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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Toyota recalls floor mats that jam gas pedals

Toyota Motor Co. will recall floor mats from 55,000 Camry and Lexus ES 350 models due to complaints of unintended acceleration caused by the mats sticking underneath the accelerator pedal, federal safety officials and the automaker said Wednesday.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration took the unusual step of highlighting Toyota's recall announcement, advising owners of other Toyota models -- including the Prius hybrid and Avalon sedans -- to ensure their floor mats are properly installed.

"We have also received complaints about the RAV 4" crossover "and Tacoma" pickup, said Rae Tyson, a spokesman for NHTSA. "We will continue to monitor all of the other Toyota vehicles not involved in the recall."

As the Free Press first reported last month, NHTSA had opened an investigation into the floor mats after amassing 40 reports of unintended acceleration in 2007 Lexus ES 350 sedans, including eight crashes and 12 injuries.

Since then, NHTSA has received complaints from owners of other Toyota models about the problem.

In several of the original complaints, drivers said the vehicles only stopped after an accident. One driver told the agency the vehicle had hit speeds of 100 m.p.h. over a 6-mile stretch of freeway due to the problem.

A Michigan woman said the problem caused her to lose control of her Lexus, triggering a rollover crash on I-75 that totaled her car. Because some ES 350s are sold with stop/start buttons rather than traditional ignitions, some drivers said they were unable to shut off the engine by pressing the button as the car accelerated.

At the time, Toyota told safety officials it had identified an optional all-weather floor mat that if not properly secured by clips to the floor could stick under the accelerator pedal; in some cases, Toyota said owners had simply put the rubber mat over the standard floor mats.

The company contended it had dealt with the problem through a mailing to customers earlier this year.

Toyota said Wednesday the recall involves 30,500 mats for the ES 350 and 24,500 mats for the 2007 and 2008 Toyota Camry.

Owners will be told of the recall in October and offered replacement mats in November. The company also warned drivers to check their floor mats and make sure that only one was installed.

Sudden and unintended acceleration cases carry a stigma in the U.S. auto industry, due to the collapse of the Audi brand in the late 1980s following a "60 Minutes" report alleging runaway cars. Federal safety officials later cleared Audi, but it took years for the company to rebuild its reputation.

In a separate move, Nissan Motor Co. said it was recalling nearly 420,000 sport utility vehicles because of possible corrosion in the tube where motorists pump gas.

The recall involves Nissan Pathfinder and Infiniti QX4 SUVs from the 1997-2001 model years. More than 370,000 of the vehicles under recall were originally sold or are currently registered in 22 cold weather states and the District of Columbia. Another 45,000 vehicles are in Canada.

Justin Hyde
Free Press Business Writer

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Anonymous Shane Bond said...

Thanks for this informative post. This is quite helpful and solve my many problems regarding floor mats. Please keep continue this good work.

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