Toyota was mostly cleared of wrongdoing in the unintended acceleration case thanks to a verdict from NHTSA. An Iowa senator however, recently asked for the investigation to be reopened, but NHTSA is standing by the verdict.
Senator, Charles E. Grassley of Iowa claimed that he had received testimony from whistleblowers and documentation showing that a phenomenon known as “tin whiskers” could have caused Toyotas to accelerate without input from the driver. Tin whiskers occur when tin is used as an exposed metal in soldering. The tin can spur into random crystals that cause short-circuits.
“We do not believe that tin whiskers are a plausible explanation for these incidents,” the agency said in a response to the letter sent by Grassley. NHTSA conducted its own independent study into the tin whiskers phenomenon, and found that it may cause a ‘jumpy’ throttle, but it did not cause the unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles.
NHTSA also spent 10 months investigating the plague of accidents that peaked in the summer of 2009. NASA scientists and engineers led the probe and found the cause to be attributed mostly to driver error and accelerator pedals designed in such a way that they can become wedged under improperly installed floor-mats.
[Source: Automotive News]