O.T. runaway car


I experienced a mechanical accelerator stick on the highway, I turned the key off which locked the steering, so it was off, jiggle the pedal, on, steer a little until I gained control. The present problem is a potentiometer element losing it's end bonding to contacts. Lose the ground and people waiting at a light get a surge forward. Lose the upper contact and nothing happens until the pedal is fully on.
Our toyota has an engine off key position which can be used to gain control. Those with a button start must press and hold it 3 seconds to stop. Best you know your options and make sure family is advised.



It's the damned "keyless entry" crap that has Toyota in a corner!

We have a manual Camry and can turn it off immediately. We have not had a problem with the "fly by wire" accelerator pedal.

Have you really experienced this porblem with the accelerator?


Here is the correspondence I had with Toyota some months ago:

Recently you contacted Toyota. Below is a summary of your contact message and our response.

Thank you for allowing us to be of service to you.

Brake Override Sysytem on 2007 Camry

Discussion Thread
Response (JSpe) 12/11/2009 02:46 PM
Mr. Platt,

Thank you for your email to Brian Lyons, it has been forwarded to Toyota's Customer Experience Center for a response.

Your feedback to Toyota about your 2007 Camry is greatly appreciated, and we apologize for any concerns caused by the Potential Floor Mat Interference with Accelerator Pedal Safety Recall notification Toyota has issued regarding possible interference between the floor mat and the accelerator pedal on certain Toyota and Lexus models.

The brake override system you mention would prevent operation of a manual transmission in way described in your email. Please understand that the recall has just been issued, the application of the brake override system is still being researched. Once you receive your notification in the mail, please speak with your local Toyota dealership to see if any changes have been made and how the may affect the repairs that need to be completed on your vehicle.

If we can be of further assistance, please utilize the following link to find a variety of avenues to contact our offices, http://www.toyota.com/help/. Your email has been documented at our National Headquarters under file #0912119660.

Jay Spencer

Customer (Entered by JSpe) 12/11/2009 02:18 PM
Dear Mr. Lyons,

I am the owner of a 2007 Camry with manual 5 speed transmission. I find the car to be pretty good. But I am concerned about this latest recall, and the plans being suggested, specifically:

"In addition, as a separate measure independent of the vehicle-based remedy, Toyota will install a brake override system onto the involved Camry, Avalon, and Lexus ES 350, IS350 and IS 250 models as an extra measure of confidence. This system cuts engine power in case of simultaneous application of both the accelerator and brake pedals."

As I mentioned, I am owner of the rather rare 5-speed manual version of the Camry. I like to drive it, and I frequently heel-toe and double-clutch on downshift. It seems to me that if a brake override system were installed, my car would not function properly. Will this new "feature" be installed on all future Toyota manual transmission cars?

I am further concerned that something more is going on with this story. My dealer tells me that the Root Cause Analysis showed the problem to be extra floormats--stacked on top of factory ones. The extra ones, which are specifically not authorized, slide around. It seems to me that this could (and probably does) happen on many types of cars, and further, that this is an operator problem. Why wouldn't Toyota stand up against this? I understand pleasing your customers and all, but I am a pleased customer, and having driven my car over 65k miles, I just cannot see how there is any sort of legitimate claim against Toyota, unless there is in fact something else going on. Is GM behind this? Is there actually something else that Toyota engineering is concerned about but not mentioning? I wonder.

I do hope that something will be done to prevent the loss of functionality of the manual transmission car. (It is bad enough now that we have clutch interlocks. In the old days, if you stalled in a flood, you could literally drive the car out of it on the starter motor--I know from experience. Now you have to lose your car in a flood--which happened to my father once).

I hope to hear from you with an answer to my concerns regarding manual transmission heel-toe and downshift.

Best regards,

Bill Platt


Bill et al. My runaway was a Ford rental of long ago. I have not had any throttle problem with a 2009 Camry. I have read that the Japanese made controls are much better in failure rate. The US failure rate is about one in a thousand. I do not believe the floor mat causation as several have reported runaway with no accelerator usage at all, like waiting at a light, or reversing.Some have stated they had no floor mat at the time of the incident. The Camry has a computer memory of conditions at the time of a crash, like the black box in aircraft. These should give important parameters. Sam


I think my Pontiac Vibe is included in this recall, being basically a Toyota Matrix under the hood.

