Steve Wozniak Update on His Prius Problems

Steve Wozniak has commented in Gizmodo about his problems with his beloved Toyota Prius, its faulty acceleration software, and his problems reporting this to both Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. He's frustrated, and completely right.


Here's the latest news I just got.

Once again, thanks for your time. We called Toyota with your issue, and so far the spokesperson's comment is that they haven't heard anything to do with cruise control in Priuses. The story is still in edits, and if and when it runs, I will email you a copy at this address.

This response is what I've been coming up against for 2 months, and it doesn't indicate that I'll even be contacted about my problem. I sure am thankful now for the good attention I get at the normal Genius bars!

Then he added this about how frustrating the whole process is:

I have expensive cars but prefer to drive my Segway and Prius's for many reasons. I have had many models of Prius and enough family members and staff to keep them all in use.

I have a very busy schedule and I'm usually free at midnight to deal with things like this. The NHTSA online reporting form doesn't fit my case. It asks things like the date of an accident. On the phone they refer me to a second number. At that number they need my VIN and mileage before they'll listen. The person on the phone sounds like a typical very low paid clerk who can ask specific questions to type things into a database, and have no interest in the urgency and connection of my problem to the crashes/deaths/recalls/halted sales. In fact, they make it clear that they are just taking data and not doing anything themselves to remedy a safety issue. That's the government.

Toyota is difficult too, but after some phone calls I managed to express some of my situation. Unfortunately my iPhone dropped the calls twice and I never got a reference number but they may have some sort of ticket open.

It's been 2 months trying to have all the data and freedom, trying to get to someone high enough up to give this some attention. You can't easily find phone numbers to companies online. I'd give anything to have had the phone number of Toyota's legal department. They'll see that I stated my discovery in writing 2 months ago but a local dealer couldn't understand the significance of it and sort of thought my wife was nuts. I was out of town, as usual, at that time. It's not easy to be heard on something like this. But today I addressed an education group (Sausalito Discovery Museum) and somehow a brief form of this story came out and I believe that someone there contacted CNET.

Tonight I heard from Bloomberg news in Asia that they are following up on it with a story and that they will contact Toyota directly about it. I wouldn't be surprised to get a call from Toyota tomorrow, but I'll be on the road in that car all day.

No, my problem is not deadly. It's not a sticky accelerator pedal, for sure. It's sticky acceleration that is scary the first time but has a good work-around.

What I find amazing is that someone—being Steve Wozniak or John Doe—is having these problems, and nobody in the company is doing anything about it, pronto. It may not be deadly, as the Woz puts it, but two months to get a response from a car company on an issue that affects the safety of their cars is inexcusable.



All this is why, seriously, I will never own a drive-by-wire vehicle. Ever. Any vehicle I'll own will have a throttle cable directly connected to a throttle body or *GASP* carburetor, a brake pedal connected to a master cylinder, and a steering wheel connected to a steering column connected to a steering box.

Seriously people, when you add 3 ton moving destruction device + computers + Indian developers.. what could ever go wrong?

This is the same reason I'll never, ever, EVER fly on an Airbus. Ever.