According to a report from The Safety Record, on December 29, 2009, the driver of a 2007 Toyota Avalon experienced a bizarre case of sudden and unintended acceleration while driving on the highway, just miles from a local Toyota dealer. The driver managed to switch the vehicle between Neutral and Drive multiple times, while en route to the dealer in order to show the dealer the problem as it was still occurring.
The driver was able to reach the dealer, place the vehicle into neutral, and allow it to continue operating at wide open throttle. The dealer sent out a tech who verified that the floor mat was removed, and pushing the gas pedal had no effect on the acceleration. The dealer was unable to stop the wide open throttle and was forced to shut the vehicle off.
This incident was apparently not the first for the driver, either, who had been to the dealer before about the problem. The first time the unintended acceleration occurred, the driver was able to slow the vehicle with the brakes and switch the vehicle into neutral - where the engine continued to hit maximum rpms. At the time of the first incident, dealer diagnostics revealed no problems in the computer.
The dealer eventually offered to replace the throttle body, accelerator pedal and associated sensors free of charge for the driver after the second incident.
This incident may prove to be a crucial step in finding the true cause of the many reported cases of unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles. Toyota began its largest-ever recall in 2009 to replace the floor mats and accelerator pedals in over 3.8 million vehicles that could experience unintended acceleration. Critics and survivors of unintended acceleration cases argued that the problem was not a result of the floor mats or accelerator pedals, but instead insist that the computer controlling the acceleration of the vehicle is at fault.
The Safety Record also reported on a one-car crash that occurred in Dallas, Texas the day after Christmas involving a Toyota Avalon. According to the accident report, the vehicle inexplicably left the road and ended up crashing through a fence, and landing upside down in a pond - killing all four occupants. The floor mats were found in the trunk of the car - ruling out the possibility of the floor mat causing the accident.
The official cause of the Dallas crash has not yet been determined.