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EARLY TESTS PIN TOYOTA ACCIDENTS ON DRIVERS

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010
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The U.S. Department of Transportation has analyzed dozens of data recorders from Toyota vehicles involved in accidents blamed on sudden acceleration and found that the throttles were wide open and the brakes weren’t engaged at the time of the crash.
driver error

According to the Wall Street Journal, the early results suggest that some drivers who said their Toyotas and Lexuses surged out of control were mistakenly flooring the accelerator when they intended to jam on the brakes. The findings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) involve a sample of the reports in which a driver of a Toyota vehicle said the brakes were depressed but failed to stop the car from accelerating and ultimately crashing.

The findings appear to support Toyota’s position that sudden-acceleration reports involving its vehicles weren’t caused by electronic glitches in computer-controlled throttle systems, as some safety advocates and plaintiffs’ attorneys have alleged.

The data recorders analyzed by NHTSA were selected by the agency, not Toyota, based on complaints the drivers had filed with the government. Toyota hasn’t been involved in interpreting the data.

TOYOTA AUTHOR STATES LEAN MANUFACTURING AT TOYOTA IS QUALITY, SAFETY STRONG

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010
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The author of the best selling book The Toyota Way, in an article written for the Institute of Professional Engineers, discusses lean manufacturing and coverage of the recent recalls while addressing concerns that some have raised about whether lean production methods adopted from the Toyota Production System by so many companies around the world – are still optimal.
 
“Do the data support the demise of Toyota’s famed obsession with quality and safety?” Jeffrey Liker asks.  “Certainly, any objective look at the data would say that the company appears to be one of the best automakers in quality and safety, continuing through 2010,” he says, pointing out the number of quality awards it has won this year.  “I am not arguing that Toyota is perfect and doesn’t have problems. Toyota autos, as all autos, have unforeseen problems, which may ultimately lead to recalls,” Liker notes, pointing out that there were nearly 500 auto recalls in the United States in 2009 – nearly 10 recalls per week.  However, he says, “The news of Toyota’s demise is premature, and most of the assumptions about plummeting quality and safety of Toyota automobiles have been exaggerated and sensationalized.”
 
Liker points out that “recalls are an imperfect measure because a small number of problems can lead to huge numbers of vehicles recalled, and the definition of a recall.”  He also notes that automakers sometimes choose very different ways to respond to an issue.  In March, for example, Toyota recalled certain Prius to adjust software that controls the car’s anti-lock braking system.  “In fact, Ford had a similar problem on the Fusion Hybrid around the same time and was able to get by quietly with a technical service bulletin,” Liker writes.
 
A significant part of the route forward, particularly in improving consumer trust, according to the professor,lies in the quality principles and lean manufacturing that made Toyota so strong to begin with. Speaking of the steps that the company has taken to improve quality assurance, Liker writes, “I would argue that the approach Toyoda is taking follows the principles of the Toyota way exceptionally well, and that is what will help Toyota get past this issue.”  He notes, “The Toyota way is to confront problems openly, find the root cause, solve the problems and learn.  In the long-term, if Toyoda is successful in leading Toyota to another level of customer responsiveness, we may have an even better model for excellence in the future.”

It is important to note that in America, Toyota continues to have a significant positive impact on the American economy.

Toyota total U.S. investment has grown to more than $18 billion and, together with dealers and suppliers, Toyota has helped create more than 200,000 jobs in the U.S. The Company has also contributed nearly half a billion dollars to U.S. charitable organizations and community institutions in the past 20 years.

And, 80 percent of all Toyotas sold in the United States over the past 20 years are still on the road today.

U.S. House Committee Has May 6 Hearing To Further Examine Toyota And Unintended Acceleration

Monday, April 19th, 2010
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The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations has scheduled a May 6 hearing “to further examine Toyota’s inquiry into potential electronic causes of sudden unintended acceleration.”  

