Toyota Recall: New Questions About What the Motor Company Knew and When

Congressman says Toyota telling different stories in public and private.

February 02, 2010, 12:51 PM

Feb. 3, 2010 — -- Toyota's massive recalls of its floor mats and gas pedals may turn into a lot of finger pointing, with new questions about what the motor company knew about the safety problems and when.

While Toyota USA president Jim Lentz told ABC News he was confident that "there are no electronic problems" with Toyota vehicles and that the problem had been completely fixed with the recalls, Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) said that in private, Toyota executives told his staff they still don't know what caused all of the runaway cars.

"I want to know what caused the problem, and I don't just want a statement because their statements seem to be at variance from what they've said publicly and what they've said privately," Waxman, the chairman of the House Commerce Committee, said.

While Toyota voiced its confidence that a solution has been found, the ABC News Tip Line continues to hear from Toyota drivers voicing their discontent over how the recalls are being handled and just what is causing the sudden acceleration problem.

Unhappy Toyota drivers are joined by one of America's most renown computer geniuses, Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple. In an exclusive interview with ABC News, he said his Toyota Prius has regularly been taking off on him when he taps his cruise control – with his foot off the gas pedal and floor mats not an issue.

"I think it's more likely software in my case that causes it, and I can't cause it every time and every trip, but I am sure it will happen again," Wozniak said.

Getting through to Toyota to has been a challenge Wozniak said, which he thinks is important even though he says he can correct the problem with his brakes.

"I thought my case has some meaning," Wozniak said. "I would think they would want to hear from me, but it's tough to get through."

Toyota Addresses Wozniack's Case

Toyota spokesman John Hanson said he didn't want to "discount any complaint or problem" when asked about Wozniak's case, but said "there a couple of things here that sound like normal operating procedures."

Hanson said there are a number of scenarios in which a driver can use the cruise control to instruct a Toyota to accelerate fairly quickly and that, in those situations, the brake acts as a default to shut off acceleration.

In one scenario, the driver keeps the cruise control stalk depressed and the car continues to accelerate. "It will not stop until you let go of the stalk," said Hanson.

In another scenario, clicking the stalk will raise the speed in increments. The brake will stop acceleration in both scenarios.

"There are programs within the system that you are telling it to accelerate at a high rate of speed," said Hanson. "I have a feeling it may well be that the vehicle is doing what it is supposed to do."

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