Toyota to replace 4M gas pedals that could jam

November 25, 2009 8:23:05 PM PST
Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday it will replace accelerator pedals on about 4 million recalled vehicles in the United States because the pedals can get stuck in the floor mats, another blow to the reputation of the world's largest automaker.The government has attributed at least five deaths to accidents involving runaway Toyotas.

The company plans to replace the gas pedals on all of the vehicles. But that won't start until spring. That has drivers concerned about their safety.

Toyota isn't say how much the recall will cost but industry experts say it will be extremely expensive.

Initially, the company blamed the problem on either driver error or the driver's side floor mats. But safety experts and government officials didn't buy it. Neither did one Chicago driver involved in a deadly accident.

"My car started accelerating when I was applying the brakes it got faster it was like it was possessed runaway car," said Willette Green, Lexus owner.

On August 28, 2008, Willette Green was driving her Lexus ES 330. She says it wouldn't stop as she was exiting the ramp on 22nd Street.

At the time her insurance company and Toyota inspected the car and found nothing wrong. About a month later, Toyota sent her a letter saying it was possible that the floor mat was not properly secured and could have interfered with her brakes.

Green says she knew then it was something else and she is relieved with the latest developments.

"There is has to be a voice and when you put a band aid on a wound eventually it has to be exposed," said Brian Weinberg, Grossinger City Toyota.

On Wednesday, Toyota said it would replace or shorten the gas pedals on almost four million cars, including Camry, Avalon, Prius, Tocoma and Tundra models.

"That solves some of the problem but not all. There are many other cases iin which the gas pedal was not depressed and the floor mats were not an issue," said Sean Kane, Safety Research & Strategies.

Dozens of Toyota owners have filed lawsuits claiming the problem is in the cars computer control system. But on a phone conference with reporters on Wednesday, toyota officials rejected that claim again.

"We can come up with no indication whatsoever that there is a throttle or electronic control system today," said Irv Miller, Toyota.

At the Grossinger City Toyota dealership on Wednesday, workers are being trained to make the repairs.

"I think if it's done right away from the manufacturers to the dealers, I think it will be a smooth process," said Weinberg.

Toyota also plans to install a brake override system in some vehicles.

The repairs for shortening the length of gas pedals start in January. Gas pedal replacements are expected to start in April.

In the meantime, drivers are being told to shift the car into neutral if it accelerates out of control.

For more information, owners can contact Toyota at 800-331-4331 or the NHTSA hot line at 888-327-4236.

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On the Net:
Toyota Motor Corp.: http://www.toyota.com
Lexus: http://www.lexus.com


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