Runaway Toyota Recall

13:18, 30 September 2009
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Toyota Motor said Tuesday it will soon issue a recall for at least 3.8 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles to fix a potential safety problem caused by a car`s floor mat jamming the accelerator, according to Forbes.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, meanwhile, urged motorists not to wait for a fix. "This is an urgent matter," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "For everyone`s sake, we strongly urge owners of these vehicles to remove mats or other obstacles that could lead to unintended acceleration."

The impending U.S. recall, the largest in Toyota`s  ( TM -  news  -  people ) history, followed a horrific crash last month in San Diego in which a mat was suspected of snagging a gas pedal on a runaway Lexus, ending with a fiery crash that killed four family members.

A minute before the crash, the driver called police to say the car had no brakes and the accelerator was stuck. The runaway car was doing more than 120 mph when 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 tragic accident in San Diego was certainly an eye opener for all of us," said Senior Vice President Irving Miller, prompting the company to review previous allegations of unintended acceleration caused by floor mat interference.

Miller said the company could not quantify the number of complaints, nor could it estimate the cost of the safety campaign.

The affected vehicles include 2007-2010 Camry, 2005-2010 Avalon, 2004-2009 Prius, 2005-2010 Tacoma, 2007-2010 Tundra, 2007-2010 Lexus ES 350 and 2006-2010 Lexus IS 250 and IS350.

NHTSA said the advisory was precipitated by "continued reports of vehicles accelerating rapidly after release of the accelerator pedal."

The agency said the use of unsecured mats was partly to blame, along with the particular configuration of the accelerator pedals in the affected vehicles. Adding to the potential danger: In cars with keyless ignition, a driver must hold the on-off switch for three seconds in order to shut off the engine.

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