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The Runaway Prius – What Gives?

This post was written by jd on March 17, 2010
Posted Under: Bits & Pieces

Let’s go over the bad press that Jim Sikes is getting and then I’m going to take his side in case he was telling the truth. (Some doubt there huh?)

Here’s some comments by >John Voelcker Car Expert:

“But in one sentence: There seems to be a growing possibility that Jim Sikes, the bankrupt, heavily indebted real-estate salesman who claims his 2008 Toyota Prius accelerated uncontrollably for more than 30 minutes on a San Diego freeway, is not telling the truth.

Overseen not only by Toyota field representatives but a Congressional staffer, NHTSA investigators were unable to replicate the behaviors Sikes describes in his car. Pressing hard on the brakes did in fact bring the car to a stop, over multiple tests.

Indeed, Sikes’ 2008 Toyota Prius has a “smart accelerator” function built into its throttle software: If both the brakes and accelerator are floored, it cuts power to the engine, making it impossible for the accelerator to overpower the brakes.”

So OK, if you put on the brakes and the accelerator quits working, how did Sikes burn his brakes out? The claim is that you can gently put on the brakes and then continue to accelerate. So you can gently put your brakes on and burn them out in a short period of time?

Here’s some more from John Voelcker

“The website The Truth About Cars rented a 2008 Toyota Prius to test the braking behavior. Its report is worth reading in full.

It concludes that Sikes could have applied the brakes at “moderate” pressure while continuing to accelerate, which would produce the smoking brakes and the worn-down brake pads that were observed by the investigators.”

OK, to defend Sikes a little more, I had a brand new 1999 Chevy Silverado. While in Sacramento, the engine fuel mixture started acting up and making the engine run rough. I took it into the Chevy dealer, he checked the on board computer and said the fuel mixture was OK. But then he came back after checking for fuel problems on 1999 Chevy trucks and stated that there was an upgrade for the on board computer that would fix the problem.

Now, I wish that was the end of the problems with that truck, but it wasn’t. I would drive the truck and try to come to a stop and the brakes wouldn’t work from time to time. Now that’s a thrill! To make a long story short, the Chevy dealer drove my truck several times, finally kept it for five days and could never recreate the problem.

I had to go to arbitration to get GMC to take my truck back. The reason I won in arbitration is that there were numerous cases just like mine on the web. The brakes wouldn’t work and the on board computer did not catch the problem. It didn’t catch the fuel problem and it didn’t catch the brake problem.

As I said before, I ran my 2005 Prius up to 50 mph on Brunswick Road and put it in neutral with no problem.  So my question to you and that everyone else is asking, why didn’t he put the car in neutral? The 911 dispatcher told him over and over to put the car in neutral and he completely ignored her. But let’s take that a little further. The driver of the runaway Lexus, who was a highway patrolman, did not put his Lexus into neutral. Of course you heard that he had a fatal crash that killed him, his wife and his daughter. So what happens, does a person panic when the car suddenly gets away from you? I don’t know.

So, who’s telling the truth, Mr. Sikes or the experts who say Mr. Sikes isn’t telling the truth? By the way, you can see they are really digging for dirt on this guy.

What do you think?

John J. O’Dell
Real Estate Broker

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