Torrance, California – Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. has addressed what it said are false claims regarding a 2002 technical service bulletin (TSB) published by the automaker and reported by CNN’s special investigations unit.
On the CNN segment, lawyers involved in litigation against Toyota and others alleged that the 2002 TSB proves that Toyota knew of problems in its vehicles’ electronic systems that could cause unintended acceleration, and that the company and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conspired to keep the information from the public. Toyota said that both claims are patently false.
The bulletin and software release were issued to remedy a driveability issue at speeds of between 38 and 42 mph (61 and 67 km/h) at light throttle. The condition was strictly related to a function internal to the transmission torque converter under certain throttle conditions. It manifested as a slight rocking motion, or “surge,” while holding steady throttle at the specific speed window.
Toyota said that the issue was in no way related to any kind of sustained acceleration, and the term “surge” has been used across the industry for many years to describe a condition where there is a very slight slowdown and speed up perception, typically two miles per hour or less, while holding steady throttle at low to moderate speeds. The powertrain software update was designed to eliminate driveability concerns, including surge, and that the 2002 software release issued with the TSB was not issued to resolve any computer software concerns or problems with the electronic throttle control system, and was not related to unintended acceleration.
Toyota also stated that from the published date, the TSB in question was publicly available through Toyota at its technical website, as well as through a number of independent and government portals. Federal law requires that TSBs from every vehicle manufacturer be made available to independent service providers and the public.