Toyota announces gas pedal fix

NEW YORK ( - Toyota said Monday it has developed a fix for gas pedals in millions of recalled vehicles and is already shipping the new parts to dealers.

The fix involves reinforcing the pedal assembly in a way that eliminates the excess friction that has caused the pedals to stick, the company said in a press release. Toyota recalled 2.3 million vehicles in the United States for this problem.

Toyota said replacement parts are already being shipped and that dealers will work extended hours to fix the recalled vehicles.

"We know what's causing the sticking accelerator pedals, and we know what we have to do to fix it," said Jim Lentz, Toyota's president and chief operating officer, in a statement.

Toyota will begin contacting customers as early as this week to let them know when to bring in their vehicles for the fix. The automaker said it will cover all costs related to the fix, which will take about 30 minutes.

The fix involves installing a precision-cut steel reinforcement bar into the accelerator pedal assembly, which will reduce surface tension and prevent the friction that has caused the pedals to stick, Toyota said.

The company said it has confirmed the effectiveness of the newly reinforced pedals through "rigorous testing" on pedal assemblies that had previously shown a tendency to stick.

Toyota announced plans last week to suspend sales of the models, including its best-selling Camry, subject to the recall. It also took the unusual step of halting production of those models.

The recall has taken a severe toll on Toyota's once-stellar reputation, which Lentz acknowledged in a video statement posted on Toyota's Web site.

"I know that we've let you down," Lentz said "[Toyota] will work hard to fix your vehicle properly and regain your trust."

The recall affects Toyota's 2009-2010 RAV4, Corolla and Matrix; 2005-2010 Avalon; certain 2007-2010 Camrys; 2010 Highlander; 2007-2010 Tundra and the 2008-2010 Sequoia. The Camry Hybrid is not included in the recall.

The Japanese automaker also recalled cars in Europe. That recall involves eight different models, several of which are not sold in the United States. The precise number of vehicles involved in that recall is still being determined, but it could be as many as 1.8 million.

The gas pedal recall is separate from an earlier one, begun in November to fix a problem in which the gas pedal can become caught on the edge of the removable floormat.

The floormat recall was recently expanded so that it now covers a total of 5.3 million vehicles.

In cases where vehicles are subject to both recalls, Toyota said it intends to remedy both at the same time.

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