Toyota Sudden Acceleration Timeline

2001

2002 Model Year Camry is substantially redesigned on a new platform. The ETCS-i system was one of several new or revised vehicle systems (including transmission and braking system) introduced for the MY 2002 subject vehicles, consisting of an accelerator pedal sensor, a throttle control motor, a throttle position sensor and the engine control module (ECM). To control throttle position and monitor system operation, the system uses redundant hardware at the APS and TPS main and sub sensor and the ECM (main and sub processor).

Toyota warns that the installation of a mobile two-way radio system could affect electronic systems, including the fuel injection, electronic throttle control system, cruise control system, and other electronics.  Owner’s are told to “be sure to check with your Toyota dealer for precautionary measures or special instructions regarding installation.”

2002

February 2

First consumer complaint of 2002 Camry engine surging when the brakes were depressed.

August 30

Toyota issues Technical Service Bulletin TSB EG017-02 to update the Electronic Control Module calibration to address “engine surging” on 2002 Camrys with 1MZ-FE engine.

“Vehicles may exhibit a surging during light throttle input at speeds between 38 – 42 MPH . . .  The Engine Control Module (ECM) calibration been revised to correct this condition.”

August 31

First warranty claim noted by Toyota to correct a throttle problem on a 2002 Camry.

2003

April

Toyota experiences an unwanted acceleration incident involving a Sienna that occurred during production Dynamometer testing. The incident was allegedly caused by a missing retaining clip that allowed the center console trim panel to interfere with (trap) the accelerator pedal after it had been depressed. In the aftermath, Toyota reviewed their manufacturing processes and other data and concluded this was an isolated incident. As a secondary measure in June 2003, Toyota changed the design of the trim panel to eliminate the potential for pedal interference in the event the retaining clip is not present.

April 17

Peter Boddaert of Braintree, Mass. reports SUA incident to NHTSA involving his 1999 Lexus LS 400.

April 25

Peter Boddaert petitions NHTSA to conduct an analysis of 1997 through 2000 model year Lexus 300 and 400 series vehicles for problems of vehicle speed control linkages and sudden unexpected excessive acceleration.  Boddart cites 271 other complaints to the agency about these vehicles, with 36 referring specifically to SUA, including several crashes. Boddaert previously complained to the agency about SUA when he experienced the first of three SUA events. The final instance resulted in Boddeart rear-ending another vehicle.

May 16

Toyota issues Technical Service Bulletin TSB EG008-03 to update the Electronic Control Module calibration to address “engine surging” in 2003 Camry’s with 1MZ-FE engine.

“Vehicles may exhibit surging during light throttle input at speeds between 38 – 42 mph… The Engine Control Module (ECM)calibration has been revised to correct this condition.”

June 3

Toyota changes the shape of the trim panel on the 2004 Sienna after an incident during production in which trim panel interference resulted in an SUA event.

September 22

NHTSA denies the Boddaert petition (DP03003). The agency says that its analysis of speed control complaints involving the Lexus and other peer luxury vehicles shows that Toyota is not a statistical stand-out..

2004

January 15

Ms. Carol J. Mathews of Rockville, Maryland submits a petition to NHTSA requesting an investigation of 2002 and 2003 Lexus ES300 for a defect in the vehicle speed control linkages. She alleged that the throttle control system in her vehicle malfunctioned on multiple occasions and was the cause of a vehicle crash.

February 17

NHTSA formally begins DP04003 to investigate Matthews request.

March 5

NHTSA grants Matthews petition request and opens low-level defect investigation into 2002 – 2003 Camry, Camry Solara and Lexus ES300.  The agency reports 37 complaints and 30 crashes resulting in 5 injuries in the subject vehicles.

Consumers complain: vehicle may suddenly and unexpectedly surge or accelerate, generally of short duration; some reports allege multiple occurrences or occurrences during slow speed vehicle maneuvers and/or after shifting the transmission and/or at higher speeds under cruise control operation. In most cases, the brake system was reportedly functional and could be used to control the vehicle when the condition occurred.

June 4

Toyota sends response to NHTSA investigation into unexpected acceleration in Camry / Lexus ES 300 (PE04021) Toyota denies a defect exists, claims there is no trend, and that its electronic control system cannot fail in ways its engineers have not already perceived.

