Columbia Toyota dealership, customers deal with recall

Wednesday, February 3, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 10:58 a.m. CST, Wednesday, February 3, 2010

COLUMBIA – The Toyota dealership in Columbia expects to receive the parts to repair faulty accelerator pedals on a number of its recalled vehicles by Friday.

“We won’t have parts of any kind until Thursday or Friday, and then we’ll know how to proceed,” said Dan Kellar, general manager of Joe Machens Toyota.

Toyota vehicles affected by the recall

  • Certain 2009-2010 RAV4
  • Certain 2009-2010 Corolla
  • 2009-2010 Matrix
  • 2005-2010 Avalon
  • Certain 2007-2010 Camry
  • Certain 2010 Highlander
  • 2007-2010 Tundra
  • 2008-2010 Sequoia

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After a nationwide recall on Toyota vehicles because of a friction problem that could cause an accelerator pedal to stick, Toyota announced Monday that it would begin fixing the defective pedals.

“Parts to reinforce the pedals are already being shipped for use by dealers, and dealer training is under way," according to a corporate announcement. "Many Toyota dealers will work extended hours to complete the recall campaign as quickly and conveniently as possible, some even staying open 24 hours a day.”

Kellar said his staff are waiting for a “precision-cut steel reinforcement bar” that removes tension between a friction shoe and the adjoining surface in the device.

Installing the bar will eliminate the friction that's causing accelerator pedals to stick, Toyota has assured customers.

The recall affects 2.3 million vehicles in the United States — the 2009-2010 RAV4, the 2009-2010 Corolla, the 2009-2010 Matrix, the 2005-2010 Avalon, the 2007-2010 Camry, the 2010 Highlander, the 2007-2010 Tundra and the 2008-2010 Sequoia.

Meanwhile, the staff at Joe Machens Toyota, as well as at dealerships across the country, have been instructed to halt sales on these recalled vehicles.

“We’ve still been selling other unaffected models and used models, but having to stop sales on eight vehicles of course affects business,” Kellar said. “It’s not exactly business as usual, but it hasn’t been a dramatic decrease.”

Jim Williams, mechanic at Custom Complete Automotive in Columbia, said that despite the confusion and concern about the recall, his business cannot help owners of the defective vehicles.

“We won’t even get calls about something like this,” Williams said. “A recall like that is only going to affect the dealerships.”

Dealerships are the only ones receiving the necessary factory parts, so they alone are designated to repair the cars.

Meanwhile, consumers are stuck in limbo. To secure their safety, many are eager for the repairs but must wait until the necessary parts arrive.

Some customers, however, are not as concerned.  

“I’m not too worried about it,” said Joe Erkmann, a Toyota owner.

Erkmann said he has been following the developments of the recall in the news media but does not intend to rush into the dealership as soon as parts are delivered.

He said that the infrequency of pedals sticking is one reason he's not anxious.

“I’ll come in when it’s convenient,” Erkmann said.

This is the second of two recalls that Toyota has conducted since September. The first addressed the problem of the gas pedal getting trapped in the driver's floor mat.

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