In preparation for the hearing, Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and subcommittee Chairman Bart Stupak, D-Mich., sent letters Friday to Jim Lentz, president/COO of Toyota Motor Sales, and Paul Johnson, president/CEO of Exponent, Inc., seeking additional information about Exponent’s work for Toyota.

Toyota retained Exponent, a leading engineering and scientific consulting firm, in December 2009 to help the company evaluate reports of unintended acceleration in Toyota and Lexus vehicles equipped with electronic throttle control systems. Exponent’s preliminary work showed no problems with the throttles.

Lentz testified before the same subcommittee Feb. 23. Other Toyota executives testified before a different House panel Feb. 24 and a Senate committee March 2.

Toyota said in a statement Friday it was “more than willing to meet with the committee and discuss the ongoing testing related to our electronic throttle control system, as well as the steps we are taking to improve our quality assurance processes. Nothing is more important to us than the safety and reliability of the vehicles our customers drive.”

TOYOTA GETS THE EXPOSURE… RECALLS OF OTHERS ABOUND

Saturday, February 27th, 2010
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Toyota gets grilled with negative press and exposure, yet other manufacturers have Recalls in “Truck Loads” that abound and go virtually unannounced!free_report

For example, Where’s the Press on this one?  Hyundai Motor Co. on Wednesday announced a voluntary recall of its new Sonata sedan in South Korea and the U.S. to fix faulty latches on the vehicle’s front doors. According to the Wall Street Journal, the action – which affects 46,000 cars in South Korea and 1,300 in the U.S. – came after customers in the U.S. complained that, in certain circumstances, the latch gets stuck after the door is opened and then can’t be closed. There have been no accidents or injuries reported to the company in connection with the problem. Hyundai’s U.S. executives received complaints about the door on Monday and decided on Tuesday U.S. time to stop selling the car. Hyundai has about 4,000 units of the new Sonata at its approximately 780 dealers in the U.S. and has sold about 1,300 since the car became available there in January. New latches for the doors will reach Hyundai’s approximately 780 U.S. dealers on Wednesday U.S. time and sales of the car will likely resume later this week. But, Where Is the Media Outrage! 

How about this Honda Recall February 10, 2010, Honda announced it is expanding a previously announced recall to replace an airbag inflator in an additional 438,000 vehicles worldwide, including 379,000 in the United States. The expanded recall includes 2001 and 2002 Accord, Civic, Odyssey, CR-V, and selected 2002 Acura TL vehicles, the statement said. Honda said there have been 12 incidents related to the airbag inflator problem. The recall now affects a total of 952,118 vehicles, with more than 826,000 in the United States.

Did you hear about this Ford Recall just a few months ago? Ford issued the largest single recall in its history Tuesday as drivers of an additional 4.5 million vehicles were alerted about a fire hazard from a faulty switch.

At  about the same time a few months ago Nissan announced this Recall,  Nissan is recalling 2009-2010 Altima and Maxima in the United States after discovering that a suspension glitch could increase the risk of a crash and have serious consequences over the passengers’ safety. In a notification posted on the official website of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Nissan explains that the recall concerns 26,398 units manufactured in 2009 and 2010

Of Course Government Motors has got a “Boat Load” of Recalls, Example from 2009,  The possibility of Engine Fires has prompted General Motors to recall nearly 1.5 million passenger sedans manufactured between 1997 and 2003, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced Monday. The recall covers certain mid- and full-size passenger sedans under GM’s  Chevrolet, Buick, Oldsmobile and Pontiac brands.

March 2, 2010, General Motors is recalling 1.3 million compact cars in North America to address a power steering problem that has been linked to 14 crashes and one injury, the company said on Tuesday.
The recall covers the 2005-2010 model year Chevrolet Cobalt and 2007-2010 Pontiac G5 in the United States

Folks, These are all Recent and Current Recall Issues  (And Just A Sampling)…How Many Of You Ever Heard of Them?

