Electronic Issue May Be The Root Of Toyota's Problems - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Electronic Issue May Be The Root Of Toyota's Problems

HUFFINGTONPOST.COM - Even as Toyota has reckoned with a wrenching crisis of confidence, acknowledging reports that some of its best-selling vehicles have been prone to accelerating while drivers step on the brakes, the car giant has consistently maintained that its electronic systems are not the culprit for a series of lethal accidents.

Sometimes floor mats have been to blame, said Toyota, prompting recalls. Sometimes moisture has gotten inside gas pedals and caused them to stick, triggering another recall. And still other times drivers have hit the wrong pedal with their foot, the company has said. But when NASA conducted an investigation, it found no evidence of electronic malfunctions, according to the resulting report.

When that study was released last February, Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration both seized on that conclusion as proof that Toyota's electronic systems were beyond reproach -- a contention amplified widely in media accounts. But buried within that same report are details that safety experts construe as disturbing evidence of problems potentially afflicting the electronic systems governing the gas pedal -- problems that Toyota and the highway safety agency have so far dismissed.

Investigators found so-called tin whiskers -- which grow on tin when it is electrified and can conduct electricity to unintended places -- inside the electronic systems in Toyota Camry gas pedals, according to the report. These wiry fibers of metal are thinner than a human hair and can sprout unpredictably. They have been implicated in crippling defects besetting a range of equipment, including communications satellites, pacemakers, missiles and nuclear power plants.

The study falls well short of identifying tin whiskers as a cause in fatal accidents involving sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles. But safety advocates say the mere confirmed presence of tin whiskers demands deeper investigation before such a causal link can be ruled out. Even sudden acceleration at slow speed can cause cars to run through stop signs, perhaps resulting in fatalities, they say. click here to read more

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