• Nov 6, 2009

Remember Toyota's massive 3.8 million unit unintended acceleration recall that was attributed to pesky floor mats? It appears defective floor mats doesn't tell the whole story, as the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration declared in a statement that "this (unintended acceleration) matter is not closed," adding "removal of the floor mats is simply an interim measure, not a remedy of the underlying defect in the vehicles."

Up to 2,000 Toyota customers claim to have experienced a sudden surge of acceleration, and some reportedly told ABC News that they didn't even have the recalled floor mats in their vehicles. Even more disturbing are the results of an ABC News investigation that reportedly found "hundreds" of accidents and up to 16 deaths as a result of unintended acceleration.

Four of those deaths occurred in August when an off-duty California Highway Patrol Officer, traveling with his wife, daughter and brother in-law, were killed after their Lexus accelerated uncontrollably. The driver's brother in-law called 911 and said that the brakes didn't work before the vehicle reached an intersection, struck another car, went into a ditch and caught fire. Some Toyota owners feel there is an electronic glitch in the system that controls the throttle and the ABC report shows that there is some anecdotal evidence which illustrates that incidents rose after the system was put into place in 2002, but so far, NHTSA has found no evidence to support those claims after six investigations.

ABC News caught up with Toyota Vice President Yukitoshi Funo (pictured second from left) and asked him if Toyota was covering anything up. Funo replied "It is not part of the Toyota culture and Toyota way to cover up anything," adding that the Japanese automaker is working with NHTSA to come up with an agreement on how to proceed going forward.

If you own a Toyota or Lexus and you are concerned about this issue, it appears that there is little that will be done in the short term other than tie down or remove the floor mats. If you do experience the acceleration issue, Consumer Reports suggests shifting your vehicle into neutral, pressing the brake and holding it down in an effort to bring your vehicle to a stop. This post and video from CR demonstrates how to effectively resolve the situation, and the risks of pumping the brakes. Turning off your vehicle could be a bad idea, as turning off the engine will also result in the loss of power steering and power brakes.

[Source: ABC News | Image: Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 81 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Yawn. Toyota never should have recalled those floor mats just to placate the ignorant.
      • 5 Years Ago
      one out of 10 of Lexus ES 350 owners surveyed said that they had experienced an instance of the accelerator.
      http://content.usatoday.com/communities/driveon/post/2009/10/68500510/1
        • 5 Years Ago
        Boycott Toyota!!!

        Big problems for this automaker ahead. Oh, wait a minute, they already have big problems. Well, guess what, they just got bigger! At that means trouble for not only for Lexus, but Toyota and Scion too (they are all rubbish).
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah but that doesn't mean anything. I momentarily hit the accelerator instead of the brakes by accident the other day and for a split second thought it was the car. The average ES350 driver is like 70 years old.
        Frankly I think all of this is total nonsense, and almost all the "cover up" claim complaints can eventually be traced back to either someone using the wrong floormats, doubling up the floormats, not securing the floormats, or just plain hitting the wrong pedal.
        And where the hell do the feds rebuke Toyota?
      • 5 Years Ago
      exactly same situation happend in past.
      ---------------------------
      (May 2, 2007)
      http://www.wate.com/global/Story.asp?s=6459687

      Sevierville woman's Lexus suddenly accelerates on I-40

      A federal safety group is investigating why some new Lexus models suddenly accelerate. It happened to a Sevierville woman last fall as she merged onto I-40. And the reason behind the problem is simple and surprising.

      The reports of sudden acceleration come from owners of the 2007 Lexus ES350 and from federal records.

      Lexus vehicles are made by Toyota Motor North America. Consumer publications such as Consumer Reports list Lexus as one of the most reliable and safest vehicles on the roads. Those are some of the reasons why Rhonda Smith, of Sevierville, bought her car.

      On October 12, 2006, Rhonda drove her Lexus onto 1-40 Westbound from the Sevierville on ramp and started to merge. "I had sped up to about 65 miles an hour."

      Then Rhonda says something strange happened. The car began accelerating on its own. "I looked down at my speedometer. It had gotten up to about 70 and I didn't have my foot on the accelerator."

      "At about 75, the cruise light came on by itself. So I thought, maybe that's why it started to speed up. So, I took my hand and disengaged the cruise," Rhonda says.

      ---------------------------
      (06 April, 2009)
      http://autocoverup.com/2009/04/06/lexus-sudden-acceleration/#STS=g1ht79mx.1rm7


      1. The car accelerated all by itself
      2. the brakes would not work while accelerating
      3. Uncontrolled speeds can reaches between 65mph and 110mph
      4. Lexus responds to all with “Improper installation of floor mats”

      Make:
      LEXUS
      Model: ES350
        • 5 Years Ago
        "At about 75, the cruise light came on by itself. So I thought, maybe that's why it started to speed up. So, I took my hand and disengaged the cruise," Rhonda says.

        So, a soccer mom can do the obvious and a cop can't?
        • 5 Years Ago
        "The regular floor mat is hooked with clips. When the winter mat is put on top of the regular one, there's no way to hook it. Consequently, the rubber mat can slip forward and come over the accelerator pedal."

