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Sticking Accelerators Prompts Recall of 2.3 Million Toyotas

Posted: Jan 22, 2010 10:09 a.m.

If you own a Toyota, you probably got a recall this past Fall to fix your driver's floor mat, which the company said may have been contributing to reports of unintended acceleration by some Toyota and Lexus vehicles. Even if your floor mat has been removed or secured, get ready for a possible second trip to the dealership.

USA Today reports, "In another blow to its quality image, Toyota Motor announced Thursday a second huge recall of vehicles for another problem that could cause the throttle to stick open."

Unlike the first recall, which affected more than four million Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles, this recall is for 2.3 million Toyotas, from the 2005 model year to the current one.  Some cars affected by the first recall are also included in this one.

According to ABC News, "The recall was announced late Thursday afternoon, after ABC News informed the company that the latest in a long series of ABC News investigative reports into sudden unexplained acceleration in Toyotas was about to air."

The New York Times says, "Toyota said that it did not yet have a solution but in the meantime instructed drivers who experience a stuck [accelerator] pedal to brake with 'firm and steady' pressure." MSNBC says the current recall shows that Toyota is "acknowledging that potential accelerator pedal problems were deeper than previously acknowledged."

Automotive News explains reasons behind the two separate recalls: "Toyota spokesman John Hanson said the first recall has to do with pedal entrapment and the second involves a faulty pedal design by a supplier." They add, "In the latest recall, all of the vehicles were built in North America and the pedal mechanism was from a North American supplier." Hanson also told Automotive News, "We're finding that [the pedals] prematurely wear."

MSNBC says, "Toyota previously had maintained there was no evidence of a mechanical fault linked to reported bursts of unintended acceleration that prompted the original recall last year." ABC news reports, "An ABC News investigation, however, found that many drivers and safety experts rejected this explanation, asking instead if there was an issue with the electronic components that control acceleration."

The New York Times writes that after the first recall, "the automaker continued to be dogged by reports of unintended acceleration and stuck pedals even in cases where the floor mats had been removed, a stopgap measure recommended by Toyota."  In fact, "The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been looking into two recent incidents in Texas and New Jersey, and was considering starting an investigation. Four people died on Dec. 26 near Dallas when a Toyota Avalon sped off a road and into a pond. Police found the floor mats in the Avalon’s trunk."

USA Today spoke to Dan Edmunds, an engineer and director of vehicle testing at Edmunds.com.  He told the paper, "'there's no reason to wait' if you're worried about the throttle pedal working properly," and recommended that owners get the throttle assembly changed. Because Toyota says the problem is related to wear, "Even if it wasn't the redesigned part, you'd be starting with something on which the (wear) clock is at zero. You'd be fine for a while. Then, when the recall part is available, you could get it swapped out again," he told USA Today.

At this time, however owners would have to do that at their own expense. ABC news reports, "In its statements, Toyota does not claim the 'sticking gas pedal' recall is a complete fix and says it will continue to investigate other incidents of unwanted acceleration, including those cited by ABC News."

The string of recalls and high-profile accidents have severely marred Toyota's reputation. MSNBC says, "The safety stumbles have dinged Toyota's reputation in the U.S. as a builder of dependable, high-quality cars. Last year's recall was the sixth-largest ever in the United States."

The current recall affects the following cars: 

• 2009-2010 RAV4
• 2009-2010 Corolla
• 2009-2010 Matrix
• 2005-2010 Avalon
• 2007-2010 Camry
• 2010 Highlander
• 2007-2010 Tundra
• 2008-2010 Sequoia

Affected owners should call Toyota at 1-800-331-4331.

If you're in the market for a new car, check out the U.S. News rankings of this year's best cars as well as this month's best car deals.