Floor mats. Great tools for keeping dust and grime out of the carpet in a car and for preventing wear. These little bits of carpet offcuts are a really great invention. So how can something so simple and helpful have one of the biggest safety recalls ever?
If you hadn’t heard yet, Toyota has had to recall over 3.8 million cars over the last couple of years in the US alone due to a failure of floor mats.
A recall is actually a major thing for an automobile manufacturer and can either be voluntary (where the manufacturer notices a major safety issue and chooses to bring all the cars affected back to fix them) or compulsory (the government forces the manufacturer to fix a major safety concern).
These recalls are generally the last-resort for a manufacturer as it means admitting to the public there’s a major safety concern (hurting brand value) and paying a massive amount to track and fix millions of cars.
So once more, how can something like floor mats cause a recall?
The issue for these 3.8+ million Toyotas (and the reason you should be checking your floor mats right now) is a design flaw where the driver’s floor mat doesn’t clip in and moves around while driving.
This has (in a number of cases) caused the floor mat to slip forward while driving and jam in either the brake or accelerator pedal meaning the vehicle speeds up or slows down without notice.
A number of cases have been observed throughout the US now where a vehicle has been involved in an accident causing death because of this, including one where an off-duty police officer was on the phone to 911 when he was in a crash that killed his entire family.
This is a tragic oversight and realistically could have been a cheap fix if it was noticed in the process of building the cars however, these recalls are often just a case of human error.
Does this only apply to Toyota?
Well not really. Unfortunately, many cheap, aftermarket floor mats suffer this exact same issue (not clipping in) and can cause the exact same problem.
Whenever you get in your car next, it’s a good idea to check whether your floor mats have this same issue. If they do, check out FitMyCar (we’re not affiliated). For approx. $65 you can pick up a set of front floor mats that will clip in properly and could actually save your life.