Who'd Have Guessed? Floor Mats!

Toyota is recalling some 3.8 million Toyota and Lexus Model cars because of a potential danger involving floor mats.

Instances of jammed accelerator pedals and/or unintended acceleration are being blamed on floor mats that can slide forward.

Toyota says that if one of the recalled vehicles is your’s then remove the mats. I believe that a “fix” will follow, later.

The NHTSA has investigated other car models in the past, made by GM, Ford, and VW, I believe. They were looking into “sudden acceleration” reports.

There have been concerned drivers that have questioned “sudden acceleration” involving their own cars, posting on this site. Several of our resident expert responders advised them to check out the floor mats.


Do you think all of these accelerator issues are caused by floor mats or is there something else at work here?

Is there something inherently different with certain Toyota and Lexus models that makes them more susceptible?

(I saw a post from one Toyota or Lexus driver who complained that the accelerator was too easy to push, like it needed more resistance).

Are the pedals too close to the floor on some models or is that not it?

What do you think? What’s the problem?

I have owned Toyotas for years and yes, and some of the original equipment floor mats can cause problems if not reinstalled correctly after cleaning. We replaced them with stiff form fitting “Husky” mats which are less prone to sliding. Again, OEM mats work, but the holding mechanism needs a little more attention than most people are willing to give. One of those engineering decision that looks good on paper, but not in function.

I have a 2000 Camry XLE V6 that is our teenage son’s car. This is not a recalled vehicle. With the Toyota supplied cloth floor mat installed properly, there is a hook that attaches to a hole in the mat, there is no problem.

For winter driving I put a high quality rubber mat in and took out the genuine Toyota mat. This was a generic rubber mat, not a Toyota product. This rubber mat did slide forward and I noted that it did catch the gas petal, so I removed it.

If you install any floor mats they can move forward easily during use. When they do move out of place they can bunch up and cause the gas petal to catch on the mat when the gas petal is depressed fully. Driver’s should be aware of the potential danger and inspect the position of the mats as part of the “pre-drive” check, but most folks don’t pay attention.

The purpose of floor mats is to keep the carpet in the car clean. Perhaps the mfg’s need to make the carpet easier to clean or replace when they get dirty. Then there is less need for car mats period. With velcro, a hook and loop system to remove carpeting should be easy to engineer. That hook and loop stuff is cheap and has shown the ability to hold virtually anything in place.

For now we are stuck with floor mats and driver’s should have a plan on how to react if the accelerator sticks. Jamming on the brakes can slow you some, but a powerful motor at full throttle can overpower the brakes. The next step is to turn off the ignition using the key but only go one click so the steering column isn’t locked. With the motor off the car still has brakes to safely stop and the steering takes a lot more effort but the car can be steered safely off the road.

Many drivers believe they have no control of the car when the motor quits and that is simply not true. The steering wheel feels very heavy and takes much more effort but it still works and you can steer the car. Practice in a big parking lot can build the confidence needed to not panic in an emergency situation.

I too thought it was related to the floor mats moving forward. But after seeing a demo of the problem on last night’s evening TV news, I see it’s not that at all.

It turns out the end of the floor mat is near the gas pedal. It’s possible for a depressed pedal to catch the end of the mat and cause it to curl up as the pedal is released. The folded ended of the mat “can” then find its way on top of the gas pedal.

Given it was on the evening news, I’m certain there are numerous videos out there where you can see the actual problem.

“Jamming on the brakes can slow you some, but a powerful motor at full throttle can overpower the brakes. The next step is to turn off the ignition using the key but only go one click so the steering column isn’t locked.”

No! No! No!
The next step is to shift the transmission into neutral. Do no turn the key/engine off. Keep it on so that you have full steering and braking. Once you have stopped the car, you can turn the key/engine off, not before!

Jamming on the brakes can slow you some, but a powerful motor at full throttle can overpower the brakes.

I’m fairly certain this is not true. In fact, I think it’s illegal to build a car where the engine can overpower the brakes. Now, true, if the car is already moving it will take a long time to bring it to a stop, but a non moving car should not be able to overpower its own brakes to start moving.

Who’d have guessed ? . . . Me for one.
This style of problem is amazingly common. ( you should know this, c.s.a. )

When people replace their floor mats after cleaning, it isn’t really obvious what the arc of travel is for the accelerator pedal.
The average joe tosses in the mats so they look good and that’s it. It never even dawns on them about the pedal sticking cuz the mat ‘looks good from here’.

Not only does the arm pivot but the pedal pivots on the arm and to really know if the mat is going to get in the way requires physically getting down there with your hand and work the full travel of the arm and pedal.

This is one of those user awareness situations that will probaly never receive the publicity it should and is so low on the list of anyone’s priorities that it never will. The most it will ever get is two lines of type on page 236 of the car’s owner’s manual that 99.999 % of people don’t read.

