The Legal Examiner Mark The Legal Examiner Mark The Legal Examiner Mark search twitter facebook feed linkedin instagram google-plus avvo phone envelope checkmark mail-reply spinner error close
Skip to main content

Update: Toyota Recall: Experts Point To Electronic Throttles; Not Floor Mats In Sudden Acceleration Problem


The Los Angeles Times has reported that federal safety regulators have sharply criticized Toyota for claiming safety officials had found "no defect" regarding Toyota’s sudden acceleration problem.

Toyota and Lexus vehicles have come under scrutiny as hundreds of customers have complained to the company and to federal safety regulators that Toyota and Lexus vehicles will suddenly accelerate out of control. In many instances, the drivers are left with little or no control and are unable to slow or stop the vehicle.

Federal safety regulators have sharply rebuked Toyota Motor Corp. for issuing "inaccurate and misleading" statements asserting that no defect exists in the 3.8 million vehicles it recalled after a Lexus sedan accelerated out of control in San Diego County, killing four people.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a statement Wednesday that the recalled Toyota and Lexus vehicles do have an "underlying defect" that involves the design of the accelerator pedal and the driver’s foot well.

Toyota has attempted to persuade owners of its vehicles that the sudden acceleration defect was limited to the gas pedal’s interaction with the floor mat and was unrelated to other factors, such as Toyotoa’s electronic throttle control system. Toyota also posted a video statement to dispute news reports that unintended acceleration may be related to these other factors.

Toyota’s "inaccurate and misleading" comments prompted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") to issue a sharp rebuke.

"Safety is the No. 1 priority for NHTSA and this is why officials are working with Toyota to find the right way to fix this very dangerous problem," the statement said. "This matter is not closed until Toyota has effectively addressed the defect by providing a suitable vehicle-based solution."

The statement is an unusual public upbraiding of an automaker by the regulatory agency, according to auto safety experts, and threatens to dent Toyota’s credibility just as it seeks to assure customers that its vehicles are safe.

NHTSA’s public rebuke of Toyota and Lexus did not surprise John Claybrook, a former head of NHTSA. "The agency never says there is no defect . . . . New information can come to light that there is a defect," Claybrook said.

Safety expert, Sean Kane, head of Safety Research and Strategies confirmed that "Toyota was trying to say it has a clean bill of health from NHTSA, when it does not."

In NHTSA’s investigations, the safety regulators found that Toyota’s brakes would lose most of their power and effectiveness when the throttle is fully opened — an event called "brake fade". Additionally, NHTSA found that the Toyota and Lexus push button ignition systems could add risk in sudden acceleration events.

Toyota has continued to focus solely on the floor mats alone and has refused to make a full system evaluation — including an examination of the electronic throttle control system. Toyota’s refusal to look at all possible causes of its unintended acceleration problem is troubling. Toyota and Lexus owe it to their customers — and other members of the driving public — to ensure that this deadly safety problem is fixed — and fixed quickly. Toyota’s refusal to look at all possible causes has unreasonably delayed finding a solution. Too many have died already.

You can learn more about the Toyota and Lexus sudden acceleration problem at our auto safety blog or by visiting our web site.

Learn more and become a fan of Langdon & Emison on Facebook.


  1. Gravatar for bill smith

    i have a 2008 prius.

    my daughter has a 2007 prius.

    we loved the cars.

    i think toyota's response stinks.

    they have excellent engineers - let them fix the problem.

    i called the florence, sc toyota dealer where i bought the prius and asked what i should do to be safe in ths car in view of all the unintended acceleration reports with some deaths.

    he said it was a floor mat issue and not to worry.

    i am left cold by his comment and the toyota vp of sales on abc saying it's just floormats and to remove the drivers side to be safe.

    something should be done to protect the people driving these cars!!!!!!!

    please help.

    forward this to anyone you think can do something to help.

    i feel we - the drivers are in danger and are putting others at danger by being on the road!

