Toyota Not the Only Automaker Linked to Unintended Acceleration

While Toyota may be catching all the flak as its massive recall comes under harsh media and government scrutiny, it is far from being the only automaker linked to unintended acceleration, according to an investigation by National Public Radio.

NPR analyzed 15,000 complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the past decade, covering cars back to the 1990 model year. It found that other automakers had high rates of complaints related to unintended acceleration, including Honda and Volkswagen.

By comparing the complaints with an automaker’s market share, one can see where anomalies pop up. For instance, beginning in 2002 Toyota had 10% of the U.S. auto market but accounted for 19% of acceleration complaints.

Volkswagens manufactured in 2008 showed a similar high rate of complaints, even though VW has had a brake override system in its cars since the 2002 model year. Honda saw a spike in the rate of complaints for the 2001-2003 model years, but these dropped in 2004 and have since remained low.

Toyota’s problems have unfolded very publically and dramatically, but Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, points out that neither regulators nor manufacturers do the kind of analysis that NPR undertook —comparing complaint levels with sales figures to render an idea of how big the issue might be for a particular automaker.

Unintended Acceleration Not Limited to Toyotas (NPR)



And so it begins...


Interesting that VW-Audi complaints on a per 1000 car basis actually exceeds Toyota.

Derrick G

Your story is interesting, but doesn't call out that the accompanying chart is for 2009 model year only. One MY only data may skew results. Also, just because an auto maker had a complaint, doesn't mean it was a long duration, uncontrollable event like so many claim for Toyota. So people may have complained about a VW taking off on its own even though they were easily able to contain it with the brake pedal. Also, NPR's story makes it clear that some of the complaints against other makers have led to recalls and/or design changes.

Derrick G,
I think 2009 is a good model year because its likely the most recent one with a full year of sales recorded, unlike 2010s still in relatively full swing. It is just a sample but a good illustration nonetheless.

Derrick G

Also, I've now reviewed the online database for MY 2009 for VAG and only found 7 complaints total under Vehicle Speed Control, which is where most of Toyota's problems end up. They must have read every complaint and made an executive decision on what to include even if it involved some other componenet such as transmissions.


Another good reason to buy a manual transmission.


i seriously doubt the unintended acceleration issues that were experienced by VW/Audi owners were caused by problems with the vehicles. all VW/Audi vehicles have smart throttle systems, and so the brake will always override the accelerator.


JM you have no proof and are speculating. I'll take the word of 34 complaints vs someone who 'seriously doubt' but has zero evidence.

Derrick G

Well JM, like I said, it could be there was a surge, but the override took care of it. Still could be scary. Another note: according to a story on FOX News, Toyota's override system only works at speeds over 25 MPH. So still could be scary events happening, especially in slippery conditions. Anyone have any idea if there's a speed cut-off on anyone else's override systems?


You can also note that over 50% of SUA complaints on Toyota have been filed after the floor mat recall in October 2009. Ever heard of piling on?

Troy S.

Why is Toyota the only one being "witch-hunted"?


I did just want to confirm one thing from JM, after working at a European car dealership, Audi and VW's do have smart tech that when the brakes are in constant use the cars do disengage the throttle. Now then though, no system is perfect so obvious some may experience issues with it not working. No system is perfect.


VW/Audi is a King of UA?


This result show Kia and Hyundai have lowest rate of Unintended Acceleration problem.


this data is interesting.

More car companies producing their products in US, the more UA problem.(Toyota is a good example)

Kia has lowest rate of UA problem. but, Kia have not 'made in usa' model in year 2009. in 2009, all kia products built in korea.


"Why is Toyota the only one being "witch-hunted"?"

Because the government has 55 billion dollars invested in saving Government Motors and Toyota is standing in their way.

Also alot more union folks know how to use computers nowadays :)

Derrick G

OK, Consumer Reports noted something I wondered about all along. These are reports of ALL accleration related issue. VAG has a high number of complaints about cars NOT taking off when they should. So not every report in the NPR results is a runaway car. Some of them are cars that AREN'T going when they should.

Dr. Paul Louis

Are Government Emissions Standards to Blame? - The throttle software by all manufactures is designed (in part) to maximize performance on Government emissions and MPG testing routines. As such, most throttle-by-wire systems idle too fast to burn cleaner for emissions testing (i.e., if in drive, many vehicles will move forward if the brakes are not being applied). Additionally, most throttle-by-wire systems will not decelerate immediately if the gas pedal is released (i.e., a vehicle maintains forward speed for a period of time until the brakes are applied several times). From what engineers at several manufacturers have communicated, such "programmed" throttle behaviors are for emissions/MPG testing reasons (i.e., they report superior test results while ironically consuming more fuel). However, these throttle behaviors are confusing and counter-intuitive to most drivers and are likely a major contributor to the unintended acceleration issue...


If Toyota's high number is due to market share, ask yourself how GM, who also has the Vibe built by Toyota, has so little? Maybe they ought to look at what the top vehicles on this list have in common and try to find a solution. In the end, not only will they have tarnished themselves, but they'll have dragged everyone down with them. Seriously, demonstrating how other vehicles can have SUA like they are going to do today???? Put your resources into fixing the problem The American Association of Automobile Manufacturers ought to kick their a**'s out for throwing everyone else under the bus.


I have a 2002 Honda Civic and recently experienced unintended acceleration. Both the dealership and my insurance's investigator looked into it and found nothing and said my car is completely fine. It seems the onus is on me to prove the UA actually happened. Any advise?

I admire Toyota for doing the massive recall despite knowing what it will do to their image, popularity and sales. With the volume of production of cars, we cannot expect everyone of them to be perfect.


My mom drives a 2009 Honda Fit. Every evening we switch places in our carport/driveway. When she pulled out to let me in first, I heard a "racing" engine noise and watched as her car whipped into the driveway at high speed... she veered to the right to avoid hitting me and ran into the house next door. She said the car just took off even after taking her foot off pedal. She went to the emergency room with multiple lacerations requiring stitches. The car was lodged in the side of the neighbor's house. The tow truck driver said when he started the engine it "zoomed... revved up alot"... AAA declared it "totaled". I found 14 other complaints of "unintended acceleration" with the Honda Fit. There were 29,555 miles on the car. The accident happened on 6/23/13.

Post a Comment 

Please remember a few rules before posting comments:

  • If you don't want people to see your email address, simply type in the URL of your favorite website or leave the field empty.
  • Do not mention specific car dealers by name. Feel free to mention your city, state and brand.
  • Try to be civil to your fellow blog readers. This blog is not a fan or enthusiast forum, it is meant to help people during the car-buying process and during the time between purchases, so shoppers can keep a pulse on the market.
  • Stay on topic. We want to hear your opinions and thoughts, but please only comment about the specified topic in the blog post.
view posting rules

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In

Search Results

KickingTires Search Results for

Search Kicking Tires

KickingTires iPhone App