Toyota Recall: I Don’t Want You To Die

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My husband removed the floor mat from his 2005 Toyota Prius today, because he’d rather not die. Correction: I informed my husband to immediately remove the floor mat from him 2005 Toyota Prius so it wouldn’t KILL HIM.

Toyota is recalling millions of vehicles, and despite being an owner of one of said recalled vehicles, I found out via the news. Yes I tend to panic a bit, but when you hear stories about accelerators getting stuck and families dying, I think I am allowed to panic.


Lastrella: Our accelerator is stuck. We’re on 125.

911dDispatcher: Northbound 125. What are you passing?

Lastrella: We’re going 120. Mission Gorge. We’re in trouble. We can’t … there is no brakes. End freeway half mile.

911 dispatcher: You can’t do anything like turn off your engine?

Lastrella: We’re approaching the intersection. We’re approaching the intersection. We’re approaching the intersection.

With voices inside the car shouting “hold on” and “pray,” the Lexus slammed into the rear of a Ford Explorer, hopped a curb, and burst through a fence before rolling down an embankment, becoming airborne and rolling several times before bursting into flames in the San Diego River Basin. All four people on board were killed.

So go ahead and tell me I’m just fueling panic and being over dramatic, but the fact of the matter is this recall is for real, people have died, and my husband’s car is on the list. Not only is it on the list but we have yet to be sent a letter by Toyota or the dealership telling us what we should do.

So I called Toyota Santa Monica and asked.

Why? Because this morning I woke up and heard Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood telling a House committee that Toyota owners should “stop driving” their recalled cars. LaHood attempted to clarify his remarks later by saying Toyota owners concerned about their cars should take them in to the dealership. But the damage was done. Even stocks slipped on the news.

So that’s what I did. I called the dealership. And the conversation wasn’t very comforting. The very nice service department woman on the other end of the phone informed me that yes, my husband’s car was part of the recall and as a “quick fix” he could remove his floor mat. She also then informed me that it didn’t really matter though, because they don’t have the parts to fix the problem…so she couldn’t schedule an appointment or help me beyond telling me to remove the floor mat. And oh, by the way, once they DID get the parts in, she couldn’t fix our car until we got an “official” recall letter in the mail.

Encoremind got a similar but even more disturbing response from his dealership “Don’t have a letter either. Dealer says just put shift in neutral if you feel you are going to your certain death. %$&#@?!%”

I’m not the only one uncomfortable with all of this. Feather14 on Twitter tells me her 73-year old mother just bought her first car ever, a Toyota, and now she’s too scared to drive it.

She started not going on the highway, then last week she felt something with the peddle and decided not to drive it anymore.

Jacki Mieler says, “Honestly, I wasn’t too worried until the Transportation Sec’s declaration today. Now I’m freaked. I need the truck in snow tho…”

However there are those with recalled vehicles that are less than concerned. Denise at BlogHer has the same floor mat problem in her Prius. When I told her to go immediately remove her floor mat (because I’d rather she didn’t die either) she told me to “#suckit no I like my floormat.”

Toyota is attempting to reassure car owners like myself who may not be as confident as Denise. The automaker issued this statement shortly after LaHood’s remarks:

…Our message to Toyota owners is this – if you experience any issues with your accelerator pedal, please contact your dealer without delay. If you are not experiencing any issues with your pedal, we are confident that your vehicle is safe to drive.

Nothing is more important to Toyota than the safety and reliability of the vehicles our customers drive. Our entire organization of 172,000 North American employees and dealership personnel is working around the clock to fix the accelerator pedals for our customers.

So while we await word via official letter on how to handle this recall, I’ll tell you what I told my husband: Next time, listen to your Detroit-born wife, granddaughter of a Chrysler worker, supporter of all things Detroit auto industry related…and buy Detroit*.

*I’m ignoring any recall, problem, issue, lack of innovation, or otherwise that may or may not have ever happened in the history of Detroit automaking. Today, and just for today, I’m gloating.

Contributing Editor Erin Kotecki Vest drives a Chrysler Town & Country and also blogs at Queen of Spain blog.


  1. When you’re done gloating, if you do want to check your vehicle for recalls, go to:
    Click on “Check for recalls”
    Enter the year, make and model of your vehicle, tires, car seats, and equipment. All recalls will post for your vehicle.

  2. Ford and GM are offering incentives for recall owners to trade in their cars
    .-= Adrienne´s last blog ..Mustaches =-.

  3. I’m pretty sure they figured out the problem wasn’t in the floor mat but was something in the actual peddle. I wouldn’t feel too confident that the floor mat removal solved the problem. I’m not sure what I’d do since I don’t drive a Toyota, but I’d hope that I wouldn’t drive the car. I had a friend who’s far accelerated out of control on the 405 (not a Toyota or apart of this recall) and it was a very traumatic experience.

