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Toyota expands unintended acceleration recall, adding 154k Lexus SUVs

It has been a long time since anyone has talked about the massive Toyota recalls from 2009 that were designed to help prevent “unintended acceleration” but today Toyota announced that they were expanding that original recall, now calling back the 2010 Lexus RX350 and RX450h to address the same floor mat issue that was among one of the causes of unintended acceleration a few years back.

Toyota’s statement today was short and sweet, plainly explaining that Toyota Motor Sales was once again amending the 2009 recall order - this time adding the 2010 Lexus RX350 and the 2010 Lexus RX450h – with 131,800 examples of the RX350 being included alongside 22,200 hybrid Lexus sport utility vehicles. Owners of these 154,000+ Lexus vehicles will be notified in early August to return to their local dealership where a technician will “remedy the involved vehicles”. No details have been offered as to how Toyota plans to fix the problem but it likely includes new floor mats, new retaining clips, or both.

Since the NHTSA had basically moved on from the unintended acceleration investigations with Toyota, it comes as a bit of a surprise for the Japanese automaker who has worked so hard to move past that to bring the topic back up. Some would say that this is a sign of Toyota being proactive and recalling a vehicle based on the mere chance of a problem but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration isn’t quite as appreciative as you would think.

It turns out that the NHTSA isn’t happy about this new announcement and reports indicate that the feds are now launching an investigation into Toyota’s timeliness in reporting this problem. If Toyota is found to have known about the 2010 Lexus RX350 and RX450h possibly being involved in the unintended acceleration recalls of 2009 and 2010 but they did not report it earlier, the automaker could be back in hot water with the US federal government. Keep in mind; Toyota has already been fined millions of dollars for not reporting these problems in a timely manner when it was proven that they knew about the unintended acceleration issues well before they made the NHTSA aware of the problem. Should the NHTSA find that Toyota knew of the pedal entrapment issue previously, the government could decide to slap Toyota with another massive fiduciary penalty.

In 2009, Toyota Motor Co recalled over 5.2 million vehicles in the United States due to floor mat entrapment issues – meaning that the floor mat can shift around and cause the accelerator to get stuck against the floor. The company had found that in at least one case of unintended acceleration, the vehicle in question that was out of control had all weather floormats that came free of the retaining clips and bunched up around the gas pedal.

Vehicles included in the original pedal entrapment recall:
2005–2010 Toyota Avalon
2007–2010 Toyota Camry
2009–2010 Toyota Corolla
2008–2010 Toyota Highlander
2009–2010 Toyota Matrix
2004–2009 Toyota Prius
2005–2010 Toyota Tacoma
2007–2010 Toyota Tundra
2009–2010 Toyota Venza
2007–2010 Lexus ES 350
2006–2010 Lexus IS 250
2006–2010 Lexus IS 350

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Toyota Motor Co also recalled 2.3 million vehicles in 2010 as part of the unintended acceleration recall process with those vehicles reportedly having accelerator pedal assemblies that could be “sticky”. These vehicles could experience situations where the gas pedal was either slow to return when the driver removes his or her foot, or it could hang all the way down. These occurrences seemed to be far less common than the floor mats being bunched up under the pedal. Roughly 1.7 million of the vehicles included in this recall were also included in the accelerator pedal entrapment recall.

Vehicles included in the sticky accelerator pedal recall:
2005–2010 Toyota Avalon
2007–2010 Toyota Camry (non-hybrid only)
2009–2010 Toyota Corolla
2008-2010 Toyota Highlander (non-hybrid only)
2009–2010 Toyota Matrix
2009–2010 Toyota RAV4
2008–2010 Toyota Sequoia
2007–2010 Toyota Tundra
2009–2010 Toyota Venza

It will be interesting to see how this shakes out for Toyota, as they clearly are working to recall any vehicles that present a risk of unintended acceleration but the NHTSA wants to make sure that they didn’t know about it earlier and hold off on making the announcement. In any case, it has been quite some time since there have been any reports of Toyota vehicles experiencing unintended acceleration but their own efforts to report recalls has seemingly brought the Japanese automaker back into the focus of the US government.

Source: The Detroit News