Sunday, August 15, 2010

Buggy Toyota Software. Don't they have hills in Japan?

After years of experience with "American" cars, for reasons of reliability and hidden rust (Did they design places for the rust to hide on purpose?), and not wanting to buy from a company that stopped honoring its warranties, my wife and I went for a used low mileage Toyota Van.

After the years of hype about Toyota Reliability I keep running into software bugs.  The annoying kind I could fix if they supplied source code with their vans.

I'm not talking about their well know sudden acceleration issues, but more every day issues, that are clearly caused by software.

First of all if you put the windows down on the sliding doors, then the doors will not latch into an open position.  The manual says that this is a safety feature.  How is having to race a door to keep it from smashing your hand anytime you unload groceries or load up on spring water at the local spring (Neither being on a level surface) a safety feature?

To make maters worse, the amount that windows must be down before the doors do not latch, is different between the two sides of the van, and the grade that the van is parked upon impacts the latch point as well, so the only real choice is to always remember to put up the windows on beastly hot August days.

Then we have the headlights.  There is a very rigorous sequence of events that must be followed to get the headlights to turn themselves off automatically.  Deviate from that sequence in any way, and you end up with a dead battery.  No chime, or anything else, that your lights are on when you open the door (there is a chime, as it goes off for reasons yet unknown while driving down the road at times, usually related to something about the passenger air bag).

I simply do not comprehend why simple software issues like this even have to exist in our vehicles.

Slash Dot has a story on the New Jaguar XJ Suffers Blue Screen of Death as well.

Am I the only person left that wants my vehicle to be a tool to transport me and mine from point A to point B, and not be an Infotainment Center?

Not to leave sudden acceleration issues completely out of a Toyota related post, I noticed this in the 2008 Owner's Manual:

Installation of a mobile two-way radio system

As the installation of a mobile two-way radio system in your vehicle could affect electronic systems such as multiport fuel injection system/sequential multiport fuel injection system, electronic throttle control system, cruse control system, dynamic laser cruise control system, anti-lock brake system, traction control system, vehicle stability control system, SRS airbag system and seat belt pretensioner system, be sure to check with your Toyota dealer for precautionary measures or special instructions regarding installation.

So what do I do about the guy driving next to me with the two-way system, her cell phone in the passing car, the cell phone tower I drive by, or the transmitter from the traffic control system at the intersection?

If Toyota can not get simple things like headlights and door correct, what should we think about their ability to handle complex real time code?

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