Runaway Prius

Why can’t you just TURN OFF THE KEY? when your Prius runs away?

They don’t have a KEY. It is a push button ignition. I recently drove one, and I found the controls to be very different from what I would expect. I don’t know the details as I did not try to stop the engine while driving, but It seems that one would half to hold the button for 3 or so seconds to turn off the engine and if you were not familiar with the controls it would not be obvious.

Lesson: Read the owners manual and become familiar with the controls of your vehicle before driving it.

On a TV interview the guy stated that the 911 operator asked him to put the car in neutral and he said he was afraid it would “flip” if he put it in neutral. Now that makes no sense, but that’s what he said. So he kept it in drive and didn’t turn off the motor and calls 911.

Now if I’m blasting down the highway out of control, I’m calling 911! I’m not shutting off the motor, I’m not putting it in neutral, I’m calling 911. Like they’ll send a helicopter and pluck me out via the sunroof.

Yeah that’s it call 911 and they’ll rescue me and pull me out by the sunroof! But wait, I’d have to unfasten the seat belt. Can’t do that, if I can’t put it in neutral, and I can shut it off, I certainly can’t release the seatbelt - that would be unsafe, I might get hurt. Hell I’ll just buzz along at 90+ miles an hour until I run into something or out of gas.

The whole thing make just no sense.

I don’t get it either. The first thing I would do would be to put it in neutral. I would think Prius has PRND transmission stick. So, if the gasoline engine is in neutral, and the electric motor is in full power, it wouldn’t go very fast. Next thing I would do would be turn off the system when I come to a straigt piece of road.

I guess he thought the car would “flip” over head-over-heels if he put it in neutral. That doesn’t make sense either. Even if it were in reverse, it wouldn’t flip over, it might completely ruin the engine and transmission.

What I don’t understand is that he had the time and composure to call 911. That would be the last thing on my list of options.

I agree with you guys, neutral first. This is a picture of the shifter, ( ) and it is not like a normal shifter. You move it and it returns to the same position every time, the only thing that changes is the indicator on the dash. When I drove it I had to ask the sales woman how the heck it worked. It is not intuitive.

I have to believe that a number of the reported problems are now shady owners who are looking to profit somehow.

There are and have been unintended acceleration problems with other cars. If a screening of these complaints now has Toyota flagged, everyone that does will get more attention then any other brand. Maybe that’s deservedly so, but it’s still going on with other cars.

This topic was explored fully yesterday in another thread:

Maybe some cars should have a simple kill switch. A button that disconnects the fuel pump.

while I am not well versed in Prius vehicles we did have one in the shop awhile back. The start/stop is a push button and may not be able to turn off with the trans in gear. Also the trans does not have a normal PRNDL stick. Pull it into drive and the stick centers itself so it maybe electronic. Again, it may not be possible to shift to neutral while under a load.

I am sure some of the problems are operator error since humans make errors and I am sure some are operators are trying to milk some money.

It has some means of turning off the engine. That’s what the operator eventually did, at around 50 MPH. It took him 20 minutes to figure that out…

When these rare malfunctions happen, I’m always a little skeptical when the incident becomes a media feeding frenzy with the owner leading the parade…

By now, there must be over a MILLION Prius’s on the road. How many have lost throttle control?

Consider how hard this problem, to solve when;
experts say computers,sensors and wires that control the throttle can be compromised by "interference"
That makes it really hard replicate the problem to isolate the cause. This while Toyota insists it’s mechanical problem. Gee, when it happens, regardless of the initial cause, it’s always ultimately a mechanical problem. Just a harbinger of things to come as ICEs get increasingly more complicated to control in the name of efficiency and pollution control.

There’s good evidence that the whole thing was faked.

It seemed fishy to me when I first heard the report.

After listening to this guy talk on TV, even if it was the car’s fault, he didn’t seem to have a clue as to all his options. To everyone of us who think we know what to do, if we don’t practice it at some point,we may still not do the right thing. It’s obvious to me, this guy didn’t practice. Just knowing isn’t enough.

The auto industry is making the transition to software control systems but I wonder just how much regulation or oversight they are subjected to? Who reviews their proposed designs and insures that they are the right balance between cost and safety? I believe the answer is no one- they are currently self-regulated. That may have to end if we are to have confidence in the new systems.

Robust designs require simultaneous execution of independent hardware and software control systems that must continuously agree with each other or the system enters a fail-safe mode. From what I can tell, the automotive industry has relied on a primarily software based control system with sensor redundancy. Even the most rudimentary risk assessment would raise red flags since a single point failure in the software execution can compromise the entire control system. That is a receipe for disaster IMHO.

The Prius design attempts to overcome this issue by including a brake override. I’ve never seen the circuit for this provision and it would be very interesting to see how it’s implemented.

The gentleman driving the Prius is in bankruptcy, has lost several cars and owed $500,000, and may have “smelled” a rich settlement. Since neither the police or Toyata could replicate the problem, it smells indeed fishy.

Toyota will be paying out megabucks in the next few years to many people who never learned to drive properly and those who are fabricating stories. There will be a few real cases as well. Since I own a Toyota I’m waiting for a class action letter in the mail anytime now.