  4. I think you are a very wise woman to be wary of anyone saying its safe to drive these cars. Especially since you seem so fond of your husband! We are only getting spin right now. The government, the dealers, the auto company, everyone is angling to make this put them in a good light, or at least to avoid total brand destruction. New tidbits of half truth come up every day it seems. I LOVED my prius, especially in the carpool lanes on the 405, but I sure am glad I ditched that baby for a Colorado Subaru when I moved back to Denver. Good Luck!
    .-= Camille Bright-Smith´s last blog ..For Fans (or potential fans) of the Wainwrights and McGarrigles =-.

  5. Reading that account gave me the chills. I am an avid Toyota supporter so this recall business has freaked me out. I truly believed the car gods smiled on Toyota vehicles, until now.

  6. Apparently, according to testing done on these vehicles it is NOT the floor mat that is the culprit but a throttle that sticks. There was an interview with a gentleman who has this problem with his Toyota truck (again) AFTER the floor mat had been removed.

    Also, if you listen to the recording ( i heard it on a news program ) of this 911 call transcript it does not say “pray” but “brake, brake”.
    .-= jeanine´s last blog ..New Valentines Day Gift Tags =-.

  7. I think people definitely need to know how to deal with this type of thing in their vehicle, Toyota or not. Shifting into Neutral should be sufficient for most vehicles, and safer than turning off the engine.

    Aside from the tragedies relating to this situation, am I the only one bothered by the vacuousness of this statement?

    Our entire organization of 172,000 North American employees and dealership personnel is working around the clock to fix the accelerator pedals for our customers.

    I mean seriously, every single employee is working 24 hours a day until the problem is fixed for everyone? Obviously not.
    .-= Ren´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday Diptych #5: Blue =-.

  8. Damn. Damn. Damn. That’s just beyond fucked up. And that transcript gives me chills.
    .-= Alicia´s last blog ..If You Put Enough Monkeys with Enough Typewriters in Enough Rooms, Someday, Somewhere, One of Them’s Gonna Reproduce Othello =-.

  9. Mine is a 2008 Matrix, so technically not on the list. Still a little freaked out though. My husband is a big gearhead car guy and he is nervous too. He just keeps tell me to put it in neutral, pull over, put it in park and shut it down. I have a feeling though that if I was heading down the freeway, I might panic and forget what to do…
    .-= Tina´s last blog ..The Power of Play: up in your personal space =-.

  10. According to stories I’ve heard, there are identifying parts numbers of some kind on the accelerator pedals: those made in some places are problematic (China, I think) and in others (US, I think) not a problem because the design/parts are slightly different. Apparently, just by getting on the floorboards to read the parts numbers, the dealer/repair shop can tell if the parts are in the series that needs replacing or not. Sure would be nice of Toyota to PUBLISH those numbers and tell folks where to look to check for themselves, wouldn’t it? If it were me, I wouldn’t want to be in the “if the pedal starts acting up, stop driving” car, since it seems like the whole point is that if the pedal starts acting up, you CAN’T STOP DRIVING.
    .-= MommyTime´s last blog ..When A Six-Year-Old Asks =-.

  11. That is so not right! Good luck – this is one of the few times I feel lucky to rely completely on mass transit.
    .-= adhocmom´s last blog ..You Suck, You Suck, You Suck =-.

  12. I’d say you were well within your right to freak out. In fact, it might be good that you do in order to counterbalance nonchalant comments from a company that is desperately trying to hang on to their client base.
    .-= Wandering Through Wonderland´s last blog ..Breeding Crazy =-.

  13. Call me crazy, but their response to this is not inspiring me to run out and buy a Toyota. Talk about crisis management fail
    .-= PrincessJenn´s last blog ..Follow Friday – I’d Hit That =-.

  14. Yikes, I bought my first car in 20 years–a toyota, thinking I needed a reliable car, now that I had to drive kids around.

    My family has had problem-free priuses for 10 years. Now my 2010 has braking problems. I feel so deceived.

    I haven’t gotten an email from Tokyo yet,or even a call from the dealer who sold it to me. How safe are my kids now??????

  15. We are a Mopar only family – I don’t think hubs would buy anything but. I’ve always leaned more toward GM, but without a doubt we agree on American made. He loves Mopar more than I loved GM, lol, so he wins. 😉 Yes, all makes have recalls, but this deal with Toyota is just beyond scary and the way they have handled it is even more frightening! I hope it gets resolved quickly and sending prayers for safe travels for your hubby.
    .-= Christy´s last blog ..Is Your Partner A Snorer? Plus Coupon From Sleep Number =-.

  16. “TOYOTA” The manufacturing sacrificial sacrifice. Complaints of deaths due to sudden acceleration in Toyota cars, like the Audi that went 0-60MPH at a turn of a key that involved death and injury, I don’t recall any apologies from Audi. Recalls aren’t new take a look: Ford 1419 recalls, Chrysler 309 recalls, Cadillac’s alone 190 recalls Toyota 139 recalls; and them with out sin cast the first stone. Domestic(?) auto makers now push to produce everywhere but north America, Toyota and Honda with plants in US and Canada are turning more domestic then Ford, Chrysler or GM who just opened a new line in Asia. “Domestic” means production that takes place within the country’s borders (Wikipedia).

  17. I’d rather walk to work than travel in a Toyota. This is a shocking cover up. Support local manufacturers, buy GM and Ford.

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