(LOS ANGELES, Feb. 5, 2010) – The recall of Toyota models expanded during the past week and the company, prodded by federal safety agencies, initiated repairs to both the floor mat and sticking gas pedal issues.
For Toyota vehicle owners, the past week may have caused some confusion with the story seemingly changing each day. To highlight events from the past seven days:
- Eight models of popular Toyota cars and trucks, including Lexus, involved in floor mat and/or sticky gas pedals, were recalled. And because of this, Toyota’s production of these vehicles was shut down, and remains halted.
- Safety groups, including AAA, recommended driving safety tips to motorists who may experience a stuck accelerator pedal while driving any vehicle, not just Toyotas.
- U.S. federal safety regulators announced that they’ve opened a formal investigation of the 2010 Toyota Prius Hybrid for loss of braking while driving over road bumps, potholes or uneven road surfaces. (The 2010 Prius Hybrid vehicle is not part of the floor mat and sticky pedal recalls as of Thursday afternoon.)
- Toyota offered a mechanical fix to its accelerator issue with more days and around-the-clock hours extended to consumers for repairs. Meanwhile, U.S. federal safety regulators and congressional committees said they’re taking a new look at the electronic throttle systems in recalled Toyotas, thinking that the problem may be under the hood and not under the driver’s foot.
- The world’s largest car manufacturer may be subjected to fines by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- Toyota directed its customers of recalled vehicles to read letters the automaker sent them and then make a repair appointment at their local dealership.
- Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood suggested – and then later said he made “a misstatement” – in telling drivers of recalled Toyotas to stop driving them. He encouraged consumers involved in the Toyota recall to take them to the dealer for repairs, according to an Associated Press report.
- LaHood also said during a House Appropriations panel hearing that complaints about braking on the third-generation Prius Hybrid sedan also would be examined. Currently, there is no recall of Toyota Prius vehicles to address this issue. However, there are several news organizations reporting that Toyota will recall 270,000 Prius models worldwide to repair the brake problem. The Nikkei newspaper reports the recall will focus on the third-generation Prius models sold between May and December 2009. These reports have not been confirmed by Toyota or NHTSA at this time. NHTSA reported today it has received a number of complaints about a potential defect affecting the brake system in Toyota's Prius hybrid and has opened a formal investigation.
- Two U.S. House committees planned hearings into the Toyota gas pedal safety matter. One hearing was set for this week by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to ask if the public is at risk. This session is in addition to the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Feb. 25, hearing to delve into consumer complaints related to Toyota vehicles.
- Major U.S. rental companies removed Toyota vehicles from their fleets for the time being.
Consumers may also contact Toyota at 1-800-331-4331 or the NHTSA hotline 1-888-327-4236 for more information. They may also see additional information from Toyota on the recall on the Toyota USA Newsroom, http://pressroom.toyota.com/pr/tms/default.aspx, the best resource for consumers to get current information and updates from the automaker.
If a motorist experiences a stuck accelerator pedal while driving any vehicle, AAA recommends the following:
- Stay calm, but act quickly.
- Keep looking at the road ahead. Looking away from the road to see what’s wrong with the pedal will greatly increase the chances of a crash.
- Be sure the foot is completely off the accelerator. Some stuck accelerator crashes have later been found to be the result of an honest mistake—the driver thought he or she was pushing on the brake.
- Put the vehicle’s transmission in neutral or, in a vehicle with standard transmission, depress the clutch. Do NOT turn off the engine. Doing so will cause the power assist to steering and braking to disengage and make it difficult or impossible to steer, and harder to brake. Turning the key too far could possibly lock the steering wheel.
- Steer the car to a safe place and stop, and then turn off the engine. If stopped by the side of a road, turn on emergency flashers and put out flares or reflective triangles. If unable to get the vehicle off the roadway, allow it to come to a stop and turn on emergency flashers. Do not restart the vehicle.
If these steps don’t work and you’re unable to put the vehicle in neutral, Toyota officials say to turn the engine off. This will not cause loss of steering or braking control, but the power assist to these systems will be lost.
- If the vehicle is equipped with an Engine Start/Stop button, firmly and steadily push the button for at least three seconds to turn off the engine. Do NOT tap the Engine Start/Stop button.
- If the vehicle is equipped with a conventional key ignition, turn the ignition key to the ACC (accessory) position to turn off the engine. Do NOT remove the key from the ignition as this will lock the steering wheel.