        So it isn't a mechanical defect in the car, it is human error.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Except if you actually bothered to look in an ES350 you'd see why it probably *IS* the floormat. The pedal design on the ES350 makes it easy for floor mats that aren't secured to ride up the accelerator pedal.

        So if you take your car in for detailing somewhere and they don't correctly secure the mats you'd probably have this issue. Or you buy the aftermarket floormats sold everywhere. Or your dumbass dealership puts the wrong mats in, or you put weather mats on top of the old ones, or a ton of other things. Multiply that by the number of ES owners and it's pretty easy to see why it's particularly prone to this problem.

        I've taken my car in for an interior cleaning before and what I got back was a car with random trim pieces knocked off and floormats that definitely weren't fastened correctly, and knowing the Lexus pedal design it's a LOT more likely that a lot of Lexus owners (who probably don't clean their own cars by hand) are driving around with improperly fastened floor mats. End of story.

        At the end of the day it really is the damned floormats (and people who just hit the wrong pedal) but Lexus should change the pedal design so floormats don't have to be perfectly locked down because unless every owner basically double checks whenever anybody works on or cleans their car there's always going to be improperly fastened floormats.

        On a side note I hate those damned pedals in the ES350-the stupid wedge design feels bizarre since you basically control acceleration with your foot angle instead of being able to control it with your leg positioning. Have no damned idea why they ever switched to that design.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Ex-Toyota Lawyer Accuses Automaker of Destroying Rollover Evidence

      According to CBS News, an ex-lawyer for Toyota of North America has filed a racketeering suit against his former employer. ToMoCo’s former managing counsel Dimitrios P. Biller accused the automaker of illegally withholding evidence in hundreds of rollover death and injury cases, in a “ruthless conspiracy” to suborn evidence of its vehicles “structural shortcomings.

      http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/08/29/cbsnews_investigates/main5273636.shtml

      • 5 Years Ago
      Are these recalls and other quality problems really new, or is it just the fact that everyone likes to take down the guy at the top? It's lonely up there.

      I can say that fixing the floormat problem with zipties seems to be a bad PR move. It just looks cheesy and cheap.
        • 5 Years Ago
        new? who says they're new? everyone remembers the audi 5000 debacle.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @zamafir: What "audi 5000 debacle"? The one where 60 Minutes faked footage to make it seem real? The one where it turns out people didn't know how to drive? The one that Car & Driver debunked in June of 1987, proving that brakes overcome engine force 100% of the time? The one where Audi was vindicated in the courts? That debacle? Yeah, I remember that...what about it?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Why wouldn't the driver just slip the car out of gear and pull over to the side of the road and turn the car off?? Sounds to me like there is just as likely a chance that the driver of the car purposely drove the car that speed and crashed.
      • 5 Years Ago
      My father had a 1996 Toyota Camry wagon and the throttle jammed three times. It had nothing to do with floor mats.

      Toyota doesn't cover up anything? How about SLUDGE!!! Which of course, resulted in the 1996 Camry's engine being overhauled at the 50K mile mark.

      However, all the Toyota fan boys will scream over and over is "Toyota Makes Great Cars!!!" like agitated parrots.

      Don't get me wrong...EVERY auto company covers crap up. Its the HYPOCRISY that surrounds Toyota and their holier than though image. THAT is what gets people angry.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I forgot all about sludge.

        Screw Toyota ...... right in the ear.

        HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
      • 5 Years Ago
      If this were a real design problem/glitch, I would think that there'd be more of these cases happening around the world: in Japan, Europe, Canada...etc.

      I live in Japan, and I have not heard of any news reports in the last few years about throttles sticking in Toyotas.
        • 5 Years Ago
        No, because the rest of the world isn't populated by retards who don't know where Neutral is...
      • 5 Years Ago
      "NHTSA has found no evidence to support those claims after six investigations."

      As is typical in fantastical America facts mean diddly squat. The Media and their lemmings will believe what they want to believe regardless of facts.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "It appears defective floor mats doesn't tell the whole story, as the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration declared in a statement that "this (unintended acceleration) matter is not closed," adding "removal of the floor mats is simply an interim measure, not a remedy of the underlying defect in the vehicles.""

        And you prove that someone can always grab a sentence out of context. The content of the article as a whole does not agree with the snippet you chose.
        • 5 Years Ago
        So they are going to launch a 7th investigation, and when Toyota is cleared once again will you call for a stop to wasting tax payer dollars on this?
      • 5 Years Ago
      "mapoftazifosho considering I see you have responded on autoblog china in that language that your a little fricking commie that I would have no problem stomping on.

