Toyota Motor Corp. is urging 3.8 million owners of certain Toyota and Lexus models to remove the floor mats from their cars while the company figures out what has to be done to avoid the accidents that may result from unintended acceleration. Toyota will be sending out letters on Friday.
In a recent memo, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released its findings of an Aug. 28 accident involving a runaway Lexus ES 350 in San Diego that killed four people. The initial suspicion had been that a floor mat caught on the accelerator and this caused the excessive speed, leading to the accident.
Now, the NHTSA reports cited other significant factors: The accelerator pedal. The rigid, one-piece lever is formed from a composite plastic. Since the lever is not hinged beyond the main pivot, it has no means of relieving forces caused by interferences; The floor mat was not secure and was made for the Lexus RX crossover.
It was difficult to remove the mat because the bottom edge of the accelerator pedal had melted to the upper right hand corner of the mat; The push-button ignition start.
Instead of the key, there is a software push button that delays engine shutdown for three seconds once depressed. This instruction is not indicated on the dashboard; The brake pads and rotors were discolored and heated, consistent with endured braking. Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons said that the company hopes to issue the planned recall very soon.