Toyota Motor Corp. informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in a letter on Monday that it is formally recalling 3.8 million Toyota vehicles. The recall is an effort to correct the problem of unintended acceleration many drivers of Toyota vehicles have experienced. The car manufacturer suspects that improperly secured and mismatched car mats can interfere with the gas pedal, causing it to jam in full open position. The recall is Toyota’s largest recall ever and the sixth largest recall in the U.S., according to the NHTSA.
According to Chris Santucci, Toyota’s assistant manager for technical and regulatory affairs, “there is a potential for an accelerator pedal to get stuck in the wide open position due to an unsecured or incompatible driver’s floor mat. 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.”
Vehicles included in the recall are:
- 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
- 2006-2010 Lexus IS250/IS350
In its letter, Toyota told the NHTSA that it has not found a “safety-related defect within the meaning of the federal safety laws,” but that it would nonetheless communicate the problem and corrective actions to Toyota drivers. The car manufacturer also said that the number of vehicles affected by the recall is subject to change as the company “refines” its recall list.
So far, Toyota has not figured out a permanent solution to the unintended acceleration danger. Last week, the company urged owners of the affected models to remove the driver’s side floor mat and refrain from replacing it until a solution could be found.
The mailing campaign announcing the recall to Toyota drivers will begin in late October and end in December. The company will re-notify consumers “about the availability for a free remedy” once it figures out a lasting solution to the problem. Toyota is still working on a timeline for the fix.
The massive recall was prompted by an August accident that claimed the lives of four family members. Mark Saylor, an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer, called 911 to report that the Lexus ES 350 he was driving on a San Diego freeway was speeding out of control. The car topped speeds of 120 mph before launching off an embankment and bursting into flames, killing Saylor, his wife, daughter, and brother-in-law. Listen to the traumatic 911 call:
In a remarkable showing of human concern, Toyota’s president Akio Toyoda apologized for the defect that ultimately claimed the life of Saylor and his family.
“Four precious lives have been lost. I offer my deepest condolences,” Toyoda said. “Customers bought our cars because they thought they were the safest. But now we have given them cause for grave concern. I can’t begin to express my remorse.”