Rental firms in the US have heaped yet more misery on the troubled car manufacturer after announcing the withdrawal of eight models from their hire fleets until repairs are made to over 3 million cars.

On Wednesday, Toyota issued a recall for 1.1 million vehicles owing to an existing floor mat recall. The timing could not have been worse given Toyota has recently recalled another 2.3 million vehicles over sudden acceleration issues. Wednesday further saw statements issues from three leading hire car operators of their decision to pull the eight models which themselves have been mired by poor sales figures.

Launched in October 2009 the Toyota floor mat recall now encompasses over 5 million vehicles. The issue concerns fears that the mats could become jammed or trapped on the pedals causing uncontrolled breaking of acceleration. Consumer groups in the US have suggested that up to 19 deaths may have resulted from acceleration problems and Toyota has received over 2,000 complaints.

The Japanese manufacturer announced that production t six assembly sites across the US would be halted until a remedy has been found. In the US, credit for the recall was claimed by federal officials for the decision to halt vehicle sales on the eight models in question saying that it was the moral and legal best option for the company.

Toyota has denied that complaints are in the thousands, instead claiming that just one dozen had been received in relation to the floor mats before adding that the recall, which includes the biggest-selling Camry, was entirely voluntary.