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Brett Emison
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Toyota Denied Sudden Acceleration Problem For More Than 5 Years

16 comments

It appears that Toyota has denied its sudden acceleration problem for more than 5 years. Toyota’s recall for floor mat problems is not the end of the story and the company needs to do more to protect its customers and the motoring public.

In March 2004, the Center For Auto Safety reported about sudden acceleration problems in 2002-03 Toyota Camrys and Solaras and the 2002-03 Lexus ES 300.

WASHINGTON — A relatively new technology, the electronic throttle, is a leading suspect in a wave of claims that some vehicles unexpectedly accelerate out of control. Government investigators are looking at 2002-03 Toyota Camrys and Solaras and Lexus ES 300s to determine if they are defective. More than a million cars are in service. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has begun a preliminary investigation of the latest claims. It is gathering about 37 complaints of sudden acceleration by owners of the Toyota and Lexus cars. The complaints include 30 reports of crashes. They involved injuries to five people; one of them was seriously hurt.

According to AutoSafety.org, by the year 2000, there had been more than 22,600 reported complaints of sudden acceleration.

More than five years ago, Toyota and NHTSA identified the electronic throttle as the most likely source of the sudden acceleration defect. However, Toyota continued — and continues today — to dismiss concerns about its throttle control system and has looked only at the floor mat issue.

Four years later — in June 2008 — the Detroit Free Press and the Motor Authority reported that Toyota had dismissed additional customer complaints that the popular Toyota Tacoma pickup truck had been experiencing the same sudden acceleration issue as other Toyota and Lexus vehicles.

Now, Toyota’s Tacoma pickup is receiving complaints in the U.S. because of the same unintended acceleration defect.

A total of 432 customers have reported unintended or sudden acceleration [problems] in their vehicles, resulting in 51 crashes and 12 injuries. Toyota has responded by stating that its Tacoma is not defective and that many reports were "inspired by publicity," reports the Detroit Free Press.

In 2008 — like in 2004 — Toyota refused to take the sudden acceleration issue seriously. Instead of fixing the known problem in its vehicles, Toyota publicly accused its own customers of trying to cash in on Toyota’s negative publicity.

By October 2009, Toyota was forced to finally acknowledge sudden acceleration problems in the following vehicles:

  • 2007-2010 Toyota Camry
  • 2005-2010 Toyota Avalon
  • 2004-2009 Toyota Prius
  • 2005-2010 Toyota Tacoma
  • 2007-2010 Toyota Tundra
  • 2007-2010 Lexus ES350
  • 2006-2010 Lexus IS250
  • 2006-2010 Lexus IS 350

In October 2009, Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda, was forced to publicly apologize for the tragic death of an American family who were killed when their Toyota vehicle suddenly accelerated out of control. This tragedy was recorded by 911 as the passengers desperately tried to slow or stop their out of control Toyota vehicle.

As the Detroit Free Press reported:

TOKYO — Toyota’s president said it was “extremely regrettable” an American family died in a crash in which a floor mat in one of the Japanese automaker’s vehicles is suspected as the cause.

"Four precious lives have been lost," Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda said Friday. "I offer my deepest condolences."

***

That crash killed California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor, 45 — who was driving a Lexus, a Toyota luxury model — and three family members on State Route 125 outside San Diego.

The vehicle was traveling at more than 120 mph when it launched off an embankment, rolled several times and burst into flames.

Despite more than 5 years of documented sudden acceleration problems in Toyota and Lexus vehicles and the tragic death of a family of four caught on tape, Toyota still has refused to accept any responsibility or acknowledge any defect:

Toyoda said the company was still deciding what action it would take and did not acknowledge any vehicle problem during his appearance at the Japan National Press Club.

He apologized for any worries customers may have.

“I feel sorry that people who are driving Toyota and Lexus cars believing in their safety are now feeling uncertainties,” he said.

