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Biggest-ever Toyota Recall Announced; 3.8 Million Cars and Trucks

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Toyota has announced the largest recall of vehicles in its US history.

According to the Associated Press, "Toyota says it will recall 3.8 million vehicles in the United States to address problems with a removable floor mat that could interfere with the vehicle's accelerator and cause a crash.

The company says it will be the largest recall in its history. Owners could learn about the safety campaign as early as next week.
2009-09-29-2004toyotaprius.jpg 2004 Prius

Toyota and the government warned owners of Toyota and Lexus vehicles about safety problems tied to the removable floor mats. They say the mats could interfere with the vehicle's accelerator and cause a crash.

The recall will affect 2007-2010 model year Toyota Camry, 2005-2010 Toyota Avalon, 2004-2009 Toyota Prius, 2005-2010 Tacoma, 2007-2010 Toyota Tundra, 2007-2010 Lexus ES350 and 2006-2010 Lexus IS250 and IS350.

Owners should take out the floor mats on the driver's side and not replace them. When Toyota develops a "fix" for the problem, the affected cars and trucks will be recalled to dealerships for replacement or retrofitted floor mats.

Toyota's previously largest recall was about 900,000 vehicles in 2005 to fix a steering issue." (end AP quote)
2009-09-29-2008parislexus_is250chdc.jpg Lexus IS250 at the 2008 Paris Auto Show

Automotive News also reported: "NHTSA said it issued the warning because of continued reports of vehicles accelerating rapidly after drivers released the accelerator.

"This is an urgent matter," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in the statement. "We strongly urge owners of these vehicles to remove mats or other obstacles that could lead to unintended acceleration."

The reported acceleration problems appeared to be related to with unsecured mats, the configuration of the accelerator pedal and the process for shutting off engines in some vehicles that have keyless ignitions.

Toyota recalled in September 2007 an all-weather floor mat from some 2007 and 2008 Lexus ES 350 and Toyota Camry vehicles because of similar problems, NHTSA said." (end Automotive News quote)

The Los Angeles Times reported: "Last month, a San Diego man and three passengers were killed in a high-speed crash that the driver, in a call to 911 prior to the accident, said was being caused by a floor mat wedged into the accelerator.

"A stuck open accelerator pedal may result in very high vehicle speeds and make it difficult to stop the vehicle, which could cause a crash, serious injury or death," the company said in a statement.

Toyota said the vehicles would be recalled once it develops a remedy to the problem.

Until then, the automaker said owners of the affected vehicles should take out any removable driver's side floor mats and not replace them with any other floor mat." (end LA Times quoute)

It's not clear when Toyota and Lexus dealers will replace or retrofit the removed floor mats.

2009-09-29-2007LexusRX.jpg Lexus RX

This recall comes on the heels of another large Toyota recall announced last month, when the company launched a voluntary Safety Recall with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) involving approximately 95,700 Toyota and Scion vehicles sold in the United State for a problem affecting vehicles in cold-weather parts of the country which could cause increased braking distances.

Recalls are the bane of all carmakers; they are embarrassing, expensive and often remain in the public's consciousness for a long time.

In a recall done in concert with or at the order of the government, all owners of the affected vehicles must be contacted by the carmaker, an expensive proposition in itself, and all repair work must be done by authorized dealers at no cost whatsoever to the consumer.

Carmakers often issue "TSBs" or Technical Service Bulletins to their dealer repair departments which list defects the manufacturer has found with vehicles, but which have not risen, at that point, to the level of necessitating an official recall.
2009-09-29-2007ToyotaCamry.jpg 2007 Toyota Camry

These TSBs are sometimes called "secret recalls" because the manufacturer does not have to make the information available to all affected vehicle owners nor fix the problem for free when a vehicle with the problem comes in for service. Owners usually don't know about these TSBs and the carmaker does not have to contact owners with TSB information. If an owner does not report the specific problem described in the TSB when bringing a vehicle in for service, the dealer does not have to inform the owner or make that specific repair.

This floor mat recall is a bit unusual because owners are being asked to "make a fix" right away and on their own; this tell us the government considers the problem an immediate and important safety risk. Toyota and Lexus will recall the affected vehicles to dealers when a full repair is developed.

In most instances of recalls, we recommend calling an authorized dealer to check on whether or not your car is part of the recall, and, if it is, to make an appointment with the dealer so the bug can be fixed in reasonably fast time. As with all recalls, the vehicle owner pays nothing for the service performed by the dealer and the dealer can not ask for any payment.

Full recall and TSB information for all cars and trucks sold in the US is available at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website, www.NHTSA.gov.