Video: Questions over Toyota recall accelerating

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    >> nbc news, washington.

    >>> perhaps you have already received one of these letters. almost 4 million toyota owners were recently warned about a potential safety problem involving floor mats that they say could get stuck and then hold down the gas pedal . there were already several deaths associated with the problem, but a lot of owners were skeptical, and now there's new confusion tonight. the federal government says toyota isn't being entirely honest about what it's telling these vehicle owners. our own tom costello's outside our washington bureau with more on this where it counts, inside the car. tom, good evening.

    >> reporter: brian, this is a prius, one of the cars involved. and the concern here is that the mats, if they're unsecured or maybe improper -- improperly fixed, if you will, somehow hold down the accelerator. maybe it doesn't work in this model, but it would hold down the accelerator, the gas pedal , and the gas pedal would get stuck. toyota issued a statement yesterday. it said that federal investigators had already determined that if the mats are proper and in place properly that there is no defect. today the government said that is not true. here's what the government said, in fact. that removing the mats is one option and an important option. however, and this is critical, this remedy does not, it says, "does not correct the underlying defect in vehicles involving the potential for entrapment of the accelerator by floor mats. ." and this matter is not closed until toyota has effectively addressed the defect. so the question is whether something else might be causing accelerators to get stuck, maybe some sort of a mechanical or technical issue, maybe even under the hood. but we know that there have already been accidents and even deaths as a result of this. tonight toyota says it did not intend to mislead anybody, it continues to say yes, you should remove the mats and do not replace the mats with any temporary fix. in fact, it says here are the cars and the models involved for both toyotas and lexuses. they are the 2007 to 10 camry, the avalon from '05 to '10. the prius '04 to '089. tacomas 05 to '10. the tundra '07 to '10. the '07 to '10 es350. and also the is 250 and 350. it is the biggest recall in toyota history and it comes after that california highway patrol officer and three family members were killed when their accelerator got stuck at 120 miles per hour. brian?

    >> tom costello tonight on the continuing toyota story. tom, thanks.

    >>> in cleveland tonight police now

updated 11/4/2009 8:17:06 PM ET 2009-11-05T01:17:06

Toyota Motor Corp. released misleading information about an investigation into problems with stuck gas pedals that led to a massive Toyota recall, the U.S. government said Wednesday, stressing the issue is still under review by federal safety regulators.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it was still investigating the case and meeting with Toyota to hear about the company's plan to redesign the vehicles and fix "this very dangerous problem."

Toyota recalled 3.8 million vehicles in the U.S. last month over problems with gas pedals that got stuck on floor mats and told owners to remove driver's side floor mats and not replace them until the automaker had determined a fix to the problem.

Toyota said in a statement on Monday that NHTSA had confirmed "that no defect exists in vehicles in which the driver's floor mat is compatible with the vehicle and properly secured."

But NHTSA said that was inaccurate and the government was investigating possible causes of the acceleration problem. Removing the floor mats was "simply an interim measure" and "does not correct the underlying defect in the vehicles involving the potential for entrapment of the accelerator by floor mats, which is related to accelerator and floor pan design."

"The matter is not closed until Toyota has effectively addressed the defect by providing a suitable vehicle based solution," NHTSA said in the statement, which the department said was issued to correct "inaccurate and misleading information" from the automaker.

Toyota spokesman John Hanson said "it was never our intention to mislead or provide inaccurate information. Toyota agrees with NHTSA's position that the removal of the floor mats is an interim measure and that further action is required. We continue to discuss an appropriate vehicle remedy or remedies."

The recall includes 2007-2010 model year Toyota Camry, 2005-2010 Toyota Avalon, 2004-2009 Toyota Prius, 2005-2010 Tacoma, 2007-2010 Toyota Tundra, 2007-2010 Lexus ES350 and 2006-2010 Lexus IS250/IS350.

The recall, Toyota's largest in the U.S., was prompted by a high-speed crash in August involving a 2009 Lexus ES350 near San Diego, California. Mark Saylor, a 45-year-old California Highway Patrol officer, and three members of his family were killed when their vehicle hit speeds exceeding 120 mph (193 kph), struck a sport utility vehicle, launched off an embankment, rolled several times and burst into flames.

Family members made a frantic 911 call from the Lexus and told a dispatcher the accelerator was stuck and they couldn't stop the vehicle.

The high-profile incident led Toyota President Akio Toyoda to call the fatal crash "extremely regrettable" and offer his "deepest condolences."

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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