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Toyota To Start Fixing Recalled Vehicles

Feb 1, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP

Toyota said today it would begin fixing accelerator pedals on millions of recalled vehicles this week. According to The New York Times, Toyota said the parts for the accelerator pedals are already on their way to dealers, and workers are being trained on making the repairs. Some Toyota dealers will be staying open around the clock to expedite the repair process.

As of January 2010, Toyota had recalled a total 5.3 million vehicle due to problems with accelerator pedals sticking, leading to incidents of dangerous, unintended acceleration.

On January 21, Toyota recalled 2.3 million vehicles produced due to accelerator pedals on those vehicles becoming stuck in a depressed position, causing unexpected and unsafe acceleration. Vehicles included in this recall are 2007-2010 Camry, 2005-2010 Avalon, 2004-2009 Prius, 2005-2010 Tacoma, 2007-2010 Tundra, 2007-2010 Lexus ES350 and 2006-2010 IS250/IS350. In addition to the recall, Toyota suspended sales and production of the eight models.

Just a few months prior, in September 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that Toyota was recalling and replacing floor mats on approximately 4.2 million vehicles which were allegedly causing accelerator pedals in the vehicles to become stuck in the depressed position, leading to uncontrollable and rapid acceleration of the vehicles. That recall involved the 2007-2010 Camry, 2005-2010 Avalon, 2004-2009 Prius, 2005-2010 Tacoma, 2007-2010 Tundra, 2007-2010 Lexus ES350 and 2006-2010 IS250/IS350.

Toyota has said the floor mat and accelerator pedal recalls are not related, but some vehicles were included in both.

The spate of recalls has shaken confidence in Toyota, which once had a rock-solid reputation for quality. On Sunday, the automaker took out full-page newspaper advertisements to explain why it stopped sales of the eight models involved in the accelerator pedal recall. The print ad marked Toyota’s first attempt to directly communicate with the public about the recall. In the ad, Toyota asserts that it halted production of the vehicles because “it was the right thing to do” But according to The New York Times, transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, said last wake that the carmaker did so because “we asked them to”.

The accelerator pedal fix announced today involves reinforcing the pedal by installing a steel reinforcement bar into the pedal assembly, The New York Times said. This will eliminate excess friction that could cause the pedal to stick, according to Toyota. Government regulators told Toyota last week that they were satisfied with the repair plan.

Toyota said it will send letters to owners of recalled vehicles in the next several weeks detailing the accelerator pedal fix. Customers have been asked not to contact a dealer to schedule a repair appointment until they receive their letter.

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