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Toyota recalls 154K Lexus vehicles for unintended acceleration at request of safety regulators

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In the latest installment of Toyota’s unintended acceleration saga, the company has announced a recall of two 2010 Lexus SUV models at the urging of federal transportation safety officials.

Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling 154,036 Lexus RX models because an unsecured or incompatible driver’s floor mat can cause entrapment of the accelerator pedal in the wide-open position, which may result high vehicle speeds and difficulty stopping that could cause a crash, serious injury or death. Toyota issued the recall at the request of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) after the agency received a significant number of consumer complaints.

Affected by the recall are 131,799 model year 2010 Lexus RX350 vehicles manufactured from December 8, 2008 through September 1, 2010, and 22,237 2010 Lexus RX450h manufactured November 28, 2008 through August 19, 2010.

Dealers will modify or replace the acceleration pedal and any non-approved driver’s floor mats in affected vehicles.

The recall of these Lexus RX SUVs expands one of the largest safety recalls in history, which lead to Congressional hearings and Toyota paying $48 million in fines in 2010 for failing to recall the vehicles in a timely manner.

Toyota may now face another investigation by the NHTSA.

“NHTSA approached Toyota regarding this issue late last month after the agency observed an increase in consumer complaints and other reports regarding pedal entrapment in these vehicles,” the NHTSA said in a statement. “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. NHTSA is requesting additional documentation from the manufacturer and is considering opening an investigation into whether Toyota met its obligation to notify the agency and conduct a recall in a timely manner.”

Bloomberg reports that the NHTSA is aware of 97 incidents of floor mat interference with the accelerator pedal.

However, it is unclear just how many cases of unintended acceleration have occurred with the Lexus RX models. In the letter acknowledging the recall, the NHTSA admonishes Toyota for failing to include certain required information, specifically:

  • The chronology of events leading to the company’s decision to conduct the safety recall, including a summary of all warranty claims and field or service reports related to the defect.
  • A schedule in which Toyota will notify vehicle owners of the recall.

The Lexus recall website states owners of affected vehicles will receive a safety recall notification by mail in August 2012.

The manufacturer advises that, “Owners should take out any removable driver’s floor mat and NOT replace it with any other floor mat until the recall remedy has been completed on the vehicle.”