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by Tim Beissmann

The recall of more than 150,000 Lexus RX SUVs in the US to correct another unintended acceleration problem caused by the vehicles’ floor mats could become the subject of an official investigation by the US Government’s vehicle safety authority.

The recall affects a total of 154,036 vehicles sold in the US built between November 28, 2008 and September 1, 2010, including 131,799 Lexus RX350s and 22,237 Lexus RX450h hybrids.

A Lexus spokesman confirmed with CarAdvice the recall does not apply to any RX vehicles sold in Australia, as it only affects to vehicles fitted with a specific Toyota-designed all-weather rubber floor mat that is not available in Australia.

The latest 150,000-vehicle floor mat recall takes the total number of Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles recalled for floor mat defects to almost four million, following the widely publicised recall of 3.8 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles in November 2009.

The official recall notice published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) explains:

“The accelerator pedal can get stuck in the wide open position due to its being trapped by an unsecured or incompatible driver’s floor mat.

“A stuck open accelerator pedal may result in very high vehicle speeds and make it difficult to stop the vehicle, which could cause a crash, serious injury or death.”

Lexus says it will notify owners of affected vehicles from August. Dealers will modify or replace the accelerator pedal and replace any driver’s floor mats not specified for the vehicles.

The NHTSA has encouraged owners impacted by the recall to remove the floor mat immediately and have their vehicle serviced promptly.

The administration has confirmed it is requesting additional documentation from Toyota and is considering opening an investigation into whether Toyota met its obligation to notify the agency and conduct a recall in a timely manner.

According to the NHTSA, it approached Toyota regarding the issue in late-May after it observed an increase in the number of complaints and reports regarding pedal entrapment in Lexus RX vehicles.

In mid-June, Toyota confirmed it had received “a significant volume of complaints” on the same issue, at which time the NHTSA asked it to conduct a recall.




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