FourSixOh

Regular Member
  • Content Count

    25
  • Joined

  • Last visited

Community Reputation

1 Neutral

About FourSixOh

  • Rank
    Club Member

Profile Information

  • Lexus Model
    2007 LS460L

Recent Profile Visitors

2,698 profile views
  1. This is a major issue. I found the article below and forwarded it to all my friends and family. Please spread it around: Safety of cars' keyless entry and ignition systems questioned The technology is popular but quirky and there is no universal standard. Its problems are potentially serious. By Ralph Vartabedian and Ken Bensinger January 24, 2010 The sleek Infiniti G37 Cindy Marsh bought last August was the car of her dreams, equipped with the latest keyless electronics technology that allows her to start the engine with the touch of a button. But right away, the system gave her trouble. To get the engine started, she would sometimes have to tap the power button repeatedly. Sometimes it wouldn't start unless she opened and closed the car doors, Marsh recalled. She eventually adapted to the system's quirks but said that even now she isn't sure how to shut off the engine in an emergency. "I don't know if I ever read it in the owners manual or not," said Marsh, who lives in Columbus, Ohio. Old-school car keys appear headed for extinction, as automakers rush to install wireless systems that allow drivers to unlock their doors and start their engines with an electronic fob that they never have to take out of their purse or pocket. Introduced less than a decade ago on luxury models, the push-button systems are rapidly spreading to all segments of the market, including bargain-priced Kias. The number of models with them as standard or optional equipment has quadrupled in the last five years. Many drivers don't fully understand how the systems work, however, leaving them vulnerable to potentially serious safety problems. In complaints to federal regulators, motorists have reported that they were unable to shut down engines during highway emergencies, including sudden acceleration events. In other cases, parked vehicles accidentally rolled away and engines were left running for hours without their owners realizing it. And although traditional keys all work the same way and are universally understood by consumers, automakers have adopted different procedures for using the keyless ignition systems. As a result, owners may not know how to operate their own cars in an emergency, let alone a rented or borrowed car. "Where you have a second to make an emergency maneuver, you shouldn't have to search around for the right procedure to use on a switch," said Henry Jasny, general counsel at Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, a nonprofit group based in Washington, D.C., that pushes for laws to make roads safer. Standards weighed The risk is considered serious enough that federal regulators and an auto industry trade group are looking at adopting standard procedures. All of the systems rely on a similar architecture that uses a fob: a small transmitter that communicates with the vehicle's computer. The fob can automatically open door locks when the owner approaches the vehicle, and then the engine can be started with just the push of a power button on the dashboard. But to shut down the engine while the vehicle is moving, drivers must hold down the power button for one to three full seconds, depending on the make. In some cases, two or three successive taps on the button will work. Mercedes-Benz allows drivers to kill the engine with a single push of the power button, but only if the transmission is in neutral. At least one manufacturer prevents emergency engine shutdowns if the vehicle is moving at less than 5 mph. Industry officials say that the devices have become wildly popular with buyers and that glitches will be eliminated through the normal course of technological improvements, making new regulations unnecessary. "We really haven't seen too much confusion with these systems," said Dave Proefke, a vehicle security engineer at General Motors Co. "As they become more widely adopted, I think we'll find that they converge in how they operate," he said. Besides offering convenience for motorists, Proefke said, the technology gives auto designers greater styling freedom because there's no longer the need for a key cylinder in the steering column. It also benefits older people who have difficulty removing keys from their pockets or turning a key in a lock. And "it has that cool factor," said Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing at www.edmunds.com, an Internet automobile research site. Auto safety experts say the industry needs to do a better job explaining the functions of advanced technology to motorists and needs to adopt common operating procedures. Automakers are offering the systems on 155 models this year, compared with 41 in the 2006 model year, according to Edmunds.com. Ford Motor is planning to make keyless ignition an option in its entry-level 2011 Fiesta, due out later this year. Freeway panic But some owners say that confusing software rules have put them in peril. Wally Brithinee was in his 2007 Toyota Avalon last August when it began to speed out of control on Interstate 5 near San Diego. Thinking quickly, Brithinee, president of an electric motor repair business in Colton, pressed the sedan's power button, but nothing happened. "This car isn't stopping," he told a passenger as he felt panic swelling in his chest. "I really didn't know what to do at that point." Five terrifying miles later, Brithinee managed to halt the runaway Avalon by braking hard and shifting to a lower gear. He walked away unharmed. All that could have been avoided, he later learned, had he depressed the button for a full three seconds, the emergency shut-off procedure used in Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles. A keyless ignition system may also have played a role in the Aug. 29 crash that took the life of California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor and three members of his family when a Lexus ES 350 lent to Saylor by a car dealer accelerated out of control to speeds of more than 120 mph before hitting an embankment in suburban San Diego County. Some safety experts believe that a warning label should be included on the dashboard, telling motorists how to shut off the engine. But industry analysts