Toyota Floor Mat Safety Recall: My Prius Goes On Notice

November 18, 2009

You're well aware that Toyota is recalling the 2004-2009 Prius--among a list of vehicles--for an issue with floor mats. Here at High Gear Media, we have at least two vehicles affected by the recall, both 2004 Toyota Prius hatchbacks, both even the same shade of blue.

One of them's mine, and in the nearly six years we've owned our Prius, it's been relatively fault-free. Early on, we replaced the navigation screen under warranty. Two accidents cost about $3500 each, though they were parking-lot scrapes--the price of very light wheel spindles, suspension A-arms and lots front-end plastic.

Every car company has recalls, and Toyota is no stranger to them. This recall has some unfortunate related deaths, and it's also been an ongoing, growing recall for a few years. While Toyota says there's no evidence the floor mats are to blame, it's expanding the list of affected vehicles in the hopes of getting ahead of what could be an even worse calamity for families, as well as the company. And in the meantime, while it works on a solution, Toyota's released an interim solution involving zip-tie fasteners, making sure that mats would be held in the proper position.

In the meantime, the company's sent out letters to owners of the affected vehicles, which include:

2007-2010 Toyota Camry
2005-2010 Toyota Avalon
2004-2009 Toyota Prius
2005-2010 Toyota Tacoma
2007-2010 Toyota Tundra
2007-2010 Lexus ES 350
2006-2010 Lexus IS 250 and Lexus IS 350

The letter includes the hedge that "this defect does not exist in vehicles in which the driver side floor mat is compatible with the vehicle and properly secured," but it does offer advice to all owners of the vehicles in question. Namely, to remove all floor mats from the driver's side until the issue is resolve, and to learn how to shut down their vehicles in case of an accident. We're betting thousands of Prius and Lexus owners never knew that holding down the "Start/Stop" button was the equivalent of a reboot--but now, we do.

So if you're among the 3.8 million Toyota and Lexus owners affected by the recall, but you haven't received a letter, here's mine in text and PDF--with wishes for safe driving:

Toyota Floor Mat Recall, 11/2009


Certain 2004 through 2009 Model Year Prius
Potential Floor Mat Interference with Accelerator Pedal
Safety Recall Campaign (Interim Notice)

Dear Toyota Owner:

This notice is being sent to you in accordance with the requirements of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Toyota has decided that a defect which relates to motor vehicle safety exists in certain 2004 through certain 2009 model year Prius vehicles. The defect is the potential for an unsecured or incompatible driver's floor mat to interfere with the accelerator pedal and cause it to get stuck in the wide open position. Toyota has determined that this defect does not exist in vehicles in which the driver side floor mat is compatible with the vehicle and properly secured.

Toyota is currently developing a campaign remedy and will notify you when it is ready. In the meantime, we are providing important information regarding the issue and steps you may take in the interim.

What is the risk?
A stuck open accelerator pedal may result in very high vehicle speeds and make it difficult to stop the vehicle, which could cause a crash, serious injury or death.

What will Toyota do?
We will notify you again as soon as a campaign remedy is available for your vehicle.

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