Toyota Recall: Older, Higher-Mileage Vehicles More At Risk

February 2, 2010
2005 Toyota Avalon XLS

2005 Toyota Avalon XLS

Toyota's recent recall for an issue that might lead to a sticky accelerator pedal covers about 2.3 million vehicles going all the way back to 2005. But is the owner of a 2005 Toyota Avalon with 150,000 miles more likely to experience this as, say, the owner of 2010 Toyota Corolla fresh out of the showroom?

The short answer is yes. Today, Toyota did clarify for that this is an issue that becomes worse (and more likely) with time as well as wear, so the issue would be more likely in older or higher-mileage vehicles. And in a release the company says: "Due to the materials used, wear and environmental conditions, these surfaces may, over time, begin to stick and release instead of operating smoothly.  In some cases, friction could increase to a point that the pedal is slow to return to the idle position or, in rare cases, the pedal sticks, leaving the throttle partially open."

Yesterday, in a conference call with reporters, Toyota Motor Sales president and COO Jim Lentz, along with Toyota's VP of product quality, service and support, Bob Waltz, explained that excess moisture in closely spaced components within the accelerator linkage (those used to provide the resistance "feel") creates a binding affect due to surface tension—much like you'd experience between two wet glasses—causing the accelerator to fail to return to idle.

Toyota officials said that because the issue didn't involve any actual mechanical failure it has been difficult to diagnose and replicate, as it would only recur under very specific humidity and temperature conditions.

Lentz also clarified yesterday that in most cases the throttle has remained open at about 15 percent—not the full-throttle situation that people with the unrelated pedal-entrapment issue have experiences—so it's been easier to stop the vehicle.

Toyota retrofit fix for sticky-throttle recall

Toyota retrofit fix for sticky-throttle recall

Beginning late this week, Toyota dealerships will begin installing a retrofit shim—termed a "precision-cut steel reinforcement bar" by the company—to bring a smoother accelerator feel and eliminate the chance of sticking. Already-owned vehicles will have priority over those on dealer lots, the company says.

Meanwhile, Toyota is resuming production of affected models next week with a new accelerator-linkage design.

Here's the list of models affected by the sticking accelerator pedal recall:
2005-2010 Avalon
2007-2010 Camry (some, and not Hybrid models)
2007-2010 Tundra
2010 Highlander (except Hybrid models)
2009-2010 Corolla
2009-2010 Matrix
2009-2010 RAV4
2008-2010 Sequoia
2009-2010 Pontiac Vibe

For a timeline on the recent Toyota and Lexus recall, along with what to do if you have a stuck accelerator, visit our index-- Toyota And Lexus Recall: Everything You Need To Know.

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