Toyota Motors Sales U.S.A. Inc. later this month will begin notifying owners of some 3.8 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles “about the availability of a free remedy” to address problems with floor mats interfering with gas pedals and causing a crash risk.

In a letter to The National Highway Traffic Safety Admin., Chris Santucci, assistant manager of Toyota’s technical and regulatory affairs, says the auto maker “will notify owners of affected vehicles to take out any removable driver’s floor mat and not replace it with any other floor mat, pending the development of model-specific remedies.”

Toyota has yet to complete its “countermeasure actions,” the letter says, but after it does so, it will provide owners with a second notification outlining the remedy.

The auto maker says it is willing to identify this campaign as a recall, but adds it has “not yet determined that the vehicles contain a safety-related defect under federal vehicle safety laws.”

“Nevertheless, Toyota will voluntarily notify its customers of this campaign and will voluntary cooperate with NHTSA’s recall procedures by providing six quarterly reports of campaign completion,” the auto maker says, adding all affected consumers will notified by December.

The recall, officially issued Oct. 5, is Toyota’s biggest in the U.S. and the country’s sixth-largest such action. It was spurred by an August accident that claimed the lives of an off-duty California Highway patrol officer and his family.

The officer and three members of his family, including his wife and daughter, were killed last month near San Diego when a floor mat reportedly wedged against the accelerator of the Lexus ES 350 sedan he was driving. The vehicle crashed and exploded after accelerating to 120 mph (193 km/h).

Toyota says it has had complaints about ill-fitting floor mats jamming the accelerator dating back to the Prius in 2004.

The fatal San Diego accident resulted in Toyota President Akio Toyoda offering his condolences. “Four precious lives have been lost,” he said last week in a speech in Tokyo. “I can't begin to express my remorse.

“Customers who chose Toyota and Lexus cars because those brands are safe and secure are now beset with anxiety,” Toyoda added. “I regret and apologize for this development.”

Vehicles affected are:

  • the ’07-’10 Toyota Camry,
  • ’05-’10 Toyota Avalon,
  • ’04-’09 Toyota Prius,
  • ’07-’10 Lexus ES 350,
  • ’06-’10 Lexus IS250,
  • ’06-’10 Lexus IS 350,
  • ’05-’10 Toyota Tacoma,
  • and ’07-’10 Tundra.

Toyota says its dealers also will be notified once a proposed remedy is devised.