The latest move comes just months after Toyota Motor Corp. recalled 4.2 million vehicles over concerns that accelerator pedals could become lodged under floor mats, causing sudden acceleration. That problem was blamed for several crashes, including an accident involving a Lexus that accelerated to more than 120 mph before crashing in San Diego, killing four people.
But Toyota said Thursday's recall is due to potential problems with the actual gas pedal mechanism, causing the accelerator to become stuck regardless of whether the vehicle contains a floor mat. Toyota said in certain rare cases, the gas pedal mechanism wears down, causing the accelerator to become harder to press, slower to return or, in some cases, stuck.
In a letter to federal safety officials dated Thursday, Toyota said the problem appeared to be related to the potential build-up of condensation on sliding surfaces in the accelerator system that helps drivers push down or release the gas pedal.
Toyota spokesman John Hanson said the automaker does not yet have a solution to the latest problem but is working to develop one. Hanson said the company is unaware of any accidents or injuries due to the gas pedal problems associated with Thursday's recall, but could not rule it out for sure. He said the recall "came together very quickly," and said Toyota will soon be contacting owners directly about the matter.
Hanson added that all of the vehicles involved in the latest recall contain a gas pedal system that comes from a single supplier. He declined to identify the supplier or say whether Toyota would continue doing business with the supplier.
"Responsibility for this in the end is ours," he said.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a statement that the problem is "a serious safety issue and we are pleased Toyota is taking immediate action to address it." Toyota recommends that drivers of the recalled vehicles should firmly apply their brakes if the gas pedal becomes stuck -- not pump the brakes -- and contact their nearest Toyota dealer after parking in a safe location.
The safety stumbles have dinged Toyota's reputation in the U.S. as a builder of dependable, high-quality cars. Last year's recall was the sixth-largest ever in the United States. Toyota said 1.7 million vehicles are affected by both recalls, meaning their accelerator pedals could be at risk both of becoming trapped under floor mats and becoming stuck due to mechanical problems. The vehicles affected by both recalls are the 2005-2010 Avalon, the 2007-2010 Camry and the 2007-2010 Tundra.