By KEN THOMAS (AP)
WASHINGTON — Toyota has told dealers it will provide replacement accelerator pedals to owners who are unsatisfied with their repairs under the massive recall following dozens of complaints about the fix.
The Japanese automaker said in a memo obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press that if a customer is unhappy with the feel of the accelerator after the car is repaired, dealers can provide a replacement pedal at no charge. Dealers have been inserting a piece of metal into the gas pedal mechanism to eliminate friction that was causing the pedal problem on more than 4 million vehicles involved in a January recall.
"A replacement pedal should only be offered to a customer after the reinforcement bar has been installed and the customer has expressed dissatisfaction with the operation and/or feel of the pedal," Toyota said in a memo to dealers, service manager and parts managers.
The memo, dated February 2010, said the pedal replacement "is based upon specific customer request only. Dealers are not to solicit pedal replacement." The memo was first reported by The New York Times.
An AP analysis of government data found that more than 100 owners have complained to the government about problems with sudden acceleration after Toyota dealers fixed their vehicles. Toyota has said it is confident in its repairs and has found no evidence of other problems, such as faulty electronics.
Toyota has recalled more than 8 million vehicles globally over sticky pedals and accelerators that can become entrapped in floor mats, tarnishing the company's safety reputation and leading to government investigations and congressional hearings.
The memo addresses Toyota vehicles that were listed in the January recall. The vehicles include: the 2005-10 Avalon; 2007-10 Camry and Tundra; 2009-10 Corolla, Matrix and RAV4; 2008-10 Sequoia and 2010 Highlander.
"If a customer is not satisfied with the operation and/or the feel of the accelerator pedal after the reinforcement bar has been installed, please assist us by assuring a replacement pedal is provided at no charge to these customers," the company said in the memo.
Officials with Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did not immediately comment.
A group of consumer advocates and engineers who contend Toyota has discounted potential electronic problems in problem vehicles planned to hold a news conference Tuesday on the massive recalls. Toyota has said it has found no evidence that electrical issues are behind the recalls.
Kristen Tabar, an electronics general manager with Toyota's technical center in Ann Arbor, Mich., said in a video clip posted by the company on Monday that the automaker has eight labs in Japan that it uses to bombard vehicles with electronic interference.
She said Toyota ensures that "every system in the vehicle operates properly under those conditions."
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