Toyota’s Ongoing Problems

If you are driving a Toyota, I hope you are aware of what is going on.

Last month, Toyota announced it was planning its largest recall ever of nearly four million vehicles over the issue of loose floor mats that may be interfering with the accelerator pedal, causing the car to speed out of control.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has conducted an investigation into a high profile crash in California and is raising questions as to whether the floor mats are the only culprit in Toyota and Lexus models.

Last August, a Lexus ES 350, speeding out of control, killed an off-duty California Highway Patrol Officer, his wife, their daughter, and brother-in-law. All four died when the 2009 Lexus in which they were riding, a loaner car from the dealer, plummeted over an embankment in suburban San Diego at more than 100 mph before it burst into flames. The family was able to contact a 9-1-1- operator to say they couldn’t stop the ES 350. The brother-in-law, said the Lexus had no brakes.

Bob Carter, Toyota’s U.S. brand chief told the annual Reuters Summit recently said that speculation about a troubled fuel delivery system, braking, or runaway accelerator system is inaccurate.

“There’s no evidence to support any of that,” Carter said, adding that the automaker was working closely with the U.S. government to address the planned recall of up to 3.8 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles reports Reuters.

Since then, Toyota has warned consumers to remove the driver-side floor mats from eight Toyota models as a safety precaution, including the Prius.

These models are affected by this consumer alert:

  • 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

But this is not the end of it. The Los Angeles Times has analyzed a NHTSA report on the Saylor crash and found a defect in the design of the car’s gas pedal that could increase the risk of it being obstructed by a floor mat.

The Times review also finds that the Lexus ES braking system may lose power-assist when the throttle is opened, increasing braking distance fivefold.

And the government report found the start-stop button that takes three seconds to turn off the engine in an emergency, was one of the “significant factors” that led to the crash that killed the off-duty California Highway Patrol Officer and three family members. There are no instructions that appear on the dashboard, and no way to kill power in an emergency.

So far the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has received reports of 100 incidents, 17 crashes, and five fatalities that it believes are linked to the floor mats and accelerator pedals.

Stay tuned and pay attention to any problem with your Toyota vehicle and at the very least, have those mats changed out if your car is named in the recall.

Source reports: http://www.reuters.com/article/Autos09/idUSTRE5A140S20091102; http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-toyota-crash25-2009oct25,0,2288195.story

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