Toyota will recall 3.8 million vehicles in the U.S. because a removable floor mat could cause accelerators to get stuck. (Associated Press)
A high-speed crash near San Diego in August, involving an out-of-control Lexus that killed four family members, has led Toyota Motor Corp. to issue its largest-ever U.S. recall, involving 3.8 million vehicles.
The recall is intended to address problems with a removable floor mat that could cause accelerators to get stuck and lead to a crash.
Toyota and the U.S. government warned owners to remove the mats from their vehicles until the Japanese automaker could find a way to fix the potential safety hazard. The recall will involve popular models such as the Toyota Camry, the top-selling passenger car in America, and the Toyota Prius, the bestselling gas-electric hybrid.
"A stuck-open accelerator pedal may result in very high vehicle speeds and make it difficult to stop a vehicle, which could cause a crash, serious injury or death," Toyota spokesman Irv Miller said.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it had received reports of 102 incidents in which the accelerator may have become stuck on the Toyota vehicles involved.
It was unclear how many led to crashes, but the inquiry was prompted by a high-speed crash in August in California of a Lexus. As the vehicle hit speeds exceeding 190 km/h, family members made a frantic 911 call and said the accelerator was stuck and they couldn't stop the vehicle.
The Japanese automaker warned owners that if they think their vehicle is accelerating out of control, they should check to see whether their floor mat is under the pedal. If a driver can't remove the floor mat, Toyota advises drivers to step on the brake pedal with both feet until the vehicle slows and then try to put it into neutral and switch the ignition to accessory power.
Highway safety investigators determined that a rubber all-weather floor mat found in the wreckage was slightly longer than the mat that belonged in the vehicle, something that could have snared or covered the accelerator pedal.
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