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Why the "Out of Control" Prius Driver Is Full of It

Discussion in 'Prius, Hybrid, EV and Alt-Fuel News' started by Danny, Mar 9, 2010.

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  1. Danny

    Danny Admin/Founder Staff Member

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    While we don't have any technical information provided by an in-depth investigation yet, yesterday's "out of control" Prius story just doesn't pass the smell test. Well, it does, but that aroma is BS.
    Let's look at why:
    The driver, James Sikes, didn't follow the recently very publicized directions on how to shut off his car and stop the acceleration. He says that he knows about the current Toyota recalls and inquired with his dealership at a recent maintenance check about whether his car was a part of the recall. Yet, according to him, he didn't feel comfortable turning the car off while the car was accelerating to higher speeds. Which leads me to…
    He says people were passing him "left and right" while going 90+ MPH, and he was afraid he'd get rear-ended if he turned the car off and suddenly stopped. First of all, I've been on some SoCal interstates and while people drive pretty crazy, it's nothing compared to the NASCAR track that is I-85 in Atlanta and even those people don't pass someone "left and right" who is going over 90 miles per hour.
    If he was so worried about getting rear-ended by turning the car off, why does he says he "stood" on the brake pedal to no effect? Hoping that the brakes will kick in and bring the car to a screeching halt has much more dangerous repercussions than turning the car off and moving onto the shoulder.
    Mr. Sikes says the accelerator stuck and he couldn't pull it up when he leaned under the steering wheel to do so. But the brake override system in the Prius would have negated the stuck accelerator and slowed the car down normally as you see in the video below.

    The driver stated that it all started when he pressed the gas to pass someone and "then the thing just jumped and kept going." Really? We're talking about a 1.5 liter engine here. Anyone who has driven a 2nd Gen Prius would never say the car "jumps" into acceleration. 3rd Gen under PWR mode, maybe, but not the 2nd Gen.
    He never tried the emergency brake until the California Highway Patrolman instructed him to do so. Really? It's called an EMERGENCY brake for a reason. Also, as stated by vegasjetskier in the PriusChat Forums, he says the CHP trooper saw the brake lining flying off the car. Again, not likely, but if it did, he would then have next-to-no braking at all when the brake pad metal contacted the brake disc. But then he says that when he added the parking brake the car began to slow. Doesn't the parking brake act on the same rear brake linings that the hydraulic brake system that he was already using does? So the parking brake should have no additional effect.
    Again, we don't have any technical details yet, so this post could be totally premature. We'll hopefully know more soon.
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  2. Eoin

    Eoin Active Member

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    Do I smell a lawsuit?

    Or a new reality show with home videos showing near-death experiences in Priuses. Suggested title: Prius Panic! Possible star actor: balloon boy's dad (when he gets out of jail)
  3. zenMachine

    zenMachine Just another Onionhead

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  4. Politburo

    Politburo Active Member

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    I said it in another thread, but I'll say it again here. It really sounds like pedal interference. That can reasonably explain all of the observations and also explains why the parking brake would provide braking when the (obstructed) brake pedal did not.
  5. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

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    I rhink we should wait for some more information before calling the driver a lier about hitting the brakes.

    We do not yet know what is wrong with the car. I would say it is more likely that there was not a working brake cut off, than the driver lied about hitting the brakes. Let's at least wait for someone to read the erd (if toyota will not fight it in court this time) before jumping to any conclusions that a youtube video is proof of driver dishonesty.
  6. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    Is it okay if we bash him for not powering off or shifting to N?

    Tom
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  7. Gokhan

    Gokhan Member

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    He didn't say he was going 90 MPH when people were passing him. He said he reached 90 at one point in time.

    Since he couldn't move the accelerator pedal by hand, it looks like the pedal was not stuck.

    I don't see why the guy would make up the whole thing. To me this is looking more and more like there is an electronics bug in Toyota accelerator systems. In the Toyota hearings in Washington, the university expert had testified that the two parallel circuits in Toyota accelerator systems were not independent as they were supposed to be and they don't detect faults because of that. That's probably the cause of the problem -- accelerator sensors accidentally saturating and the two circuits not seeing the fault and thinking that there is a full-throttle input.
  8. FCBarca

    FCBarca Junior Member

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    Just as a recap, should a Prius go into 'runaway' mode what are the recommended steps to come to a stop or safely pull over?

    Apart, of course, from freaking out
  9. sa68ta

    sa68ta New Member

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    Here's European viewpoint on "Acceleration Horror Stories"



    Full story (Spiegel, Germany):
    Tribulations at Toyota: The Search for the Gas Pedal Flaw - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
  10. Rangerdavid

    Rangerdavid Active Member

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    No real excuse for not pushing the power button. Dumbass. Something really just doesn't smell right to me here. My wife says it must all be ligit sine the cops were involved. I disagree. Still doesn't pass the smell test.

