Toyota has announced a recall of 3.8 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles due to problems with the driver’s side floor mats, which can cause the accelerator to stick and result in a loss of vehicle control.
The Lexus and Toyota floor mat recall was announced September 29, following a fatal accident that occurred last month in California, where an off-duty state trooper and three family members were killed while driving a Lexus ES 350 on loan from a San Diego dealership. Investigators suspect the gas pedal was caught by the floor mat, resulting in the car crash.
Toyota announced the recall after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a warning to drivers. Toyota is telling owners to immediately remove the driver’s side floor mats until a permanent fix can be found. It is the sixth-largest auto recall in U.S. history and the largest Toyota recall ever.
The floor mat problems may be caused by the thickness and design of the driver’s side floor mats. When the accelerator, or gas pedal, is pushed down far enough, the edge of the pedal can become caught on the edge of the mat. Drivers have reported accelerating to speeds of more than 100 m.p.h., even while stomping on the brake.
Minutes before the fatal car crash in California, passengers called police and reported that the Lexus had accelerated to 120 m.p.h. Witnesses reported that the car’s tires were on fire, which was likely due to the driver slamming on the brakes before slamming into an SUV, falling off an embankment, rolling over multiple times and bursting into flames.
The NHTSA indicates that at least 102 reports have been received involving drivers of vehicles affected by the Toyota floor mat recall who claim that the gas pedal got stuck under the mat. Toyota says that since 2004 it has received reports of 30 accidents and 20 injuries that may have been caused by the floor mat problem.
The Toyota and Lexus recall includes the following models:
- 2004-2009 Toyota Prius
- 2005-2010 Toyota Avalon
- 2005-2010 Toyota Tacoma
- 2007-2010 Toyota Camry
- 2007-2010 Toyota Tundra
- 2006-2010 Lexus IS 250 and IS 350
- 2007-2010 Lexus ES 350
This is the second time that Toyota has issued a recall for defective floor mats that may interfere with the accelerator. In 2007, the company recalled 55,000 Toyota Camry and Lexus ES 350 models for the same problem. However, the NHTSA says that complaints continued following the recall.
Owners of recalled vehicles should begin to receive notices within the next week. In the interim, Toyota issued the following advice to drivers who suspect their vehicle is accelerating out of control:
- Press down on the brake with both feet until the vehicle slows
- Turn the ignition to accessory power
- Put the transmission into neutral
- Vehicles with engine start/stop buttons can be turned off by holding the button down for three seconds.