Court events from January 14, 2015 Toyota Lawsuit
Two wonderful things to post about. 1) The design defect in some ’96 Camry throttle body units (accelerator control system) was proven in court today. The accelerator control system (ACS) on the 1996 Camry has two pulleys in it that control the accelerator cable (which is attached to the gas pedal). Well in Koua Fong Lee’s ’96 Camry (and some other ’96 Camrys) those two pulleys are made of plastic. The side of the upper plastic pulley butts up against a metal bracket and that metal bracket sits just inches from the engine. When that throttle body and metal plate heat up, the upper plastic pulley can bind up and won’t release the accelerator cable. It gets stuck to the metal bracket (at times).
When Koua’s lawyer asked the expert (John Stilson) what he used to heat up the throttle body, John said he used a hair dryer. Many in the courtroom were surprised. Koua’s lawyer asked Mr. Stilson why he used a hair dryer and Mr. Stilson said, “because that’s what is listed in the 1996 Toyota Camry Service Manual to test for malfunction due to heat”. It took Mr. Stilson only 30 mins to heat the throttle body to 165 deg F and he conducted five tests (four shown on video in court) to record how that heat affected the upper plastic pulley and caused it bind up and stick to the metal bracket. It took between 5 and 7 minutes for the upper pulley to cool down and release the accelerator cable.
John Stilson designed a different accelerator system completely eliminating the need for a throttle body, to show how easy it is to design the accelerator/throttle system which won’t cause the accelerator cable to stick.
The other wonderful testimony today was by Andrew Irwin who specializes in reconstruction of accidents. Since the accident in June, 2006, Toyota and other experts have claimed that Koua’s brakes were in good working condition. But today Koua’s lawyer asked Andrew if he did any tests to check the brake vacuum assist system in Koua’s car. With no vacuum pressure in brakes, you have what’s called “hard brakes”. When the inspectors checked Koua’s vacuum assist system, they noted there was no vacuum pressure in the system. Mr. Irwin said one of the inspectors/experts pumped in 25 inches of vacuum pressure into Koua’s brake vacuum assist system and it filled the system. After stepping on the brake pedal one time, they lost 40% of the vacuum pressure. After releasing the brake and stepping on the brake one more time, they lost all vacuum pressure in Koua’s brakes. This explains why Koua had lost his brakes after stepping on them twice when he swerved between the first two cars he came upon on the exit ramp – that’s when he lost all vacuum pressure in his brakes. By the time he came upon the Oldsmobile stopped at the red light ahead, there was no vacuum pressure left in his brake system. Keep in mind he had only 550 feet (5.1 seconds) to react when he realized his brakes were not working properly.
Never once since Koua’s accident in 2006 has Toyota been able to prove that Koua did NOT step on the brakes. Put aside trying to prove that he DID step on the brakes. They can not prove that he didn’t. If they could prove that, they would have by now. There’s no way Koua’s brake vacuum assist system would have been depleted of vacuum pressure if he had not stepped on his brakes.