Shift-to-neutral to get out of trouble - not a sure thing?

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Main Forum' started by paulsha911, Feb 24, 2010.

  1. paulsha911

    paulsha911 Junior Member

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    When I was a kid taking driving lesson, they teach you the shift-to-neutral trick in case the throttle got stuck. Guess it used to be a more common thing with mechanical linkages in the old days.

    So I didn't think it was a big deal when I heard the alleged runaway issues.

    I did practice it in my 2010 Prius and glad that I did, becuase it didn't behave as expected. The trick does work but I found that you have to push the lever to the left AND HOLD for may be a second before it shifts to neutral (while accelerating).

    If you just push the lever to the left and do not hold it there, it will not shift.

    Anyway, highly recommend people practicing that just in case.

    Now, here is the reason that I make this post, it seems from the testimony at the Toyota hearing today, that Smith lady said she did try to shift to neutral and the car ignored it. http://www.nydailynews.com/money/20...tearful_victim_of_runaway_lexus_testifie.html

    Then there is that famous crash in San Diego. The driver was a CHP officer and he fought it for a few minutes. It's hard to imagine that he didn't know to try shifting to neutral.

    So I guess in the case of these drive-by-wire systems, if something goes haywire, then the shift-to-neutral wouldn't work neither. Which is a really scary thing to think about...
     
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  2. cwerdna

    cwerdna Senior Member

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    No big deal... FWIW, in my 2nd gen Prius, I tried all 3 tests (in a safe area when nobody was around) at Luscious Garage | Blog | Floor mat anxiety? LG TV investigates…. The worst, not surprisingly was pushing and holding power since power steering was lost and thus became very heavy.

    Bwilson4web has a video up somewhere of using the brake w/the accelerator at the same time at highway speeds in his 3rd gen.
     
  3. Erikon

    Erikon Active Member

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    Yeahhh, that lady also claimed the brakes didn't work, the parking brake didn't work, blah blah. I doubt the car had every major system fail simultaneously! Most likely she was yakking on her phone till she wondered why everyone else was going awfully slow, then saw the speedo and freaked out! Anyway, I read in another thread that if you try to shift the Prius into reverese it'll immediately go in neutral.
     
  4. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North
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    Also, the brilliant thing about the Prius's shift-by-wire system is that unlike a regular automatic, shifting into R or P will not break anything. Instead, the car will shift into Neutral (so some might find it easier to shift into R instead of holding it at N). In a regular car, expect to see car parts behind you on the road if you did the above method.
     
  5. marshac

    marshac New Member

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    Any ideas about the gen 3 with the electric steering? Does it still work after you turn things off?
     
  6. hitechboy

    hitechboy New Member

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    Toyota found that the brakes were all burned out on this accident. They concluded that the lady kept the wheels spin and then applied the brakes until they burned out.
     
  7. GrumpyCabbie

    GrumpyCabbie Senior Member

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    Worn out as in lack of maintenance or as in burnt out?
     
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  8. DeadPhish

    DeadPhish Senior Member

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    The shifting to Neutral doesn't turn off the system. There's no real reason to Power OFF until you are safely stopped on the side of the road. Needing to do this would only be in the event that the stars and planets aligned in just such a way as to choose your specific vehicle to be the one.

    I know thousands of Toyota owners, literally. None - as in Zero - have ever mentioned any UA issues, sticky brake pedals, mat interference or anything such as this. ONE person who also has posted herein did mention that she felt the 'bump' on her new 2010 Prius. That's it.

    Myself, over the last 20 yrs, including my wife and children and over nine different Toyota's we've never experienced any of these issues ever. This covers at least 1 million road miles in those 20 yrs. In our collective view we then would have to be the unluckiest person(s) on the road to experience one of these issues.

    Nevertheless I have tested the shift-to-N and shift-to-R at speeds up to 75 mph in my Prius and in my wife's Highlander. It works as stated above....perfectly. I have also accelerated strongly to WOT up to ~65 mph without shifting to Neutral and jammed on the brakes while not letting off the gas pedal....I almost ate the steering wheel while my 2005 Prius came to a sudden jolting stop.

    Therefore this entire dustup is IOHO .. nothing. I never ever believe anyone else in these matters. I always do for myself to see if I find any credence in any of the claims. I don't.
     
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  9. JimboPalmer

    JimboPalmer Tsar of all the Rushers

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    I have said this before, almost all cars can come to a complete stop with full throttle, once.

    Almost any car will burn out the brakes if you attempt to slow the car, rather than attempt to stop the car.
     
  10. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    Recall that this crash did not involve a Prius. The shifter was more conventional, but still something different than his normal car.

    A failure in any system can result in loss of control. This is true regardless of the technology: electronic, mechanical, pneumatic, or anything else. This is why engineers design redundant and failsafe systems. Properly designed, any of the technologies will be safe. Poorly designed, any of them can be dangerous.

    Tom
     
  11. DeadPhish

    DeadPhish Senior Member

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    ^^^This, ...once...is the key word.
     
  12. Harold Bien

    Harold Bien Member

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    Shifting to neutral requires a hold in 'N' to prevent inadvertent shifting to neutral while driving (see Owner's manual, Section 2-1, "Driving Procedures/Transmission", pg. 171 or thereabouts), not defined as to specific time but manual states "for a while".

