Report: NHTSA knew in 2007 of unintended acceleration reports in Lexus ES 350s

Article by Christian A., on August 26, 2010

The Washington Post's report that claims Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had known since 2007 of unintended acceleration reports in Lexus ES-350s in Ohio has added to the confusion.

The report said that of every 100 Lexus ES-350 owners in that state, at least three experienced unintended acceleration. The Post reported that the investigation concluded that only a small number of vehicles were affected.

Back then, Toyota and the NHTSA determined that the cause was the accelerator getting stuck in the grooves of all-weather floor mats.

 Toyota declared a recall of about 55,000 floor mats and considered the case to be closed. The final report on this study was made on April 30, 2008. Recently, Toyota's massive recalls due to unintended acceleration have been reported widely.

In an interview with Automotive News, Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich. and chairman of the House Energy subcommittee on oversight, said that it is unclear just how far back the issue goes.

Stupak cited the probe in 2007 but he said that there were already reports of unintended acceleration involving Toyota cars since 2004.

This led him to question how truthful Toyota had been in addressing this problem. Toyota Motor Sales USA President James Lentz told congressional investigators that the company first learned about the problems with sticky accelerator pedals last October.

The new 2013 Lexus ES is now tuned to deliver more precise handling, thanks its stiffer body, modified suspension and a quicker steering gear ratio.

Lexus was able to increase the ES’s body rigidity by employing lightweight, high tensile strength steel while adding bracing and more spot welds. Likewise, Lexus ensured smoother airflow beneath the ES, thereby improving stability and fuel economy while reducing aerodynamic drag.

On the front, the new Lexus ES features a suspension that makes use of opposite-wound coil springs, thereby resulting to better stability during straight-line drive. On the rear, the suspension geometry was revised while the shock absorber damping attributes were revised, thereby resulting to improved ride comfort.

By reducing the steering gear ratio from 16.1:1 to 14.8:1, steering has become more responsive and offers a more direct feel. Lexus will have the new ES ride on – as standard -- on 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 215/55R17 low rolling resistance tires. The Lexus ES350 could be optionally equipped with high-gloss 17-inch wheels or 18-inch high-gloss alloy wheels.

In terms of safety, the new Lexus ES is laden with a wide array of standard and available safety features. One of the available safety features is the optional Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), which helps drivers detect vehicles in their side blind spots. While backing out from a parking spot, RCTA would send alerts to the driver should it detect rear cross traffic.

Meanwhile, the available Lane Departure Alert (LDA) is now backed by automatic high beam dimming technology. Also, the available Pre-Collision System (PCS) employs sub-millimeter wave radar to detect certain obstructions ahead on the road while preparing the Lexus ES for a possible collision.

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