Why is Toyota Recalling the Land Cruiser?

The Toyota Unintended Acceleration floor mat recalls are now assuming the sprawling Del-Boca-Vista proportions of a seniors-only condo development in Sarasota. Last week, Toyota announced Phase 12 of its accelerator pedal modification and floor mat replacement recall. The newest vehicles to join the 14 million that have been recalled worldwide for unintended acceleration are 10,500 Toyota Land Cruisers in the 2008-2011 model years.

The remedy involves modifying the rigid plastic accelerator pedal, and equipping the vehicle with newly designed Toyota All Weather Floor Mats. 

 Now every time we hear about another Toyota floor mat recall, we kick ourselves for not buying rubber futures. But, this one has us wondering. Number one: there has been no public announcement of the recall. It is nowhere to be found on Toyota’s website.  Two: all of the documents in the public file for Recall 12V305 are not for the Land Cruiser, but for this summer’s recall of the Lexus RX350 and 450. Unintended Acceleration Recall Number 11, you may remember, was triggered by a NHTSA inquiry:

 “NHTSA approached Toyota regarding this issue late last month after the agency observed an increase in consumer complaints and other reports regarding pedal entrapment in these vehicles. When Toyota confirmed last week that it had received a significant volume of complaints on the same issue, NHTSA asked the manufacturer to conduct a recall.”

 The agency said that it had “carefully” reviewed “the available data” and “does not currently believe the issue involves additional vehicles beyond those indicated as part of the recall.” “..NHTSA anticipates the remedy proposed by Toyota will address the problem.”

 Well, if this Land Cruiser recall is somehow attached to the RX recall, then we guess not. The weird thing is: the Land Cruiser has few complaints for unintended acceleration in NHTSA’s Vehicle Owner Questionnaire Database. We found five – from 2009 and 2010. The Land Cruiser enthusiast forums? Crickets. There is no foreign recall, although there allegedly was an incident in the United Arab Emirates. 

The RX vehicles had plenty of complaints – which NHTSA, using its unique form of data analysis, deemed as floor mat entrapments, even when drivers were adamant that nothing had obstructed their accelerator pedal, and even though many reported that the brake failure telltale illuminated on the dash during the event. (See Lexus RX Floor Mat Recall: NHTSA’s House of Cards Adds a New Floor)

Number 3: Toyota is calling this Phase 12 of Recall 90L which was first launched in February 2010. Phase 11, covering the RAV4 was launched a year and a half ago, in April 2011.

So why the urgent Technical Information System bulletin to launch Phase 12? Why do the documents suggest that it is related to the July RX recall? Why is Toyota recalling the Land Cruiser? We don’t expect answers from NHTSA or their “regulatory partner” Toyota.