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BREAKING: Toyota Recall Affects 3.8M Prius, Lexus Cars

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Toyota Camry floormats and carpeting

Toyota Camry floormats and carpeting

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The Federal Department of Transportation has issued an "urgent" warning to owners of several Toyota and Lexus models, strongly advising them to remove the floor mats on the driver's side to prevent the accelerator pedal from sticking.

Issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the advisory notice urges that drivers not replace the mats with anything else. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called the recall “an urgent matter.”

Two weeks ago, the company ordered dealers to inspect all cars for mismatched floor mats after a fatal crash in late August, in which an occupant of a runaway 2009 Lexus ES called 911 to report a stuck accelerator pedal and non-functioning brakes.

Four occupants died when that car subsequently crashed, rolled over, and burned. The cause of that crash was suspected to be an accessory floor mats fitted at the dealership that were too large for the vehicle.

Toyota has reportedly agreed to recall up to 3.8 million vehicles to check for the problem; it will be the biggest recall in the company's history. The vehicles affected are:

  • 2007-2010 Toyota Camry (sedan)
  • 2005-2010 Toyota Avalon (sedan)
  • 2004-2009 Toyota Prius (hatchback)
  • 2005-2010 Toyota Tacoma (pickup truck)
  • 2007-2010 Toyota Tundra (pickup truck)
  • 2007-2010 Lexus ES350 (sedan)
  • 2006-2010 Lexus IS250 and IS350 (sedan)

[UPDATE: On Wednesday, September 30, Toyota spokesperson Wade Hoyt distributed the following notice: Despite widespread reporting to the contrary, this is not yet a recall, but a safety advisory to owners of affected models.  Our engineers are working with NHTSA on a potential fix beyond the retention hooks that are already in the vehicles.

A statement from the company added: Toyota considers this a critical matter and will soon launch a safety campaign on specific Toyota and Lexus vehicles. Throughout the process of developing the details of the action plan, it will advise the NHTSA. Until Toyota develops a remedy, it 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.]

Toyota has already conducted one recall for a similar problem, but limited to an accessory all-weather floor mat fitted to the 2007 and 2008 Lexus ES 350 and Toyota Camry. The new list of cars is far more comprehensive.

“For everyone’s sake," LaHood said, "we strongly urge owners of these vehicles to remove mats or other obstacles that could lead to unintended acceleration.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Hotline is (888) 327-4236. Toyota owners can reach the company's Experience Center at (800) 331-4331; Lexus owners can contact the Lexus Customer Assistance Center at (800) 255-3987.

We'll bring you more information as we get it.

[Associated Press, Detroit News]

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Comments (26)
  1. Is it just me or do people forget that they can turn off the key? I know cars have had steering locks for decades, but isn't there an ignition switch position that cuts power but isn't fully rotated to the lock position? Correct me if I'm wrong about this.
     
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  2. So much for thinking Toyotas are perfect. Their cars might have great engines but they cant cut a floor mat the right length?
     
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  3. Actually some of these cars don't HAVE keys, they have starter buttons. Don't know under conditions you can/can't turn off the engine.
    This actually sounds like maybe dealers are fitting any old kind of mats they feel like, and Toyota has to take the rap ? ? ?
     
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  4. Guess it's time to pull up the Prius mats. Though, no one ever fairly accused it of unintended (or any) acceleration.
     
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  5. Also, most modern cars cut power to some degree (many cut it totally) when the brake and accelerator are simultaneously depressed thanks to drive-by-wire technology. Sucks for left-foot braking, great for safety stuff like this.
    Makes you wonder, anyway.
     
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  6. There should be an automatic safety switch b/t the brake and the gas pedal. Sort of like when you use cruise control.
     
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  7. Shocking story. I wonder how a matt can be so problematic that it gets caught in the gas peddle...
     
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  8. Is this really a recall? Floor mats, really? The Pinto was a recall. The Exploder was a recall. This should fall under "Stern Warning to Oblivious Drivers".
     
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  9. THREE YEARS AGO I REMOVED THE DRIVER SIDE MAT BECAUSE IT WOULDN'T STAY IN PLACE. A COUPLE OF TIMES THE MAT GOT STUCK TO THE PEDAL AND ALMOST CAUSE A HEART ATTACK.
     
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  10. Drive-by-wire + keyless ignition + stuck accelerator = nightmare
     
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  11. Earlier I spoke about car mats,but I forgot to mention I own a 2003 corolla.
     
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  12. I can't believe Toyota cannot design a floor mat that doesn't sit properly in a footwell. What ever happened to all the hours of testing.
    This has got to be the biggest joke of the industry - sad that some people had to die for Toyota to realize the fault.
     
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  13. I can't believe Toyota cannot design a floor mat that doesn't sit properly in a footwell. What ever happened to all the hours of testing.
     
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  14. A stuck floor mat can cause an accident but I don't see how the lexus mats are different to any others. Anyone care to explain why these ones need to be recalled?
     
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  15. Did the federal govt really get Toyota to issue this huge recall because one Parts Dept at one Lexus dealership one time put the wrong floor mats in one ES350? This article said the floor mat installed was too big for that model. That turned out to be a terrible mistake considering the casualties, but it hardly constitutes a reason for this recall. Toyota/Lexus is one of the few manufacturers that actually puts holes in the mats and matching ones in the driver area floor through which a plastic piece is passed to latch the mats to the floor near the feet of the driver. If this had been done with the correct floor mats at that Lexus dealer, it would have been nearly impossible for the mat to interfere with any of the pedals. It's sad that I'm the first one to post who read the article well enough to notice that the crash was caused by oversized (and thus wrong-model) floor mats.
    If the government really wants to address the floor mat problem, they would check out floor mats on other makes that don't provide the carpet-to-floor latching system, and then warn all those vehicle owners out there who put aftermarket floor mats in their vehicles to refrain from doing so, since they rarely fit the driver floor area and are the greatest hazard when it comes to floor mats interfering with the ability to safely operate an automobile.
     