 

WHY THE TOYOTA RECALL BACKLASH IS OVERBLOWN

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010
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By James B. Meigs, Editor-in-Chief, Popular Mechanics

To judge by press accounts and statements from government officials, those innocuous-looking Toyota sedans and SUVs in millions of American driveways are somehow kin to the homicidal ’58 Plymouth Fury in the Stephen King novel “Christine”—haunted by technological poltergeists and prone to fits of mechanical mayhem. In the midst of three major recalls, Toyota has been hammered by daily newspaper and TV pieces suggesting it has been slow to address safety problems. U.S. transportation secretary Ray LaHood announced that anyone who owns one of the recalled vehicles should “stop driving it.” (He quickly backpedaled on that pronouncement, but warned, “We’re not finished with Toyota.”) Displaying a previously undisclosed concern for the safety of American owners of foreign-badged automobiles, the UAW quickly piled on. And now, Toyota’s North American president Yoshi Inaba must submit to ritual humiliation at the hands of the U.S. Congress in a hearing on Wednesday.

 

Does Toyota—or any car company—deserve this? Well, if they are knowingly selling an unsafe car, yes. But is that what’s going on here? Not so fast. There’s no question that unintended acceleration  is a serious problem that needs to be fixed. But a little perspective is in order. As Popular Mechanics automotive editor Larry Webster has pointed out, every major carmaker receives occasional reports of sudden unintended acceleration (SUA). In the last decade, the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency logged some 24,000 SUA complaints. Less than 50 of these red flags were investigated. Why so few? The main reason is the nebulous nature of SUA. Often the problem occurs once, never to happen again. It’s tough to fix a defect that can’t be replicated. And then there’s the driver variable. As awful as this is to think about, it’s been shown that sometimes drivers simply mix up which pedal they’re pushing. In the late 1980s, the Audi 5000 was the target of a barrage of SUA allegations, lawsuits and press reports (including a notorious “60 Minutes” episode that was later discredited). Then, as now, there were accusations that mysterious electronic gremlins somehow took over the car. In the end, NHTSA concluded that driver error was the only likely explanation for the incidents.

But many safety concerns do have validity, and every carmaker has conducted numerous recalls involving critical safety features of their vehicles—brakes, steering, airbags, seat belts, and more. Still, the fact that some safety problems don’t emerge until cars have been on the road for months or years is not a sign that automakers are criminally cavalier about safety. Quite the opposite. The safety issues that lead to recalls generally occur in very small numbers, often barely rising above statistical noise. Toyota’s unintended acceleration problem, for instance, involved a handful of cases in literally billions of miles of driving.

As those cases come to light, it is necessary for carmakers to take action, and it is natural for consumers to be concerned. But the intensity of the backlash against Toyota is almost unprecedented. Here’s what is being missed in most of the coverage of the issue: All cars are inherently dangerous. They propel their fragile human cargo at high speeds over unpredictable terrain. They combine thousands of parts that need to interact flawlessly—in environments ranging from Death Valley heat to Fairbanks cold—in order to maintain safe operation. Their radiators contain scalding fluids; their batteries are full of toxic acid; and their gas tanks hold explosive power equivalent to more than 100 sticks of TNT. And, by all accounts, Americans drive those cars faster than ever, on increasingly congested roadways.

Nonetheless, driving gets safer every year. Fatalities per mile driven have fallen more than 25 percent since 1994, in part because cars themselves are safer. Compared to those of 20 years ago, the typical vehicle today has better brakes, better steering and more (not to mention smarter) airbags. Electronic stability-control systems have helped prevent countless accidents. Still, even the best cars are far from perfect. And much of the outrage over Toyota’s troubles seems based on the unrealistic expectation that cars should be infallible. That’s an unattainable goal; even well-designed components can wear out and fail in unexpected ways. Recalls are not a sign that carmakers are indifferent to the safety of their customers. On the contrary, recalls are part of the process by which automakers address safety or reliability issues that are often fairly subtle.

