Welcome! We regret to inform you that the Injury Board National News Desk has been discontinued. Feel free to browse around and enjoy our previously published articles, or visit The Injury Blog Network for the latest in personal injury news.

Toyota Denies Recall May Go Beyond Floor Mats

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, November 02, 2009 6:22 PM EST
Category: On The Road
Tags: Toyota, Recalls, Floor Mats, Power Start-Stop Button, Acceleration, Prius, Lexus

NHTSA report on the crash of Mark Saylor shows a multitude of problem with his borrowed Lexus led to the crash.

Lexus ES 350 Had Many Problems

LEARN MORE

IMAGE SOURCE: NHTSA report showing floor mat made for the Lexus RX 400h stuck under pedal of Saylor fatal crash/ Courtesy USA Today Auto Blog

In September, Toyota announced it was planning its largest recall ever of nearly four million vehicles over the issue of loose floor mats that may be interfering with the accelerator pedal in several models.

But an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is raising more questions as to whether the floor mats are the only culprit to unintended acceleration in Toyota and Lexus models.

The questions are raised in a NHTSA report on the deadly accident that happened in a San Diego suburb last August 28, killing an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer and three members of his family.

It was that crash that led to the massive Toyota floor mat recall.

The Saylor Crash

So far the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has received reports of 100 incidents, 17 crashes and five fatalities that it believes are linked to the floor mats and accelerator pedals.

The Saylor crash is among them.

Officially, there is no conclusion as to what caused the August 28th crash of the Lexus ES 350 that killed off-duty California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor, his wife, their daughter and brother-in-law.

All four died when the 2009 Lexus in which they were riding, a loan car from the dealer, plummeted over an embankment in suburban San Diego at more than 100 mph before it burst into flames.

The family was able to contact a 9-1-1- operator to say they couldn’t stop the ES 350. The brother-in-law, Chris Lastrella said the Lexus had no brakes.

* The NHTSA report finds that the brakes in that accident were heavily damaged, seeming to confirm the report from Lastrella.

* The report also revealed that the gas pedal’s lower edge was "bonded" to the rubber floor mat that also reveals floor mat damage in the area surrounding the accelerator.

* In addition, the brakes showed that full force had been applied, the rotors were discolored and heated and had substantial deposits of brake pad material, consistent with endured braking, according to the NHTSA report.

* The recent report says, "Beyond the main pivot, the lever is not hinged and has no means for relieving forces caused by interferences," quoted the LA Times, citing investigators. Toyota is considering adjusting the pedals or their design as part of the current recall.

* And the government report found the start-stop button that takes three seconds to turn off the engine in an emergency, was one of the “significant factors” that led to the crash. There are no instructions that appear on the dashboard, and no way to kill power in an emergency.

The USA Today DriveOn Automotive Blog asks “Is the power start-stop button the most dangerous new feature in cars?”

Los Angeles Times Analysis

The Los Angeles Times has analyzed the report and reports a defect in the design of the car’s gas pedal that could increase the risk of it being obstructed by a floor mat.

The Times review also finds that the Lexus ES braking system may lose power-assist when the throttle is opened, increasing braking distance fivefold.

The Saylor vehicle did have rubber all-weather floor mats for a different model, the Lexus RX400h, which were not secured properly with retaining clips, reports the Times.

The dealer, Bob Baker Lexus in El Cajon did not speak to the Times.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is also investigating the crash and has yet to issue a final report.

Toyota Responds

Bob Carter, Toyota’s U.S. brand chief told the annual Reuters Summit that speculation about a troubled fuel delivery system, braking, or runaway accelerator system is inaccurate.

"There's no evidence to support any of that," Carter said, adding that the automaker was working closely with the U.S. government to address the planned recall of up to 3.8 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles reports Reuters.

Since then, Toyota has warned consumers to remove the driver-side floor mats from eight Toyota models as a safety precaution, including the Prius.

Consumer Reports say drivers who find themselves accelerating and not able to brake, should move the gear selector to neutral, to allow power-assist to remain for braking and steering for safety.

In 2007, Toyota recalled more than 50,000 cars because of floor mats. NHTSA found that grooves in the floor mat could trap the accelerator in the Lexus ES350, if the retaining hooks were not used to secure it.

Affected by this consumer alert are:

  • 2007-2010 Camry
  • 2005-2010 Avalon
  • 2004-2009 Prius
  • 2005-2010 Tacoma
  • 2007-2010 Tundra
  • 2007-2010 ES 350
  • 2006-2010 IS 250 and IS350 #

7 Comments

Anonymous User
Posted by yellowfish
Monday, November 02, 2009 11:04 PM EST

I never had such problems with my toyota.
my toyota is 7+ years old and I hope that it will last 7 more... LOL.. just love it.