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  16. A new Lexus won't cut the ETB when the brakes are mashed and the throttle pedal is pressed? Come on. My stupid Audi won't allow left foot braking and cuts the ETB within one second of having the brake and gas pedal pressed at the same time. The story is devastating about the four occupants in the car, but something doesn't add up here.
     
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  17. Two words... emergency brake. Did any of those four people ever wonder why it's there?
     
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  18. Can I get my money back for the mats I HAD to purchase?
     
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  19. Scary how such an apparently negligible thing can risk life!
     
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  20. They should design something for an emergency brake. I heard the 911 call in the radio. It is so sad that 4 people lost their life like this.
     
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  21. This recall is over the tiniest possible component of a car, but it is getting the largest possible media coverage: http://www.newsy.com/videos/toyota_s_dented_reputation
     
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  22. In early July I also had an unintentional acceleration event occur while driving my 2002 Honda Accord, 6 cylinder car, on a major highway in NJ. As I entered the highway and accelerated, I felt the engine gun artificially and thought perhaps my cruise control was engaged, but it wasn't, and I haven't used the CC since I purchased the vehicle, I never use it. Immediately I realized I was traveling at 55MPH and could not slow the car down in spite of what I intuitively tried to do...ease off gas, hit the brakes (with both feet!), use the hand brake ( lots of smoke, no slowing of the car), put transmission into first gear (still 55 mph, just like nothing happened)...nothing worked. Now I realized that I was probably going to die. I saw a traffic light with many cars sitting in the road not far ahead. The last thing I wanted to do was to take someone else out with me! I maneuvered onto the shoulder, still barreling down the road at 55MPH and realized that if I put the car into park or reverse, the car would have to stop. I slammed the auto-transmission into park and pulled up again on the hand brake and the car finally stopped just short of the traffic at the light. All of this took place within 2 minutes.
    What I have learned since this event is the following: if you turn off the key, you lose your ability to steer. If you turn the key to accessory, you have limited steering potential, (steering was all I had left!. (The Lexus in CA had keyless ignition, from what I can gather) If you put the car into neutral, the motor may blow up and ignite into a fiery inferno (there are many documented cases of this happening)and the throttle opening and getting stuck has nothing to do with the car being in or out of cruise control. In my case, the cruise control cable clips failed (despite the fact the car was NOT in cruise control mode) and the cables relaxed and opened the throttle. In other cases, the microchip fails. When a service guy started my engine the following day at Honda, the RPMs raced immediately to 6500. The transmission was miraculously intact because the throttle box was wide open. Under normal conditions, if you threw the transmission into park while driving at 55MPH, you'd blow the transmission.
    Unintentional acceleration is a common dysfunction you rarely hear about because people die and their cars are generally wrecked or burned beyond the point of investigation. When I contacted Honda Corporate customer service all they had to say was that they were sorry for the "inconvenience". All I can say is that I hope it never happens to them, you, or someone you know. It was terrifying. The day after my incident, a woman driver in Pennsylvania apparently went through a similar situation, except she perished in a crash and injured other people. As a survivor, my intent is to alert as many people as possible about this malfunction and what to do to correct it, if it should happen. Please set the record straight...unintentional acceleration has little, if nothing, to do with cruise control status and turning the ignition off will leave the driver without the ability to steer the car (which in my case allowed me to get clear off the road and stop the car), while placing the engine in neutral may ignite the engine. Oh yes, and it also has absolutely NOTHING to do with car mats. Here is a link to the story from Pennsylvania.
    http://www.phillyburbs.com/news/local/the_intelligencer/the_intelligencer_news_details/article/27/2009/july/09/crash-site-called-horrific.html
     
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  23. If it is an issue it definitely needs to be replaced, safety first. It is amazing that something so simple could be so dangerous.
     
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  24. First and foremost, it’s tragically obvious there has not been nearly enough thought to all the necessary fail-safe and safety override modes designed into these “drive-by-wire” automotive systems. The Germans at least had the good sense to make their engines go to idle mode if their systems were presented with the conflicting inputs of throttle and brakes applied at the same time. (The Toyota system does not do this. Shame on Toyota — as well as the NHTSA who apparently “approved” of this!) As far as “keyless” ignition system designs go, an across-the-board “standard” is immediately needed. The dashboard “switch” should probably have at least three positions: “Off” (as in turn the engine ignition AND fuel pump systems both off right now); “Idle” (to bring engine power way down - but not fully off - to allow for the power steering and brakes to continue to function); and “On.” To have to “hold” the start-button in for ” three seconds” in an emergency is beyond any safety design rules I believe could ever be allowed for production and put into widespread use by the driving public……
     
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  25. The Toyota floor mat issue has certainly gained a great deal of prominence in the last month, especially after the release of the photos and 911 recording of the San Diego family that died when their Lexus went out of control in Southern California.
    Clearly, errors in engineering and design can occur; no company is perfect. However I would hope that manufacturers would be more transparent. The recent conflict between Toyota and NHTSA, as well as the suppression of roll-over evidence that you mention, suggest that consumers should be a bit more wary of Toyota than perhaps they have been in the past.
     
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  26. Toyota really lost so many things here. This is a moral to all car manufacturers to become perfectionist at everything that they do. Toyota should have included improved features, like including an upgraded neutral safety switch that can detect possible malfunctions and turn off the car engine, or maybe sensors for shutting down the engine. Also, they need improve the computer system of the car so that the signals will not mixed up and end tragically.
     
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