So why did Toyota’s safety issues become front-page news when similar recalls by other automakers barely made the business pages? One is the scary nature of unintended acceleration itself, which taps into our almost instinctual fear that our machines will suddenly turn on us (HAL, anyone?). Another was the horrific 911 call from the passenger of a Lexus that crashed in Santee, Calif., in August of last year. And then there was timing. Toyota responded first to the problem of shifting floor mats (the likely culprit in the Santee crash), and only later to the much more subtle issue of accelerator pedals that are slow to return to idle. Those are two unrelated problems that needed to be addressed separately. Perhaps in a different climate, Toyota could have convinced the public that the accelerator pedal recall was an example of extreme diligence in pursuit of safety. Instead, the second recall struck the public as an admission of culpability—just another shoe dropping in a much larger scandal.

By the time conversation got around to disconcerting glitches in the antilock brake system on Toyota’s high-tech Prius hybrid, there was no containing the outrage. (The fact is, most hybrids exhibit slightly twitchy braking as they try to manage the switchover from the electrical braking that recharges the batteries to the hydraulic braking needed for more aggressive stops. Conditions that engage the antilock braking system only complicate that challenge.) Without the previous incidents, news that Toyota was making a small change in its Prius braking software would have been a non-story. Instead, it completed the trifecta of bad news that has made this Toyota’s annus horribilis.

Crisis managers will no doubt study Toyota’s handling of this issue, looking for lessons in avoiding that company’s predicament. After all, it took years for Audi’s sales to rebound after that company’s trip through the SUA gauntlet. Still, some good did come of Audi’s experience: Today all cars have interlock systems that make it impossible for drivers to move the shift lever out of park unless their foot is on the brake (thus preventing them from shifting into gear while accidentally flooring the accelerator). One likely outcome of the Toyota episode will be a requirement for a similar interlock that automatically disengages the throttle whenever the driver steps on the brake. And that would help make all cars just one, tiny increment safer than before.

TOYOTA OPENS INDIANA PLANT FOR PUBLIC TOURS

Monday, February 15th, 2010
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It used to be that you had to be a special friend of Toyota — or an area student on a field trip — to score a tour of the Toyota’s Gibson County manufacturing plant in Indiana…That changes Tuesday!tundra explosion picture

On Tuesday, Toyota opens its new Visitors Center and begins offering public tours on a regular schedule. Previously, tours were offered only to school groups or those with ties to the company.

Toyota says the move will help the public better understand the company, area commerce and tourism. Officials say it will strengthen the Tri-State’s list of attractions.

“We’re very eager to show off this facility,” says a senior vice president at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana. “I think it’ll help people understand the complexity of auto manufacturing.”

The Free Tours begin in Toyota’s Visitors Center. Through text, photos, artifacts, sound and hands-on activities, the center presents the history of the Princeton-area business community, Toyota’s development as a company and explains the manufacturing process. Visitors can try on the protective gear worn by production employees, and they can see a demonstration of the process through which Toyota makes plastic bumpers and dashboards.

A Major Feature Highlight at the Visitors Center is a 2008 Toyota Tundra pickup suspended from the ceiling. WOW!!!…Just look at the picture of it. Various components of the vehicle are pulled apart to reveal how parts fit together. Also in the Visitors Center is a second-floor meeting space that Toyota will offer free of charge to civic and nonprofit organizations.

After visitors watch a short movie, they board a tram for a 20-minute plant tour.

On the tour, visitors watch Toyota employees (and robots) weld, stamp and assemble the parts that create the plant’s Siennas, Highlanders and Sequoias.

At a preview event last week for invited guests, tourism and commerce officials said the tours have been long anticipated.

The Gibson County Chamber of Commerce, said their office regularly receives queries from people asking about Toyota tours. “Everyone is very curious about auto assembly plants. They’re really fascinating,” a spoksman said.

