The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Business

June 29, 2012

Toyota’s pedal-entrapment risk now includes Lexus SUVs

LOS ANGELES — Toyota Motor Corp. has run into another pedal-entrapment issue - this time with its Lexus sport utility vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Friday that it has told Toyota, which owns the Lexus luxury brand, to recall model year 2010 Lexus RX 350 and RX 450 H vehicles “for a serious safety issue involving potential pedal entrapment by the floor mat.”

If the mat traps the gas pedal, the vehicle could speed out of control.

The recall, which Toyota launched Friday, includes 154,000 vehicles.

Regulators also are warning the automaker that it might face another investigation as to whether the company “met its obligation to notify the agency and conduct a recall in a timely manner.”

Previously, Toyota paid record federal fines of nearly $50 million for failing to promptly inform regulators of defects in its vehicles and for delaying recalls.

The latest NHTSA move follows a massive Toyota recall of 3.8 million vehicles sold in the United States in late 2009 to resolve concerns that floor mats in cars and trucks could cause their gas pedals to become stuck, leading to uncontrollable acceleration.

That recall covered eight models of Toyota and Lexus vehicles, including various years of Camrys, Priuses and Tundra pickups, but not the RX model of SUVs.

The recall came after a San Diego man and three passengers were killed in a high-speed crash of a Lexus ES sedan. Before the crash, the driver called 911 to report that the gas pedal was stuck and that the car was going 120 mph.

Toyota has received complaints from consumers about floor mat entrapment since 2004.

The NHTSA said it approached Toyota regarding this issue in the RX models last month after the agency observed an increase in consumer complaints and other reports regarding pedal entrapment in the vehicles.

“When Toyota confirmed last week that it had received a significant volume of complaints on the same issue, NHTSA asked the manufacturer to conduct a recall,” the safety agency said.

It is also asking for more information from the automaker.

“NHTSA urges consumers impacted by the recall to immediately remove the floor mat and have their vehicles serviced promptly,” the agency said. “While NHTSA anticipates the remedy proposed by Toyota will address the problem, the agency will continue to monitor the issue and will take appropriate action as warranted.”

 

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