The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today (Tuesday, September 29, 2009) alerted Lexus and Toyota owners about conditions that could cause the accelerator to get stuck open under certain conditions. The agency strongly recommends taking out removable floor mats on the driver’s side in certain models and not to replace them with any other mat, either from Toyota or any other brand.

“This is an urgent matter,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “For everyone’s sake, we strongly urge owners of these vehicles to remove mats or other obstacles that could lead to unintended acceleration.”

NHTSA notes that there continue to be reports of accelerator pedal clearance issues which provide the potential for an accelerator pedal to get stuck in the full open position. A stuck accelerator may result in very high vehicle speeds and a crash, which could cause serious injury or death.

NHTSA said that Toyota has announced that it will soon launch a safety recall of various model year vehicles to redress the problem. However the safety agency warned owners to remove all driver-side floor mats from the models listed below immediately as an interim safety measure in advance of the recall.

Toyota and Lexus vehicles affected by this consumer alert are:

  • 2007-2010 Camry
  • 2005-2010 Avalon
  • 2004-2009 Prius
  • 2005-2010 Tacoma
  • 2007-2010 Tundra
  • 2007-2010 ES 350
  • 2006-2010 IS 250 and IS350

In September 2007, Toyota recalled an accessory all-weather floor mat sold for use in some 2007 and 2008 model year Lexus ES 350 and Toyota Camry vehicles because of similar problems.

Today’s advisory was precipitated by continued reports of vehicles accelerating rapidly after release of the accelerator pedal. The incidents appear to be related to factors including the use of a variety of unsecured mats, the particular configuration of the accelerator pedals in these vehicles, and the unique steps needed to shut off the engines in some of these vehicles with keyless ignition.