Toyota warns vehicle owners about floor mats - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Toyota warns vehicle owners about floor mats

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Toyota said today it has begun mailing letters to owners of certain Toyota and Lexus models regarding the potential for an unsecured or incompatible driver's floor mat to interfere with the accelerator pedal and cause it to become stuck.

The letter, in compliance with the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act and sent in the wake of a Santee crash that killed an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer and three family members, also confirms that no defect exists in vehicles in which the driver's floor mat is compatible with the vehicle and properly secured.

According to Toyota, the finding is consistent with a recent decision by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration denying a request for additional investigation of unwanted and unintended acceleration of the 2007 Lexus ES350 and 2002-2003 Lexus ES300.

After conducting an extensive technical review of the issue, including interviews with consumers who had complained of unwanted acceleration, NHTSA concluded that, "the only defect trend related to vehicle speed control in the subject vehicles involved the potential for accelerator pedals to become trapped near the floor by out-of-position or inappropriate floor mat installations," according to Toyota.

The Toyota letter is an interim notice to owners of a future voluntary safety recall campaign. The following models are affected:

-- 2007-2010 Camry;

-- 2005-2010 Avalon;

-- 2004-2009 Prius;

-- 2005-2010 Tacoma;

-- 2007-2010 Tundra;

-- 2007-2010 ES350: and,

-- 2006-2010 IS250 and IS350.

Toyota said that until it develops a remedy, it is asking owners of affected Toyota and Lexus models to take out any removable driver's floor mat and not replace it with any other floor mat. 

The letter also informs owners of what to do if they experience accelerator pedal interference, general floor mat warnings and proper floor mat application information.

CHP Officer Mark Saylor, 45; his wife, Cleofe, 45; his daughter, Mahala, 13; and his brother-in-law, Chris Lastrella, 38, were all killed in the Aug. 28 crash in Santee.  

Police said someone in the 2009 Lexus ES 350 called 911 just after 6:30 p.m. to report that the car's accelerator was stuck. The car was a loaner because Saylor had dropped off his regular vehicle for service.

Witnesses say the Lexus was going about 100 mph on northbound state Route 125 when it slammed into the rear of a Ford Explorer, plowed over a curb and went through a fence before hitting an embankment and going airborne.

The Lexus reportedly rolled several times before bursting into flames in the San Diego River Basin.

Toyota, which makes Lexus cars, recalled the "all-weather" floor mats in its 2008 version of that model because of complaints about them sliding forward and jamming the accelerator.

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