say manufacturers typically resist installing such labels. What's more, automakers maintain that shutting off the engine may not be the best option in an emergency, because doing so will cause the driver to lose power steering and possibly braking ability. Toyota has blamed the San Diego accident on a floor mat that trapped the accelerator pedal. But a September memorandum by investigators for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also identified the Lexus' push-button ignition as one of the "significant factors" in the crash and noted that "there was no ignition key" that could shut down the engine or warning label on the power button to explain how to shut off the engine. In the aftermath of the Saylor tragedy, Toyota issued a recall covering 4.3 million of its vehicles and said it would modify gas pedals, change floor padding and install new software. Toyota spokesman John Hanson said the company is also discussing internally whether to change the function of its power button. And Thursday, Toyota launched another recall targeting 2.3 million vehicles, including many of the models subject to the floor-mat recall, saying their gas pedals could stick. Paul Green, a human factors expert at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, said he sees the issue with keyless technology as part of a growing problem of high-tech features being introduced faster than the industry is able to agree on common operating procedures. "The amount of research we are doing is not adequate," Green said. Motorists are confused even when they pay top dollar for advanced features. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found in a recent survey that a majority of owners of Infinitis equipped with automatic lane departure warning systems did not know that a button on the steering wheel turned the system on and off. "They had no idea that they had a button on the steering wheel that could activate the system," said Russ Rader, a spokesman for the institute. The highway safety administration said in a statement that it has begun to look into possible standards for the keyless systems. And the Society of Automotive Engineers formed a committee in July to examine keyless technology and "study a possible standard on how long the ignition button should be depressed to shut off the engine." But new federal safety rules or industry standards typically can take years to adopt. The scrutiny is coming eight years after the first system was introduced by Mercedes-Benz. Abetting thefts Beyond safety problems, the push-button technology has some idiosyncrasies that have left motorists stranded but also provided loopholes for car thieves. In early General Motors vehicles with push-button start systems, owners would sometimes shut down the engines with the transmission still in gear. That would not electronically lock the ignition system, and thieves soon found they could simply get in the vehicle, push the start button and drive away, said Forrest Folck, a forensic mechanic in San Diego who investigated the issue for an insurance company. "Cars were being stolen all over the United States," he said. Larry Stewart, a former Times sportswriter, discovered an opposite problem with the technology in his 2007 Toyota Camry. After he parked at a Granada Hills restaurant last summer, the car would not start. The tow truck driver who came to Stewart's rescue wasn't surprised, telling Stewart he had been there several times recently for the same reason. The driver blamed the problem on stray radio signals, possibly from a powerful police or fire station transmitter nearby. He towed the car 100 yards, and it started immediately. "It's really unnerving that such a thing could happen," said Stewart, who lives in Arcadia. Even GM engineers found themselves in the same situation when they parked test vehicles at a Detroit-area shopping mall and found that the keyless ignition system was disabled, according to Proefke, the GM expert. "It was a dead zone," he said. Proefke said the problem was traced to interference from a nearby nightclub's lighting system, which was broadcasting unlicensed high-power radio signals. ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– No single standard applies: Automakers have adopted different procedures for turning off engines in an emergency for cars with keyless ignitions. GENERAL MOTORS Corvette, Cadillac XLR: Push power button once. Cadillac SRX, Buick LaCrosse: Push and hold button for two seconds or tap button twice. FORD (includes Ford Taurus and Lincoln CCC) Push and hold power button for one second. TOYOTA (includes Toyota Avalon and most Lexus models) Push and hold power button for three seconds. CHRYSLER (includes Dodge Challenger and Chrysler 300) Push and hold button for three seconds when speed is greater than 5 mph. HONDA (includes Acura RL and TL) Push and hold button for three seconds or tap button three times. HYUNDAI (includes Genesis and Veracruz) Push and hold power button for three seconds or tap button three times. NISSAN (includes Nissan Altima and Infiniti G37) Push and hold button for two seconds or tap button three times. BMW (includes X6 and 7-series) Push and hold power button for two seconds or tap button three times. MERCEDES-BENZ (most models) Shift car into neutral and press button once. Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times
  2. This is a frustrating aspects of the car's design. Each TPMS sensor matches a position in the dashboard display. Once you rotate the tires, any logical sequence is disturbed. Here's what I do, this doesn't correlate the readout to each one of your 4 primary tires, but it does take the spare out of the equation. First, the tire pressures specified by Lexus are far too high. I've seen this on M-B and BMW products as well; when you compare the U.S. and Euro tire pressures, the U.S. specs are much higher. This is because of the Ford Explorer/Firestone debacle. They assume we're morons -- as with the GPS system and choosing POIs while in motion -- and figure we can't be trusted to maintain proper tire pressures. Now, you can't run the tires at a significantly lower pressure without tripping the system. So, I keep the spare at a still reasonable pressure -- 34 psi -- and run the other tires at the minimum pressure I can get away with (usually 36 or 37, depending on the season). In this way I can quickly identify a pressure variation in one of the tires on the ground.
