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Toyota Replacing Gas Pedals in Sudden Acceleration Recall

Nov 25, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

Toyota Motor Corp. just announced it will replace accelerator pedals on approximately four million recalled vehicles in the United States, the Associated Press (AP) said. The pedals, said the AP, can become stuck in floor mats.

Beginning in January, Toyota dealers will shorten accelerator pedal length by about ¾-inch while Toyota develops replacement pedals for its vehicles, said the AP. The replacement pedals will begin to be installed on a rolling schedule this April and some of Toyota’s vehicles will also be installed with brake override systems, reported the AP.

The recall followed a well-publicized accident involving the deaths of a family and a number of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigations. The regulators criticized Toyota for making “inaccurate and misleading” statements claiming there was no defect in the nearly four million cars recalled following the accident in California that involved a loaner Lexus, said the LATimes, previously.

The NHTSA recently stated that the cars involved in the recall—Toyota and Lexus vehicles—contain an “underlying defect” that involves the cars’ accelerator pedal and driver’s side foot well, said the LATimes. Toyota long maintained that the issue is with an “improperly installed floor mat,” but did finally issue the massive recall late this September, telling owners to remove the driver's side floor mats to keep the gas pedal from becoming jammed.

The fatal crash on August 28 involved off-duty California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor (45); his wife, Cleofe (45); Mahala, their 13-year-old daughter; and Chris Lastrella (38), their brother-in-law; all four perished, said Detroit News previously. Details of the chilling accident that prompted the NHTSA to investigate the crash include the 2009 Lexus plummeting over an embankment and bursting into flames. The family was able to contact a 911 operator, saying they were unable to stop the ES 350; Lastrella advised the operator that the Lexus had no brakes. Most poignantly, the 911 tape, recently made public, included the family asking one another to pray at the recording’s end, just before their deaths, said Detroit News.

The Toyota Camry and Prius will be receiving fixes; the recall also includes the Lexus ES350, the vehicle involved in the fatal California accident, said the AP. Toyota officials said the recall would be limited to North America because floor mats are only sold in the U.S. Analysts expect the cost of the recall to be high due to the broad fixes needed, including new pedals, said the AP, which also noted that the car giant would be providing new replacement floor mats for driver and front-passenger sides.

The gas pedal recall includes the 2007-10 model year Camry, 2005-10 Toyota Avalon, 2004-09 Prius, 2005-10 Toyota Tacoma, 2007-10 Toyota Tundra, 2007-10 Lexus ES350, and 2006-10 Lexus IS250/350, said the AP. The NHTSA said 4.26 million vehicles are involved, new cars and trucks sold since September 2009, as well as others manufactured since the recall was recently announced. The brake override systems will be installed on Camry, Avalon and Lexus ES350, IS350, and IS250 to stop the vehicle if the brake and gas pedals are applied simultaneously, said the AP. That system will be standard on Toyota and Lexus vehicles by the end of next year.

Toyota also made a separate announcement in which is said that it was recalling 100,000 of its 2000-03-model year Tundras due to excessive frame rust, said the AP.


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