Many of you have already heard about the recent Toyota recall notice. On November 25, 2009, Toyota announced details of the potential risk and what consumers could do to help prevent a disaster from happening. Here is the full press release:
“Torrance, Calif., November 25, 2009 – Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (TMS) announced today details of the vehicle-based remedy to address the root cause of the potential risk for floor mat entrapment of accelerator pedals in certain Toyota and Lexus models. Toyota issued a consumer safety advisory on September 29 on this issue and has, as an interim measure, commenced the mailing of safety notices to certain Toyota and Lexus owners on October 30.
The models involved are: 2007 to 2010 MY (model year) Camry, 2005 to 2010 MY Avalon, 2004 to 2009 MY Prius, 2005 to 2010 MY Tacoma, 2007 to 2010 MY Tundra, 2007 to 2010 MY ES350, 2006 to 2010 MY IS250, and 2006 to 2010 MY IS 350.
The specific measures of the vehicle-based remedy are as follows:
1. The shape of the accelerator pedal will be reconfigured to address the risk of floor mat entrapment, even when an older-design all-weather floor mat or other inappropriate floor mat is improperly attached, or is placed on top of another floor mat. For the ES350, Camry, and Avalon models involved, the shape of the floor surface underneath will also be reconfigured to increase the space between the accelerator pedal and the floor.
2. Vehicles with any genuine Toyota or Lexus accessory all-weather floor mat will be provided with newly-designed replacement driver- and front passenger-side all-weather floor mats.
In addition, as a separate measure independent of the vehicle-based remedy, Toyota will install a brake override system onto the involved Camry, Avalon, and Lexus ES 350, IS350 and IS 250 models as an extra measure of confidence. This system cuts engine power in case of simultaneous application of both the accelerator and brake pedals.
Toyota is in the process of completing development of these actions and for the ES350, Camry, and Avalon will start notifying owners of the involved vehicles via first-class mail by the end of this year. The remedy process regarding the other five models will occur on a rolling schedule during 2010.
Dealers will be trained and equipped to make the necessary modifications to these models starting at the beginning of 2010. Initially, dealers will be instructed on how to reshape the accelerator pedal for the repair. As replacement parts with the same shape as the modified pedal become available, they will be made available to dealers for the repair, beginning around April 2010. Customers who have had the remedy completed will have the opportunity to receive a new pedal if they desire.
In the meantime, owners of the involved vehicles are asked to take out any removable driver’s floor mat and not replace it with any other floor mat until they are notified of the vehicle-based remedy, as notified in the consumer safety advisory and the interim notice.
The brake override system will be made standard equipment throughout the Toyota and Lexus product lines starting with January 2010 production of ES350 and Camry and is scheduled to be incorporated into new production of most models by the end of 2010.
The safety of our owners and the public is our utmost concern and Toyota has and will continue to thoroughly investigate and take appropriate measures to address any defect trends that are identified.
Owners who have further questions are asked to visit www.toyota.com or www.lexus.com or contact the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331 or Lexus Customer Assistance at 1-800-255-3987.”
Recall notices are great and let consumers know when to go in and potentially exchange parts for their cars, but they do not prepare us for the worst case scenario. Let’s say the accelerator gets stuck or the roof caves in while we are driving… then what?
Today while writing my “What to do in emergency situation” post (Tip 12), I decided to include what to do if the accelerator gets stuck. While researching online, much of the information seemed somewhat speculative and did not come from a surefire source. Since this was a potential hazard Toyota was responsible for, I decided to go to the source for the solution.
After calling the Toyota customer service representatives (800-331-4331) and jumping through several hoops, I was able to find a letter that was sent out to Toyota and Lexus owners regarding this potential hazard. According to the customer service representative, all owners of the afflicted Toyota and Lexus models received this letter (http://pressroom.toyota.com/pr/tms/document/Lexus_owner_letter_11.2.09.pdf). The letter documents the risk and recommended procedures which I have included below:
“What is the risk? 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.
What should you do? We request that you take out any removable driver’s floor mat and NOT replace it with any other floor mat until the campaign remedy is ready and implemented on your vehicle. In the event you choose not to take out your removable floor mat, Lexus strongly recommends that you ensure that the correct floor mat is being used, that it is properly installed and secured, that it is not flipped over with the bottom-side up, and that one floor mat is not stacked over another. Information on proper floor mat installation for your vehicle is enclosed with this notification. Please visit http://www.lexus.com/floormats for information on other models.
What should you do if you experience accelerator pedal interference? Should the vehicle continue to accelerate rapidly after releasing the accelerator pedal, this could be an indication of floor mat interference. If this occurs, Lexus recommends you take the following actions:
- 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.”
I personally found the information in the letter very useful. So did my colleague who owns a 2008 Toyota Prius Hybrid (one of the models involved in the recall) who did not receive this letter. Hopefully this information finds its way to people like him who should know this information. Please help spread the word to ensure that the roads are safe for everyone.
If you do happen to get into a car accident because of faulty hardware, it is recommended that you consult a car accident personal injury lawyer. The Car Accident Injury Helpline is specially equipped to help victims get in contact with local personal injury lawyers. Consultations are often free so make sure you know your legal rights before making any decisions. To get in contact with the Injury Helpline you can call them at 1-866-676-0694 or visit their website at http://www.caraccidentinjuryhelpline.com/.
Good luck and please be safe and cautious on the roads!