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Toyota Recall Of 3.8 Million Cars 'An Urgent Matter'

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, September 30, 2009 9:47 AM EST
Category: On The Road
Tags: Toyota, NHTSA, Lexus, Recall

Toyota and the federal government are issuing a recall of 3.8 million vehicles because of an urgent matter of floor mats that press the accelerator pedal.

Floor Mat Causes Acceleration


IMAGE SOURCE: NHTSA Web site/ image of floor mat pressing on accelerator

Last August 28th, a fiery crash in the San Diego area killed four people including California Highway Patrol officer, Mark Saylor and his family. Witnesses say they saw flames coming from the front and rear tires of the speeding car.

A passenger inside the Lexus ES 350 called 911 and told a dispatcher the car was going 120 mph and the accelerator was stuck. It crashed a short time later.

Now Toyota has issued a safety recall for owners of eight models under the Toyota and Lexus brands.

It is reported to be the largest recall in U.S. history.

The concern is that the driver side floor mat could cause the cars to accelerate by trapping the gas pedal under the mat. About 3.8 million cars are affected.

“This is an urgent matter,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement. “For everyone’s sake, we strongly urge owners of these vehicles to remove mats or other obstacles that could lead to unintended acceleration.”

In the Saylor accident, all-weather floor mats were found in the car.

In the Lexus ES 350 model, the mats were installed in the 2007 and 2008 models and were recalled by Toyota in November 2007 after complaints that the mats could slide forward and cover the accelerator.

In some cases, consumers were found to have put the all-weather mats on top of the carpet mats, when they were intended to be used in place of the carpet mats, says Toyota.

IB Partner, David Mittleman reported on the floor mat problem recently.

Owners should be able to get details on the recall on the Web site next week. Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warn drivers to remove the mat and not replace them.

What Consumers Should Do

If a vehicle accelerates rapidly after the foot has been taken off the pedal, it could indicate floor mat interference, the company says on its Web site. If this happens, the driver should, if they can, pull back the floor mat and dislodge it from the pedal, then stop the vehicle.

If that can’t be done, slowly step on the brake pedal with both feet without pumping the brake, says Toyota, and then shift into neutral. Because some of the models have keyless ignition, the process of shutting down the engine is complicated.

Auto models included in the recall are the: 2007-2010 model year Toyota Camry, 2005-2010 Toyota Avalon, 2004-2009 Toyota Prius, 2005-2010 Tacoma, 2007-2010 Toyota Tundra, 2007-2010 Lexus ES350 and 2006-2010 Lexus IS250 and IS350.

Toyota's previously largest recall was about 900,000 vehicles in 2005 to fix a steering issue, reports the Houston Chronicle.

Toyota has had a rash of bad news lately.

Corporate whistleblower and former attorney for Toyota, Dimitrios Biller, 46, says he was ordered to destroy electronic evidence in rollover and roof crush cases.

About 300 cases may be impacted and lawyers say they will re-file their cases based on the whistleblowers allegations. #


Anonymous User
Posted by Donato DeSandoli
Wednesday, September 30, 2009 1:32 PM EST

Why didn't someone turn the ignition off??????
It sounds like there was enough time to do so, in fact the 911 operator suggested it. It takes less time to turn off the ignition than to place a cell phone call. The comment of someone on TV of "most average drivers don't have the reactions of a fighter pilot" is ridiculous. If you can drive a car, drink a coffee, and talk on a cell phone all at the same time then you can react in time. It takes some time for a vehicle to accelerate to 120 mph as quoted in the news reports,( several seconds ), even in a powerful sports car. I agree Toyota should do something about this, but this isn't the only emergency or dangerous situation that can occur while driving.As an aside: the competence of the average driver in North America is poor at best, the licensing requirements are a joke, better training should be mandatory.

Posted by Jean Martin
Wednesday, September 30, 2009 3:00 PM EST

This recall is no joke. These "defective" floor mats are now blamed for at least 5 deaths and the NHTSA says it has received over 100 reports of incidents in which the accelerator stuck.
Most of the cars affected have push button starts, where you don't have to use a key. The button has to be held down for 3 seconds in order to turn off the car. If you are unfamiliar with that feature, as the CHP officer might certainly have been since he was driving a loaner, you wouldn't think about that in an emergency situation. Who knows what else mechanically might have been going on to prevent them from turning off the car.
And just FYI, the call placed to 911 by this frantic family came from a passenger in the back seat - not the driver. The driver was surely doing all that he could to save himself and his family, but unfortunately his efforts were not enough.
Hopefully Toyota can fix this problem immediately before other lives are put in danger.

Anonymous User
Posted by Donato
Wednesday, September 30, 2009 5:41 PM EST

How about putting the gear selector into neutral??

Anonymous User
Posted by Poster
Wednesday, September 30, 2009 11:08 PM EST

Tragic accident. You would think a CHP officer would be trained to deal with intense situations. I find it hard to believe he couldn't pull the floormat away. Notice all the cars on the recall list are the newer models, which have electronically controlled accelerators. I wouldn't be surprised if this was an electronics problem.

Anonymous User
Posted by eaton53
Wednesday, September 30, 2009 11:22 PM EST

There should be no need for to turn off the car, put it in neutral or any such measure. A properly designed gas pedal should never, ever allow any floor mat to hold it open. Any type of floor mat, any installation, it doesn't matter.

I own a Mazda Miata and can put my foot under the gas pedal with very plush aftermarket floor mats and not even touch the pedal.

This is a design flaw, simple as that. These vehicles should be recalled and Toyota compelled to replace the gas pedals with units that provide sufficient clearance.

Comments for this article are closed.

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