Toyota-Lexus recall 3.8 million cars for evil floor mats
The U.S. NHTSA safety agency has alerted Lexus and Toyota owners about conditions that could cause the accelerator to get stuck in the pressed position under certain conditions. The agency “strongly recommends” taking out removable floor mats on the driver’s side in certain models and not to replace them with any other mat, either from Toyota or any other brand. After numerous reported “unintended acceleration” incidents, Toyota is now conducting a major recall on 3.8 million affected cars, but only in the United States.
Even after Toyota issued a U.S. recall in September 2007 for a similar problem with all-weather floor mats in the 2007-2008 Lexus ES350 and Toyota Camry, the NHTSA notes that there continue to be reports of accelerator pedal clearance issues which provide the potential for an accelerator pedal to get stuck in the fully-pressed position. A stuck accelerator may result in very high vehicle speeds and a crash, which could cause serious injury or death. The NHTSA said it has received reports of 100 related incidents that include 17 crashes and five deaths involving Toyota vehicles.
Until Toyota develops a remedy, the company is asking owners of specific Toyota and Lexus models to take out any removable driver’s floor mat and not replace it with any other floor mat. The following models are affected:
• 2007 – 2010 Toyota Camry
• 2005 – 2010 Toyota Avalon
• 2004 – 2009 Toyota Prius
• 2005 – 2010 Toyota Tacoma
• 2007 – 2010 Toyota Tundra
• 2007 – 2010 Lexus ES
• 2006 – 2010 Lexus IS
Should the vehicle continue to accelerate rapidly after releasing the accelerator pedal, this could be an indication of floor mat interference. If this occurs, Toyota recommends the driver take the following actions:
First, if it is possible and safe to do so, pull back the floor mat and dislodge it from the accelerator pedal; then pull over and stop the vehicle.
If the floor mat cannot be dislodged, then firmly and steadily step on the brake pedal with both feet. Do NOT pump the brake pedal repeatedly as this will increase the effort required to slow the vehicle.
Shift the transmission gear selector to the Neutral (N) position and use the brakes to make a controlled stop at the side of the road and turn off the engine.
If unable to put the vehicle in Neutral, turn the engine OFF, or to ACC. This will not cause loss of steering or braking control, but the power assist to these systems will be lost.
If the vehicle is equipped with an Engine Start/Stop button, firmly and steadily push the button for at least three seconds to turn off the engine. Do NOT tap the Engine Start/Stop button.
If the vehicle is equipped with a conventional key-ignition, turn the ignition key to the ACC position to turn off the engine. Do NOT remove the key from the ignition as this will lock the steering wheel.
In the event owners choose not to remove their floor mat, Toyota simply says to ensure that the original floor mat is being used anyway, that it is properly installed and secured, that it is not flipped over with bottom-side up, and that one floor mat is not stacked over another.
Incidentally, our PR guy suffered from an extended “unintended acceleration” incident when he was driving our 2007 Toyota Camry tester, and while I had brushed it off as a fluke, at the time I did notice the loose floor mats coming onto the throttle pedal. However, there is no recall in the UAE yet on GCC-spec Toyota and Lexus models, but a little care goes a long way in avoiding such incidents.