The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration has just issued a safety alert to owners of particular Toyota and Lexus models from 2004-2010 (see list below) that will soon involve a full recall of some 3.8 million vehicles. The issue involves a nagging problem Toyota has had with floor mats in certain models that, in some cases, have caused the accelerator pedal to get stuck in a wide open throttle position (see example above). There are apparently clearance issues with these floor mats and the pedals, as well as issues with the unique steps required to shut off vehicles with keyless ignitions, and Toyota and NHTSA is warning owners to remove the mats immediately and not replace them with mats from Toyota or any other brand.

The models affected are:
  • 2007-2010 Camry
  • 2005-2010 Avalon
  • 2004-2009 Prius
  • 2005-2010 Tacoma
  • 2007-2010 Tundra
  • 2007-2010 ES 350
  • 2006-2010 IS 250 and IS350
Toyota issued a recall in September 2007 for a similar problem with all-weather floor mats in the 2007-08 Lexus ES350 and Toyota Camry. NHTSA, however, has continued to receive complaints of unintended acceleration in these models and more.

Toyota will follow up NHTSA safety alert with its largest ever recall in the U.S. as soon as it has a solution figured out. In the mean time, if you own one of the above vehicles, your government would like you to play it safe and remove the driver-side floor mat. Now we have to wonder, who's going to pay the rather large bill for cleaning the carpet in thousands of vehicles that got their foot wells dirty from having no floor mats?

Follow the jump for press releases from both NHTSA and Toyota, the latter of which includes instructions on what to do if you experience unintended acceleration caused by the floor mats in these models. Thanks to everyone for the tips!

[Source: NHTSA]

PRESS RELEASES

NHTSA

TOYOTA OWNERS ARE CAUTIONED ABOUT FLOOR MATS AND ACCELERATOR PEDAL INTERFERENCE


Toyota to Launch a Safety Recall on Specific Toyota and Lexus Vehicles

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today alerted Lexus and Toyota owners about conditions that could cause the accelerator to get stuck open under certain conditions. The agency strongly recommends taking out removable floor mats on the driver's side in certain models and not to replace them with any other mat, either from Toyota or any other brand.

"This is an urgent matter," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "For everyone's sake, we strongly urge owners of these vehicles to remove mats or other obstacles that could lead to unintended acceleration."

NHTSA notes that there continue to be reports of accelerator pedal clearance issues which provide the potential for an accelerator pedal to get stuck in the full open position. A stuck accelerator may result in very high vehicle speeds and a crash, which could cause serious injury or death.

NHTSA said that Toyota has announced that it will soon launch a safety recall of various model year vehicles to redress the problem. However the safety agency warned owners to remove all driver-side floor mats from the models listed below immediately as an interim safety measure in advance of the recall.

Toyota and Lexus vehicles affected by this consumer alert are:
  • 2007-2010 Camry
  • 2005-2010 Avalon
  • 2004-2009 Prius
  • 2005-2010 Tacoma
  • 2007-2010 Tundra
  • 2007-2010 ES 350
  • 2006-2010 IS 250 and IS350

In September 2007, Toyota recalled an accessory all-weather floor mat sold for use in some 2007 and 2008 model year Lexus ES 350 and Toyota Camry vehicles because of similar problems.

Today's advisory was precipitated by continued reports of vehicles accelerating rapidly after release of the accelerator pedal. The incidents appear to be related to factors including the use of a variety of unsecured mats, the particular configuration of the accelerator pedals in these vehicles, and the unique steps needed to shut off the engines in some of these vehicles with keyless ignition.

For more information, consumers can contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Hotline at 888-327-4236 or the Toyota Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331 or the Lexus Customer Assistance Center at 1-800-255-3987. Information from Toyota is also posted at http://www.toyota.com and http://www.lexus.com.


TOYOTA

Toyota/Lexus Consumer Safety Advisory Potential Floor Mat Interference with Accelerator Pedal

Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. takes public safety very seriously. It believes its vehicles to be among the safest on the road today.

Recent events have prompted Toyota to take a closer look at the potential for an accelerator pedal to get stuck in the full open position due to an unsecured or incompatible driver's floor mat. A stuck open accelerator pedal may result in very high vehicle speeds and make it difficult to stop the vehicle, which could cause a crash, serious injury or death.
Toyota considers this a critical matter and will soon launch a safety campaign on specific Toyota and Lexus vehicles. Throughout the process of developing the details of the action plan, it will advise the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Until Toyota develops a remedy, it is asking owners of specific Toyota and Lexus models to take out any removable driver's floor mat and NOT replace it with any other floor mat. The following models are affected:

• 2007 – 2010 Camry
• 2005 – 2010 Avalon
• 2004 – 2009 Prius
• 2005 – 2010 Tacoma
• 2007 – 2010 Tundra
• 2007 – 2010 ES350
• 2006 – 2010 IS250 and IS350
Should the vehicle continue to accelerate rapidly after releasing the accelerator pedal, this could be an indication of floor mat interference. If this occurs, Toyota recommends the driver take the following actions:

First, if it is possible and safe to do so, pull back the floor mat and dislodge it from the accelerator pedal; then pull over and stop the vehicle.

If the floor mat cannot be dislodged, then firmly and steadily step on the brake pedal with both feet. Do NOT pump the brake pedal repeatedly as this will increase the effort required to slow the vehicle.

Shift the transmission gear selector to the Neutral (N) position and use the brakes to make a controlled stop at the side of the road and turn off the engine.
If unable to put the vehicle in Neutral, turn the engine OFF, or to ACC. This will not cause loss of steering or braking control, but the power assist to these systems will be lost.

-If the vehicle is equipped with an Engine Start/Stop button, firmly and steadily push the button for at least three seconds to turn off the engine. Do NOT tap the Engine Start/Stop button.

-If the vehicle is equipped with a conventional key-ignition, turn the ignition key to the ACC position to turn off the engine. Do NOT remove the key from the ignition as this will lock the steering wheel.

In the event owners choose not to remove their floor mat, Toyota strongly recommends that they ensure that the correct floor mat is being used, that it is properly installed and secured, that it is not flipped over with bottom-side up, and that one floor mat is not stacked over another. Information on proper floor mat installation can be found on
http://www.toyota.com and http://www.lexus.com.

Owners with questions or concerns, are asked to please contact the Toyota Customer Experience Center (1 800 331-4331) or Lexus Customer Assistance Center (1 800 255¬3987), or consult the information posted at
http://www.toyota.com and http://www.lexus.com.