Toyota is in the process of recalling nearly 4 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles for an issue with their floormats. A number of complaints have shown that the floormats can creep forward and get stuck under the accelerator, which can lead to unintended and potentially dangerous acceleration. (Yes, we know the recall is not official yet, but for clarity we will call it a recall).
We had a 2010 Toyota Prius in our test fleet this week and noted its floormat set-up is similar to Toyotas included in the recall. The 2010 Prius is not included in the current recall, but the 2005-2009 Prius is. Toyota spokesman John Hanson said that the 2010 model uses the same type of floormats as the older Prius, as do many other current Toyota models not included in the recall.
The 2010 Prius, which has only been on sale for a relatively short time, is not included in the recall at this time because there have been no specific complaints filed with either Toyota or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about the floormats, Hanson said. However, when the recall is finalized, which could be as early as next week, the 2010 Prius may be included, he said. Other models haven’t been included based solely on the lack of complaints. A number of factors including pedal placement and keyless ignition in addition to the floormats may have contributed to the complaints against the recalled cars.
So, what is it about these floormats that’s causing the problem? Basically, any automaker’s floormats can slide forward if they’re not attached to a hook that keeps them in place. However, the Lexus and Toyota models in question include a hook that can be detached from the carpet, meaning there are two ways for the floormat to become dislodged. According to Hanson, the design stems from the fact that floormats are an option across the Toyota lineup, and someone buying a car without them wouldn’t want a fixed stem protruding from the carpet.
The timing of our Prius loan was pure coincidence. Before the recall was announced yesterday, we noticed the floormat had crept forward and its hooks were dislodged from the carpet. Our test cars are delivered from specialized fleets working with the automakers and are detailed before delivery. That often involves cleaning and removing the mats. Perhaps ours wasn’t put back properly or one of our editors with big feet kicked it out of place. Hanson mentioned that car washes are a prime opportunity for an owner to check the floormat’s installation.
Being detail-oriented car people, we popped the floor hooks back in and went on our way.
Toyota says that they are working on a permanent solution for the recalled models, and it will be developed within the government-mandated timeframe, which will be set after the recall is made official. How long that is we’re not sure. The recall itself is expected to be filed next week. In the meantime, all Toyota and Lexus drivers are being told to remove their floormats from the driver’s side to avoid any issues.
We would advise all car owners to be aware of their floormat placement, especially when using bulkier all-weather mats. We’d also suggest any owner of a modern Toyota not involved in the recall to be especially vigilant or remove their mats, too.
Floormat in place