NHTSA to Toyota: Stop Lying About Floormatgate

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

The Brits have an expression for this situation: “When you’re in a hole, the first thing you do is stop digging.”

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a statement today correcting inaccurate and misleading information put out by Toyota concerning a safety recall involving 3.8 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles:

A press release put out by Toyota earlier this week about their recall of 3.8 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles inaccurately stated NHTSA had reached a conclusion “that no defect exists in vehicles in which the driver’s floor mat is compatible with the vehicle and properly secured.” NHTSA has told Toyota and consumers that removing the recalled floor mats is the most immediate way to address the safety risk and avoid the possibility of the accelerator becoming stuck. But it is simply an interim measure. This remedy does not correct the underlying defect in the vehicles involving the potential for entrapment of the accelerator by floor mats, which is related to accelerator and floor pan design. Safety is the number one priority for NHTSA and this is why officials are working with Toyota to find the right way to fix this very dangerous problem. This matter is not closed until Toyota has effectively addressed the defect by providing a suitable vehicle based solution.NHTSA constantly monitors consumer complaints and other data. This comprehensive recall focuses on pedal entrapment by floor mats, but NHTSA will fully investigate any possible defect trends in these vehicles.TIMELINE OF EVENTS • On September 29, 2009, NHTSA issued a Consumer Alert warning owners of Toyota and Lexus vehicles about “conditions that could cause the accelerator to get stuck open.” As an interim measure, NHTSA “strongly encouraged” owners of specific models to take out the removable driver’s side floor mats and not to replace them any other type of mat. NHTSA warned consumers “a stuck accelerator may result in very high vehicle speeds and a crash, which could cause serious injury or death.”• On the same day, Toyota issued a voluntary recall of 3.8 million vehicles to address problems caused when removable floor mats push the accelerator pedal to the floor.• NHTSA officials are meeting with Toyota to hear their action plan for redesigning the vehicles and correcting this very serious defect.
Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Rpn453 Rpn453 on Nov 07, 2009
    Daanii2 : False. A good drive-by-wire system will outperform a mechanical system any day. True, the path from mechanical systems to drive-by-wire is not an easy one. For one thing, the NHTSA stands in the way. But look at, for example, the yoke from SKF that GM used in its Hy-wire concept car. That would be a great way to drive. We are wedded to steering wheels and foot pedals by history only. Functionally, they are now a joke. They don’t work well. As anyone who has tried to steer or brake a car without power can tell you. Yeah, I'm sure the yolk would give me great feedback for what my tires are doing when I'm driving at the limits. I'll believe it when someone is winning races with them. Sure, it's harder to turn the steering wheel at very low speeds and you have to push harder on the brakes when the engine is off, but it's still not hard to drive. Many of us even drove Chevettes in high school which had neither power steering nor power brakes. How well does the drive-by-wire system work if it loses power?
  • Doug Korthof Doug Korthof on Feb 15, 2010

    Toyota produced and honorably sold the Toyota RAV4-EV, the only NiMH plug-in car ever sold to the public by oil-auto companies. But Toyota should have stuck to reliable all-electric EVs. Fly-by-wire means that your accelerator pedal doesn't have a mechanical linkage to the carb, like old-time cars; instead, it communicates by electronic signal, generated by the "pedal" switch and interpreted by the receiving program (presumably on the fuel-injection system). These FBW systems can be VERY complicated; and there is NO reason to move to them from mechanical linkages. They use it on unstable aircraft (where the aerodynamic constant is behind the center of gravity) because mechanical linkages are too slow; but they build it doubly-doubly redundant, with robust systems that "can't" fail. THERE IS NO REASON TO USE THIS ON CARS, and it provides one extremely delicate new way for cars to fail. In the many lines of real-time code, there may be an obscure bug, that only surfaces once every 10,000 cars or so, depending on some other signal from some other system, some condition that only arises very rarely. I DON'T SAY THAT'S THE PROBLEM, but it's one problem that doesn't exist with mechanical linkages, and there was no reason to move to FBW with reliable mechanical systems already proven and safe. The other thing is getting rid of "key less ignition"; I can't believe they expect you seriously to hold your finger on a button for 3 seconds to stop the thing, if it's going into runaway mode. Keys are there for a reason! Simple switches are reliable! Floor mats are always a problem, if you're a goof; but unlikely to explain all these issues. I've had problems with the floor mats curling, but not just on Toyotas! So that's not the issue, and Toyota should drop that excuse.

  • James Hendricks The depreciation on the Turbo S is going to be epic!
  • VoGhost Key phrase: "The EV market has grown." Yup, EV sales are up yet again, contrary to what nearly every article on the topic has been claiming. It's almost as if the press gets 30% of ad revenues from oil companies and legacy ICE OEMs.
  • Leonard Ostrander Daniel J, you are making the assertion. It's up to you to produce the evidence.
  • VoGhost I remember all those years when the brilliant TTAC commenters told me over and over how easy it was for legacy automakers to switch to making EVs, and that Tesla was due to be crushed by them in just a few months.
  • D "smaller vehicles" - sorry, that's way too much common sense! Americans won't go along because clever marketing convinced us our egos need big@ss trucks, which give auto manufacturers the profit margin they want, and everybody feels vulnerable now unless they too have a huge vehicle. Lower speed limits could help, but no politician wants to push that losing policy. We'll just go on building more lanes and driving faster and faster behind our vehicle's tinted privacy glass. Visions of Slim Pickens riding a big black jacked up truck out of a B-52.