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The New York Times and ABC News are reporting that the matter of the Toyota sudden acceleration problem is not yet resolved. In fact, according to the New York Times, Toyota’s recent press release was not intended to suggest that Toyota had been cleared of a safety defect.

Toyota said on Tuesday that a press release it issued on Monday was not intended to give the impression that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had cleared 3.8 million of its vehicles of having an unintended acceleration defect.

Indeed, the federal agency said it was still investigating the exact cause of the acceleration problem.


[Toyota’s] wording is subtle, but it could give the impression that the safety agency had found no safety defect beyond errant floor mats. Some news articles certainly interpreted the release that way and reported that the mats were the only problem. But Karen Aldana, a spokeswoman for N.H.T.S.A., said the agency was still exploring other issues, including the design of the gas pedal and the vehicle’s floor pan.

“It goes beyond the floor mats,” Ms. Aldana said.

Toyota’s release comes as ABC’s “World News with Charles Gibson” and “Nightline” were preparing to air an investigation tonight into the acceleration problem, including owners who insist that floor mats were not the problem. (Here’s an ABC/Consumer Reports video on what to do if your car experiences unintended acceleration.)

According to the Times — the bottom line is this: unsecured floor mats can jam the accelerator, but there may be further problems unrelated to the floor mats. NHTSA is still investigating.

ABC News performed its own investigation:

In a statement this afternoon, the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Safety Administration said, "This matter is not closed until Toyota has effectively addressed the vehicle defect by providing a suitable remedy."

ABC reported statistics from safety expert, Sean Kane, that in the last 10 years, more than 2,000 Toyota owners have reported their cars surged out of control at high speeds.

The Detroit Free Press has also reported on Toyota’s auto defect. The Free Press reported that federal safety regulators received more than 300 complaints from Toyota owners about the sudden acceleration problem. Not all of the owners believe the floor mats were the problem. Grover and Barbara Walton experienced sudden acceleration in their Toyota Prius without any interference from the floor mat.

It all started when, after slowing down through a small coastal town, Walton said he hit the resume-acceleration button on his cruise control.

"All of a sudden, we were flying and I hadn’t touched the pedal," said Grover, a retired property manager.

He said he hit the brakes, which slowed the car. But when Walton released the brake pedal, he said his Prius surged again.

"Before my husband could safely get the car off the road, he had ridden the brakes so hard to avoid an accident that flames were coming from behind both front wheels where the brakes had caught fire," Barbara Walton said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") has continued to emphasize that its decisions do not consitute a finding that a safety defect does not exist.

"Removal of the mats is simply an interim measure," said NHTSA spokeswoman Karen Aldana. "NHTSA will be discussing with Toyota what the appropriate vehicle remedy or remedies will be."

All auto defects are troubling, but Toyota’s sudden acceleration problem is a particulary frightening safety defect. According to reports, this defect can strike without warning — catching even the most careful driver off guard. With the engine racing out of control, it can be very difficult — or even impossible — to stop the vehicle. The excessive braking required to slow the vehicle in this dangerous situation can lead to "brake fade", which results in decreased brake effectiveness and can quickly lead to complete brake failure. Drivers could easily be caught in a situation where the engine is racing at full speed and their brakes are complete useless.

You can learn more about the Toyota and Lexus sudden acceleration problem at two recent blog posts:

Safety Group Responds to Toyota On Sudden Acceleration Defect

Toyota Has More Troubles Than Just Sudden Acceleration

You can also visit our auto product defect blog or visit our web site to learn more.

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  1. Gravatar for Charlene Blake

    Toyota has had serious vehicle problems for over a decade now. How is it that Toyota can get away with blaming the owners for known engine problems? Ask any engine oil sludge victim to tell you how serious (and dangerous) this Toyota malady is!

    I've been following the engine oil sludge matter for nine years---yes, nine years now! I first exposed a link on the Toyota Financial Services website about this problem in auctioned vehicles. Toyota removed that link in less than 48 hours later.

    I exposed this problem on Edmund's Town Hall and was immediately banned by the administrator. However, over 5,000 postings resulted on that site after my departure. I've been dogged by Toyota supporters online for years as they have attempted to deter my postings about the engine oil sludge problem.

    Toyota has denied an inherent engine problem. The NHTSA allowed them to send a letter to the owners asking them to do proper oil changes. In the meantime, engines have failed in the wake of better than recommended oil changes! Serious incidents have occurred on highways with this problem, too. One woman's Sienna caught fire and almost killed her---it did kill her two show dogs!

    The NHTSA or some *effective* agency with appropriate resources needs to monitor Toyota's follow through. We, the buying public, are at risk, IMO. Toyota's tactics are below the belt, I feel, and I am far from alone in this opinion. There are now over 3,000 who have signed the Toyota Engine Oil Sludge petition. The Toyota engine oil sludge YouTube video is being viewed around the world.

    Someoone needs to call Toyota to task. Someone needs to make Toyota take responsibility for its defective vehicles. What is happening is unconscionable!

  2. Gravatar for Constantin Macri
    Constantin Macri

    In 2009 i had an accident with my Toyota Corolla,fabricated in 2004 in Turkey.

    I was pulling back,from my yard, into the street when the car suddenly had accelereted and stopped just when hit a car parked on street.

    The police report blamed the accident on me, and myself had doubts until i have red about these recalls.

    Costantin Macri

    Aleea Pacala no.37-39, sector 3, Bucharest, Romania

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