Posted by: stiltsville | February 2, 2010

Why is your Toyota a flaming high-speed steel coffin?

Used to be, when I pushed the gas pedal, the movement of my foot was mechanically transferred by cable to the throttle of my engine. There were two springs on the gas pedal (in case one broke) and another spring on the carb end of the cable. My foot was directly connected to the engine. My brain is attached to my foot. I was really in control.

The problem Toyota accelerator is nothing more than an electrical switch, like the dimmer switch you use to adjust lights inside your home. There are wires from this foot-operated switch to the car’s computer. Then more wires out of the computer and to an electric solenoid that is attached to the car’s fuel injection unit. Push the gas pedal and you send a signal to the computer. The computer then sends a signal to the solenoid, the solenoid then opens or closes the throttle. Car goes faster or slows down. There are additional feedback sensors from the engine to the computer.

Now because there is no actual cable, Toyota had to create “fake” friction so the pedal would feel “realistic.” The friction device inside the pedal sometimes sticks and causes “unintended acceleration.” Your car becomes a flaming high-speed steel coffin when you unintentionally decelerate by smashing into an unmovable object while listening to “Flirting with Disaster” by Molly Hatchet.

So, we’ve got fake friction causing a fiery death scenario all because we replaced cheap, simple cable with expensive computer controls. This is a textbook example of “over-engineered.” The computer does not care if you live or die, so replace the computer. Occam was right.


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