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Toyota Floor Mat Recall Could Have Been Issued Earlier

  • Written by: AboutLawsuits
  • 7 Comments

Toyota knew about potential floor mat problems, which could cause the gas pedal in certain Toyota and Lexus automobiles to get stuck and result in a serious accident, more than two and a half years before issuing a recall last week for 3.8 million vehicles.

According to a report in the New York Times, officials at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began investigating potential problems with Toyota and Lexus floor mats as early as March 2007, after receiving complaints from Lexus ES 350 owners that their vehicles were suddenly accelerating out of control. Although a limited recall was issue for all-weather floor mats on certain Lexus ES 350 and Toyota Camry vehicles, millions of other vehicles could be impacted by defectively designed floor mats and gas pedals.

Following a fatal auto accident in August 2009, where an off-duty California state trooper and three family members were killed while driving a Lexus ES 350 on loan from a local dealership, NHTSA officials met with Toyota to discuss concerns about continuing complaints of uncontrollable acceleration in Toyota and Lexus vehicles.

Last week, a Toyota and Lexus recall was issued for more than 3.8 million vehicles that may experience problems with the floor mats jamming the accelerator, including 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, and 2007-2010 Lexus ES 350 models.

Toyota is now telling owners to immediately remove the driver’s side floor mats until a permanent fix can be found.

NHTSA officials said last week that they needed time to develop sound science and analyze the problem before they could issue a warning. Since 2007, NHTSA researchers have been testing Toyota and Lexus vehicles for the accelerator problem at a research facility in Ohio, ruling out electromagnetic and electronic interference. The floor mat problems seem to lie solely with the thickness of the anchored floor mats.

In addition to causing uncontrolled acceleration, when the gas pedal was jammed under the mat it reduced the effectiveness of the vacuum power assisted brakes, according to researchers. The reduced effectiveness of the brakes increased stopping distance from 200 feet to more than 1,000 feet, and increased the amount of force required to fully apply the brakes from 30 pounds to 150 pounds.

NHTSA regulators also noted that drivers of Lexus vehicles were not informed in earlier manuals that the car’s keyless start button ignition system could be shut off in an emergency by holding down the start button for three seconds. It also said that warnings in the manuals about proper use of the floor mats were in small print that could easily be missed.

In the aftermath of the massive recall, Toyota president Akio Toyoda held a press conference announcing that the company would experience its second straight annual loss, and saying that the company was in trouble unless it changed how it did business.

Toyoda, grandson of the company’s founder, Kiichiro Toyoda, said the company was “grasping for salvation” after the recent recession diminished demand for new cars, and was close to “capitulation to irrelevance or death” if it did not alter its approach to business, and regain consumer confidence.

“We have to listen to our customers and make better cars,” Toyoda said during the press conference.

In addition to the recall, the company faces serious allegations that officials withheld safety studies and other evidence in Toyota rollover lawsuits in recent years. The allegations come from a former Toyota attorney, Demitrios Biller, who is suing the company for forcing him out.

Biller’s claims that Toyota hid the results of crashworthiness tests and told engineers to lie on the stand, leading to the re-opening of several product liability lawsuits against Toyota. Last week, U.S. District Judge John T. Ward issued a temporary restraining order to prevent Toyota from destroying any evidence that may be related to the cases, even those records which would be destroyed normally under generally accepted company file retention policies.

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7 comments

  1. Anon Reply

    Someone needs to look into the 2008, Toyota Tundra’s 5.7L engine.
    This engine has a severe piston slap problem, that they say is normal.
    This is not normal, engine parts should be slamming together, this
    causes accelerated wear.

  2. Dennis Reply

    My lexus got stuck accelerating back in mid june. I ended up losing my job because my supervisor didnt believe me and i was put under investigation of termination. My lexus dealer knew exactly what happened and said it happened to a family earlier that week. They gave me my car back and that was it. They fixed all my braking equipment .. yippee!! I almost died and i get brushed aside.

  3. John Reply

    So, I call them about the floor mat issue. And, they say, they’re working on a plan due out in the next few weeks (no specifics, even being a month old), but I should remove them for now. OR, go to a dealership to have them properly installed.

    I don’t think I want to waste my mechanics time with floor mats, so I picked option a. The website says ‘call the telephone number’ and the ‘telephone number’ says see the website, but the telephone READS you the website, word for word so if have difficulty reading please take this company seriously.

    This recall is NOT being addressed quickly or with any thought.
    Killing people is serious business, be sure to warn the people you’re about to kill because it makes it ok. I hope people sue the crap out of them.

    The mats were not Toyota quality to begin with, still smell horrible, and the hook design leaves much to be desired. If winter comes around before they get this done, I’m going to have salt stains on my floor and that’ll just make me mad, probabally not enough to stop buying Toyota, but maybe enough to give a car dealer hell next time he tries to sell me Toyota floor mats.

    My 2 cents,

    -John Rochester, MI

  4. Michael Reply

    Iam thee Owner Of 2008, Toyota Tundra’s 5.7L engine since the day I bought this truck I have Nothing but Problems The dealer does not help me just Gives me a run around & Lies to me shaumburg Dealer ship ill Iam afraid to drive this truck I paid $33, 000 for this truck

  5. george Reply

    late oct . 30 2009 my wife and i were leaving birmingham on I- 22 in route to MS. i accelerated to enter the crowded free way the car would not slow as i tookmy foot off pedal the car was out of control I was afraid to put car in netural because of the fast moving traffic I knew if i did the moter would blow up and i would be stranded in dangerous, moving traffic i braked as much as possible looking for a safe shoulder to try to get this done my car was running 97 mph when i looked and it got faster this went on for 10 to 15 minutes of dodging cars
    people trying to get out of my way and my wife was frantic we thought we were going to die i managed to stop the carwithout killing others or myself.
    my wheels were smoking from all the braking i looked under hood an moved parts around every thing seemed ok finished trip without incident but wife still wont drive this car and my brakes r ruined
    i took car back to jim Barkley they said something about the floor mats put new hooks on floor as i had broken them trying to stop.
    Today after i got the recall I took it to conyers toyota they made necessary repairs but said they couldnt do anything about my damaged brakes

  6. Carl Reply

    Since I have had my 2009 Corolla, I have noticed that when I am stopped, or almost stopped, the engine will increase in speed, and the car will lurch forward, It so far, has just increased engine speed for a second or so, and returned to normal. I also noticed, when this happened, the brake pedal, did not seem to stop the car. I reported this problem to my local dealer, and I got responses of floor mat and nothing found. I took it in for service and mentioned the acceleration problem, and nothing was found. On my way home, I stopped for a stop sign, and my car lurched forward, and I hit a truck in the intersection. My brakes had no effect on the lurch.
    I believe the brakes chattered when I tried to keep the vehicle stopped.
    I asked that the arbitration board, (National Center for Dispute Settlement), resolve this problem. My response was:
    “The arbitration process has jurisdiction over service issues covered under Toyota’s New Vehicle Limited Warranties. Therefore
    your claim is not eligible for the arbitration process.”
    I guess that the only response a person can make to safety issues with Toyota and other car manufactures is bicycles.??
    I too am afraid to drive this vehicle. It has been at the dealer for almost 4 months. Do I get a friend or an enemy to pick it up?

    I called a law firm about this matter. Unless there was injury to a person, they are not interested.

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