    Guess we'll wait and see. Tom, yes, we should pound him for not pushing the power button or shifting in to N. He endangered a lot of folks by not doing so.
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  11. rover

    rover Junior Member

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    I'm thinking the same thing, if the guy had the presence of mind to reach down and grab the pedal (a dangerous and difficult feat in itself) and make a phone call, why didn't he think to put it in neutral and/or turn off the power???

    Looks like a hack job to me.
  12. Gokhan

    Gokhan Member

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    Recommended procedure to be followed in this order:

    (1) Shift the transmission to Neutral (Learn or practice how to do this now if you don't know)
    (2) Safely pull to the side of the road and park the car
    (3) Turn off the engine
    (4) Call for a tow truck and contact Toyota National Customer Service Hotline (1-800-331-4331) to have your vehicle inspected
  13. essaunders

    essaunders Member

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    My quick web search revealed no explicit connection with the cops. Mr. Sikes appears to have another profession.
  14. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    Suppose you wanted to recreate this scenario on your local highway:

    1. The friction brakes need to be used a sufficient amount so that they would overheat and create a burning smell.

    2. The car would have to continue to accelerate while the brake pedal is depressed.

    Tell me how you would make this happen in a properly operating Prius. (Hint, this would be pretty tough to make happen.)

    I think that we should be open to the possibility that the hybrid vehicle ECU was not functioning properly and that the driver in good faith was trying to control the vehicle.

    The airbags did not trigger, so I suspect the event data recorder in the SRS ECU will not have captured any data.

    Yes, he didn't hold the POWER button down long enough. There are ~800K Prius in the US, and I really doubt that most of those owners realize it is necessary to hold the switch in for 3+ seconds when the car is at speed.

    For those posters who question this driver's actions: Can you say with assurance that your close friends and relatives would be able to figure out how to power down the Prius (or to shift into N, for that matter) while zipping along at 90 mph?
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  15. brad_rules_man

    brad_rules_man Hybrid electric revolutionizer

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    That is a good point. I tell you what, I'm not mad at him anymore. I'm just mad at the media. This is a freaking crucifixion going on here. I ask myself if they will even do a follow up report if it comes to light there wasn't a problem after investigation. They are just all hyped up and they want to make everyone's heart skip a beat, and keep you from skipping to the next channel. It makes me so mad!

    I actually had someone at a gas station tell me off for buying my "japan piece of crap death machine" or something to that effect, and talked about how he was supporting the local economy. (He got into a GM car that was manufactured in Mexico.)

    UGH
  16. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    Liar! Liar! Brakes on fire!

    I wouldn't call anyone a liar before investigation is completed. But I think it totally fair to put the possibility of "fraud" on the table. Given Toyota's high publicity woes, people seeking attention and/or thinking they might be able to parlay an incident into financial gain is a possibility. Do we know this is the case? At this point absolutely not...but if we are speculating and debating possibilities as to what actually happened then misrepresentation and fraud are viable possibilities.
  17. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

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    I don't think anyone should be bashed for not powering the car off. It's hard to know what will happen to the brakes and steering at power off at 90. Some of you may know, but I don't think its a reasonable thing to assume. If he had been in an imminent accident situation then maybe.

    The shifting to neutral is a more curious mater. I don't know why 911 didn't tell him to do this? Without more information I would put it as a mistake by multiple people. Luckily a mistake that did not cause an accident.

    You can blame the media for misreporting that the cop car was used to slow down the prius.

    I would say it is much more likely that there is a mechanical, electrical, and/or software issue than a hoax. Let's let the facts come out before playing the blame game.
  18. PasPrius

    PasPrius Junior Member

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    Just a thought about one and only one aspect of this. And I only think it because I inadvertently pushed the button that changed the display from MPH to KPH way back when and sure felt dumb.

    He says people were passing him "left and right" while going 90+ MPH.

    This is possible IF Mr. Sikes was reading Kilometers Per Hour rather than Miles Per Hour. If the display was registering 90KPH, he would actually be going 56MPH. Traffic on a freeway might well be passing him left and right if he was going 56MPH.

    Is it possible for the driver to get confused because the read out is KPH versus MPH? Yes. BTDT.

    Is it possible for the electronics to get confused because the read out is KPH versus MPH and cause a runaway situation? I should think that highly doubtful.

    PasPrius
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  19. eggbert747

    eggbert747 New Member

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    Maybe the guy was clever. Was getting a speeding ticket, and thought "I'll call 911 and say I have another out-of-control Toyota"!! We'll see...
  20. Eoin

    Eoin Active Member

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    Amazing that when people are in full panic mode, they can pull out their cell phones and dial the police.
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