    Interestingly, reviewing Section 2-1, "Driving Procedures/Alarms", pg.176, shows us that all of the following behaviors will shift the car immediately into 'N':
    1) Pressing 'P' while car is in motion
    2) Attempting 'R' while car moving forward
    3) Attempting 'D' while car moving backward

    Seems to me, in an emergency, the easiest thing to do is to hit 'P' as if it were an emergency switch. Doesn't matter if you are moving forward or backwards, there will be no damage and the transmission will switch immediately to 'N'.

    On a related note - does anyone know if the manual parking brakes apply only to the rear wheels or all 4? In an emergency brake failure, shouldn't the parking brake work just as well (so long as it's all 4 wheels otherwise the car is likely to slide on locked rear wheels)
     
  13. Harold Bien

    Harold Bien Member

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    No disrespect intended, but if you listen to the 911 tape it's clear that he was in a panic mode. He was only speaking the whole time, never listening or answering to the 911 operator who even suggested that he shut the engine off. I'm not sure what caused the problem, but it was clear he was so focused on the unintended acceleration it doesn't sound like he tried any other alternatives to stop. At the end he simply gave up and let the car do its thing.

    I'm not sure I would've reacted any differently in a car that is speeding out of control, but this is where we learn from the tragedies of others. After listening to that tape, I would hope that should a similar situation arise, I will be reminded to keep focused on the driving and find a solution.

    In aviation we have a great phrase that applies equally well here:
    "Aviate, Navigate, Communicate". In that order. We should be focusing first on keeping the car away from hazards, trying to slow down the car, and then finally, when safe, identify your location so you can call 911 and let them know. Calling them while you are in trouble won't help much - they're just a voice on the other end of the phone. Ideally, perhaps a passenger can call while you focus on the driving.
     
  14. JimboPalmer

    JimboPalmer Tsar of all the Rushers

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    That Lexus had a conventional Automatic transmission with a gated shifter.
    http://z.about.com/d/cars/1/0/g/l/1/jf_09is_ShiftGate.jpg
    Finding N in a rental with that gate maybe nontrivial.

    By comparison, on a Prius with the eCVT transmission, you can find N easy but need to hold N for a second.
     
  15. Harold Bien

    Harold Bien Member

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    All the more reason, when you rent a car, especially a model with which you are not familiar, to read the manual and take the time to understand how to operate the vehicle before driving it off.

    People need to treat vehicles with more respect - they are complicated machines, and while you could just hop in one and go it wouldn't be the safest route. Just like most pilots could probably hop into any other single-engine plane and make it go, it wouldn't be the safest thing.
     
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  16. tumbleweed

    tumbleweed Senior Member

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    Yes it still works just fine. It's not really electric steering it's manual steering with an electric motor assist. It has a circuit that senses when you put pressure on the steering wheel and uses the motor to help you turn the steering.

    When the car is shut off you still have manual steering which is easier to turn than normal hydraulic power steering with the engine off because you don't have to move fluid around in the system by hand.
     
  17. tumbleweed

    tumbleweed Senior Member

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    Just the rear and there is no guarantee that the cables that operate the brakes will be adjusted equally so you my get more brake on one rear wheel than the other. I think it best to use it only as a parking brake.
     
  18. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    Rear brakes only. Given that, and that they are non-assisted, the braking force is marginal.

    Tom
     
  19. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    Try for your self ... it's no big deal. Find a nice, safe, no-traffic place and see what happens when you:

    brake hard over a pot hole
    or
    hold the gas pedal down hard then brake hard simultaneously
    or
    push the power button for 3 seconds

    You'll find it quite anti climatic. After I did these things, I had to ask myself, "who are these people"? People lock there doors at nite, "just in case". So why not do it for emergency driving preparedness?


    .
     
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  20. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web i3 and Prime

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    I suspect that by the weekend we may have more technical details about the Gibert and Exponent test configurations. Right now, we don't know which of the six leads were jumpered to what using what resistance to induce a run-away. Furthermore, we don't know if any of these leads share common path with other sensors. But a whole bunch of clever folks are looking hard in that area.

    If we don't get more details by say Saturday or Sunday, I may put our 2003 Prius up on jack stands and run some tests:
    [​IMG]
    But I suspect we'll know by Saturday what both have found.

    Understand that sometimes a test can stretch credibility by being so far fetched and unlikely as to be impractical (aka., model rocket engines strapped to a saddle-bag gas tank.) Also realize that after diagnosis, the problem always seems obvious. That should never be used to assume the original designer was lazy or malicious. Sometimes even the best engineers are surprised.

    We have seen one shuttle failure for every sixty missions and the shuttle is rocket science. Our best engineers didn't see the marginal "O" rings that didn't work in cold weather (or rather the engineer was overridden.) They also didn't see the ice puncture of the wing. After the disaster, these were obvious failures but before ... it is less clear.

    So my suggestion is to be patient and give it to this weekend. By Monday, there will likely be multiple reports showing the failure mechanism and then comes the question of "what to do about it."

    Because I've been tracking Prius fatalities, I know our car has half the fatality rate as the USA fleet. Other than 'being aware,' it is not time to panic. Just practice emergency procedures and stay tuned.

    Bob Wilson
     
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