Posted On: November 6, 2009 by Steven J. Malman

Auto Products Liability: NHTSA Rebukes Toyota’s Statement Claiming "No Defect" Related to 3.8 Million Vehicles Recalled Following Fatal Floor Mat Crash

Contrary to statements by Toyota Motor Corp. that the 3.8 million autos they recently recalled have no defects, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is claiming otherwise. The car manufacturer had put out a statement saying that the vehicles with floor mats that are compatible with the auto and are properly secured and contain “no defect.” The auto manufacturer’s massive recall was announced after a family died on August 28 while riding in a Lexus that sped out of control.

On Wednesday, the NHTSA called Toyota’s statements that the recalled vehicles weren’t defective “misleading” and “inaccurate” and said that the affected Lexus and Toyota vehicles have an “underlying defect” involving the driver’s foot well and the accelerator pad design. NHTSA says that the design of the accelerator pad could have increased the likelihood it would get caught in the floor mat.

Mark Saylor, his wife, daughter, and brother-in-law were riding a 2009 Lexus ES 350 when the vehicle accelerated to extremely high speeds and the brakes appeared to have stopped working. It turns out that the reason the brakes couldn’t stop the car was because the gas pedal had gotten entangled in the floor mat, which was improperly installed and not even designed for use with this particular Lexus.

Toyota has since responded to the NHTSA’s rebuke saying it never intended to mislead or provide information that wasn’t accurate. Toyota says it is working to provide “vehicle-based” solutions to prevent unintended vehicle acceleration from happening.

Toyota has chosen to focus on the floor mat issue as the cause of the tragic crash. The auto manufacturer also disagreed with news accounts that the unintended acceleration may be related to electronic throttle control systems and other factors. It also refuted suggestions that the vehicle’s brake systems, engine control systems, or electronic interference may have caused the accidental acceleration.

Yet according to one family whose Toyota Highlander suddenly sped up to almost 100 miles per hour, their vehicle does not have the floor mat that is part of the recall.

It is an auto manufacturer’s responsibility to make sure that their vehicles do not contain any defects that could cause serious injury or death. Carmakers must warn of possible safety hazards or they can be held liable for Chicago, Illinois auto products liability if an injury accident happens.

Regulators slam Toyota over 'no defect' claim, Los Angeles Times, November 5, 2009

ABC News investigates Toyota floor mats, ABC7, November 3, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Toyota/Lexus Consumer Safety Advisory: Potential Floor Mat Interference with Accelerator Pedal,, September 29, 2009

4 Killed In Fiery Santee Crash Believed Identified, 10News, August 28, 2009

When someone gets hurt because of an auto products liability defect, the injury victim may have grounds for filing a Chicago, Illinois car accident lawsuit.

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