I for one am not impressed with the hype of Toyota's magical "quality" levels. We had both a 2003 Vibe 5-spd (mine), and a 2004 automatic (wife's). At 5 years young and 65k miles, my 2003 was diagnosed with a bad manual transmission ($4k to fix), and while they were looking, an oil leak (another $2k to fix). From what I could find online, neither the transmission nor the oil leak are unheard of through the Vibe, Matrix, Corolla lineup. Needless to say, I was not spending $6,000 to fix this 5 year old car and traded it in on a used Ford. (With full disclosure to the dealer!)

My wife now drives the Ford and loves it, while I have her 2004 Vibe with an automatic transmission that does not "feel right" to me either. I may be looking for a replacement for that one as well.

Sorry, but I had to complain about this!!!

I'm not buying any more Toyota's, I can tell you that!


re: "I'm not buying any more Toyota's, I can tell you that!"

I just heard that some fords are being recalled. It seems that ford bought parts from the same supplier that toyota did. Thank globalization; someone somewhere sold both manufacturers wear prone accelerator pedals. It's hard to buy something worth buying, that has an american nameplate, that is made in the us. The best 4wd is a subaru - made in the usa. The two best trucks are toyota and ford - both made here. Skill tools are now made in china, as are most RPN calculators. All i have been buying lately is building materials so thankfully; i can choose wood and it's all been from here in the good ol' us of a. Kinda worried about that hickory though; i think that it's from the "confederate states of america".


I just heard that some fords are being recalled. It seems that ford bought parts from the same supplier that toyota did. Thank globalization; someone somewhere sold both manufacturers wear prone accelerator pedals. It's hard to buy something worth buying, that has an american nameplate, that is made in the us.

Pedal manufacturer:


and a couple press releases:



If you can assume these pedals are being correctly built to Toyota's specs, then this is a Toyota design problem. Toyota is not saying there is a manufacturing defect on CTS's part.

I heard on today's news that a new pedal, made of a different type of nylon that is not as "susceptible to moisture" (which is what is believed to "cause", or contribute to, the sticking) has been released to manufacturing.

I also heard Toyota doesn't believe the pedal to be the main problem, but is addressing it nonetheless.

Edited: 29 Jan 2010, 1:33 p.m.


We had a mention of the case her in Germany today. Some Toyotas here are recalled. In the U.S, 19 people's deathes are attributed to the failure.

What I do not understand is why drivers are unable to turn the engine off or to set the gearshift to neutral. With a manual shift, I don't see a problem to stop the car even if I can't stop the engine.


There are only three manual transmission Camrys in the US and I own one of them ;-)

Seriously, there are probably ony 0.1% manuals in the US.

And when you consider the keyless entry 3 second aspect, and the fact that the keyless entry is de rigeur for fashionable people and standard on all but the base model, and the fact that the base model is less than 10% of sales (or something like that) then you can see where the problem comes from.

Of course an automatic tranny driver could knock the gearshift out of gear, except for one problem: unlike habitual manual drivers, the automatic driver is not accustomed to touching that thing except for parking--and being interested in automatic, want the easy weay out, no thinking etc....

I'm ranting but I think you know what I mean about "automatic" drivers....

Edited: 29 Jan 2010, 2:12 p.m.


In the US, there are a lot more Automatic transmissions (vs Manual) installed in the affected cars, except for maybe the Corollas in the "economy" class of vehicle. BTW, I prefer the "stick" in my car.

The problem on the "higher end" cars, is that they don't have regular key-operated ignition switches any more, but rather, a Start-Stop pushbutton that is enabled by close (radio) proximity of the key fob that can stay in your pocket. The problem is that people try to turn off the car, but continually keep pushing the button (from panic no doubt), rather than holding it down for the required 3 seconds to actually turn off the engine.

I agree with you Marcus.. I don't understand what is so hard about shifting into Neutral? Also, applying the brakes can overcome the engine. I don't get it (unless people are in too much of a panic, or don't have enough time to think).

Edited: 29 Jan 2010, 2:19 p.m.



