Toyota to Press –Was San Diego Prius Really A Runaway?

As Toyota continues to run its recall program on several car models, it is also trying to piece together the San Diego incident of early last week — also known as “the runaway Prius.” But was it?

Neither the federal government, nor Toyota inspectors, have been able to determine what actually happened to the car that sped up to 94 miles per hour on a San Diego, California freeway before being stopped by a fast-thinking California Highway Patrol officer.

In repeated tests this past week on the Prius that apparently malfunctioned, federal safety personnel and Toyota’s experts found the car performed as it should and could not replicate the problem that its owner had on the road last week. “We would caution people that our work continues and that we may never know exactly what happened with this car,” NHTSA said in a statement.

Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. offered findings today on its own testing of the event. While a final report is not yet complete, Toyota says “there are strong indications that the driver’s account of the event is inconsistent with the findings of the preliminary analysis.”

The initial findings include the following:

• The accelerator pedal was working normally. Prius is not subject to a recall on this component which is made by another manufacturer than those under recall in other models.

• The front brakes did have overheating damage.

• The floor mats were not touching the accelerator pedal.

• The pushbutton power functioned correctly and should have worked as the 911 operator instructed this driver.

• Shifting into neutral was normal.

• The car’s computer did not show any trouble codes. There was evidence of a rapid on and off shift between the accelerator and the brake which is not what would happen in an event like this.

Toyota engineers said that the report of this occurrence is puzzling based on the car’s engineering. It appears there are two safety systems that would have had to fail at the same time for this Prius to continue out of control. And that may be very unlikely, but possible.

Meanwhile, the federal agency NHTSA continues to check out the claims of approximately 60 Toyota owners who say that their cars had sudden acceleration, even after they were repaired in the recall.

More information on the Toyota recall can be found at www.toyota.com/recall/.

The San Francisco law firm of Hersh & Hersh specializes in cases involving defective devices of all types. Please contact our office for a free consultation with one of our experienced trial lawyers who will discuss your situation with you.