Pre-2007 Toyota Camrys Had Acceleration Complaints, But Not Included in Recalls

Toyota Camrys built before 2007 have been the subject of dozens of speed control complaints. Yet according to a report in The New York Times, these vehicles are not among the millions of Toyotas recently recalled because of problems with unintended acceleration.

Since last fall, Toyota has recalled 6 million vehicles in the U.S. for problems involving sudden acceleration. The recalls started in September, when Toyota announced it was recalling and replacing floor mats on approximately 4.2 million vehicles which were allegedly causing accelerator pedals in the vehicles to become stuck in the depressed position, leading to uncontrollable and rapid acceleration of the vehicle. On January 21, Toyota recalled 2.3 million vehicles due to accelerator pedals on those vehicles becoming stuck in a depressed position, causing unexpected and unsafe acceleration.

The New York Times points out that all makes of vehicles have been the subject of speed complaints, but the paper’s analysis of more than 12,000 U.S. complaint records going back to 2000 showed that those logged against Toyotas involved more crashes. Ford, with 3,500, had the most consumer complaints, with 450 involving crashes. While Toyota came in second with 3,000 complaints, it far outpaced Ford when it came to crashes. According to the Times, 1,000 of the Toyota complaints involved accidents.

The Times analysis found that Toyota vehicles were named in one speed-control crash complaint per 20,454 vehicles sold in the United States. By comparison, Ford had one complaint per 64,679 vehicles. Honda had one per 70,112 and G.M. one per 179,821, the Times said.

Even worse, it seems that many of the Toyota vehicles that have been the subject of speed complaints haven’t been included in recalls. For example, the Times found that the 2002 Camry, which hasn’t been recalled, had about 175 speed-control complaints. On the other hand, the 2007 Camry, named in 200 speed control complaints, has been recalled.

Toyota has blamed the sudden acceleration problems that prompted the recalls on faulty floor mats and defective gas pedals. According to The Times, Toyota said Camry’s sold in the U.S. before 2007 were outfitted with different mats and pedals, so they were not included in the recalls.

The problems with pre-2007 Camry’s have only heightened suspicions that sudden acceleration issues have something to do with the vehicles’ electronic throttle control system. As we reported last week, James E. Lentz, the president of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A told the House Energy and Commerce Committee that electronics have not been ruled out as a possible cause of problems. At a hearing into Toyota’s recent safety lapses and recalls, Lentz testified that Toyota was awaiting results of two studies of electronics in Toyota and Lexus vehicles. He also said that the floor mat and accelerator pedal fix would only “solve the problems that we know of.”

According to the Times, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is reviewing whether to expand their investigations of Toyota to include pre-2007 Camrys. Two previous investigations of these vehicles had cleared them of defects, but an NHTSA spokesperson told the Times that the models would now be part of an inquiry into the role that electronic throttle control systems may have played in Toyota’s speed-control problems.

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