Last November we ran a Toyota recall timeline related to floor mats. Now, thanks to Toyota adding faulty accelerator pedals to their nightmare, we've updated the timeline and color-coded it so you can separate one fiery death scenario from another.
As you can see from the timeline (click to enlarge, floor mat issues in green mechanical pedal issues in blue), the first mention of sudden acceleration problems goes back to March of 2007 in connection with the Toyota Tundra and its accelerator pedal, followed by an investigation into the Toyota Tacoma a year later. Given the vehicles recalled it's assumed this is a possible floor mat issue, but it's impossible to know for sure.
Various articles appeared in newspapers of unintended acceleration, with Toyota denying it was a mechanical issue. It wasn't until the death of a CHP officer and his family in a Lexus ES that the stories moved onto the front pages and into everyone's awareness.
Shortly after the accident the federal government recalled affected vehicles over a concern the floor mats are to blame. Toyota's short-term solution was to zip-tie the floor mats or remove them altogether.
Then, in December, a family traveling near Dallas was killed when their Toyota Avalon crashed into a pond. The floor mats? In the trunk.
Earlier this month, Toyota announced plans to shift vehicles into neutral if the vehicle sensed a problem. This was followed up nine days later with an announcement that Toyota would recall 2.3 million vehicles for sticking accelerator pedals. This introduced the concept of cars sticking for mechanical reasons even though Toyota initially denied this.
They continued to sell vehicles with the mechanical problem until Tuesday, when they realized (or were made to realize) it's not possible to sell recalled vehicles until a fix is made.
At the moment, the accelerator issue seems to center around pedals from one of the two parts suppliers. Both Denso and CTS build pedals for Toyota, but only the CTS-manufactured parts are in need of replacement. Those pedals are being replaced but, just when you thought the recall was over, Toyota recalled more vehicles in because a possible floor mat issues.
The different vehicles included in the recall, the different causes, and the different solutions demonstrated in this timeline are confusing even to us and we made the timeline. What it all boils down to is, regardless of the actual cause or risk associated with Toyota products, the company's reaction seems to have made this problem worse.