Toyota’s Princeton plant began operations in 1998 — so why wait until now to offer public tours?

The company first wanted to establish itself in the area. “It was something we knew we had to take a little time to grow into,” an official said.

Groups of 16 or more people must make a reservation to take a plant tour. To make a group reservation, please call us at (812) 387-2266 or (888) 696-8211 (88TOYOTA11).

Groups with fewer than 16 people are welcome to join a plant tour if space permits; however, reservations are recommended. To make a reservation, please go to Reservations.

You do not need a reservation for the Visitors Center. 

A LETTER FROM PRESIDENT OF TOYOTA

Saturday, February 13th, 2010
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Here is a Powerful Letter From The Preident Of Toyota Motor Company…toyota emblem

More than 70 years ago, Toyota entered the auto business based on a simple, but powerful, principle: that Toyota would build the highest-quality, safest and most reliable automobiles in the world. The company has always put the needs of our customers first and made the constant improvement of our vehicles a top priority. That is why 80 percent of all Toyotas sold in the United States over the past 20 years are still on the road today.

When consumers purchase a Toyota, they are not simply purchasing a car, truck or van. They are placing their trust in our company. The past few weeks, however, have made clear that Toyota has not lived up to the high standards we set for ourselves. More important, we have not lived up to the high standards you have come to expect from us. I am deeply disappointed by that and apologize. As the president of Toyota, I take personal responsibility. That is why I am personally leading the effort to restore trust in our word and in our products.

For much of Toyota’s history, we have ensured the quality and reliability of our vehicles by placing a device called an andon cord on every production line — and empowering any team member to halt production if there’s an assembly problem. Only when the problem is resolved does the line begin to move again.

Two weeks ago, I pulled the andon cord for our company. I ordered production of eight models in five plants across North America temporarily stopped so that we could focus on fixing our customers’ vehicles that might be affected by sticking accelerator pedals. Today, Toyota team members and dealers across North America are working around the clock to repair all recalled vehicles.

But to regain the trust of American drivers and their families, more is needed. We are taking responsibility for our mistakes, learning from them and acting immediately to address the concerns of consumers and independent government regulators.

First, I have launched a top-to-bottom review of our global operations to ensure that problems of this magnitude do not happen again and that we not only meet but exceed the high safety standards that have defined our long history. As part of this, we will establish an Automotive Center of Quality Excellence in the United States, where a team of our top engineers will focus on strengthening our quality management and quality control across North America.

Second, to ensure that our quality-control operations are in line with best industry practices, we will ask a blue-ribbon safety advisory group composed of respected outside experts in quality management to independently review our operations and make sure that we have eliminated any deficiencies in our processes. The findings of these experts will be made available to the public, as will Toyota’s responses to these findings.

Third, we fully understand that we need to more aggressively investigate complaints we hear directly from consumers and move more quickly to address any safety issues we identify. That is what we are doing by addressing customer concerns about the Prius and Lexus HS250h anti-lock brake systems.

We also are putting in place steps to do a better job within Toyota of sharing important quality and safety information across our global operations. This shortcoming contributed to the current situation. With respect to sticking accelerator pedals, we failed to connect the dots between problems in Europe and problems in the United States because the European situation related primarily to right-hand-drive vehicles.

Toyota will increase its outreach to government agencies charged with protecting the safety of motorists and passengers. I have spoken with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and given him my personal assurance that lines of communications with safety agencies and regulators will be kept open, that we will communicate more frequently and that we will be more vigilant in responding to those officials on all matters.

In recent years, much has been written about what we call “the Toyota Way” — the values and principles at the heart of our company. Chief among these is our unwavering commitment to continuous improvement: going to the source of a problem and fixing it. While problems with our cars have been rare over the years, the issues that Toyota is addressing today are by far the most serious we have ever faced.

