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C. Todd Alley
C. Todd Alley
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Toyota's Massive Recall Leaves Some Questions Unanswered

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As thousands of sources are reporting, Toyota has issued a massive recall of over 4 million vehicles after numerous reports of stuck accelerators cause some vehicles to accelerate out of control. As this CBS video shows, the accelerator pedals in certain Toyota models can get physically stuck to the floorboard.

To remedy the vehicles, Toyota dealers will install a re-designed accelerator pedal, meant to be higher off the floor board. In addition, Toyota dealers will replace existing Toyota-made floor mats with a newly designed one. Toyota is currently scrambling to manufacturer a re-designed pedal which would eliminate this risk. Dealers are expected to be ready to repair the recalled vehicles late this year or early next, depending on the model of the vehicle. Until then, owners of these affected vehicles are urged to remove their driver’s side floor mat.

Toyota is also including a brake-override modification to the vehicle’s computer system in some models, but bizarrely not all. All Toyotas in recent years utilize “drive by wire” throttle control. This means that rather than the traditional mechanical link between the accelerator pedal and throttle control on the engine, the accelerator pedal sends an electronic signal to the car’s computer, which then interprets and relays the signal to the throttle control.

The brake-override modification will override any throttle input when the driver presses the brake pedal. Even if the accelerator pedal is all the way down, hitting the brake would tell the computer to ignore the accelerator pedal’s signals and not apply any throttle. This simple solution is only being offered in a handful of the affected vehicles – which seems puzzling. Toyota is also not distinguishing between automatic and manual vehicles in determining which vehicles get the modification. There has been no official word on why this is the case.

The recall comes after numerous complaints to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) about run away acceleration in Toyota vehicles. According to Time Magazine, the NHTSA has opened up an investigation into the issue six separate occasions. Each time the NHTSA concluded that it was unable to find a specific vehicle defect which caused the acceleration error.

But the accidents weren’t going away. An off-duty state trooper and his family were traveling in a Lexus when their vehicle’s accelerator got stuck. In a panic, the trooper called 911 and was on the phone with them in the moments leading up to the fatal crash which claimed the lives of all those onboard. Investigation into the crash linked the floor mats as the cause of the accelerator becoming stuck, a problem a previous driver of the exact same vehicle had experienced.

The accelerator becoming stuck is a huge design flaw, and to make matters worse even Toyota-made floor mats can cause it. If you own a Toyota affected by this recall, the best thing to do right now is to remove your driver’s side floor mat. Only then can you be sure that this won’t happen to you.