      This blog breeds fong goo boys like you"

      And here I had deluded myself into thinking that people like the old man in Gran Torino don't really exist in real life. Good lord.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Most automakers replaced a $20.00 cable and a $50.00 cruise unit with a $10.00 Electronic part that DOES have double redundancy. (GM's does) It appears though, that Toyota, may have cheaped out and gone to a $5.00 electronic part that lacks some important safety features.
      • 5 Years Ago
      http://l.yimg.com/dv/izp/lexus_es_350_sedan_2008_interior_gearshift.jpg

      before all the "why didn't he just push up into neutral" comments from the airmchair critics who've never driven a Lexus before
        • 5 Years Ago
        All the "automanual" transmissions are like that though. And as I've been posting over and over and over on Autoblog about this issue I'm pretty sure the police officer who crashed kept using the automanual mode and just tapped it down then freaked out that it was still accelerating.
        Is this design confusing if you've never seen it before? Maybe, but the first time I ever drove an automanual car I figured it out in about 10 seconds looking at the shifter, and having actually drove an ES it's not hard at all to shift into neutral or anything. You have to shift into park anyway to park the car so it's not like people don't shift past all the gears on a regular basis.
        Anyways this pretty much is the case for every single automanual transmission gate design so at the end of the day it's the driver's problem if they don't know how to shift into neutral, or even don't know how to shut the car off. Lexus should make it more obvious how to turn the car off while moving but frankly only a moron wouldn't be able to understand this transmission gate.
        • 5 Years Ago
        That could be a huge problem for Toyota. I've had a couple cars with 'Tips and I see from this one that the +/- indicators and the green neutral indicator share the same space - very odd. If you looked down while in drive you would think simply push up next to the slot with the N would be neutral, but of course that is actually + in the sport mode......
        • 5 Years Ago
        Your point is what, exactly? That transmission has a neutral position that you can easily shift into.
        • 5 Years Ago
        my point is that neutral is not up like it should be, it's up and to the left. It's also not clear to anyone unfamilar with the pattern that neutral is in that position.

        So at high speeds, in a panic situation, in a loaner car it becomes obvious as to why he couldn't just shift into neutral.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'd have to actually get into one to know for sure, but it seems to me as though N is just above D where it is in every other automatic I've ever drive. Off to the left is the manumatic S mode, but N still appears to be placed where it should be. Every automatic I've driven can easily be knocked into N by pushing up on the lever when you are in D (I think that's actually required partly for this reason).

        Like I said though, I'd have to actually play with one of these to know for sure, but that's how the illustration looks to me.

        Thanks for that pic though. I've heard numerous people talk about how confusing the gate is on that car, but after looking at it, I can see that it's not much different than many other designs. The labeling could be possibly confusing, but the action of the transmission appears to be the same.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Neutral is STRAIGHT UP from Drive.
        Neutral is STRAIGHT UP from Drive.
        Neutral is STRAIGHT UP from Drive.
        Neutral is STRAIGHT UP from Drive.
        Neutral is STRAIGHT UP from Drive.
        Neutral is STRAIGHT UP from Drive.
        Neutral is STRAIGHT UP from Drive.
        Neutral is STRAIGHT UP from Drive.
        • 5 Years Ago
        http://i597.photobucket.com/albums/tt53/montoym/lexus_es_350_sedan_2008_interior-1.jpg

        Perhaps this photo will help a bit. I just took the original one and moved the markings to where they would actually be on the gate itself. Once again, this is just from looking at it and not having actually driven one. But, I'm about 95% confident that this is correct.

        Note again that N is directly above D, same place it is on every automatic car I'm aware of. If someone had attempted to go up and to the left to get to N from D (which I admit the labeling kind of implies) then it would go against a lifetime of knowledge of driving automatics. This guy was a cop and you meant to tell me he didn't understand how and automatic works? He used them every day of his working career I bet.
        • 5 Years Ago
        correction up and to the right
      • 5 Years Ago
      ok.. i think they are blowing this way out of proportion, yes there is a major issue about toyota accelerator, and we all realize that their lack of engineer has cost many lifes that cant be resotred, but its just article after article over and over again over the same things, i feel sry for the families that lost their loved ones, but this is like milking a really old story...and as for the transmission thing, i thought all you have to do is to push up on the leaver.. and if the vehicle is moving.. it will automatically pop into neutral, it wont let you push it all the way to reverse or park...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ah Sean, I suggest you go check the NHTSA site, EVERY model of EVERY car for EVERY manufacturer has the same complaints. When stores of unintended Tundra acceleration hit the news, I dug up MORE unintended acceleration complaints for the Ford F-150.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You are right on all accounts... People are quick to blame Toyota for this, but fail to realize that MAYBE, just maybe there are other factors involved. I drive a Lexus with drive-by-wire and HAVE NEVER, EVER experienced anything that anyone has published. It's sad but true, no one likes the guy that's on top.
        • 5 Years Ago
        http://autocoverup.com/2009/04/06/lexus-sudden-acceleration/#STS=g1pbxoto.vo1

        Look, Post date.
        It post date is 2009.4.6.
        Its article posted 6 months before family's tragedy.
        • 5 Years Ago
        http://autocoverup.com/2009/04/06/lexus-sudden-acceleration/#STS=g1p78hww.1dlz

        When you go there and read the countless complaints you will realize that this problem has nothing to do with floor mats. The floor mat issue is something they made up to mask the problem.

        You can keep repeating the same lie. It does not make it true.

        This is a serious problem that is going to blow up in their face.
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