Toy­ota cus­tomers to be no­ti­fied by mail of gas pedal re­call

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY TOM AY­ERS

SYD­NEY — Own­ers of Toy­ota ve­hi­cles af­fected by a re­cent re­call over stick­ing gas ped­als will soon be no­ti­fied by mail with in­struc­tions on how and when to get their ve­hi­cle fixed.

Jim MacDon­ald, owner of Bre­ton Toy­ota in Syd­ney, said he ex­pects re­place­ment parts will be de­liv­ered to the deal­er­ship by Thurs­day and re­pairs will be­gin shortly af­ter that.

“As we speak, they’re work­ing on send­ing out no­ti­fi­ca­tions and the in­struc­tions to the cus­tomers will be in there,” said MacDon­ald.

The ser­vice depart­ment will be adding ex­tra shifts and work­ing hard to re­pair cus­tomers’ ve­hi­cles first, then me­chan­ics will work on in­ven­tory on the lot to pre­pare new ve­hi­cles for sale at Bre­ton Toy­ota, Cape Bre­ton’s largest Toy­ota deal­er­ship, said MacDon­ald.

The re­call — the big­gest in Toy­ota’s his­tory — has af­fected about 4.2 mil­lion Toy­ota cus­tomers with eight dif­fer­ent mod­els in the United States, Europe and Asia.

The stick­ing ac­cel­er­a­tor has been iden­ti­fied as a rare but po­ten­tial prob­lem in 270,000 ve­hi­cles in Canada, and MacDon­ald said hun­dreds of those were sold in Cape Bre­ton, “but we’re well equipped to take care of them quickly.”

“It’s some­thing that will be han­dled in a very timely fash­ion.”

Ve­hi­cles that have ac­tu­ally ex­pe­ri­enced the stick­i­ness as­so­ci­ated with the faulty pedal — blamed on ex­cess fric­tion re­sult­ing from wear and en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lems — will be given first pri­or­ity, fol­lowed by older, high-mileage ve­hi­cles, Toy­ota Canada manag­ing di­rec­tor Stephen Beatty said Mon­day.

Af­ter that, newer ve­hi­cles and ve­hi­cles that have been or­dered by cus­tomers but not yet de­liv­ered due to a sales halt will be ser­viced.

Many Toy­ota deal­er­ships across the coun­try are of­fer­ing ex­tended hours to meet the sheer vol­ume of work that will come from hav­ing to re­pair the af­fected ve­hi­cles.

Beatty said the fix — in­stalling re­in­force­ment bars to elim­i­nate the ex­cess fric­tion — is “a sim­ple rem­edy” and me­chan­ics will be able to re­pair in­di­vid­ual ve­hi­cles quickly.

To make sure all ve­hi­cles in the pipe­line have safe ped­als, pro­duc­tion of the af­fected mod­els has been halted for a week.

This means both of Toy­ota Canada’s plants, in the south­ern On­tario com­mu­ni­ties of Cam­bridge and Wood­stock, will be shut­tered ex­cept for one pro­duc­tion line in Cam­bridge that builds the un­af­fected Lexus RX350. The com­pany has said other work will be found for its em­ploy­ees dur­ing the shut­down.

The Ja­panese car and truck maker, which has sur­passed Gen­eral Motors as the world’s largest au­tomaker, could see a short-term drop in sales as the chaos around the pedal prob­lem is sorted out.

Whether or not it sees a longert­erm de­cline in mar­ket share will de­pend on how quickly it can im­ple­ment its so­lu­tion and re­as­sure cus­tomers that they won’t ex­pe­ri­ence sim­i­lar prob­lems in the fu­ture, ex­perts say.

Beatty said Toy­ota is do­ing what it can to make sure the prob­lem is fixed as quickly and ef­fec­tively as pos­si­ble.

“De­fects and re­calls hap­pen to ev­ery man­u­fac­turer, in­clud­ing Toy­ota,” said MacDon­ald. “Toy­ota, I be­lieve, is the only man­u­fac­turer that would re­act so quickly. Toy­ota has an im­pec­ca­ble rep­u­ta­tion over the years and I be­lieve that will be pre­served.”

Two class-action law­suits against the com­pany were an­nounced in Canada on Mon­day.

Beatty said he hadn’t seen the law­suit, but Toy­ota won’t let le­gal is­sues dis­tract it from its pri­mary goal of get­ting the re­pairs done as quickly as pos­si­ble.

“Lit­i­ga­tion hap­pens from time to time, but our fo­cus frankly isn’t on that. It’s on mak­ing sure we get the so­lu­tion into the mar­ket­place,” he said.

The re­call in­cludes the 2009-10 RAV4 cross­over, the 2009-10 Corolla sedan, the 2009-10 Ma­trix hatch­back, the 2005-10 Avalon, the 2007-10 Camry, the 2010 High­lander cross­over, the 2007-10 Tun­dra pickup and the 2008-10 Se­quoia SUV.

The pedal re­call is sep­a­rate from an­other Toy­ota re­call in­volv­ing floor mats that can bend and push down ac­cel­er­a­tors. While the floor mat re­call didn’t af­fect Cana­dian ve­hi­cles, the two re­calls com­bined af­fect more than seven mil­lion ve­hi­cles world­wide.

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