And now, their flimsy ‘low bid’ product they put in to save money is going to end up costing them how much ?

I recall once years ago doing this experiment. I ran the car at full throttle and repeatedly kept pumping the brakes. As I expected, my pumping of the brakes depleted the vacuum in the brake vacuum booster, and the because I was running full throttle, there wasn’t enough vacuum to replenish the booster.

So if you’re at full throttle, your brakes may work OK for one or two presses, but after that, you loose all your power assist.

this whole thing is stupid. My condolances to the family of those that found this out the hard way, but its just too easy to avoid. in all the auto trannys ive seen, the brakes also like a clutch. My brother does it all the time in his Protege, touches the brake enough and bumps it into neutral without slowing down. hypermilers do this, and drag drivers do this in autos. if your cars is out of control, wouldnt, I should say, shouldnt your first reaction be to put on the brakes (slowly)?

My 2007 Corolla had those flimsy carpet floor mats that bunch up and are hard to keep in place. I threw them away and replaced front and back with heavy Michelin rubber floor mats which collect slush in their channels and keep the pant cuffs dry. No problem with these sliding around.

This particular accident had two major factors:

  1. the floormat hooked on the accelerator
  2. the start/stop button needed to be held down for three seconds continuous to shut the engine off.

Perhaps these start/stop buttons aren’t such a great idea after all. Three seconds cam easily mean the difference between life and death.

Some floor mats are made wrong because the floor is made wrong. Floor mats should be rectangular and there should be two inches of floor to the right of the pedal. Now we know more about floor mats than Toyota did. You can’t go wrong by being right.

Docknick, These Factory Mats Don’t Have A Heavy, Stiff Rubber Backing Like The Ones With which I’m Familiar?

TSM, A Start/Stop Button? 3 Seconds To Stop The Engine? I’m Learning New Things, Here.

Ken, The Factory Mats In My Car Have A Heavy, Stiff Backing Beneath The Carpeting. They Have Little Spikes That Grip The Car’s Installed Carpeting.

These mats are heavy (pounds, not ounces). They sit flat, fitting within the confines of floor’s design. They have never shifted a bit, curled, or bunched up, so no, I’m not familisr with this. I’m trying to learn what it’s about.

Why in the world would you be pumping the brakes if you are trying to prevent the car from running away? You’d be standing on them, not pumping.

I remember back in the days of the Audi “unintended acceleration” nonsense there was an Audi dealer who offered something like $10,000 to anyone who could make the car run away. They could do anything they wanted to the car with 2 conditions. They could not mess with the braking system, and he would be sitting in the driver’s seat with his foot on the brake. No one ever collected.

The only problem is that people are not using the hooks to secure the floor mats, including Docnick with the 2007 Corolla. As long as you use the hooks, and don’t put a mat on top of another, you will be fine.

If you use Toyota mats, follow the instructions - use only one mat, and secure it with the hooks. If you don’t want to use Toyota mats, get good quality aftermarket ones, like WeatherTechs. DON’T get any cheap mat and just throw it in on the floor.

This problem can happen to just about any car on the road today, not just Toyota/Lexus. I had it happen years ago with another make (not a Toyota) - why? Because it did not have hooks to secure the floor mat.

Toyota has had floor mat hooks for at least 10 years now - please use them with one proper fitting mat, and you’ll be fine. Even if you don’t have a Toyota, please follow my same advice so no one gets hurt!

My GM Car Has Heavy, Stiff, Rubber- Backed Factory Installed Carpet Mats With Spikes Molded Into The Backing That Securely Grip The Factory Carpeting. No Hooks. They Don’t Move! However, They Do Exude Quality.

I run rubber Weather mats to catch all of winter’s crap. They don’t move either for the same reasons. They are heavy, stiff, and have spikes that grip the carpet mats. They exude quality, also.

I’m guessing the problem relates partly to pedal position / location and partly because some companies “cheap out” on mats.

I don’t need or want hooks. I don’t need or want somebody advising me not to stack two mats on my carpeting. I have been buying quality cars for years and have never had a mat come close to shifting its position. Besides that, the pedals are located properly.


CSA; my Toyota mats have one eyelet on the driver’s side only that hooks onto a hook on the floor. That arrangement still allows it to slide sideways and bunch up. There is no heavy backing on them either, so the are quite flexible. Besides, there is not enough capacity to hold large amounts of slush, due to the short “fuzz”: and absence of grooves.

mdawg2; my floormats are not dangerous, just a pain since even with the one hook and eye for the driver only, the mat slides around and because it is too thin, it can bunch up. As per above post, they also do not collect (hold) enough slush during bad snowstorm thus unable to protect the carpet.