Recalls leave Toyota dealerships frustrated

January 29, 2010 6:48:16 PM PST
Toyota is rushing replacement gas pedals to its factories to fix a dangerous problem on millions of cars. Dealers are angry those parts are not coming to them, which leaves their customers waiting and worrying.

If you own a recalled Toyota and you don't know what to do about it, you are not alone. On Friday, Consumer Reports suspended the recommendations for any of the recalled cars until Toyota provides a permanent fix. In the meantime, the company has started shipping gas pedals to the factories and dealers are waiting.

For Russ Mobley, the general manager at San Francisco Toyota, the simplest way of dealing with this recall involves looking at a gas pedal and checking a stamp to see who made it.

If it says CTS, it came from this company in Indiana and needs to be replaced.

"They have designed the new pedal, and that pedal is being shipped to them [the factories]. They are fixing the problem," Mobley said.

Or so says Toyota, but customers and customer advocates are not so sure.

"This is a nightmare scenario," Sylvia Marino from said.

"I think the bulk of the problems we are seeing have nothing to do with some kind of accelerator pedal or with the floor mats. It has to do with other components in these vehicles; most likely the electronics," Sean Kane from Safety Research and Strategies said.

Such conjecture has frustrated dealers, and done little to ease the growing fears of customers, so far.

"It's a worry for me. I hope the problem is resolved," a Toyota owner said.

They wonder what the fix will be, when they can get it, how long it will take. Imagine trying to deal with all those calls.

"We've heard of a shim, we've heard of a spacer that's going to go in there. We don't know if they finished testing or if it's conclusive that it's going to fix it. I know Toyota is going to walk gingerly and make sure this is a one-time fix," Mobley said.

Toyota certainly hopes so because even after the mechanical issues disappear, legal implications are only just beginning in the form of class action law suits.

"I can see lawyers arguing that the prudent thing for their clients to do was simply to stop using their vehicles because they might be dangerous. And therefore each individual client has lost for a period of time the value of the use of the automobile," ABC7 legal analyst Dean Johnson said.

On Friday, the company that makes those pedals, CTS, noted that these acceleration problems extend back to 1999 and notes that there were: "No accelerator pedals in Toyota vehicles prior to the model year 2005."