Toyota Recalls another 2.3 Million Vehicles

By Brendan Moore

01.22.2010

Toyota logo-smallThe bad news concerning recalls keeps coming over at Toyota, with the company announcing yesterday that they intend to issue a recall for 2.3 million vehicles over possible sticking accelerators.

The action signals the second large recall of Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles in the last four months, following a recall of 4.2 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles for a faulty floormat issue, which potentially could jam a vehicle’s accelerator.

Toyota spokesman John Hanson said the previous recall has to do with pedal entrapment (by the floormat) and the current recall involves a faulty pedal design by a supplier.

Yesterday’s news accomplishes exactly what Toyota doesn’t want to occur; that is, forcing consumers to once again consider Toyota’s unintended acceleration problems. Toyota’s American customers are famously loyal to the company, but a steady drumbeat of recalls over serious safety issues will erode the strength of any brand, given enough time.

Toyota is certainly not in that situation yet. In 2009, Toyota recalled more vehicles (for various problems) than any other manufacturer in North America, yet, showed healthy gains in market share, and finished the year with a flourish, notching a unit sales gain of over 30% for the month of December.

Still, perhaps as many as a million Toyota owners may receive both recalls regarding possible unintended acceleration because of the overlap between affected models, and that is not what anyone would consider confidence-inducing in the short-term.

Toyota, to their credit, is scrambling to fix the problems, and, as announced by Yoshi Inaba, president of Toyota North America, at the Detroit Auto Show, intends to also install a brake override system on every new Toyota, Scion and Lexus vehicle manufactured from this point forward. Which won’t be cheap, and won’t be easy, but nonetheless, is what the company has committed to as part of the solution for this safety issue.

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Toyota’s official press release:

Toyota Files Voluntary Safety Recall on Select Toyota Division Vehicles for Sticking Accelerator Pedal

• Lexus and Scion Models Not Affected

• Filing Addresses Isolated Customer Complaints

• Separate From On-Going Recall Involving Floor Mat Pedal Entrapment Issue

TORRANCE, Calif., Jan. 21 — Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., today announced it would recall approximately 2.3 million vehicles to correct sticking accelerator pedals on specific Toyota Division models. This action is separate from the on-going recall of approximately 4.2 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles to reduce the risk of pedal entrapment by incorrect or out of place accessory floor mats. Approximately 1.7 million Toyota Division vehicles are subject to both separate recall actions.

“In recent months, Toyota has investigated isolated reports of sticking accelerator pedal mechanisms in certain vehicles without the presence of floor mats,” said TMS Group Vice President Irv Miller. “Our investigation indicates that there is a possibility that certain accelerator pedal mechanisms may, in rare instances, mechanically stick in a partially depressed position or return slowly to the idle position. Consistent with our commitment to the safety of our cars and our customers, we have initiated this voluntary recall action.”

Toyota’s accelerator pedal recall is confined to the following Toyota Division vehicles:

• 2009-2010 RAV4,

• 2009-2010 Corolla,

• 2009-2010 Matrix,

• 2005-2010 Avalon,

• 2007-2010 Camry,

• 2010 Highlander,

• 2007-2010 Tundra,

• 2008-2010 Sequoia

No Lexus Division or Scion vehicles are affected by this recall action. Also not affected are Toyota Prius, Tacoma, Sienna, Venza, Solara, Yaris, 4Runner, FJ Cruiser, Land Cruiser and select Camry models, including all Camry hybrids.

The condition is rare, but can occur when the pedal mechanism becomes worn and, in certain conditions, the accelerator pedal may become harder to depress, slower to return or, in the worst case, stuck in a partially depressed position. Toyota is working quickly to prepare the correction remedy.

In the event that a driver experiences an accelerator pedal that sticks in a partial open throttle position or returns slowly to idle position, the vehicle can be controlled with firm and steady application of the brakes. The brakes should not be pumped repeatedly because it could deplete vacuum assist, requiring stronger brake pedal pressure. The vehicle should be driven to the nearest safe location, the engine shut off and a Toyota dealer contacted for assistance.