  2. Gravatar for Ralph Tradrool

    This thing stinks of a cover-up. I know several Toyota dealer technicians who told me that this floor mat idea is a smoke-screen to cover-up the real problem, which they claim is electrical - in the engine controls or wiring - and that there is no known fix. They said that the company isn't that concerned over safety unless they're forced into it by government regulations and pointed out that they don't even offer safety items like daytime running lamps or wiper-activated headlamps. That they can make the cars more profitable for Toyota without adding saftey features that may make the car safer, but are not required. Sounded very conspiratorial to me. I'm not letting my wife or daughter drive this thing again until they own up to their problem and have a legitimate correction repair for it. I'm not even comfortable driving it anymore. First I had the Camry whose engine 'sludged', whatever that is. But it just quit. So they gave me some 'Special Allowance' to trade it in on this Lexus ES - the same model I heard the tapes of the Trooper crashing in when the accelerator stuck. And now, instead of fixing it, they tell me to "Shift into Neutral and apply the brakes hard". What is that? That's not fixing the problem. I'm really considering dumping this car as I DO NOT consider it to be the so-called quality luxury car it was proposed to be. I hope that I don't get slammed too hard on the trade-in because of Toyota's engineering screwup. First an engine that died in my Camry, not one that takes off on its own. I'm done with these Toyotas.

  3. Gravatar for Toyota owner

    I would like to jump on the bandwagon (and I might be proven a chump later) but Toyota has a long history of quality that it built its business on. Unlike Ford and GM it does not have countless instances where it screwed things up or made some cheap component then tried to hide it and deny liability later. Like Honda, Toyota builds cars that last and last and almost always get five-star safety ratings. People understand this and this is directly why Ford and GM have lost most of their business.

    Allegations are cheap and rewarding to make, both for bureaucrats and the media. The Feds conducted six of their own investigations into the matter and found no defects, aside from possibly the wrong floor mats being used. Toyota sells 2.5 million cars a year in the USA and you are looking at complaints of unexpected acceleration in the hundreds over the years, something like a few ten-thousandths of a percent of the Toyota and Lexus cars sold.

    And the reports were made by people that may have stomped on the gas rather than the brakes in panic and who (if there really was unexpected acceleration) lack the simple mechanical sense to just shift the car in neutral or turn the engine off. They shouldn't have to of course, but the point is this is the level of mechanical understanding these people possess.

    So give me a break, no your Toyota is not trying to kill you. Extraterrestrials are not watching us either although there are many unexplained sightings. Investigate the matter but stop this stupid hysterical witch hunt.

  4. Gravatar for whittib

    I have to agree with "Toyota owner" If you drive a car, you should understand what "N" means on the shifter.

    If a vehicle is actually accelerating by itself, It takes a half a second to shift to neutral and save your self. If you did not know that, than you should not be driving!

  5. Gravatar for 2004 Camry Owner

    I have 100,000 KLM's on my 2004 Camry and have had no sudden acceleration problems; however I have noticed this on several occassions - while driving at a steady highway speed, the tachometer suddenly but smoothly jumps up several hundred RPM's. Fortunately the car does not seem to accelerate when this happens, but it's really only for about 2 seconds. Nonetheless I can see where this 'problem' could tie into the sudden acceleration situation which has been deadly for some people.

    Come on, Toyota, stop acting like GM and get this thing understood and fixed or you'll be selling cars only to your empoyees also!

  6. Gravatar for Gerard


    " Posted by Toyota owner

    November 08, 2009 12:41 PM

    And the reports were made by people that may have stomped on the gas rather than the brakes in panic and who (if there really was unexpected acceleration) lack the simple mechanical sense to just shift the car in neutral or turn the engine off. They shouldn't have to of course, but the point is this is the level of mechanical understanding these people possess."

    Do you really thing a person will press the gas pedal by mistake instead of brake pedal, for minutes running on highway when he wants to slow down or stop?

    I wish you to experience an unattended sudden acceleration and to pay thousand of dollars, to increase your insurance, to get demerit points and a big fine how I experienced already.

    And after... I am confident you will switch the side, even if you work for Toyota or no.

  7. Gravatar for Norman Blanish

    I purchased a new 2007 toyota tacoma from Day toyota. At 3000 miles it almost caused a bad accident,I was stopped at a road with traffic approaching, The truck accelerated with such violence the brake would not stop it from entering the road.One could not get that kind of acceleration by pushing the gas pedal to the floor I am sure.I tried everything to get toyota to take the truck back including three reports to the NHTSA. toyota reps were very rude with me, after telling one I would not drive the truck again she very rudly daid "I dont care its your truck do what you want" I still have all the documentation from that, and would be willing to join a class action going on.By the way, after I traded the truck at the same dealership they sold it off there lot to a local person. I tried to find the new owner with no success.

Comments are closed.

Of Interest