Toyota customers to be notified by mail of gas pedal recall
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.