Toyota will continue to investigate incidents of unwanted acceleration and take appropriate measures to address any trends that are identified.

Toyota owners who have questions or concerns should contact the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331.

Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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12 Comments

  1. Any other brand’s reputation would be in the toilet at this point after so many recalls related to unintended accelleration. Look at what happened to Audi two decades ago… I would think at some point consumers will wake up and pay attention to the quality lapses at Toyota, though.

  2. I am constantly surprised by the way Americans give Toyota a free pass on their failures. It’s quite the puzzle to me.

  3. At least they’re doing the right thing in terms of fixing the problem. No piece of machinery is made perfect every time. The thing to look for is how companies admit their mistakes and fix the problem.

  4. Toyota: Moving Forward (Whether you want to or not)

  5. Steven – that’s good.

  6. It’s now official, Toyota sucks. But at least the lousy quality is made up for by being fun to drive, right Toyota owners?

  7. There is no need for all the glee, I’m sure Toyota will recover soon.

  8. Plenty of other companies…Hyundai comes to mind… have issued “stuck accelerator” voluntary safety recalls.

    Frankly I’d be more concerned with a voluntary safety recall pertaining to a component that could lead to a vehicle fire.

    In the case of Hyundai a throttle solenoid was claimed to be problematic.

    Consumers need to remember that in the case of a “voluntary safety recall” there is no formal finding by the DOT that a component is in fact defective per se. It can connote that if a vehicle component is even improperly used it could result in an unsafe condition.

    In the case of Toyota’s voluntary floor mat recall the DOT had found that though there were several reports of “stuck” accelerators due to a winter/ rubber floormat, thicker than the traditional carpeted mats, often times the winter mat was placed atop the carpeted mat by the consumer. Consumers did so against the warnings of Toyota as printed in the owner’s manuals and on the floor mats themselves.

    If the DOT finds that a manufacturer so negligently put into the stream of commerce a design that directly caused fatalities and injury the DOT would issue a MANDATORY safety recall and likely levy a huge fine.

    In all fairness to Toyota that has not occurred here.

  9. I’m glad to see Toyota is taking some heat. They make boring cars and they could do better in that area, but they don’t.

    Compare that situation to the original VW Beetle. It was an extremely dependable car for it’s time, but that didn’t prevnt it from having a distinct personality and a unique look. Toyota serves up mediocre looks and performance daily, and get rewarded for it. I’m glad this is forcing people to reconsider their Toyota blandmobiles.

    I hope it takes a bite out of their sales.

  10. I still don’t understand how a floor mat can get on top of an accelerator, under the pedals yes, but on top? Are Toyota accelerator pedals that much lower than every other car made?

    What I’d really ike to see is numbers of not only how many cars are effected, but the raw numbers of how many cars have experienced problems.

    Ford recalld somthing like 20 million viehicles over fires caused by faulty cruise control components. But there were only (I think around 18) actual fires.

    If the odds of the proplem (whatever the problem is) croping up in your particular car is roughly the same as the odds of winning the lotto, I’m not certain it’s worth the hassle from the consumer’s perspective.

  11. Mark in AZ:

    Floor mats can get caught on top of a pedal when they bend or bunch up. Which can more easily happen if the floor mats are not properly fastened and merely “slide” around.

    In my Infiniti G coupe there is a conspicuous warning emblazoned on the Winter Mats: “To avoid interference with pedal operation DO NOT install Winter Mat on top of another floor mat. Failure to do so may result in an accident and serious personal injury.”

    This in a car where the clearance from carpet surface to bottom of accelerator pedal is appr. 1.5″.

    If auto manufacturers didn’t believe it was even remotely conceivable that drivers would be so careless why such warnings? Obviously they have plenty of data from NHTSA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to show otherwise.

  12. I’ve never seen such warnings on floor mats, but I normally drive Fords. (the current floor mats say Pontiac/GMC since I got the Mustang used from a GMC dealer)

    I’ve also never owned a car with a method to secure the floor mats. I could see them maybe getting trapped under the pedals (and under the brake could be a problem) but not on top.

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