But great companies learn from their mistakes, and we know that we have to win back the trust of our customers by adhering to the very values on which that trust was first built. The hundreds of thousands of men and women at Toyota operations worldwide — including the 172,000 team members and dealers in North America — are among the best in the auto industry. Whatever problems have occurred within our company, the strength and commitment to fix them resides within our company as well.

You have my commitment that Toyota will revitalize the simple but powerful principle that has guided us for 50 years: Toyota will build the highest-quality, safest and most reliable automobiles in the world.

The writer is president of Toyota Motor Co.

TOYOTA IS CONFIDENT AND SAYS RECALL SOLUTIONS GOING WELL

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010
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Toyota is Confident in Recall Soutions and reports that the repair campaign is going well at the Dealer level.
 
Toyota’s recall for Prius brakes is in response to some Prius and Lexus HS250 owners experiencing inconsistent brake feel on rough road surfaces such as potholes.
 
This recall will allow dealers to perform a anti-lock brake software update on cars sold prior to the running production change made recently … and Toyota Dealers have already started this process. Toyota will begin mailing notification letters to Prius owners this week and HS250 owners within the next few weeks.
 
Toyota engineers have developed a solution to eliminate the sticking accelerator pedal on affected models.  Toyota states they have complete confidence in the solution.
 
The solution is …
• effective,
• simple,
• and lasts the life of the vehicle. 
 
All Toyota dealers nationwide … have received the parts, tools and training they need … and have begun repairing the vehicles involved.
The repair can be completed at Toyota dealerships in about 30 minutes … depending on the dealers’ work flow.
 
Toyota officials state that the most important thing now … is to fix the cars already on the road.
We’re doing everything we can to make this as trouble-free as possible … and will work day and night with our dealers to make this happen.
 
If a customer experiences any issues with their accelerator pedal … we’re asking them to please contact their dealer immediately, officials say.
 
Toyota Dealers are the best dealers in the country… and they’re proving it by providing extraordinary service and care for the customers.
Dealers nationwide are going the extra mile for Customer Service…Some are staying open 24 hours a day … seven days a week … and a few are even using remote facilities dedicated to repairing vehicles. These efforts are paying off. In only a few days … dealers have reinforced the accelerator pedal on more than 220,000 vehicles …and are now running at a pace of more than 50,000 units a day. 
 
Toyota stands behind Owners and their vehicles. Some customers are very concerned, some customers are upset…both reactions are understandable.
However … what’s been most surprising according to company officials, is the amount of support being received from so many owners.
 
They’ve put their trust and faith in Toyota … and we’re doing everything in our power …to prove to them …that their trust has not been misplaced, Toyota says…

2010 SUPER BOWL SHOOTING IN NEW ORLEANS EASIER THAN ACCELERATION IN A TOYOTA..BUT WHO CARES

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010
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We recently read that New Orleans Police are investigating the shooting injuries of a man and two women in the French Quarter during the Super Bowl 2010 celebration.gun shot

The Super Bowl shooting  in New Orleans occurred at approximately 12 a.m. Monday at the intersection of Iberville and Bourbon Streets.

A 25-year old man sustained a wound to his right ankle and two women, both in their 30s, were shot in their left legs. Police say all the victims were treated and released.

It’s interesting that the odds of getting shot in a crowd in New Orleans are considered to be 1,199 to 1. The odds of experiencing rapid acceleration in a Toyota are 13,500 to 1.

The Super Bowl Shooting in New Orleans is barely anywhere in the news at 1,199 to 1 odds. However, Toyota acceleration at 13,500 to 1 odds is being pounded in the media almost every hour….

Something Wrong Here….

TOYOTA QUALITY…WHAT NOBODY’S SAYING!

