WASHINGTON — Toyota Motor Co. is launching a recall of 3.8 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles, telling owners to immediately remove driver's side floor mats that can stick under accelerator pedals and cause the vehicles to surge.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warned drivers of the affected models to not replace the floor mats. The recall covers:
—2007-2010 Lexus ES 350
—2006-2010 Lexus IS 250 and IS350
Toyota warned owners that if they suspected their vehicle was surging out of control, they should check to see if their floor mat was under the pedal. If they couldn't remove it, Toyota told drivers to step on the brake pedal with both feet until the vehicle slows, try to put it into neutral and switch the ignition to accessory power. For models with engine start/stop buttons, Toyota said the engine can be shut off by holding the button down for three seconds.
The 3.8 million vehicles is the largest recall ever by Toyota in the United States. The company declined to say how many complaints it had received over the issue.
Toyota recalled 55,000 vehicles in 2007 over the same problem affecting Camry and Lexus ES 350 models due to complaints of unintended acceleration caused by thick, all-weather floor mats sticking underneath the accelerator pedal.
But NHTSA said consumers continued to report instances of uncontrolled acceleration in Toyota models following that recall.
Last month, four people died in a horrific crash near San Diego in a Lexus ES 350 that investigators suspected may have been due to a stuck floor mat. Local media reported that in a call to 911, passengers reported the vehicle was accelerating out of control.
""This is an urgent matter,"" U.S. Transportation Secretary
said. ""For everyone's sake, we strongly urge owners of these vehicles to remove mats or other obstacles that could lead to unintended acceleration.""
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