Investigators Find No New Defects, Enlist NASA Help In Toyota Probe

Data from black boxes in 58 Toyotas involved in sudden acceleration cases shows no evidence of any other defects beyond sticky pedals and chunky floormats, according to a report U.S. regulators gave Congress today. But you already knew that.

But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration called the data "one small part" of the wider probe into runaway Toyotas. They also gave an exact breakdown of what they found in the 58 electronic data recorders, or EDRs:

Of the 58 cases studied, thirty-five recorders showed that no brake was applied. Fourteen cases involved partial braking: nine cases where brakes were applied late in the crash sequence; three involving early braking; and two involving mid-event braking. One incident involved a case of pedal entrapment. Another showed that both the brake and the gas pedal were depressed. In one case the recorder only contained information related to a separate incident and in another, NHTSA is still working to resolve inconclusive data from an EDR. In five cases, the EDR was not triggered at all.

This briefing to Congress also included a detailed discussion of how NHTSA has enlisted NASA engineers to tear apart Toyota's electronics, including work at Chrysler's headquarters in Auburn Hills and at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

What NHTSA didn't spell out was any deadline for final answers:

At this early point in its investigation, NHTSA officials have drawn no conclusions about additional causes of unintended acceleration in Toyotas beyond the two defects already known – pedal entrapment and sticking gas pedals.

For now, dealers will just have to keep their hacksaws at the ready.