Toyota announced an all out recall of both floor mats and accelerator pedals beginning in late 2009, but the issue was clearly known by the company years prior. Recent reports indicated that the automaker was well aware of floor mat-related issues dating back to early 2007. Not only was the company aware of the issue, it responded by posting a technical service bulletin (TSB).
Back in March of 2007, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into pedal entrapment on the Lexus ES350. Within two weeks, Toyota issued a TSB to dealers regarding possible pedal entrapment caused by floor mats. Later that year, Toyota warned dealers of the same possible risk on all Toyota models and instructed dealerships not to install optional floor mats. A portion of the TSB is posted below:
In September of 2007, Toyota voluntarily recalled 55,000 floormats from Lexus and Toyota vehicles, but stated that no known problem had been found with the mats or vehicles. NHTSA closed the investigation, but the problems didn't end. Toyota continued to send TSBs for 2008 and 2009 model year vehicles to remind dealers of potential pedal entrapment problems.NEVER install more than one floormat at a time in the driver's seating position... If applicable, any secondary set of floormats MUST be placed in the trunk with all the packaging material intact. DO NOT install the secondary mat on top of the primary floormat already in the driver's seating position.
The TSBs are clear proof that Toyota was aware of the potential problem and it shows they acted in a way consistent with other automakers by addressing the problem at the dealership level. The mistakes the company made include admitting that the floor mats were not part of the problem and then doing nothing else to discover and fix the real problem.
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