Toyota: Parts on the way to fix pedals

February 1, 2010 2:30:55 PM PST
The parts needed to fix sticky gas pedals in Toyota vehicles should start arriving at dealerships across the country by the end of the week. But millions of customers may have to wait awhile for the repairs.Toyota says it is training dealers on how to fix the problem.

In the meantime, the Japanese automaker issued an apology to its customers.

This pedal recall is different from the previous recall involving floormats that can bend and press down accelerators. Both of these defects are blamed for sudden acceleration episodes that have caused several deaths. Now Toyota says the problem is being fixed and customer safety is most important.

Toyota has moved into a new phase following up its aggressive troubleshooting with an aggressive public relations campaign aimed at rebuilding the public's trust.

"We are truly sorry for letting them down. That nothing is more important to us than your safety and your satisfaction. And that we arel redoubling our efforts to make sure this can never happen again," said Jim Lentz, Toyota Motor Sales.

The automaker announced that dealer should get parts by the end of this week. The announcement came as Toyota tries to bring an end to a recall affecting nearly 2.5 million of its eight most popular models in the U.S.

At Grossing Toyota in Goose Island, the service department is preparing for an influx of customers. It's extending its hours, staying open until midnight as technicians expect to make up to 300 repairs a day. The repairs, which call for adding a steel bar to the pedal to prevent sticking, could take 30 minutes. Technicians are now studying the procedure.

"There is going to be Internet training through Toyota and my technicians are somewhat trained right now and will be trained for the upcoming recall," said Brian Coster, Grossinger City service manager.

The recall has done damage to Toyota's reputation to safety and is impacting sales. Seventy percent of the inventory cannot be sold because those cars are affected by the recall. The general manager expects an eventual rebound.

"As far as the Toyota reputation, they did a whole, full recall, probably on some vehicles that didn't need it but they just want to make sure they get everything done, cover all their bases and make sure that every car is fixed," said Brian Weinberg, Grossinger City general manager.

Some customers who are loyal to Toyota say there is a lot to consider before buying another one.

"I look at the models a little bit more carefully now to see which ones have problem, but yeah, I think it'll still be a top runner," said Tony Garcia, Toyota customer.

Toyota says the cars affected by the recall are expected to get information later this week. The automaker will cover the cost of repairs.