Living now for almost four years in the US and driving a lot of rental cars both in Germany and here, I can tell you:

The cars here are different!!!

You can't switch an automatic transmission easily in Neutral while driving! The shifter is blocked from most movements if you are not touching the brake pedal, don't have the ignition on and so on. Differs from car to car. Recently I drove a Hyundai and it took me some time to stop the engine on the parking lot of an Outback Steakhouse (thw steak was okay). You had to push the gearshift in PARK before you could turn the engine off and pull the key. try this at 65 mph (I'm in NY State).

WHY these differences? Remember the Audi 5000 (Audi 100 in good old Germany) and its "sudden unintended accelerations"?



I also heard Toyota doesn't believe the pedal to be the main problem, but is addressing it nonetheless.

Remember the seat belt recall? They used the same similar line. Actually for the seat belts they went as far as to say it was the users ("fat Americans") who lodged food into the latch mechanism. Anything to save face.



Wood! Plywood at Home Depot and Lowes is from China!!!


I for one am not impressed with the hype of Toyota's magical "quality" levels.
Last July we rented a new Corolla for a trip. At one point I had to hit the brakes a little harder than usual, not a panic stop though, and inspite of ABS, I locked up all four wheels on dry pavement. It wasn't a problem, but obviously the ABS was no good on this car that only had one or two thousand miles on it.

As a heel+toe double-clutcher, I understand where you're coming from. However, you don't *have* to submit to the recall.

As far as the clutch interlock, I've found that it's usually a pretty easy job to just disable the switch. I agree that it can be very handy to crank in gear (in my case, it was to load the car onto a trailer). Just be sure all potential drivers know about it before they turn the key!


For brake interlocks on automatic transmissions, you can thank the "unintended acceleration" incidents of the mid-1980's US Audi 5000 models, which invariably were caused by driver error -- foot on the gas instead of the brake, whose pedals were close together.

Clutch interlocks on manual-transmission cars are fairly new. Depressing the clutch on startup is a good idea for several reasons, but it should not be made compulsory such that emergency capabilities are disabled. If the switch fails, can the car be started? I also hope that push-starting for dead batteries and failed starters is not affected by clutch interlocks.

I just cannot see how there is any sort of legitimate claim against Toyota, unless there is in fact something else going on. Is GM behind this?

Not too far-fetched, maybe:

"On Wednesday, G.M. began offering discounts and no-interest financing specifically to Toyota owners.

“We’re responding to the concerns of many Toyota owners who have asked our dealers for help,” said a G.M. spokesman, Tom Henderson. “We’re reacting by offering a solution.”


Edited: 30 Jan 2010, 1:45 p.m. after one or more responses were posted


I had a 2003 Toyota Corolla LE, automatic, in which my daughter had put clear plastic floor-mats over the carpet floor-mats that came with the car. On at least 3 separate occasions, while using "passing gear" for extra power to climb a hill, the accelerator pedal did in fact become hooked on the floor-mats, and wouldn't stop accelerating. A vigorous kick to the pedal freed it. Removal of the clear plastic mats fixed it - no problems since.
In case of runaway acceleration, turn off engine BEFORE going to neutral, if at all possible, else don't go to neutral. Going to neutral first can result in a quick engine overspeed, and that can result in a thrown rod, broken crank or other lesser maladies... Expensive.


18 people reported dead. I'd prefer a broken engine.


The problem with engine shutdown as the 1st option is that it isn't possible!

You have to wait 3 seconds because of the push-button! That is a a long time!

The real problem here is the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Consequence #1: keyless start does not have a safe effective kill switch (with is innately part of a normal key operation)
Consequence #2: many automatic transmissions are difficult to safely shift out of gear while moving. Furthermore, there is wide variation from design to design. Finally, shifting the automatic, especially towards neutral, is not part of SOP and is not taught, practiced or envisioned by drivers. In an emergency situation, this lack of training becomes fatal.

Edited: 30 Jan 2010, 5:24 p.m.


My dentist drove his wife to the airport and she got out taking the key fob with her. He was in fear of it stopping. I read they blame moisture in the throttle for the problems and are adding a shim as a fix. That is not entirely consistent with the low failures of The Japanese made Denso control. Color me skeptical. Sam


Just hit the brakes, that's all it takes.

