Toyota Leads in NHTSA Unintended Acceleration Complaints, Analysis Shows

By Michelle Krebs February 22, 2010

Of the Big Six automakers selling vehicles in the United States, Toyota - as a manufacturer Toyota Camry - 236.JPGand as an individual brand - has the most consumer complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for unintended acceleration, according to an analysis of the government safety agency's data bases.

Unintended acceleration will be the hot topic of Congressional hearings Tuesday and Wednesday on Toyota's recalls for sticking accelerator pedals and floormats that can trap the gas pedal. Both situations have the potential to cause unintended acceleration.

Toyota: Most Complaints by Manufacturer by Wide Margin

Toyota, including its Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands, had 1,133 consumer complaints of  unintended acceleration filed with NHTSA through Feb. 3. The complaints cover model years 2005 to 2010. Toyota's number of complaints for unintended acceleration exceeds similar complaints for the other Big Six manufacturers combined.

ua-complaints-big-6 - 1.gifRounding out the Big Six are, in order of highest complaints to lowest are: Ford, including Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models, with 387 complaints; Chrysler, including Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge models, with 171 complaints; General Motors, including Chevrolet, Pontiac, Cadillac, GMC, Saturn, Saab, Buick and Hummer brands, with 152 complaints; Honda, including its Acura division, with 113 complaints; and Nissan, including its Infiniti, Division with 62 complaints.

Toyota Brand: Highest Number of Complaints

ua-make - 1.gifThe Toyota brand has the highest number of such complaints of any brand owned by the Big Six with 929 complaints. Ford brand follows with 300 complaints. Toyota's Lexus ranks third with 186 complaints.

Toyota Camry: No. 1 in Complaints

Toyota models - Toyota Camry (290 complaints), Toyota Tacoma (184 complaints) and Lexus ES 350 (100 complaints) - rank 1, 2 and 3 respectively for most complaints by model, in's analysis, which ranks the vehicles on the raw number of complaints, not on a sales- weighted basis.

Nine of the top 12 models with the most complaints of unintended acceleration are made by Toyota. In addition to the Camry, Tacoma and ES 350, the other Toyota models among the top dozen are: Toyota Prius, No. 5 with 85 complaints; Toyota Avalon, No. 6 with 79 complaints; Toyota Tundra, No. 7 with 66 complaints; Toyota Corolla, No. 8 with 55 complaints; Toyota Highlander, No. 11 with 42 complaints; and Toyota RAV4, No. 12 with 41 complaints.

The top 12 list is rounded out by two Fords - Ford F-150 in the No. 4 with 86 complaints and Ford Mustang No. 9 with 53 complaints -- and Chrysler's Jeep Grand Cherokee at No. 10 with 46 complaints.

Toyota: 17th of 20 Automakers in Total Complaints

In an earlier analysis, showed that Toyota  had fewer consumer complaints in total filed with NHTSA than most automakers. Toyota ranked 17th of 20 automakers in the number of complaints filed with NHTSA over the past decade versus share of market. In that analysis, Toyota had  9.1 percent of the complaints from 2001 through 2010. During this period, the company sold 13.5 percent of all new cars in the United States.

In the analysis of unintended acceleration analysis,'s data and engineering team sifted through thousands of consumer complaints and reclassified the problems to categorize each complaint by a specific topic.  -- Michelle Krebs, Senior Analyst and Editor at Large

Analyst Danny Zhou provided the analysis for this report.

ua-make-model - 1.gifPhoto by Toyota

The Toyota Camry was 2009's best-selling car in the U.S. It has the most complaints of any Big 6 model for unintended acceleration.


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cabrio8 says: 4:31 AM, 02.23.10

Notably absent are European brands, save for Saab.

mlh says: 9:48 AM, 02.23.10

cabrio8 -- I think that's because most Euro brands put brake override systems in place after the Audi 5000 fiasco in the late 1980s.

dg0472 says: 6:08 AM, 02.26.10

I got the impression they only looked at the "Big 6". So no Europe- or Korea-based manufacturers were even analyzed.

orbit9090 says: 5:08 AM, 03.17.10

This list proves that "pedal misapplication" is not the primary reason that vehicles accelerate out-of-control. Otherwise, there would be some German cars on the list - but there aren't, because when you press the brake (the correct pedal) on a German car, the brake-override safety feature idles the engine. Think about it. If random drivers were categorically accidentally pressing the gas pedal, they would be doing it in VWs, Audis, Mercedes, and BWMs too.

bronsones says: 2:55 AM, 05.25.11

Nice story. This is one of the things our government should be concerned about .


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