Toyota Knew Of Accelerator Problems Back in 2007?

It looks like Toyota’s recall problems and attacks on its reputation for quality and safety might be on the verge of becoming worse.

According to an article by Peter Whoriskey, published in the February 4 issue of the Washington Post, back in 2007, investigators discovered that “at least three of every 100 Lexus ES 350 owners in Ohio reported experiencing unintended acceleration.”

According to the Washington Post’s article, James C. Fell, former chief of research for traffic safety programs for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, went on to say:

“Anything over 1 percent would raise a red flag, particularly for the manufacturer.”

Considering the reported incidences of “unintended acceleration” was at least 3 percent, or three times the red flag threshold, it’s starting to look as if more should have been done earlier.

Granted, I’m sure the population size of Lexus ES 350 owners in Ohio is pretty small, especially if you’re going to use it as the basis for a mass recall.

If this were the only sample population, it’s easy to see why the investigation might not have received the attention it truly deserved from Toyota’s engineering team and federal safety regulators, and why the problem with sticking gas pedals might have been misdiagnosed.

The Washington Post’s article states:

“After the engineering review, Toyota and the regulators decided that the cause was that the accelerator had been stuck in the grooves of the all-weather floor mats some owners had put in. It was shown that the floor mats could trap the accelerator, so the company declared a recall of approximately 55,000 such floor mats and the case was closed.”

I’m no engineer, but that seems like quite an odd misdiagnosis.  After all, wouldn’t it take just a few stuck accelerators in vehicles that didn’t have the grooved floor mats to demonstrate the the problem likely didn’t stem from the mats, but from some sort of design or engineering flaw?

Then again, it’s entirely possible I’m looking at this too simplistically.

Either way, it now appears Toyota could have saved itself a lot of trouble and lost market-share had it been more aggressive in trying to pinpoint the true cause of sticking accelerators when the problem first surfaced two and a half years ago.

Improve Your Gas Mileage in 3 Simple Steps

Increasing your vehicle’s gas mileage is one of the easiest things you can do. The reason why I can say that with complete confidence is because, in many cases, YOU decide whether or not not your vehicle is achieving it’s maximum fuel economy.

This is both good and bad news. It’s good news because it means you don’t have to go out and spend lots of money of fuel additives or engine “add ons” in order to get significantly better gas mileage. However, it’s bad news because most of us have become very set in our ways regarding our driving habits, which makes it very difficult to follow through on our better driving habits.

That being said, the three tips I’m going to talk about here are so easy to implement that I’m willing to guess that if you take just two or three weeks to consciously follow them as you’re driving, you’ll never go back to your hard driving habits again. Plus, I think following these three tips will help you to enjoy driving again!

So, without further ado, here are the three steps that, if you follow, will drastically improve your vehicle’s gas mileage:

[Read more…]

Fuel Economy Tip – Accelerate Less Rapidly

Today’s tip is along the same lines as yesterday’s, only it doesn’t concern how fast you go, rather how fast you get to that speed.

Accelerate less rapidly.

How many times have you pulled up to a red light or stop sign and then “floored it” when the light turned green or it was your turn to go? That’s a great strategy if you’re a professional drag racer or you just like to waste gas and ruin your vehicle’s fuel economy.

According to Car Junky.com, rapid acceleration, coupled with excessive breaking, can reduce your vehicle’s gas mileage by up to 33% at highway speeds and up to 5% during local driving.

That’s a significant amount of money you’re losing for just wanting to be the first person off the line or to fly past the slow poke in the middle lane.

Imagine being able to save literally hundreds of dollars each year on your vehicle’s fuel costs by simply taking it easy when you accelerate.

Obviously, there are going to be times when you need to “punch it” but if you can minimize those times, you’re not going to needlessly lose money each time you have to fill up your vehicle.

Fuel Economy Tip – Drive The Speed Limit

This tip is the first tip because it will keep you from losing your money not only to the gas pump, but to tickets and insurance as well.

According to Fuel Economy.Gov, for every additional 5 miles per hour (mph) you drive over 60 mph, you are spending an additional $.19 per gallon of gas. At today’s national average price for unleaded fuel, that would be the equivalent to adding over 6.5% to your gas bill.

Let’s look at it in regards to the amount of money you’re losing in a year by driving 5 mph over the speed limit:

If you fill up your 12 gallon tank once a week, that $.19 per gallon ends up costing you $118.56 per year!

Don’t tell me that $.19 per gallon doesn’t add up over time.

In addition to saving you money at the pump, driving the speed limit saves you money in additional ways:

  1. Reduces your chances for a speeding ticket (that shouldn’t come as a shock).
  2. Reduces your chances for getting into a serious accident.
  3. Because of reasons 1 and 2, you’re more likely to have lower insurance premiums.
  4. Reduces the wear and tear on your car, helping it last longer.

All of these things considered, speeding probably costs the average driver several hundred dollars each year.

Care to tell me again why you’re speeding?

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