Toyota has ignored customer reports of the sudden acceleration problem for more than 5 years. Despite this growing safety concern, Toyota announced today, November 6, 2009, a third-quarter profit of nearly $250 million. In the last 90 days — while its cars were running out of control — Toyota made a profit of nearly $3 miller per day. Toyota also increased its sales projection to more than 7 million vehicles for this year.

Langdon & Emison is aware of more than 2100 reported instances of Toyota sudden acceleration. Instead of listening to its customers and fixing the extremely dangerous sudden acceleration problem — a problem Toyota has known about for more than 5 years — Toyota is raking in money and placing even more dangerous cars and trucks on American roads. Toyota needs to take these complaints seriously and fix the millions of dangerous vehicles on our streets and highways.

[Read more about Toyota Sudden Acceleration]

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16 Comments

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  1. Linda Vartanian says:
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    I drive a 2004 Toyota Sienna and have always thought of it as a safe car….I am wondering if there are any reports of this sudden acceleration problem with Sienna mini-vans.

  2. Aliese Erickson says:
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    We have a 2009 Toyota Corola that the accelerator has stuck 4 times with 3 different drivers. Have had the car into toyota 2 times and both times they said they could not find anything wrong. The second time they called corporate and they said the why the car is made it could not happen! Yes we just lie about it for the heck of it. What a bunch of bologna. How many more people have to die or are hurt before they will do anything about it.!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Joanne Merkel says:
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    I am the new owner of a ES 350 Lexus and I wish I had bee aware of the acceleration problems prior to my purchase. What, if anything, can you do if this problem happens while driving? I have a beautiful new car that I am afraid to drive.

  4. Brett Emison says:
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    I have had many people ask me what they can do if their vehicle experiences the sudden acceleration problem. I’ve posted a new blog on this topic at http://kansascity.injuryboard.com/automobile-accidents/toyota-sudden-acceleration-what-to-do-if-it-happens-to-you.aspx?googleid=274116 or visit http://kansascity.injuryboard.com.

  5. Lynn Brennan says:
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    I had 2 incidents where my brakes did not engage, and the car continued to accelerate in my Lexus GS300. In both incidents I was traveling at a speed of 30 mph or less. I brought my car in immediately to the Lexus Dealer service department. After thorough testing they released the car to me with no answers. It is weird how the incidents were many years apart. The first was at a stop light where the brake would not engage and I ran the red light honking through the intersection and the second time was at a stop sign where we hit the person in front of us. I keep wondering if I might not be so lucky next time the brakes fail and the car accelerates on its own. Neither time was I told by the dealer about putting the car in Neutral. I’m concerned about the safety of myself and others with this problem still remaining unsolved.

  6. Facebook User says:
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    Hey America I have an idea: Buy cars made in your own country by an American Company!

    Looks like the best cars in the world do not come from Japan now do they

    If anyone was wondering my Chevy only accelerates
    when my foot is on the pedal

    I thought it was a pretty cool selling feature

    Wake up people !

    the best, safest cars in the world are made right here in North America by the big 3!

  7. FYI says:
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    Toyota owners file class-action suit over unintended acceleration
    http://www.leftlanenews.com/toyota-owners-file-class-action-suit-over-uninteded-acceleration.html
    (excerpt):
    As of Thursday, November 5th (2009) a Redlands California-based law firm (McCune Wright) has filed a class-action lawsuit against Toyota Motor Corp. on behalf of two Los Angeles County residents which have each experienced multiple cases of unintended acceleration. The class-action suit is intended for Toyota and Lexus owners who were involved in automotive accidents as a result of unexplained sudden acceleration.

    Smart Gas Pedals May Solve Floor-Mat Problem
    By Christopher Jensen October 7, 2000
    http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/07/smart-gas-pedals-may-solve-floor-mat-problem/

    (excerpts): Some automakers – primarily European — are using an unusual method to reduce the chances of unintended acceleration from something like a floor mat getting tangled up with the accelerator: smart gas pedals.

    If the vehicle is moving and both the gas and brake pedal are being pushed at the same time the computer tells the engine to ignore the gas pedal.

    “It is an additional safety feature,” said Thomas Plucinsky, a BMW spokesman. “The brake takes precedence.”

