Snow Cover On Roof Provides Wind Protection?

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Jim Yanik wrote:

I only rented a car a few times but they always do a quick course on the "cabin controls" just like they always have done for me with a new car. I'm thinking the rental agency could be in hot water too. I'd bet the person going over the controls didn't even know it takes 3 seconds of holding that button when the car is in motion. Probably more like "you press it to start it, you press it again to turn it off".
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Well, I've rented hundreds of cars from Hertz, Avis, Enterprise and third tier companies as well. The vast majority of them in the USA, but some in Europe too. And I never gotten any quick course on the cabin controls or anything else. Some of the top rental companies now have programs like that started by Hertz Gold. The car is waiting for you with the keys in it. When you get off the airport bus, you walk over to it, get in, and show your identification at the gate on the way out.

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It doesn't matter that the dealership was at fault there. The primary cause of the deaths was driver stupidity. Had he responded properly, as I hope anyone possting in this forum would, noone would have died.
Harry K
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On Tue, 2 Mar 2010 20:51:13 -0800 (PST), Harry K

The primary cause was auto failure.
Who was negligent? The dealership.
It would have been great if the driver had found something that worked, but there is no evidence he was negligent, and nothing you've said even if true has suggested it.

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The only way I would absolve the driver of blame is for someone to prove that that car cannot be put into neutral in that condition. I don't know of _any_ car that can't be shifted to neutral under power.
Harry K
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It's amazing how you can rush to judgement. The driver wasn't some kid, a guy half drunk or a partly senile old man. It was a CA highway patrol officer trained in advanced driving techniques. He had THREE other people in the car that could also come up with ideas how to stop the car. Have you analyzed the car and know how it operates? Already we know a good reason why they would not have been able to shut off the Lexus. It takes a full 3 second push on the start button. How long do you think 3 secs is going to seem to you when you're in a car in traffic going 90mph and accelerating? Would you be so knowledgable and rational under those conditions? Or would you wind up dead and being called stupid?
As for the rest of the possible ways of stopping the car, without carefully reviewing the design of the car and the crashed car, it's premature to rush to judgement.
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On Mar 3, 5:12am, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

See my reply to MM.
Harry K
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wrote:

Absolutely. My previous car had a fast leak in the power steering, and I drove it maybe 10,000 miles with no fluid or power assist, and it was fine over 15 mph. Below that it took some effort, increasing as I got close to zero. I'm 5'8" and no more than average strength (although maybe driving without power steering was good for my upper body strenght. :) )

Yes. And some of them won't turn off either, some of the ones with no keyhole.
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You have to hold the button for something like three seconds. That sounds like a very long time if you are accelerating in traffic.
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Apply brakes, shift into neutral.
No more acceleration.
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Do you know for sure how the shift mechanism works on all these cars? The throttle is fly by wire, what makes you so sure there isn't something similar for the tranny that could block it from being moved into certain positions under certain conditions? That even seems desirable, does it not? Like preventing it from being moved into park while it's moving?
As for the 3 seconds to shut the engine off via the starting button on the Lexus, that is indeed the case. And it's worse than that it could take 3 seconds while roaring down the highway. Who would know that it takes 3 seconds and hold the button in for that long? Apparently it takes 3 secs while the car is moving, which is not the normal shut-down sequence you would experience everyday. In fact, you'd most likely only experience it when something was seriously wrong. And then it would seem more likely many people would continue to push the button again and again instead of just holding it in. To top it off, the Lexus was a rental, so the driver had no familiarity with it.
I'm quite amazed at how people want to just attribute this to driver stupidity. In the famous Lexus case the driver was an experienced CA highway patrol officer who had taken special driving training as part of his job. I'd be pretty amazed if he didn't try to put the car in neutral.
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On Mar 2, 11:43am, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

No, I don't know for sure, and I'm assuming you don't either. So I guess it's open for discussion.

Not in all instances.

While I *might* not want to be able to put a tranny in park while it's moving, I would most certainly want to be able to put it in neutral for the very reason this "snow on the roof" thread has continued for so long.
If my throttle got stuck, whether by a floor mat, an electronic fault, a driver having a heart attack or a car jacker with a death wish, I'd be really pissed if I couldn't pop it into neutral in an attempt to keep myself alive.

Just so ya know, I'm neither in that group nor not in that group. I place no blame because I don't know what happened because I wasn't there when it happened to any of them. All I know is what I think I would do if I found myself in that situation. Brake first, neutral next, shut it off I had to.
The only experience I *can* speak from is with my 1980 Mustang. A faulty control module would occasionally shut the car down. The first time it happened, I was traveling at 70 mph in the left lane of a highway and all the gauges dropped to zero. I said to myself "That's weird!" and calmly put the car into neutral, turned the key to restart it, put it back into drive and continued on down the highway. Granted, there was no need to panic since I wasn't accelerating, but my point is that it wasn't that tough to quickly figure out what to try. I'm pretty sure that some drivers would have freaked out and tried to coast to the side of highway, possibly causing an accident as they slowed down. I'd like to think that if my accelerator got stuck, I'd handle it a similarly calm fashion.

