Woman claims Toyota Highlander accelerated out of control

"I felt the car sort of revving loudly. I applied the brake to try to slow it down, it didn't respond," says Zahra Emani.

Emani says her heart was racing faster than the car's engine. She was driving down Main Street in Los Altos when her Toyota wouldn't stop.

She tried the brake pedal and the hand brake and then remembered what she had heard on the news -- put the car in neutral. It finally stopped.

"I'm just grateful that I knew what to do because otherwise I would have definitely crashed the car," said Emani.

Her husband, Joe Toharsky, successfully drove the car home, but when he started it up again, the engine sounded out of control.

"It's just stuck with the throttle, nearly wide open. So if you turn on the car, it is just racing like crazy," said Toharsky.

That's what gets Sean Kane's attention.

"To have it replicate quickly after, signifies that there's clearly something and the vehicle should be examined closely," said Kane

Kane is a safety consultant, from Safety Research and Strategies Inc., who is very familiar with Toyota's recalls and problems with sudden acceleration. ABC7 spoke to him via Skype.

"One of our major concerns is that many of the vehicles that are having unintended acceleration are still completely outside of any recall whatsoever, including the 2002 highlander," said Kane.

The sales manager at Emani's local Toyota dealer has his doubts the 2002 Highlander has the same problems as the recalled Toyotas, pointing out it hasn't had any problems until now and hasn't been serviced since 2008. The general manager says there won't be an official comment until they inspect the car.

"I want people to know that this could potentially happen to them. It doesn't matter how long you've had the car, if it's been recalled or not," says Emani.

Her car now sits at a Toyota dealership, waiting for inspection.


There was a follow up to this story finding out that Toyota technicians say a tool, commonly used during oil changes, had been left behind and it was interfering with the throttle operation.

Someone from a repair shop not associated with Toyota left the tool.

Read that full story here: Toyota finds surprising reason for woman's problem

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