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Sep 21, 2009 12:27 PM by Jamie Smith

Could your car floormat cause an accident?

Lexus and Toyota are enlisting everyone's help. Even car wash attendants. Because they can spot problems with floor mats that owners miss.

The automakers are responding to a terrible crash that killed four people. Mark Saylor, an off duty highway patrolman, was driving a Lexus Sedan. A thick all weather floor mat may have caused the crash, by jamming the car's gas pedal to the floor.

Marketing Professor George Belch says Toyota-Lexus products have an excellent reputation. He says last month's fatal crash presents a serious risk to that image. He says, "They don't want to create too much panic in the market. They don't want to draw excess attention to this, where it could effect consumers, attitudes, and purchase intentions toward their brand."

Belch says Lexus and Toyota must put safety at the forefront, and that is by ordering all their dealerships to inspect floormats. Independent mechanics, vehicle owners, car wash attendants are urged to make sure floor mats fit correctly.

Owners are also warned about using aftermarket floor mats from auto parts stores. "They don't fit perfect. They usually don't have anything to hold them into place. They have a tendency to slide forward and can get up underneath the pedals and cause problems there," says Fred Webb who works for a Toyota / Lexus dealer.

Toyota also says you should never use two floor mats, and don't flip your floor mat over. Some drivers do that in the winter, to protect fabric from wet and dirty shoes.

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