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"Fixed" Toyota Vehicles Still Taking off

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New York, NYThose who were suspicious of Toyota's announced fix of "sticky" gas pedals now have more reason for concern. CNNMoney.com reported yesterday that the recalled cars duly repaired by Toyota are still experiencing sudden and rapid acceleration.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says it has received 10 reports from drivers alleging rapid acceleration in Toyota vehicles that have already been repaired.

In previous weeks, as Toyota was announcing that sudden and rapid acceleration was a result of sticking gas pedals or improperly-fitting floor mats, or a combination of both, scientists and engineers have been suggesting that rapid acceleration is not the fault of the pedal, but rather of the electronics. The problem, they say, lies with electromagnetic interference with the vehicle's throttle-by-wire electronics.

The traditional method of throttle control uses a mechanical cable that connects between the pedal and carburetor or fuel injection system. In modern cars, sensors in the pedal send signals via electronic wire to the engine, aided by computer software.

Previously, Toyota publicly denied that electronics might be at fault. Privately the automaker admitted to government officials that it wasn't completely sure what the problem was. During congressional hearings last week, Toyota admitted publicly for the first time that the announced fix for accelerator pedals might not completely resolve the problem in all vehicles—and that they were still looking into the electronics issue.

So far, Toyota has repaired about one million recalled vehicles for sticking gas pedals.

"NHTSA has already started contacting consumers about these complaints to get to the bottom of the problem and to make sure Toyota is doing everything possible to make its vehicles safe," said David Strickland, NHTSA's administrator, in a prepared statement. "If Toyota owners are still experiencing sudden acceleration incidents after taking their cars to the dealership, we want to know about it."

Representative Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) is "deeply concerned" about the possibility that repaired Toyota vehicles may still be prone to sudden acceleration. "If these reports prove to be true, it is completely unacceptable that America's families are once again being put at risk," the congressman said.

Since 2000 NHTSA has identified 43 fatal incidents that allegedly involved sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles. While the complaints have not yet been confirmed, the NHTSA reports the incidents led to 52 fatalities and 38 injuries.

If more recalled cars succumb to sudden acceleration even after the announced sticky pedal repair, the value and effectiveness of the "fix" will surely be questioned further.

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