July 22

ODI closes its investigation of  2002-2003 Camrys, Camry Solara and Lexus 300ES vehicles without finding a defect (PE04021). The agency concluded with its standard caveat: “A defect trend has not been identified at this time and further use of agency resources does not appear to be warranted. Accordingly, this investigation is closed. The closing of this investigation does not constitute a finding by NHTSA that a safety-related defect does not exist. The Agency will take further action if warranted by the circumstances.”

November 3

Toyota reports first consumer complaint of engine surging in a 2005 Tacoma.

2005

July 8

Jordan Ziprin of Phoenix, AZ petitions NHTSA to open a defect investigation into SUA in the 2002 – 2005 Toyota / Lexus models for sudden unintended acceleration.  Ziprin previously reported an SUA event in his 2002 Toyota Camry which resulted in a property damage crash.

August 5

NHTSA opens Defect Petition investigation (DP05002), based on the request of Jordan Ziprin. Target population is 2002-2005 Camrys and Lexus ES models.

November 15

Toyota files final response in DP05002, in which it says that it believes no defect or defect trend exists.  Toyota completely discounts drivers’ experiences noting that the experiences as described could not have occurred without the fault detection system taking note.  Toyota also noted that it reviewed the complaints to NHTSA and found that there are two major allegations; one is that the vehicle unintentionally or suddenly “ACCELERATED” and the other is that the vehicle “SURGED” or “LURCHED”. Toyota believes that these two descriptions of vehicle behavior are two completely different issues.

December 15

NHTSA memos document two separate inspections performed, one of Jordan Ziprin’s vehicle in Arizona and another involving a crash in Falls Church, VA. The agency notes no abnormalities or faults other than body damage were found.

2006

January 5

NHTSA closes DP05002 and denies the Ziprin petition. NHTSA says it examined 1172 owner complaints in a population of 7 million vehicles and could find no trend.

July

Toyota changes Floor Carpet Cover on Toyota Highlander and Lexus RX vehicles.

August 24

William Jefferson III petitions NHTSA to investigate 2002 – 2006 Camry and Camry Solara vehicles for incidents relating to vehicle surging. The petitioner owns a 2006 Camry and previously owned a 2003 Camry. He alleges that both vehicles exhibited “Engine Surging” which he described as a short duration (1 to 2 second) increase in engine speed occurring while the accelerator pedal is not depressed. For the 2006 vehicle, the petitioner estimated 6 to 8 surge incidents, of varying magnitude, occurred over the course of 10,000 miles and nearly 7 months of ownership.

September 14

ODI opens Defect Petition DP06003 in response to petition from William Jefferson III.

December 20

Toyota responds to NHTSA request in DP06003. Toyota noted the results of an investigation of the throttle actuator recovered from the Petitioner’s vehicle, and said that it could find no abnormality. During the investigations of other returned throttle actuators, Toyota found that some parts inside the throttle actuator had corroded due to water intrusion, concentrated in specific areas where water could intrude into the throttle actuator from the drain hose. Toyota blamed this on heavy weather conditions such as a flooded road or a hurricane. “Although the rate of occurrence of this type of failure is low, to eliminate any possibility of water intrusion under such circumstances, Toyota modified the drain hose.

2007

February 5

Ezal fatal crash in San Luis Obispo, CA involving 2005 Camry.

March 5

NHTSA denies the Jefferson stating it has not identified a vehicle-based defect, nor was it able to witness such an event when road testing the Petitioner’s vehicle. An evaluation of a suspect throttle actuator removed from the Petitioner’s vehicle did not reveal a component problem. Warranty and parts sales of the actuator are unremarkable. There is no evidence of a wide-spread defect or ongoing concern.

Agency notes:This in no way implies that we doubt the Petitioner’s reported experiences with his vehicle. Rather, the agency simply lacks evidence of a safety related defect in his vehicle or a trend of such defects in the subject vehicles. In view of the foregoing, it is unlikely that NHTSA would issue an order for the notification and remedy of a safety-related defect as alleged by the Petitioner in the subject vehicles at the conclusion of the requested investigation. Therefore, in view of the need to allocate and prioritize NHTSA’s limited resources to best accomplish the agency’s safety mission, the petition is denied.”

