As reported earlier this afternoon on our sister site, Toyota may will recall up to 3.8 million cars and pickup trucks to ensure that the floor mats on the driver's side are not interfering with the accelerator and brake pedals.

It would will be the company's largest recall ever, four times the size of a 2005 recall to replace defective steering arms.

[UPDATE: Toyota spokesperson Wade Hoyt said on Wednesday, September 30: Despite widespread reporting to the contrary, this is not yet a recall, but a safety advisory to owners of affected models.  Our engineers are working with NHTSA on a potential fix beyond the retention hooks that are already in the vehicles.

A company statement added: Toyota considers this a critical matter and will soon launch a safety campaign on specific Toyota and Lexus vehicles. Throughout the process of developing the details of the action plan, it will advise the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 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's diagram showing how to properly install floor mats

Toyota's diagram showing how to properly install floor mats

Is your car on this list?

The vehicles affected are:

  • 2007-2010 Toyota Camry (sedan)
  • 2005-2010 Toyota Avalon (sedan)
  • 2004-2009 Toyota Prius (hatchback)
  • 2005-2010 Toyota Tacoma (pickup truck)
  • 2007-2010 Toyota Tundra (pickup truck)
  • 2007-2010 Lexus ES350 (sedan)
  • 2006-2010 Lexus IS250 and IS350 (sedan)

At the same time, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued an "urgent" warning to owners of the affected models, strongly advising them to remove the floor mats on the driver's side and not replace them with any other kind of mat.

What should I do?

Toyota issued advice for drivers to keep in mind in the unlikely event that their vehicle continues to accelerate even after the gas pedal is released. The company suggests:

  • Pull back the floor mat and dislodge it from the accelerator; then pull over and stop the vehicle.
  • If the floor mat cannot be dislodged, then firmly and steadily step on the brake pedal with both feet. Do NOT pump the brake pedal repeatedly as this will increase the effort required to slow the vehicle.
  • Shift the transmission gear selector to the Neutral (N) position and use the brakes to make a controlled stop at the side of the road and turn off the engine.
  • If unable to put the vehicle in Neutral, turn the engine OFF, or to ACC. This will not cause loss of steering or braking control, but the power assist to these systems will be lost.
  • If the vehicle is equipped with an Engine Start/Stop button, firmly and steadily push the button for at least three seconds to turn off the engine. Do NOT tap the Engine Start/Stop button.
  • If the vehicle is equipped with a conventional key-ignition, turn the ignition key to the ACC position to turn off the engine. Do NOT remove the key from the ignition as this will lock the steering wheel.

Dealer order, previous recall

Two weeks ago, Toyota had ordered dealers to inspect all cars for mismatched floor mats after a fatal crash in late August, in which an occupant of a runaway 2009 Lexus ES called 911 to report a stuck accelerator pedal and non-functioning brakes.

That car subsequently crashed, rolled over, and burned, killing all four passengers. Suspicion focused on accessory floor mats, fitted by the dealership, that were too large for the vehicle.

Toyota has already conducted one recall for a similar problem, but limited to an accessory all-weather floor mat fitted to the 2007 and 2008 Lexus ES 350 and Toyota Camry.

Hotline numbers

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Hotline is (888) 327-4236. Toyota owners can reach the company's Experience Center at (800) 331-4331; Lexus drivers can contact the Lexus Customer Assistance Center at (800) 255-3987.

[TheCarConnection, Consumer Reports, Edmunds Green Car Advisor]