  3. Once you've had the tires/wheels rotated the order disappears. I recently had a low tire and thought the Service Manager could tell me which tire was down based on the display. He told me they don't recode or reassign the positions after rotation, so there's no way to tell which number on the display corresponds to which tire. On a car at this price point that seems silly...
  4. I bought one of the first cars in the US; it was delivered early by Lexus to show at a charity event, and the dealer delivered it to me a week before the official release. Not saying that for bragging rights, just establishing where my car falls in the "timeline", since (I hope) Lexus may have dealt with this problem. The first thing I do with every car I own is to take it to a shop where they do very superb paint protection film installs. I carefully drove the car the thirty miles to the shop, where the owner pointed out to me three or four small chips that were just from the drive down. I know that because I gave the car my usual "over the top" (read: anal-retentive) examination of every square inch, to make sure there was nothing the dealer needed to fix. So, I've owned BMW, Mercedes, and the predecessor to our LS460L was a VW Phaeton. The Phaeton has the best paint I've ever seen on a car; no orange peel, gorgeous clear coat, superb visual "depth", and tough as nails. Over two years I had very few chips, and when they occurred you could see the depth of the total color coats. The Lexus, by comparison, appears to have very thin paint that is, by my read, insanely fragile. Which is a complete shame, because the only other paint I've seen that is as smooth was a Mercedes S-Class -- but this was after I found a guy (who worked at Junior's House of Kolor) who did the most amazing color-sanding I've ever seen. When he was done the standard M-B orange-peel was gone, and the paint was spectacular. The robots at Lexus do almost as good a job, but what's the point if the paint durability and longevity is so poor? My $.02
  5. IMHO, these problems are not caused by Lexus or the Nav system, but by companies like NAVTEQ who provide the mapping database. Computers are only as good as the programmers and the quality of data...
  6. Two words: Mercedes-Benz. Are you listening, Lexus? We've owned mostly BMWs and Benzes in the past, with a rogue Phaeton thrown in for good measure. AFAIK, none of the German cars impose this punitive approach. As much as my wife likes her LS460L, I will NEVER buy another car that locks out the technology I'm paying for. Both the Phaeton (my wife's car just before the LS460L) and my current (3 weeks old) Mercedes ML63 allow the driver or passenger to use the functions of the telematics (phone, nav, audio, etc.) without restriction. The voice control does NOT make up for this limitation of the Lexus. If Lexus is marketing the LS460L as technologically superior, then I want to see BMW and Mercedes commercials that specifically mention how Lexus treats their customers like 5 year-olds... One more word: Garmin. They must sell a LOT more GPS units than Lexus sells cars, and ALL of them have the option to defeat the "safety in motion" feature. Toyota's castration of the LS460Ls capacities is absolutely asinine, insulting, and infuriating...
  7. Our LS460L is nearing the 3,000 mile point. Our overall average is 18.1 mpg on a mix that is only about 15% highway driving and mostly shorter trips. We are thrilled with that average, not only because it will consistently go at least 400 miles per tank, but also because it's significantly better than our previous car. What's funny (in a way) is that our Honda Element (my work junker) is a car that you could park in Berkeley and get smiles. Park the Lexus there and you get frowns, as though you are personally responsible for the rape and destruction of the planet. In reality, once you get to 25% or more highway use the Lexus actually gets better mileage than the Element, which sticks right at 20mpg in the same usage pattern as our LS. Not to mention that fact that the LS ought to last about twice as long than the Element before heading off to that great recycling plant in the sky...
  8. Glad it helps; my wife needs bifocals to read, and there was no way she could easily see the commands using the mini-manual that accompanies the Nav system...
  9. Here's a list of voice commands I put together in PDF format. This is a lot easier to refererence than the manual... VC6.pdf
  10. I find the LS460L to be very comfortable; it has more headroom than the VW Phaeton but slightly less legroom -- the Phaeton has pretty exceptional legroom, BTW...
  11. Thanks for the positive words, but I knew what I was getting into with the Phaeton. I bought it the day after Christmas in 2004, and paid around $50,000 for it. I knew the resale value could not be high, given the huge discounts dealers were offering on the cars. At that point I think VWoA was giving each dealer a $10K incentive to reduce year-end inventory levels...
  12. First post updated (scroll towards the bottom); sorry for the length...
  13. BUMP! I've added a LOT to my first post on this thread. Additional info from having owned the car a few more days. It's painfully long, but I hope this information is helpful...
  14. Yes, I realize the law; however, in twenty years of CA driving I've only gotten one "fix-it" ticket for no front plate. I prefer the look of a car without the front plate. All manufacturers need to design front plate mounts that can be clipped into place without drilling the front bumper. Most BMWs are designed in this fashion; you clip on the plate holder if required in your state or pop it off if it's not required. No bumper holes, no damage. Given how Lexus nails most of the other details on the car, this is a surprising omission...
  15. Thanks for the nice comments... Interior shots wil be forthcoming; however, I have high standards for photos (even though the exterior shots were from my little camera) and it's harder to get good interior photos. Plus, this car has taken up a LOT of my time over the past week... I think this car has handled the wedge trend in a far better manner than the 7-series; though I like the looks of the BMW it took a redesign to tone down the Bangle-Butt. They should mate the new rear with the old front end, IMHO...