There's not a car sold in the US (unless modified in an unsafe fashion, perhaps by massively upgrading the engine while leaving the brakes stock) where the brakes cannot stop the car, even when the throttle is wide-open.

Yes, it may take some force, but all these deaths seen in these Toyota-related incidents could have been prevented if the driver would have just slammed on the brakes.

Here's some hard proof, from the March 2010 issue of Car and Driver magazine:

Toyota Camry V-6:

70-0 mph, closed throttle: 174 feet

70-0 mph, full throttle: 190 feet

100-0 mph, closed throttle: 347 feet

100-0 mph, full throttle: 435 feet

As you can see, while the stopping distance is increased somewhat, the car still stops just fine.

Yes, Toyota has a defect that should be addressed, but it's not the big deal that some people are making of it.

(for the record, I do happen to own a Type 44 Audi -- the vintage affected by the totally driver-caused "unintended acceleration" scare in the mid-80s -- and I'm not afraid of it)



It is unwise to stop on a roadway, really bad news,one must get out of the traffic flow so some control of the car is needed. I had good success with the key on/off override. I suggest that the computer controlled cars have a rev limiter function built in, I am not certain. At full throttle engine vacuum boost is depends on the reserve and you get limited applications of the brake thereafter. Hard to keep control and not lose braking. Like the Boy Scouts, Be Prepared. Sam


Just hit the brakes, that's all it takes.
The lack of vacuum from having the throttle open will make it require more pedal pressure; but even a small woman should be able to put a couple hundred pounds on the pedal, which is always enough. I fault our driver's training though. It does not deal with how to manage mechanical failures like pilot instruction does. My wife had the vacuum fail one time, and she thought the brakes went out. Fortunately she did not crash. Then her mother told her she should pump the pedal, which of course does nothing but waste valuable braking time in that case. (There was no hydraulic failure.) She also didn't remember that the emergency brake is called that for a reason-- that it's not just for parking, but it's a direct mechanical linkage to the rear brakes that is 100% good even if the hydraulics were to fail completely. The bottom line is that there are various ways to stop that car, but driver's training doesn't teach you.

Edited: 30 Jan 2010, 9:46 p.m.


All good advice, but for the emergency brake part - it almost always goes to the rear wheels only, and will NOT stop a car with a runaway engine. Many have proven this by driving around with the emergency brake on, until they finally smelled the burning shoes...


If you apply it as intended (which means hard), it will be impossible to drive with it on. It will lock up the back wheels. If you have front-wheel drive and enough torque to break traction in 1st gear, then you might be out of luck for 1st gear, but not for gears used to reach higher speeds.


Toyota has blamed floor mats, now they call it a sticking accelerator.
The fix is to increase the spring tension. When people experience sudden acceleration while waiting for a light, it is not a sticking pedal. They blamed water condensation. They don't have a clue. Heres their "fix" <The repair that U.S. regulators cleared is a "selective spacer," or shim, that would be inserted into the gas-pedal assembly to increase tension within the pedal to prevent the accelerator from remaining in a depressed position. Toyota has told dealers that it can produce as many as 120,000 of the shims a day.> I don't buy it, I hope you don't either. Sam


Your emergency brake must work better than the ones I have used. Especially on rear wheel drive cars. The engine simply overpowers the brake.

Edited: 31 Jan 2010, 4:02 p.m.


Years ago a transformer failed at Collins Radio. There was corrosion next to a nylon bobbin. Collins chemists traced it to silicon mold release used in the bobbin manufacture. Silicon is incompletely polymerized and with heat and pressure releases monoatomic fluorine which is corrosive. Washing in alcohol made the parts usable. Silicon is notable a non-stick agent, so any attempt to cement parts to a nylon housing might meet with failure. I read the part is made of nylon. Sam


In 2005 after Hurricane Wilma came through, the electric coop on Marco Island got the power back on in record time - just two days if memory serves. Then a few days later it failed again. The reason? Salt carried by the high winds from the Gulf had been deposited on insulators causing them to ground out.

We were treated to the spectacle of the Fire Department going all over the island washing off the insulators with the high pressure hoses. An inelegant but very effective low-tech solution.

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