March 29

NHTSA opens a low-level investigation (PE07016) into 80,000 2007 Lexus ES350 for accessory floor mat interference with the throttle pedal. ODI notes that these vehicles come equipped with a standard floor mat made from a carpeted material.

April 12

Toyota sends notification to dealers that it will be contacting Lexus customers about proper floor mat usage.

August 8

NHTSA upgrades PE07016 to EA07010 to further investigate unintended acceleration in 2007 Lexus ES350s. The agency notes 40 complaints; eight crashes and 12 injuries. Complainants interviewed by ODI stated that they applied the throttle pedal to accelerate the vehicle then experienced unwanted acceleration after release. Subsequent (and sometimes repeated) applications of the brake pedal reduced acceleration but did not stop the vehicle.

August 30

NHTSA files memo in EA07010 about the inspection of a Lexus ES350 that experienced an SUA incident and conducted a telephone interview with the owners. An inspection of the vehicle found all weather mats are installed at all four seating positions. The driver side all weather mat was found to be installed by itself; it was not on top of another floor mat. The installed mat was found to be unsecured by the retention hooks; the mat did not interfere with the accelerator pedal in the position it was originally inspected.

September

Bookout fatal crash in Oklahoma involving 2005 Camry.

September 26

Toyota issues Recall 07E-082 involving 55,000 Lexus/Toyota with optional All Weather Floor Mats manufactured January 3, 2006-September 13, 2007.  All owners of 2007 and early 2008 model year Lexus ES350 and Toyota Camry vehicles are to be notified of the safety campaign and the timing when the replacement mats will become available. Once the replacement mat is available, a second owner notification will be sent to notify owners to return their AWFM for the driver’s seating position to any Lexus/Toyota dealer for an exchange of the AWFM. Toyota also stopped the sale of the Toyota/Lexus All Weather Floor Mat designed specifically for 2007 and early 2008 model year Camry and ES 350 Lexus vehicles.

October 10

ODI interviews another complainant in EA07010, in which she tells investigator about the run-up to a rollover involving a Lexus ES350. The investigator concludes it resulted from an unsecured floor mat.

October 11

ODI closes EA07010 into accessory floor mat interference in 2002 – 2008 Lexus ES350 and Camry vehicles in the wake of Recall 07E-082.

2008

January 10

William Kronholm of Helena, MT files a request for a defect investigation into Sudden Unintended Acceleration in 2006 Tacomas. Kronholm experienced two incidents of SUA and investigated the agency complaints database and found 32 complaints involving the trucks.

January 31

ODI opens investigation DP08001 into Sudden Unintended Acceleration in 2006, 2007 Tacomas, based Kronholm’s defect petition and on 31 complaints to the agency.

April 10

NHTSA opens low-level investigation PE08025 into SUA involving 54,000 2004 Toyota Siennas, based on one report alleging unwanted acceleration on a subject vehicle. The complainant reported that he applied the accelerator pedal to accelerate the vehicle and experienced unwanted acceleration upon release. Field data collected by ODI indicates that when a retainer pin is missing from the driver’s side center stack/console trim panel, the panel can detach from the console and the accelerator pedal can become entrapped under the trim panel causing unwanted acceleration.

April 18

Toyota responds to NHTSA information request in the Kronholm petition and reports a total of 326 unique vehicle complaints of SUA in Tacomas.

As part of PE08025, the NHTSA Vehicle Research and Test Center is asked to conduct tests of 2004 Toyota Sienna vans for a condition that can cause the engine to produce power when the accelerator is not depressed.  NHTSA notes that the driver’s side trim panel, which is secured by a trim clip to the center console, can become detached and prevent the pedal from returning to the fully closed position.

April 25

Toyota response to NHTSA request in response to the Kronholm petition on Tacoma SUA (DP08001) claims that there is no trend; the complaints have been artificially inflated by media attention and by Tacoma web groups.

