dealership listing; my co Worker had a pedal recall on his ford truck so just look out .

Almost Ali said...

Sikes should have been arrested.

The 911 dispatcher begged Sikes to put the car in neutral, but he steadfastly refused - saying he didn't want to take his hands off the steering-wheel (except, that is, to talk on the phone, and reach down for the gas pedal).

garage mahal said...

There's nothing wrong with Toyotas. Pedals occasionally stick; deal with it. They stick in 10 year old Chevys and 20 year old Fords, too.

So Toyota spent millions of dollars on advertising saying their sorry, and set up a giant network of recall fixes because there was absolutely nothing wrong with the vehicles? Haha.

AJ Lynch said...

Do you ever walk towards the copy machine when you actually wanted to go to the microwave to warm up your coffee mug?

I think that is what most of these old "gas pedal was stuck" incidents entail. Just an old brain fart.

Original Mike said...

@AJ: My favorite is unwrapping a candy bar, tossing the candy in the trash, left standing there with the wrapper in my hand. I've done this a couple of times. Just not thinking (or, rather, thinking about something else).

Chip Ahoy said...

Yes, he was pious for buying a Prius. Oh wait, you said virtuous and that's different. Never mind. Anyway, yes to virtuous but that was then and this is now.

And, I told you to stop calling me Shirley.

Joe said...

A fun challenge you can do at home. With your car stopped. Reach down and touch the gas peddle.

Michael said...

Garage: Do you believe the guy in California with the runaway Prius? Yes or no question. Because his thesis is irrefutable and perhaps attractive to you. His thesis is that his Prius has a "ghost" problem that cannot be duplicated and cannot therefore be disproved. If you believe this and if you are representative of the jury pool I am going to buy a GM auto later today and take it for a test drive. If you follow my meaning.

prairie wind said...

A fun challenge you can do at home. With your car stopped. Reach down and touch the gas peddle.

I tried that. It must be easier at 90 mph. Something to do with aerodynamics and wind resistance.

garage mahal said...

Garage: Do you believe the guy in California with the runaway Prius?

I believe Toyota spent millions of dollars they would have preferred not to spend because obviously there is a problem. Just like Honda announced today they are recalling 410,000 vehicles for braking problems.

Pogo said...

"I believe Toyota spent millions of dollars they would have preferred not to spend because obviously there is a problem."

The problem may not have been the brakes, however.

It may have been cheaper to "fix" the brakes than to fight City Hall.

But we'll never know. And that's the problem with the gummint being the referee AND having skin in the game.

Me? I no longer trust the Obama administration to do the right thing.

Michael said...

Garage: Thanks for the quick yes or no. Very decisive you are. Oh, and I heard that Toyota was on the case and that since the first of the year the number of complaints about the sticking gas pedals have quadrupled. Thank God we have the government helping us out on this. By the way, do you personally believe the guy in California? Do you? Yeah? Nay? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHa

AJ Lynch said...

Orig Mike:

Hah - You do that!?? I'd never throw away good junk food no matter how absent-minded I get. I do, however, forget I ate something good like a candy bar. I'll go ...."_Did I eat all of that already" and then I spy the wrapper in the trash can.

Original Mike said...

@AJ: It's been known to happen. In my defense, I do pay attention when I'm driving my car.

cathy said...

Read thru the comments at the Popular Mechanics link someone had. Best explanation, beside software, was that Toyota designs the pedal control unit different that other cars.
There's two circuits that spin the same way, other cars go opposite ways, and it's easy to get a short or maybe be put together missing a washer or such and this would cause the car to accelerate. So this looks like a sensible answer.

SGT Ted said...

When I first saw this on the news I thought "scammer". I was correct.

Joe said...

There's two circuits that spin the same way, other cars go opposite ways, and it's easy to get a short

You've misread the article. It's very clear that Toyota uses two sensors of different voltage, each with their own isolated ground that are also physically separated. A complete short would cause the car to not work. The professor that claimed to duplicate the problem bridged the two circuits with a 200 ohm resistor; the resistor not only had to be 200 ohms but had to be applied at a specific time when the engine was running.

There is nothing wrong with Toyota's design save for a possible MECHANICAL issue when there was corrosion on the accelerator mechanism. When looked at the overall claims for ALL cars BEFORE this latest hysteria, it wasn't out of the ordinary. (It's also interesting to note that since going to electronic controls, these types of complaints have decreased [by over 80%].)