Toyota Motor will issue a recall for at least 3.8 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles. This is to fix a potential safety problem caused by a car’s floor mat jamming the accelerator leading to an “unintended acceleration”.
The Audi 5000S, considered at the outset one of the best-built automobiles in the world, is the center of a controversy of unintended acceleration.
Unintended acceleration is a phenomenon marked by an unplanned, uncontrollable movement by the vehicle. And the driver will be totally unable to stop the car no matter how hard he or she may apply pressure to the brake pedal.
This recall for unintended acceleration is the largest in Toyota’s history. This follows a crash last month in San Diego in which a mat was suspected of snagging a gas pedal on a runaway Lexus, resulting in a fiery crash that killed four family members.
A minute before the crash, the driver called police to say the car had no brakes, the accelerator was stuck and the car was doing more than 120 mph. It hit a sport-utility vehicle, launched off an embankment, rolled several times and burst into flames. The car, equipped with all-weather floor mats, was on loan from a dealership while the driver’s own vehicle was being repaired.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urged the following list of vehicles to remove mats or other obstacles that could lead to unintended acceleration:
- 007-2010 Camry
- 2005-2010 Avalon
- 2004-2009 Prius
- 2005-2010 Tacoma
- 2007-2010 Tundra
- 2007-2010 Lexus ES 350
- 2006-2010 Lexus IS 250
- 2006-2010 Lexus IS 350
The affected vehicles accelerate rapidly after release of the accelerator pedal:
- More than 2,000 complaints have been made about General Motors models built between 1973 and 1986
- Owners of Toyotas, Renaults, Mercedes-Benzes and Nissans have also reported unintended acceleration incidents
- The Audi 5000 has the highest percentage of acceleration incidents, about 1 in 400 cars built
- Just about every single car model available with an automatic transmission since 1987 has had reports of unintended acceleration
Unintended acceleration is partly due to use of unsecured mats and particular configuration of the accelerator pedals in the affected vehicles:
- In cars with keyless ignition, a driver must hold the on-off switch for three seconds in order to shut off the engine
- Pedal placement in the Audi 5000 which contributed to its unintended acceleration problem
- Because of the extra space needed by the 4-wheel drive systems, the pedals in the Audi were offset slightly to the left, putting the accelerator pedal almost directly
- Under the center point of the steering column, and the brake pedal off to the left
- The Jeep Cherokee’s unintended acceleration is likely due Jeep’s pedals that were placed much like the Audi’s, offset to the left
A statistical analysis of all claims of unintended acceleration indicated:
- The position of each car’s brake pedal in relation to the steering column
- Significant positive relationship between left offset of the pedals and reports of unintended acceleration
- Cars with brake pedals directly under, or to the right of the steering column have very few complaints against them.
- Cars like the Audi and Jeep have hundreds and thousands complaints against them
Toyota orders inspection of mats after runaway car crash in Santee that killed CHP Officer Mark Saylor, his wife, brother in-law and daughter, have lead authorities to think it may have been the car mat that caused the crash.
It was brought to the attention of The National Highway Safety Transportation Administration because of a 2007 recall on after-market floor mats which could slip and catch on the accelerator.
Toyota will order 1400 Toyota and Lexus dealers nationwide to:
- Inspect their cars for mismatched floor mats to approximately
- Make sure all their cars have the right floor mats
- Ensure they are properly secured
The public is encouraged to inspect their floor mats also.