POSTED: 11:44 a.m. HST, Jun 29, 2012
DETROIT >> Toyota's problems with runaway acceleration just won't go away.
Three years after the company recalled its first cars to fix the problem, it has identified two more models at risk, the 2010 Lexus RX 350 and RX 450H SUVs.
Toyota said Friday it will recall 154,000 of the luxury SUVs because their floor mats can trap the gas pedal and cause the SUVs to speed up without warning. U.S. safety regulators, who asked Toyota to recall the vehicles, may investigate whether the company reported the problem fast enough.
Toyota's action adds to a string of embarrassing safety recalls that began in 2009. The Japanese automaker has recalled more than 14 million vehicles globally to fix problems including sticky gas pedals and floor mats. The recalls tarnished the company's sterling reputation for reliability and cut into sales. Toyota says it thought the acceleration problem had been solved when it began selling the SUVs.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sought the latest recall after reviewing complaints from customers and information from the company. The agency does not believe any additional Toyota vehicles have the same problem.
If NHTSA decides to open an investigation, it wouldn't be the first dustup between Toyota and the agency. In 2010 and 2011, Toyota paid a record $48.8 million in fines to the government for failing to promptly alert regulators to safety problems.
Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons said the company is cooperating with NHTSA and provided information in a timely manner after investigators asked for it.
Owners of the Lexus SUVs should take out the driver's side floor mat and have their vehicles serviced as quickly as possible, NHTSA said.
They will be notified of the problem by mail in early August, and dealers will fix it for free, Toyota said.