Saturday, February 6th, 2010
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Toyota Quality Is Legendary. Is Toyota Quality slipping? The attached shows how few recalls Toyota has had in the last 20 years compared to the Big 3.  All of this was done while surpassing them in Sales. People Need To See This!…Share This Information!

toyota scoreboard

TOYOTA TAKES PRECAUTIONS,REPLACING 4 MILLION ACCELERATOR PEDALS

Thursday, November 26th, 2009
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Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday it will take precautions and replace accelerator pedals on about 4 million recalled vehicles in the United States because the pedals could get stuck in the floor mats.

As a temporary step, Toyota will have dealers shorten the length of the gas pedals beginning in January while the company develops replacement pedals for their vehicles, the Transportation Department and Toyota said. New pedals will be available beginning in April, and some vehicles will have brake override systems installed as a precaution.”The safety of our owners and the public is our utmost concern and Toyota has and will continue to thoroughly investigate and take appropriate measures to address any defect trends that are identified,” Toyota said in a statement.

The recall includes 3.8 million vehicles, including the 2007-10 model year Camry, 2005-10 Toyota Avalon, 2004-09 Prius, 2005-10 Toyota Tacoma, 2007-10 Toyota Tundra, 2007-10 Lexus ES350 and 2006-10 Lexus IS250/350. Toyota officials said about 4 million vehicles would be covered, including new cars and trucks sold since September and others manufactured since the recall was announced.

Toyota spokesman Irv Miller said company investigators found pedal entrapment to be the major issue and the company is “very, very confident that we have addressed this issue.” Miller said Toyota has found “no reason to believe that there is a problem with the electronic control systems.”

The recall involving the accelerators was Toyota’s largest in the U.S. It was prompted by a high-speed crash in August involving a 2009 Lexus ES350 that killed a California Highway Patrol officer and three members of his family near San Diego. The Lexus hit speeds exceeding 120 mph, struck a sport utility vehicle, launched off an embankment, rolled several times and burst into flames.

Investigators with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined that an aftermarket rubber all-weather floor mat found in the wreckage was slightly longer than the mat that belonged in the vehicle, and could have snared or covered the accelerator pedal. It is also very probable that the driver was unfamiliar with the start/stop button technology and did not know how to shut the engine off.

In Japan, Toyota President Akio Toyoda called the fatal crash “extremely regrettable” and offered his “deepest condolences” to the California family.

To fix the problem, Toyota and the government said dealers will shorten the length of the accelerator pedal on the recalled vehicles and in some cases remove foam from beneath the carpeting near the pedal to increase the space between the pedal and the floor. They said owners of the ES350, Camry and Avalon would be the first to receive notification because the vehicles are believed to have the highest risk for pedal entrapment.

Toyota plans to install a brake override system on the Camry, Avalon and Lexus ES350, IS350 and IS250 models as an “extra measure of confidence,” Toyota and NHTSA said. The brake override system, commonly called a “smart brake,” will ensure the vehicle will stop if both the brake and the accelerator pedals are applied simultaneously.

Toyota also plans to make the brake override system standard equipment throughout the Toyota and Lexus lineup starting with January 2010 production of the ES350 and Camry. Most new models will get the equipment by the end of 2010.

Dealers will be instructed on how to modify the pedals before the end of the year and will begin shortening the accelerators in 2010. New replacement pedals are expected to be available for some models beginning in April and will be provided even if the vehicles have already received a modified pedal under the recall.

If a vehicle accelerator pedal becomes stuck and a driver can’t dislodge it, Toyota advises drivers to press on the brake with both feet and then shift the vehicle into neutral, which will disengage the transmission. The automaker says drivers should continue braking until the vehicle comes to a stop.

A driver can also try shutting off the engine or turning the key to the “ACC” position on the ignition. Drivers will not lose control of the steering or the brakes. But once the vehicle is turned off the driver won’t have the benefit of power brakes or power steering. For vehicles that have a start/stop button for the engine, drivers are advised to hold the button for three seconds to turn it off.

For more information, owners can contact Toyota at 800-331-4331 or the NHTSA hot line at 888-327-4236.