5 On Your Side

Toyota tells dealers parts on way to fix pedals

Posted February 1, 2010

Toyota apologized to its customers Monday and said a piece of steel about the size of a postage stamp will fix the gas pedal problem that led to the recall of millions of cars. Repairs will take about a half-hour and will start in a matter of days, the company said.

Toyota insisted the solution, rolled out six days after it temporarily stopped selling some of its most popular models, had been through rigorous testing and would solve the problem for the life of the car.

After a week in which Toyota drivers said they were worried about the safety of their cars and dealers were frustrated by a lack of information, Toyota said it would work to regain the trust of its customers.

"I know that we have let you down," Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales USA, said in a video address.

The repair involves installing a steel shim a couple of millimeters thick in the pedal assembly, behind the top of the gas pedal, to eliminate the excess friction between two pieces of the accelerator mechanism. In rare cases, Toyota says, that friction can cause the pedal to become stuck in the depressed position.

Toyota said car owners would be notified by mail and told to set up appointments with their dealers. It said cars already on the road would get priority over those on the lot.

The recall covered 4.2 million cars worldwide and 2.3 million in the United States, including some of Toyota's best-selling models, such as the Camry and Corolla. It has recalled millions more because of floor mats that can catch the gas pedal.

Michael Anderson, with Fred Anderson Toyota, at 9101 Glenwood Ave. in Raleigh, said Monday that the dealership has people working 24 hours a day to get the repair work done.

"We're setting up new processes and making sure we have the right people in place. We are extending service hours and bringing in a third shift of technicians to make sure we are able to do the work ... as quickly as possible,” Anderson said.

Toyota would not give an estimated cost for the repair work. It estimated repairing all the recalled cars would take months. It said some dealers were planning to stay open around the clock to make the repairs once parts arrive. Parts were expected to begin arriving late Tuesday and Wednesday.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration continues to investigate the issue and was looking into the possibility of electrical problems, said a Transportation Department official. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, said electromagnetic interference might cause the throttle control systems in the Toyota vehicles to malfunction but NHTSA had not seen evidence to support that yet.

6 Comments

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  • majorme Feb 3, 10:36 a.m.

    Those of you who doubt Toyota and this fix.... go ahead and run out and buy that Ford or GMC.... you will be back to a Toyota soon enough. If you are not an engineer or a mechanic then you obviously have no idea what you are talking about.

  • jse830fcnawa030klgmvnnaw+ Feb 3, 8:12 a.m.

    FYI. Toyota is not the only carmaker with sudden acceleration problems, but they do have a lot of complaints compared to others:

    http://blogs.consumerreports.org/cars/2009/12/sudden-unintended-acceleration-sua-analysis-2008-toyota-lexus-ford-gm.html

  • jse830fcnawa030klgmvnnaw+ Feb 3, 8:07 a.m.

    Prancy, it could be worse:

    Historical perspective - Ford Pinto problem -
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Pinto#Safety_problems_and_scandal

    BTW, may be the CEO was nervous during the interview because he felt guilty for the recalls? Don't forget, Japanese culture is very different than American culture where the Japanese take any bad thing affecting their companies personally. I believe this big recall is humbling for Toyota, when they were very proud of their quality. Now that quality mantra is busted, and if I was the CEO, I would be shaken too.

  • Prancy Feb 2, 4:42 p.m.

    I agree DRinNC. I have an older model Toyota so am not affected, but if I had a new car that I was still making hefty payments on and I had to have my nice care jimmyrigged, I would be ticked big time. I guess it's better than nothing if it saves lives, but it is just horrible for the company and customers. If it happened to me, I would never purchase another Toyota.

    Did you see the CEO of Toyota being interviewed by Matt Lauer on The Today Show Monday? I didn't believe a word he said. He couldn't tell a straight story if he had to. I have suffered two major disappointements this year-John Edwards and Toyota. I am glad I held off on buying a new car for the last year.

  • DRinNC Feb 2, 2:02 p.m.

    I have three Toyotas. And I like them all. But this fix sounds like more of a patch. Soldering a piece of metal to the peddle arm to make it stiffer? Thats sounds like something a "jack leg" mechanic would do as a temp fix. Hmmmmm

  • jse830fcnawa030klgmvnnaw+ Feb 2, 8:36 a.m.

    BTW, Toyota is not the only company affected. Ford is also affected by the defect from the same supplier.

    "That's why Ford said today it's stopping production on trucks in China. The pedals it uses there come from the same supplier that's being implicated in the Toyota mess. That supplier is based in the U.S. and makes the pedals in Canada."

    http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2010/01/28/pm-toyota-supplier/