Last week Toyota issued a safety advisory on a number of Lexus and Toyota-brand vehicles for a problem with the floor mats that could potentially cause the accelerator to become stuck, creating a safety hazard. This week, the Toyota has termed the issue as a recall, affecting up to 3.8 million vehicles.
According to a report from the Detroit News, a letter from Toyota to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated the company is "willing to identify this campaign as a safety recall," though it went on to note that Toyota has not concluded the vehicles affected "contain a safety-related defect."
The vehicles with the problematic floor mats include: the 2007-2010 Lexus ES 350 and the 2006-2010 Lexus IS 250 and 350. Other Toyota vehicles within the scope of the recall include: the 2007-2010 Camry, 2005-2010 Avalon, 2004-2009 Prius, 2005-2010 Tacoma, and the 2007-2010 Tundra.
Toyota's recall was made in reaction to a tragic accident in California that cost four people their lives. The August accident involved a dealership loaner car, a Lexus ES. The driver's lack of familiarity with the car's controls likely made it difficult to react in time to avoid the fatal rollover.
For those with affected vehicles, Toyota recommends removing the floor mats immediately and not replacing them with anything else. It has also suggested a course of action should a driver choose not to remove the mats and encounters the stuck accelerator issue:
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.
Owners with questions or concerns, are asked to please contact the Toyota Customer Experience Center (1 800 331-4331) or consult the information posted at http://www.toyota.com