Toyota Electronic Throttles Under New Review by U.S.

(LOS ANGELES, Feb. 3, 2010) – U.S. federal safety regulators and congressional committees say they’re taking a new look at the electronic throttle systems in recalled Toyotas and Lexus vehicles that are computerized under the hood and not mechanical under the driver’s foot. 
This new investigation of electronic throttles related to allegedly sticky gas pedals and floor mat safety issues, which affects 8 million-plus Toyotas in the U.S., also includes possible fines against the second-largest automaker in the nation, according to news reports.
This so-called “sticky throttle” recall will repair the mechanical portion of Toyota accelerator may pedals that may stick to the floor, are slow to return after being depressed or unsmooth during operation causing cars to rapidly accelerate in an unsafe manner.  But some independent safety experts say that reports of acceleration increased with the introduction of electronic throttles and that the problem goes beyond just the “sticky pedals.”
As these new investigations begin, Toyota car and truck owners are expected to receive this week certified letters from Toyota to confirm their vehicle’s presence on the recall list for gas pedals and/or floor mat issues.  The letters direct owners to call their local dealership to make a repair appointment. Owners should not call Toyota’s toll-free customer service number since appointments are not taken on that line.
In addition, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood also today suggested – and then later said he made “a misstatement” – in telling drivers of recalled Toyotas to stop driving them.  He encouraged consumers involved in the Toyota recall to take them to the dealer for repairs, according to an Associated Press report.  LaHood also said during a House Appropriations panel hearing that complaints about braking on the third-generation Prius Hybrid sedan would be examined.  (The Prius gas-electric vehicle is not part of the recalls, but there have been complaints to U.S. and Japanese regulators about them.)
Representatives from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which the U.S. Dept. of Transportation oversees, are said to be satisfied with the mechanical repair design. Agency officials also are saying that they’ve “pushed Toyota to take corrective action so that consumers would be safe.” 
Related to driver safety, two U.S. House committees plan hearings into the matter.  One hearing has been set for Thursday by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to ask if the public is at risk.  This session is in addition to the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Feb. 25, hearing to delve into consumer complaints related to Toyota vehicles. 
The Energy Committee has requested that Toyota provide a timeline of when they learned of the acceleration problem, as well as documents and actions taken to fix the problems. 
Toyota also said that its dealerships would be open 24 hours a day/seven days a week as long as they have enough parts in stock to repair the vehicles that fall under Toyota’s second recall since autumn and that dealership mechanics were being trained on repair procedures.  A description of the repair can be found on the Auto Club’s newsroom and the Toyota USA newsroom,
Toyota’s production line of the eight models involved remains halted.  Production is expected to resume next week, according to the car manufacturer.  Those vehicles will have the described repair involving steel reinforcement bars installed as they are assembled at Toyota factories. Major U.S. rental companies have removed Toyota vehicles from their fleets. 
According to NHTSA, the Toyota, Lexus, and Pontiacs affected by the pedal entrapment recall are:
  • 2005-2010 Avalon
  • 2007-2010 Camry
  • 2009-2010 Corolla
  • 2007-2010 ES 350 (Lexus)
  • 2006-2010 IS 250 and IS350 (Lexus)
  • 2008-2010 Highlander
  • 2009-2010 Matrix
  • 2004-2009 Prius
  • 2009-2010 Pontiac Vibe (Toyota makes for General Motors Co.)
  • 2005-2010 Tacoma
  • 2007-2010 Tundra
  • 2009-2010 Venza
According to NHTSA, the Toyota and Pontiacs affected by the sticky pedal recall are:
  • 2005-2010 Avalon
  • 2007-2010 Camry
  • 2009-2010 Corolla
  • 2010 Highlander
  • 2009-2010 Matrix
  • 2009-2010 Pontiac Vibe (Toyota makes for General Motors Co.)
  • 2009-2010 RAV4
  • 2008-2010 Sequoia
  • 2007-2008 Tundra
Consumers may also contact Toyota at 1-800-331-4331 or the NHTSA hotline 1-888-327-4236 for more information or see additional information from Toyota on the recall on the Toyota USA Newsroom,, the best resource for consumers to get current information and updates from Toyota.
The Auto Club reminds motorists that no Scion vehicles were affected by Toyota’s recall actions.  Also not affected by the recalls were, Sienna, Solara, Yaris, 4Runner, FJ Cruiser, Land Cruiser and select Camry models, including Camry hybrids, which remain for sale. 

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Elaine Beno
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