Toyota: What Floor Mat Issue?

John Horner
by John Horner

CBS’ Marketwatch reports from Tokyo (or more accurately, blogs the Japanese Business Daily Nikkei’s reporting) that Toyota is going to change out accelerator pedals in US market vehicles in hopes of putting the issue behind them. “Toyota Motor Corp. will make changes to gas pedals in certain U.S. models under an agreement with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, according to a published report, in response to accidents blamed on the accelerators getting stuck to the floor mats. Toyota still maintains that the vehicles are not actually defective. But to settle the potentially image-damaging issue, it will change the gas pedals so they are less likely to get stuck. The work will be handled through dealerships, Japanese business daily Nikkei reported Saturday.” Interestingly enough, nothing is said about non-US market vehicles.

Think this is the end of the story? Neither do I. But I’m sure David Kiley over at Business Week thinks this it’s all good. A few weeks ago he wrote that the Toyota Mat Mess would “end up being a positive for [the] brand”. His argument was that hey, Audi survived and is doing well, so this must mean good things for Toyota as well. Although the NHTSA seems to be onboard with the floor mat theory, many owners are still not buying it. This one isn’t over by a long shot.

John Horner
John Horner

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  • Jeff Puthuff Jeff Puthuff on Nov 15, 2009

    It's not the floormats! See this post we did last April:

    Watch the video; the floormat's nowhere near the accelerator pedal.

  • Dmrdano Dmrdano on Nov 16, 2009

    I spend half my year driving on snowy roads (northern MN). I am in the habit of slipping the transmission into neutral when I approach a stop or start to slide so the wheels stop being powered (and never use cruise control when it is slippery). However, applying a slight amount of throttle when sliding in a turn with front wheel drive helps pull you back on track. If the throttle suddenly raced, I would be in the ditch (or worse). Having the computer drop to zero whenever you touch the brake would be a disaster waiting to happen. By the way, for those wondering, D-FMEA is Design Failure Mode and Effects Analysis. It is a tool to predict 1) if something is to fail, how will it fail? and 2) how catastrophic will the failure be?

  • Brettc Brettc on Nov 16, 2009

    From what I've read, I think it's something to do with the programming in these cars. But I still don't know the answer to the question of whether any of these "unintended accelerations" were done in cars with manual transmissions. In my Jetta TDI, the ECU won't allow me to press the brake and the go pedal at the same time. The brake pedal overrides the go pedal. The ECU says "are you slow?" and cuts fuel to the engine if both pedals are pressed at the same time. Apparently it's been a safety feature on VWs for around 10 years now. Perhaps Toyota can reflash some ECUs and solve the problem for good. Much easier than replacing a bunch of pedals and/or mats.

  • BigOldChryslers BigOldChryslers on Nov 16, 2009

    I wouldn't be surprised if, when Toyota owners bring in their vehicles to have the gas pedals replaced, the dealer also reflashes the ECU as well. Maybe they'll claim that it needs to be "recalibrated for the new gas pedal assembly" or some story like that. One of my coworkers has a Jetta TDI and he brought it in to the dealer multiple times complaining of a loss of power, most often when pulling away from a stop. Turns out that he uses his left foot to brake, and it sometimes rested on the brake pedal just enough to activate the brake lights. This caused the computer to ignore gas pedal input. I think this is a good safety feature in theory, but if Toyota implements it they should expect similar incidents where they need to retrain some bad drivers.