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Right
Yes, but you missed my whole point. You acknowledged that it's desirable to have some kind of interlock to keep the car from being shifted into at least Park while it's moving. OK, so I implement that system via an interlock system consisting of a solenoid driven by the computer. That's right, the same computer that is malfunctioning and has the throttle pegged. How do you know the computer isn't stuck in some erroneous program loop or state and isn't responding to ANY commands? Until someone has a definitive independent study of what happened in a lot of these cases, I'm not going to rush to judgement against the drivers.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote: ...

Automotives don't use simply a single computer -- hence there is no "the computer". There are a multitude of very small (and some not so small) microprocessors. The likelihood of there being multiple systems on the same processor is small.
AFAIK there's discussion of firmware but no definitive data (released anyway) regarding the role in the acceleration incidents. There (again, apparently) may be some firmware issues w/ braking systems it seems...
Again, I've yet to see any indication there was/is anything that would have prevented shifting to neutral or turning off the ignition as effective countermeasures.
--
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Nonsense. Sure there are multiple computers in a car. Common ones are for the engine control, ABS, climate control, etc. But nothing says that one computer cannot be responsible for many systems. Why would it seem unusual to have a case where the engine start/shutoff was in the same computer as that which determines the throttle position? It is part of the engine control, is it not? And if there was an electronic shift interlock, why would it be unusual for that same computer to control it? That computer is the one that knows if the car is running, what speed it's traveling at etc.
I don't know what exactly any of the computers in these cars controls or how the system is put together. Yet, you among others, are jumping to conclusions on what is possible or impossible without any facts.

Just because you haven't yet seen it doesn't make it impossible by design as you are now suggesting.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

I'm suggesting nothing other than what you're suggesting is no less hypothesizing than I (and is, in fact, more than I've suggested which is only that there's been no indication of any reason shifting to neutral or turning off ignition wouldn't have halted the runaways).
All I pointed out above was that there are multiple controllers; there's no indication of what is in which and it's quite possible the fly-by-wire (if that is, indeed, what it is; I've seen no absolute confirmation on that, either) portion that is apparently the problem isn't a single processor subsystem of the larger system. So, to assert that there's "the computer" that is at fault is again, purely speculation.
--
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I never asserted that a "computer" was at fault or any such thing. I only told those that say the driver should have just shut off the engine or that they should have just shifted it into neutral, etc, that if those functions are under the control of a computer, as opposed to simple mechanical linkages, it's possible that you would be unable to do so while the computer is malfunctioning and causing the full throttle, if indeed that is what is happening. You asserted that the likelihood of there being multiple systems on a single processor is small, without any basis. Do you know for example that the shutoff function of the engine is NOT controlled by the same computer as the throttle? It seems far more likely to me it would be as the throttle control is telling the engine what speed to run at, including a speed of zero rpm.
And even if it's not controlled by the same computer doesn't mean that one computer getting into some unexpected state cannnot have unintended consequences on other computers. The other computer could, for example, be stuck waiting for a response that is never coming from the first failed computer. Unless you know how this whole system is put together and works, I'm only saying it's premature to rush to judgement against all the drivers by saying they surely could have stopped the car by turning it off, shifting it, etc.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote: ...

You wrote "the computer" -- that implies one and was all I objected to.
...

And I'm only saying there's been nothing I've seen that indicates that one or the other was, in fact, actually disabled.
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On Wed, 3 Mar 2010 07:49:16 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

or 2 computers that control everything. Common practice seams to be a PCM (Powertrain control module) and a BCM (Body control module). The PCM handles engine and transmission and all related functions - often including cruise control, stability control, ABS, etc, while the BCM handles the AC, power windows, sometimes cruise control etc, and the instrument panel, among others.
SOME vehicles use only one computer to handle everything (including, apparently, the RADIO.

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On Mar 4, 12:23am, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

And your source for that would be? Everything I've seen over the years is that there are more and more microprocessors, ie computers in cars. And that only makes sense as cars become increasingly complex. Do you really believe the radio, CD player, GPS, etc are all controlled by one computer and that it makes sense to do that, when you can have a cheap local microcontroller that tends to functions right where they need to be handled, eg radio, gps, climate control.
Here's a news story that says you are wrong:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8510228.stm
They identify at least 8 computers in a typical car. A computer doesn't have to be a big module. It can be as simple as an 8 bit microcontroller that sells for $1 and is used to run something like a dashboard display or the radio. You can't even buy it or replace it as a seperate part any more than you could with the one in your dishwasher, microwave oven, etc.
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