Channel 4 I-Team data helps prompt Toyota recall - WSMV News 4

Channel 4 I-Team data helps prompt Toyota recall

Updated: September 29, 2009

A spokesman for Toyota has confirmed a massive recall of 3.8 million vehicles is, in part, due to data first discovered by a 2007 investigation by the Channel 4 I-Team.

Two years ago, the Channel 4 I-Team aired a series of investigations that showed drivers across the country complaining that their 2007 Toyota Tacoma pickup trucks were accelerating without warning.

Frank Visconi, a Tacoma driver from Dover, Tenn., told the I-Team in 2007 that his Tacoma took off without warning and caused a serious crash on Interstate 24.

Since then, the I-Team documented cases of other drivers, from Boston to California, saying their trucks were accelerating without warning.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Toyota spokesman John Hanson told the I-Team that the company reviewed all cases of unintended acceleration in all their vehicles, including the 2007 Tacoma cases spotlighted by the I-Team, and decided to recall the vehicles to keep their customers safe.

According to Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the consumer recall concerns floor mats in the following vehicles:

  • 2007-2010 model year Toyota Camry
  • 2005-2010 Toyota Avalon
  • 2004-2009 Toyota Prius
  • 2005-2010 Tacoma
  • 2007-2010 Toyota Tundra
  • 2007-2010 Lexus ES350
  • 2006-2010 Lexus IS250 and IS3

A Toyota press release stated: "Recent events have prompted Toyota to take a closer look at the potential for an accelerator pedal to get stuck in the full open position due to an unsecured or incompatible driver's floor mat. A stuck-open accelerator pedal may result in very high vehicle speeds and make it difficult to stop the vehicle, which could cause a crash, serious injury or death. Until Toyota develops a remedy, it is asking owners of specific Toyota and Lexus models to take out any removable driver's floor mat and NOT replace it with any other floor mat."

Toyota is not claiming responsibility for unintended acceleration crashes involving these vehicles.

Tuesday's announcement is not the first time the floor mat problem has been suggested as a possible cause for the unintended acceleration. In 2007, Tacoma driver Alex Pratt told the I-Team a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigator had suggested to her that the floor mat caused her truck to take off unexpectedly.

The I-Team's Jeremy Finley asked Pratt, "Isn't it possible that the gas pedal got stuck on the floor mat?"

"Absolutely not," Pratt said. "I don't understand how that theory makes any sense."

Paul Rohal, a Tacoma driver from San Diego who also said his truck accelerated without warning, also told the I-Team in 2007 he doubted the floor mat excuse.

"This is not a floor mat problem; this is an engine problem. This is something that Toyota needs to get in there and see what's wrong and stop talking about floor mats. That's ridiculous," Rohal said.

Following the I-Team investigation, NHTSA did test one Tacoma Pickup truck to see if there was a mechanical failure in the vehicle to spark the acceleration. NHTSA later determined there was no such failure.

But the I-Team continued to receive calls from across the country from Tacoma drivers, the most recent coming just last week. An Arizona man contacted Finley and said that his 2007 Tacoma had accelerated without warning.

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