Anonymous User
Posted by John D. Tabb
Tuesday, November 03, 2009 10:06 AM EST

Properly secured mats are no problem. However when not secured they can ride forward and ride over the accerator pedal while at the same time riding up under the brake pedal. When the brake pedal is depressed the accelerator pedal is also depressed. This effect is worse with arctic mats.
The problem is simply driver ignorance.
All that in needed is a warning somewhere visible stating it is necessary to properly install mats.

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, November 03, 2009 11:34 AM EST

The start-stop button seems to be a real problem though in an emergency. What's wrong with an old fashioned key? Not broke - don't fix it!

Anonymous User
Posted by FormerToyotaDriver
Tuesday, November 03, 2009 10:57 PM EST

Being in Canada I guess the laws are different enough that the police are not required to investigate if no serious injuries result from an accident.

I personally have experience a lost of braking ability on my flipped and crushed Toyota. I thank God in my case, no one was injured including myself, and we avoid a multi-car pile up on top of the accident in front for which i was breaking for.. I had sufficient time to take the car and myself off the road before it flipped and rolled, and all I suffered was several weeks of anxiety and bruising and burns from the seat belt and being tossed around. My insurance company closed my case and the dealer refused to look at the brakes. So cause is "unknown" and marked as driver error, and I'll never be compensated for this and my insurance rates have gone up.

However, my floor mats were dealer installed, I don't think my ignorance has anything to do with it, you trust a dealer to install things to factor instructions. In any event I will NEVER buy another Toyota again nor Lexus, after 18 years of being a "loyal" customer.

In my case it failed on the highway; let's paint the average scenario, you have 5 seconds to react at 60 mph; cars to the right, left, front and behind you. Now react, your first second if you're fast is to think what the heck is going on, you've probably lost 2 seconds just hitting the brakes and realizing it doesn't work again, then last 2 second if there's time, is to get off the road and try to minimize injuries around you, neutral is not enough in this case and safe following distance is not enough time if you are not braking fast enough.

Anonymous User
Posted by Bruce Powell
Wednesday, November 04, 2009 3:17 PM EST

I feel these runaway Toyota's are caused by there VSC system. The VSC system will take control of the vehicle's Steering, throttle and brakes.This system has caused me embarrassment as well potentially put me and my passengers in danger.I parked on a snow covered parking spot it was a slight downhill grade. When attempt to back the car up, It would not allow me to do so. The VSC took control and I could not accelerate the engine, so that the tires could cut though the snow to get a grip. My passengers had to get out of the car and push it back to a place where the tires could get a grip, that was the embarrassing part, but what if this was a potential accident situation? I could not have moved the car and its passenger to safety. I strongly suspect the VSC system to be the cause of these accidents.

Anonymous User
Posted by Bruce Powell
Wednesday, November 04, 2009 3:17 PM EST

I feel these runaway Toyota's are caused by there VSC system. The VSC system will take control of the vehicle's Steering, throttle and brakes.This system has caused me embarrassment as well potentially put me and my passengers in danger.I parked on a snow covered parking spot it was a slight downhill grade. When attempt to back the car up, It would not allow me to do so. The VSC took control and I could not accelerate the engine, so that the tires could cut though the snow to get a grip. My passengers had to get out of the car and push it back to a place where the tires could get a grip, that was the embarrassing part, but what if this was a potential accident situation? I could not have moved the car and its passenger to safety. I strongly suspect the VSC system to be the cause of these accidents.

Anonymous User
Posted by Joe Average
Wednesday, November 25, 2009 1:42 PM EST

NEUTRAL people!!! Put it in neutral. All your problems are solved. Go practice. PLEASE.

I'll bet 100% of the accidents have been with automatic transmission'ed cars. With a manual transmission all the driver has to do is press the clutch to disconnect the engine from the transmission and it becomes impossible for the vehicle to accelerate. The engine may be damaged by revving uncontrollably but you are still alive. Turn the key off.

Comments for this article are closed.

About the National News Desk

Our mission is to seek the complete truth and provide a full and fair account of the events and issues that surround personal safety, accident prevention, and injury recovery.  We are committed to serving the public with honesty and integrity in these efforts.

Hurt in an accident? Contact an Injury Board member

Subscribe to Blog Updates

Enter your email address if you would like to receive email notifications when comments are made on this post.

Email address

Subscribe

RSS Feed

Add the National News Desk to your favorite RSS reader

Add to Google Reader Add to myYahoo Add to myMSN Add to Bloglines Add to Newsgator Add to Netvibes Add to Pageflakes