Thursday, October 2, 2014

Note to Bob and Kathy Ruginis

A glitch.

Bob and Kathy,

Maybe you know me, a blogger and whistleblower about Toyota SUA. 

I am very glad about the investigation you have triggered.
However, reading the news report, I am a little concerned that you have left your Corolla on the lot of your Toyota dealer. 
Maybe nothing has happened to it, but I would be very cautious about letting them have free access to your car while you wait for NHTSA to do something. It is possible, for example, that they could reflash an update to the ECU software to eliminate the coding errors that existed previously.

If you have to store it, I respectfully suggest a locked auto wreck evidence storage facility and a trickle charger to make sure the battery does not run down and allow the erasure of data. I'd also suggest that you get an attorney and have him or her write a letter to Toyota and to the dealer and NHTSA demanding preservation of evidence. If along the way, they replace parts, keep the old parts--you own them. Please excuse me if I am being too forward with these suggestions, as it may well be others have already helped you in this way.

Also, as you may well have heard, NHTSA does not have any engineers capable of finding out what went wrong, and perhaps no one in the world can ever really find out exactly because the evidence would have been in a software glitch that came and went. You must know this.

If they do not deploy the correct human resources to the task, in other words, some world-class embedded software expert or failure analyst at the level of Michael Barr or Dr. Koopman or the NASA investigators, they may not find anything wrong, and then all Toyota owners everywhere will be further burdened with defective cars for which the official US government position is that there is no defect. Please don't allow that to happen! I think that the most likely path for you to actually force them to REALLY LOOK for a defect is to demand that NASA be allowed to review the system design and the source code for your actual vehicle, and to actually test for the SUA defects that they will find in the source code. Also, the work and findings of many experts may be applicable and, unlike last time, should also be very carefully considered by NASA if such a study goes ahead.

Your case is the most important SUA petition in several years, especially now that Toyota has legal obligations under the terms of its agreement with the Department of Justice.  A lot of consumers are counting on you to make the governnment find the truth and tell it. Please don't let them down.

I might further suggest that Senators Markey and McCaskill, and your own members of Congress, should be contacted energetically and asked to pay close attention to NHTSA's investigation of your petition, and if possible, to pressure NHTSA to go beyond its usual level, to learn how to reliably investigate electronics-related defects.

This is a lot of work, I know, but take it from someone who has been working on this since 2010 for no pay, sometimes months of full-time work--it is worth it, even if you save one person's life.

Thanks for reading this far!

Good luck and God bless you both.

Betsy Benjaminson
Sderot, Israel