Following the Nov. 29, 2009, recall by Toyota of certain Toyota and Lexus models having problems with insecure floor mats becoming lodged under the accelerator causing the throttle to become stuck in a wide open position, they then on Jan. 21 announced their intention to recall nearly 2.3 million Toyota vehicles due to problems with mechanisms on the accelerator pedal that may cause it to stick. Finally, last week, a recall was issued on the brakes on Toyota's Prius model, a model that was not previously considered to be affected by either recall. In some models, both recalls may be present in the vehicle. These faulty parts have been responsible for numerous accidents and possibly several deaths.
Locally, Mitts Thomas, the parts manager with the West Plains Toyota dealership said their service department has been taking numerous phone calls about the recalls, as owners have began receiving their letters regarding the issues this week. He said they are offering extended hours to address the problems and said they are trying to work in everyone as soon as possible. He said the local dealership may not be as busy as the ones in larger cities but they have received numerous calls about the safety concerns with the recall.
On Feb. 4, the dealership repaired 33 affected vehicles and on Feb. 5, they repaired 49 and began receiving even more calls. Thomas said the dealership has the parts for the 2009 and 2010 models and is expecting the parts for the 2005-2010 Toyota Avalon either Feb. 5 or Feb. 8. He said the main and most serious recall is the one concerning the accelerator pedal and said the fix is an accelerator reinforcement bar, which is similar to a shim and comes in 8 sizes. The repair takes about 30 minutes.
On Feb. 5, Toyota announced nationally that dealers have begun the repairs on the accelerator pedals. Toyota Chief Operating Officer Jim Lentz said, "Nothing is more important to us than safety and reliability of the vehicles our customers drive, and we are determined to live up to the high standards people have come to expect from Toyota over the last 50 years."
Toyota tells drivers if they experience an accelerator pedal that sticks in a partial open throttle position or returns slowly to idle, they can control the vehicle by firmly and steadily applying the brakes. They caution drivers not to pump the brakes because it can deplete the vehicles vacuum assist and require stronger brake pressure. Toyota says to drive it to the nearest safe location and shut off the motor and contact a Toyota dealer for assistance. The company further stated that if a vehicle is affected by both the accelerator and floor mat recall or a combination of the brake and floor mat recall, both will be remedied at the same time.
Locally, two Toyota owners of recalled vehicles said they have had no problems with their vehicles, one being a Toyota Tundra truck and the other a Toyota Camry. Although the problem is considered very serious, it is also very rare, so it is important to note consumers should not panic, but rather use the ounce of prevention method and simply take their vehicles in for the free recall repair.
Models affected by these recalls are 2005-2010 Avalon, 2007-2010 Camry, 2009-2010 Corolla, 2008-2010 Highlander, 2009-2010 Matrix, 204-2009 Prius, 2009-2010 RAV4, 2008-2010 Sequoia, 2005-2010 Tundra, 2009-2010 Venza. Anyone who owns any of these vehicles and has not received the recall letters from the company are encouraged to contact the local dealership about the recall. Toyota also offers in depth information regarding the recalls on their Web site at http://www.toyota.com/recall/?srchid=K61... or by contacting their Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331.