Loose all-weather floor mat jams accelerator pedal. Photo: NHTSA
Toyota announced today that it would recall 3.8 million of its vehicles to replace the accelerator pedals, to alleviate once and for all any chance of uncontrolled acceleration from the pedal being trapped by ill-fitting floor mats.
While it develops new pedal designs, Toyota will have its dealers shorten the pedals on affected vehicles, starting in January.
The replacement pedals will start to reach dealers in April, and will ultimately be fitted to all vehicles, even those whose pedals have already been shortened.
Toyota also plans to install an override system on several models--including the Toyota Avalon and Camry, and the Lexus ES350, IS250, and IS350--that will stop the vehicle if both accelerator and brake pedals are depressed at the same time.
That system will be fitted as standard equipment on all Toyota and Lexus vehicles; the first cars to receive it, starting in January, will be the 2010 Toyota Camry and 2010 Lexus ES350.
In late September, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued an "urgent" warning to owners of several different Toyota and Lexus models, strongly advising them to remove any floor mats on the driver's side to prevent the accelerator pedal from sticking.
Two weeks before that Toyota had ordered its dealers to inspect cars for mismatched floor mats after a fatal late August crash, in which a California Highway Patrol officer and three other occupants of a runaway 2009 Lexus ES died when it crashed, rolled over, and burned.
One passenger had called 911 to report a stuck accelerator pedal and non-functioning brakes. The cause was suspected to be an oversize accessory floor mat fitted by the dealership.
The vehicles affected are: