Are Toyota’s gas pedal failures caused by a breakdown in the electronics system? And if so, are the much-publicized recalls tied to a lead-free problem?
That’s been the hot topic on the TechNet email forum for over a week now. The mainstream media, of course, has gotten hold of the issue too, and is running with it like a Camry with a stuck gas pedal.
Here’s a list of some articles to date:
- MSNBC is considering the likelihood of an issue with the electronics sensors.
- The Los Angeles Times notes that the electronic throttle system uses sensors, microprocessors and electric motors, rather than a traditional link such as a steel cable.
- AOL Autos and Autoblog look at a recalled pedal and discuss how possible sources of the problems.
Bob Landman, a reliability expert and a Life Senior Member of IEEE, has been vocal that the connection between lead-free solder and tin whiskers is both real and potentially deadly. He asserts “the increased use of electronics in automobiles when mixed with RoHS can make for a deadly cocktail. We don’t know what the causative agent [in regards to the Toyota recalls] was, but I have heard recently of brand new autos showing up at dealers that will not start. That cause has been linked to tin whiskers.”
We do not yet have enough information to determine whether tin whiskers or even lead-free solders are to blame. One would hope Toyota would come clean about the true cause, if indeed it can be determined, so that the industry at large can learn from their mistakes.
UPDATE: Toyota today stated the cause was not electronic in nature.