April 30

ODI issues Final Report in its investigation of floor mats (EA07010). The Vehicle Research and Test Center tested a Lexus ES-350.  During its tests of the vehicle electronics, the VRTC said that it introduced multiple electrical signals into the electrical system to test the robustness of the electronics against single point electrical interference failures. “The system proved to have multiple redundancies and showed no vulnerabilities to electrical signal activities. Magnetic fields were introduced in proximity to the throttle body and accelerator pedal potentiometers and did result in an increase in engine revolutions per minute (RPM) of up to approximately 1,000 RPM, similar to a cold-idle engine RPM level.”

The VTRC also sent surveys to 1986 registered owners of a 2007 Lexus ES-350 requesting information regarding episodes of unintended acceleration. Of the 600 people that responded, 59 stated that they experienced unintended acceleration and 35 complained of pedal interference with the Lexus rubber all-weather floor mats.

June 25

In response to the Sienna investigation (PE08025) of regarding 2004 Siennas., Toyota reported complaints about SUA in Siennas take two forms: allegations of excessive engine speed and or power output without the driver pressing on the accelerator pedal or the engine speed and or power output failing to decrease (subside) when the accelerator pedal was no longer being depressed by the driver. Toyota also says that it sees no evidence of a defect and explains how the trim could catch the accelerator and the design changes it made to the trim panel to correct this.

August 8

NHTSA upgrades its investigation of 2004 Sienna SUA to a mid-level Engineering Analysis (EA08014).

August 27

NHTSA closes investigation its investigation into Tacomas (DP08001) and denies Kronholm petition. The agency concludes that they are unable to find one possible explanation and have been unable to determine a cause for SUA complaints in Tacomas.

The agency notes: “For those vehicles where the throttle control system did not perform as the owner believes it should have, the information suggesting a possible defect related to motor vehicle safety is quite limited. Additional investigation is unlikely to result in a finding that a defect related to motor vehicle safety exists or a NHTSA order for the notification and remedy of a safety-related defect as requested by the petitioner. Therefore, in view of the need to allocate and prioritize NHTSA’s limited resources to best accomplish the agency’s safety mission, the petition is denied.”

October 15

Toyota presentation to NHTSA on SUA and trim interference in 2004 Siennas. Toyota demonstrated how an unrestrained early design level trim panel interacts with the accelerator after pedal depression. Toyota also advised that they were conducting a field survey to examine panel retention and that preliminarily one vehicle had been identified with a concern.

2009

January 26

NHTSA closes its investigation into 2004 Sienna SUA after Toyota agrees to recall vehicles built between January 10, 2003 and June 11, 2003, when the original design floor carpet cover was used in production.

Toyota issues Recall 09V-023 for 26,501 2004 Siennas. Toyota does not concede that this is a defect, but calls the actions a “safety improvement campaign” that is not being conducted under the Safety Act. Toyota’s recall instructs dealers to replace the original floor carpet cover with the newer design floor carpet (and retention clip) at no charge to the owner. The repair will reduce the potential for trim panel interference with the accelerator pedal travel should the retaining clips become missing because of improper service or other reasons.

March 19

Jeffrey Pepski of Plymouth Minnesota files a defect petition requesting NHTSA to re-open the SUA investigation into Lexus vehicles requesting “an additional investigation into the unwanted and unintended acceleration of model year [MY] 2007 Lexus ES350 as the initial investigation (PE7-016) was too narrow in scope and did not adequately address all complaints made to the NHTSA with respect to vehicle speed control concerns.” Additionally the petitioner requested an “investigation of MY 2002-2003 Lexus ES300 for those ‘longer duration incidents involving uncontrollable acceleration where brake pedal application allegedly had no effect’ that were determined not to be within the scope of Investigation PE04-021.

May 14

Toyota files a direct response to Pepski’s petition in DP09001. Toyota dismisses all of the issues Pepski raises in his petition and says there is no basis for an investigation. Toyota claims that when Lexus inspected Pepski’s vehicle, it found that the floor mat was unsecured and blamed the event on that

August 28

Fatal Saylor crash in Santee, CA involving a 2009 Lexus. ES350.

September 29

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Toyota issues consumer alerts urging owners of a wide range of Toyota and Lexus models to take out any removable driver’s floor mat and NOT replace it with any other floor mat. Toyota says that an examination of recent events prompted the alert. The affected models are:

  • 2007 – 2010 Camry
  • 2005 – 2010 Avalon
  • 2004 – 2009 Prius
  • 2005 – 2010 Tacoma
  • 2007 – 2010 Tundra
  • 2007 – 2010 ES350
  • 2006 – 2010 IS250 and IS350

October 5

Toyota initiates Recall 09V-388 to address potential accelerator pedal entrapment by floor mats in approximately 3.8 million vehicles.

