• Aug 16, 2007
An all-weather floor mat available in the Lexus ES350 sedan that can jam the throttle and cause the car to accelerate on its own is being investigated by the NHTSA following 40 separate incidents of the frightening event occurring. Of the 40 drivers that experienced unintended acceleration, eight ended up crashing the vehicle with 12 injuries recorded overall.

Toyota told officials that it had mailed out a letter earlier in the year warning owners that the problem was caused by the mats not being secured properly, but the NHTSA is continuing its investigation to determine if Toyota's response was adequate. One outcome from the NHTSA's latest investigation could see Toyota conducting a recall, though this seems unlikely.

If this sounds familiar, you'd be right. Just yesterday we posted a story about runaway Toyota Prius hybrid cars. Officials cited the same faulty floor-mats as the reason for the problems, but most owners believe a defect in the car itself is the main reason.

Lexus is also facing a potential lawsuit over the airbag system in the ES350.

[Source: Denver Post]


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  • 38 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      I have to guess there is some driver incompetence at play here as well. I recall driving my moms Audi A4 when I was younger and having this exact same thing happen to me. In most cars with traction control, which all lexuses have, the throttle cuts out the second you tap the brakes. Even as a new driver I had the common sense to get on the brakes, pull over and turn the car off. At which point I discovered the gas pedal wedged underneath our rubber all-weather floor mats. Point of interest, had I not been driving like an idiot teenager and flooring the throttle it never would have gotten jammed.
      • 7 Years Ago
      dang chinese floor mats!..... (just assuming)
      • 7 Years Ago
      And I don't think Barney needs to be UNDER STAN at all!

      Seriously, the article says that the mats are "an all weather floor mat available in the Lexus". Wouldn't this mean it's a toyota-approved option? I think so. But, the real problem is probably no more with those floor mats than the sludge problem was with lack of maintenance.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Before you call someone else a blathering idiot, perhaps you should do a little homework on your own. The sludge issue has been tossed around for years, and toyota finally got around to reimbursing some of the owners of these poorly-designed engines AFTER a nationwide, class-action lawsuit was filed. Sure, sometimes owners' maintenance is slack, but American cars suffer that abuse just as often, if not more so, and the American engines don't blow their wad with the regularity that the toyota engines did. toyota engines were built with little tolerance in the oil passage lines, with poorly-designed oil filter locations and orientation, and other factors that all contribute to causing their engines to be particularly prone to build up the kind of sludge that will eventually stop up the oil passages and starve vital components of oil. This then leads to a total failure of the engine, usually manifested by what we often refer to as "slinging a rod". The one and only toyota I have ever owned, or ever will own, did this exact thing at 62k miles. I bought it used, and I certainly changed the oil and filter every 3500 miles, but who knows what the previous owner did? The point is that, unless there is a design flaw, it should not be that critical. And, a significant number of toyota's customers were denied relief from toyota's poor design by toyota because those customers could not prove that they had returned the car to a toyota dealer for the recommended service. How many American cars and trucks do you know that are brought back to the delaers for oil changes on a regular basis?
        • 7 Years Ago
        Care to explain to us ignorants what causes sludge?
        Look it up and understand the problem before you act like a blathering idiot.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Improvements in motor oil chemistry in the 1990s encouraged many car makers to promote long oil change intervals. The long intervals actually worked OK until 1996, with very few sludge-related engine failures reported and many happy customers driving up to 10,000 miles between changes. After 1996, tighter emissions standards added pressure to the oiling system, and problems appeared.
        Car rental fleets adopted the old "zero maintenance" theory. Over half of the sludging occurred in former fleet cars sold to unsuspecting bargain hunters.
        Another zero maintenance group are lease return cars, some of which have never had an oil change.
        Extended intervals worked well for several years. Many cars ran 10,000 miles between changes without symptoms of gelling.
        But tighter emissions standards and fuel efficiency pressures changed engine design. Starting around 1996, problems appeared.
        The number of engines affected by sludge is relatively insignificant compared to the number of motors built. For instance, of the three-plus million Toyota engines that are "affected", roughly 7,000 have experienced failures. That is approximately two failures per 1,000 engines.
        This is nothing compared to the issues GM and more recently Ford's been having. What was the last number? 3.6 Million vehicles and some fetalities.

      • 7 Years Ago
      And yes I am a Ford fanboy. Not that I hate Lexus or Toyota, it's just good to see when our American car companies are doing something right.
      • 7 Years Ago
      My first thought on seeing the headline was that these Lexus-es had simply spotted an empty parking space, and the self-park software sensed another vehicle might get there first lol...

      But clearly these are actually all cases of driver incontinance. (hence the rubber floor mats in the first place. When you gotta pee, speed matters.)
      • 7 Years Ago
      Looks great on them..

      Of course it is the fault of the floormats that were on MOST of the cars involved in the incident, and the other incidents are the fault of the customers faulty driving HYUCK HYUCK!

      • 7 Years Ago
      Soo much for the persuit of perfection
      • 7 Years Ago
      Mike, all cars have hooks for the driver side mats.

      Apparently the instructions on this particular set of mats was difficult to read. Maybe it was in Japanese...
        • 7 Years Ago
        hahaha ok... then i'm gonna go with the it's stupid people... it didn't make sense why the mats would move forward with hooks there, so i assumed they were missing or faulty or something. go lexus!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Like always toyota will try to get away from the word recall and put it under a TBs or something else.

      Now i am curios if the prius and the lexus incidents are the same and it really isint a floormat problem. Maybe they do have a bug or something. If i understand these two cars should have some sort of fly-by-wire system for the gas pedal right? Maybe they have some sort of issue with the sensor in the pedal or something.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I'll say it again: has GM 'fessed up the plastic intake manifold issue yet? No? That one affects way more people than the sludging issue does, went on longer than the sludging issue did, yet GM is oddly silent.

        About the only issue Toyota was in denial about was the sludging one, and a lot of that had to do with the fact that, yes, a decent percentage of the complainants really hadn't done proper maintenance. It's a widespread issue, but no worse than other engines with similar problems (the VW 1.8T, the Chrysler 2.7L six and the B205 in my own Saab).

        The thing is, VW and Chrysler were known reliability basketcases (some might say "still are") at the time and picking on Saab is like kicking a sick puppy. Toyota is held to a higher standard.

        It's also restricted to the 2.2 four and 3.0 six from 96-01, which means that the 1.5 and 1.8 from the Tercel/Echo, Celica and Corolla aren't affected, nor the Supra/SC/GS/IS I6, nor are the truck and Lexus V8s. And none since 2001. I've been hearing blathering about sludge since 2003. It's nearly 2008. Other than the Tundra cam recall (which was addressed very quickly), there hasn't been anything of significance.

        Yet the sludge issue is still being harped on. Don't you guys have any new material?
        • 7 Years Ago
        psarhjinian
        You asked if they don't have new material? Judging by the responses the oil gelling is the only thing that these people have to hang onto. So it's no surprise that they are beating it to death. The fires with the Fords and countless other issues with GM are strangely ignored.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I guess this a testament to the intelligence of Lexus drivers. Haven't they heard of braking or simply shifting into neutral, after having shifted into a lower gear (3, 2, L, if they have that anymore) in case the brakes don't respond?
      • 7 Years Ago
      What goes around, comes around ... this is what happens when you believe yourself to be invincible.
        • 7 Years Ago
        What are you talking about?
      • 7 Years Ago
      I could see the problem with a plastic floor. The mat would slide in that case. I don't see either of these cars having a plastic floor. Our old 69 Valiant had done that and we finally glued Velcro on both the mat & floor. That helped.
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