Recall leaves Toyota owners asking, 'Now what?'

January 28, 2010 5:24:47 PM PST
Not only is the Toyota's pause in production and recall of 2.1 million vehicles unprecedented, but it is equally puzzling to some owners of those cars.

"We call it the 'scary car,'" Menlo Park resident Autumn Johnson said. Johnson owns a 2008 Toyota Sequoia with her husband. They purchased it because they have two young children and liked the safety rating. "Now we're very concerned."

When the recall came out, Johnson called Toyota 101 in Redwood City, seeking repairs. The dealer referred her to a national number.

"The company confirmed that our car is on the list; they asked if we had problems with the pedal; they told us there are no repairs being made at this time and that they did not know how they would fix the problem," she said.

This was the response she expected from Toyota.

"They had no solution and then told me what to do if my car goes out of control," she said.

"Toyota is in a difficult spot," analyst Sylvia Marino said. "The company is handling this as well as it can, given the circumstances, but it is awkward to warn consumers of a problem and not be able to offer a solution."

Johnson faced a difficult decision Thursday afternoon. Which car should she drive to San Francisco? Her new Toyota or an older Jeep. She chose the Jeep.

Toyota has extended the recall to vehicles outside the United States. It now includes 75,500 vehicles in China and more in Europe.

The company has published a web page with frequently asked questions.

What to do if your accelerator malfunctions

If an accelerator pedal malfunctions, tip your toe under the pedal, put the car in neutral, pull over to a safe place, turn off the car and have it towed to a dealer.