October 28

NHTSA closes Defect Petition 09001. The Office of Defects Analysis concludes 78 percent of the complaints involved incidents of floor mat interference, including all of the crashes and injuries:

“Therefore, ODI’s analysis found that the only defect trend related to vehicle speed control in the subject vehicles involved the potential for accelerator pedals to become trapped near the floor by out-of-position or inappropriate floor mat installations.”

November 3

Toyota issues a statement characterizing the closing of Defect Petition 09-001 as proof “that no defect exists in vehicles in which the driver’s floor mat is compatible with the vehicle and properly secured.”

In a letter to its customers, Toyota referred to NHTSA’s “extensive technical review of the issue, including interviews with consumers who had complained of unwanted acceleration, NHTSA concluded that …the only defect trend related to vehicle speed control in the subject vehicles involved the potential for accelerator pedals to become trapped near the floor by out-of-position or inappropriate floor mat installations.”

November 4

NHTSA swiftly issues a statement to correct Toyota’s statement that the investigation is over:

“Toyota has announced a safety recall involving 3.8 million vehicles in which the accelerator pedal may become stuck at high vehicle speeds due to interference by the driver’s side floor mat, which is obviously a very dangerous situation. Toyota has written to vehicle owners stating that it has decided that a safety defect exists in their vehicles and asking owners to remove all floor mats while the company is developing a remedy. We believe consumers should follow Toyota’s recommendation to address the most immediate safety risk. However, removal of the mats is simply an interim measure, not a remedy of the underlying defect in the vehicles. NHTSA is discussing with Toyota what the appropriate vehicle remedy or remedies will be. This matter is not closed until Toyota has effectively addressed the vehicle defect by providing a suitable remedy.”

November 25

Toyota announces plans to reconfigure the accelerator pedal on 3.8 million vehicles going back to the 2004 model year.  Other fixes include modifying the floor area around the pedal and in some models, installing a brake-to-idle override that allows the driver to quickly stop a vehicle in an unintended acceleration incident and newly-designed replacement driver- and front-passenger side all-weather mats.

The recalled vehicles include:

  • 2007-2010 Camry
  • 2005 -2010 Avalon
  • 2004 -2009 Prius
  • 2005-2010 Tacoma
  • 2007-2010 Tundra
  • 2007-2010 Lexus ES 350
  • 2006-2010 Lexus IS 250
  • 2006 – 2010 Lexus IS 350.

November 27

NHTSA receives anonymous tip from a Kentucky city that just happens to be the home of a Toyota-owned supplier of throttle bodies to check out the probability that cracked throttle body shafts are causing SUA. “Concerned Citizen” says Toyota management knows about the problem, but has remained silent.

2010

January 4

NHTSA posts anonymous complaint to public file.

January 22

Toyota announces a new recall for sticky accelerator pedals, separate and apart from the floor mat recall. Toyota says: “Due to the manner in which the friction lever interacts with the sliding surface of the accelerator pedal inside the pedal sensor assembly, the sliding surface of the lever may become smooth during vehicle operation. In this condition, if condensation occurs on the surface, as may occur from heater operation (without A/C) when the pedal assembly is cold, the friction when the accelerator pedal is operated may increase, which may result in the accelerator pedal becoming harder to depress, slower to return, or, in the worst case, mechanically stuck in a partially depressed position. In addition, some of the affected vehicles’ pedals were manufactured with friction levers made of a different material (PA46), which may be susceptible to humidity when parked for a long period in hot temperatures. In this condition, the friction when the accelerator pedal is operated may increase, which may result in the accelerator pedal movement becoming rough or slow to return.” The affected vehicles are:

  • 2009-2010 RAV4,
  • 2009-2010 Corolla,
  • 2009-2010 Matrix,
  • 2005-2010 Avalon,
  • 2007-2010 Camry,
  • 2010 Highlander,
  • 2007-2010 Tundra,
  • 2008-2010 Sequoia