  8. FED UP says:
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    A very simple fix all of the affected Toyota vehicles should be banned from the roads across America. I for one do not want to be driving my American car and get rear ended by a Toyota going 100 miles an hour on the freeway. If this was an American car manufacturer they would be crucified by the press on a daily basis but this will never happen with Toyota, it is racist to be critical of them period. I guess the only protection we have are the courts in this country and suing them out of business.

  9. Harvey Grove says:
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    I am in the middle of purchasing a “certified” 2007 LEXUS ES350. At no time was I ever informed of this accelerator problem by the salesman or any other member of the LEXUS organization. The “withholding of information” has serious implications…. particularly since Toyota now acknowledges the problem. They do not know what causes the problem but they admit something is happening. It has happened multiple times on a single vehicle in a nummber of cases.

    I gave them a $5000 deposit via credit card to show “good faith”. I will have to cancel the charge at AMEX before I get their monthly bill. I wonder how the dealer will handle it. In this state there is a consumer law that requires them to pay TREBLE DAMAGES PLUS ATTORNEY’S FEES. There is also an automobile LEMON LAW.

  10. Eral Wynn says:
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    I own a 2008 Lexus 350. So far no problems. From the problems I have read about I am reluctant to drive my car. Do I have any recourse with Toyota or with the dealer as I am paying for an auto I am afraid to use?

  11. Roger A. says:
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    I have owned my 2009 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck for almost a year. This past summer I was stopped at a red light and crosswalk. Just as a couple started to cross in front of me the engine started revving uncontrollably – and the rear times began smoking as I pressed the brake as hard as I could. I was able to put the shift into neutral and turn off the engine – but it scared the @#$% out of me, my passenger, and I’m sure the couple in the crosswalk. I filed a complaint on the NTSB but never received a reply. It hasn’t happened since – but I can only hope it doesn’t do so at a more inopportune time. Very unnerving! By the way – I did look at the floor mats – and there is absolutely no way for them to cause this issue. There are rubber guides on the floor that prevent the mats from sliding anywhere near the accelerator pedal. I’ve owned three Toyotas now – but will seriously consider another make the next time. Too bad because I love the vehicle except for this problem – but am so disappointed in Toyota’s response to a potentially deadly defect.

  12. Facebook User says:
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    I own a lexus that is part of the recall. We had the floor mats secured. My experiance is that the car Sudden Acceleration happens all the time when the car is shifting gears. As to the lexus Sudden Acceleration problem I am going to look into the Lemen Law.

  13. Farm Mom says:
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    You’d think Toyota would be far more concerned about this dangerous situation. They have gambled not only with people’s lives, but with the hard-won trust they have tried to establish with their products over the years. To shift the blame for these accelerator incidents on floor mat design seems incredibly irresponsible. I wish the fed’s would recall every single one of them. I’m in the market for a new car, but it won’t be a Toyota now. Daily transportation shouldn’t mean being worried about your family’s safety.

  14. FYI says:
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    Data point to Toyota’s throttles, not floor mats
    (L.A.Times November 29, 2009)
    Amid widening concern over acceleration events, Toyota has cited ‘floor mat entrapment.’ But reports point to another potential cause: the electronic throttles that have replaced mechanical systems.
    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-toyota-throttle29-2009nov29,0,5254584.story

  15. george bower says:
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    Obviously the problem is not the floor matts. It seems to me to be the electronic accellerater and the real fix would be to go back to the cable system.
    When was the last time the cable was used?

  16. Doug says:
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    @ Jason Ozur “I own a lexus that is part of the recall. We had the floor mats secured. My experiance is that the car Sudden Acceleration happens all the time when the car is shifting gears.”

    This sounds like the “transmission shift flare” problem affecting the ES350. The transmission slips (gears do not engage) when upshifting, causing the engine to rev momentarily. This is not related to the sudden acceleration issue. It’s a well known defect, but good luck getting Lexus to fix it, since the transmission must be replaced & it’s expensive.