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Toyota Owners Encounter Acceleration Problems After Recall Fix

Posted: Mar 04, 2010 09:15 a.m.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has received at least seven complaints from Toyota owners who say they are experiencing unintended acceleration even after their cars have been repaired as part of Toyota’s floor mat and accelerator pedal recalls.

“The Los Angeles Times reports that many experts feel the gas pedal, floor mat and brake override fixes aren't enough, as they don't deal with the actual root of the problem,” explains Autoblog. “Still, we'll have to take these new complaints with a grain of salt until NHTSA actually verifies that the allegations are, in fact, true.”

The Associated Press reports on one particular incident in which a man’s “2009 Camry accelerated to about 15 mph on a street near his home on Saturday, five days after a dealership trimmed the gas pedal and installed new brake override software as part of the floor mat recall.” They go on to note that the car “didn't stop for several seconds even though he pressed on the brakes.”

NHTSA is encouraging Toyota owners who have experienced similar situations after Toyota has fixed their vehicles to come forward. Meanwhile, Toyota officials continue to insist “in the strongest terms yet that there was no evidence that an electronic defect might be causing unintended acceleration of its vehicles despite compelling new data suggesting a link,” writes the Detroit News.

The new data comes from auto insurance company State Farm. The Detroit News reports that they “found claims relating to unintended acceleration in Toyota Camry sedans more than tripled in 2002 after the automaker introduced electronic throttle control in the model. Similar claims relating to the smaller Corolla nearly tripled in 2005, after it was equipped with electronic throttle control, according to State Farm, which warned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about the trends.”

While the government continues to investigate, consumer auto site Edmunds.com is taking the situation into its own hands. It plans to award one million dollars to anyone who addresses unanswered questions about the unintended acceleration problems.

Edmunds writes in a press release: “This problem has been festering for more than 20 years when Audi fell prey to notorious headlines about the subject. Personal anecdotes about unintended acceleration occur throughout Edmunds' CarSpace forums, the most established automotive community online. … We have heard compelling testimony from consumers. Many incidents are not fully addressed by recalls. NHTSA is responding to the challenge with more of what they have already done: additional investigations. Isn't it time to try a different approach?”

The company is still drafting rules for the prize and is “attempting to attract the best thinkers in the world to apply themselves to determine what is really causing sudden unexpected acceleration in vehicles.” They ask participants to “demonstrate in a controlled environment a repeatable factor that will cause an unmodified new vehicle to accelerate suddenly and unexpectedly.”

The government has now tied 52 deaths -- an increase from the previous 34 -- to Toyota’s unintended acceleration problem. As part of its solution to the problem, Toyota is outfitting recalled models with an override system and plans to equip all new models sold in the U.S. with the system by 2011.

NHTSA is also considering a recommendation that would require all new cars sold in the U.S. to be equipped with the system, which would deactivate the accelerator when the brake pedal is pressed.

“A reliable override system could be important to U.S. motorists, relieving anxieties created by the Toyota acceleration reports,” writes the Associated Press.

Left Lane News clarifies that, “Although these systems would not fix the root cause of computer related cases of unintended acceleration, it would at least offer a safety solution to drivers.”

Check out the latest Toyota recall news and information, including how the company's recent troubles affect our rankings. 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.