It's been a trying time for auto giant Toyota and specifically, local dealerships who are tasked with replacing parts in vehicles as part of a massive recall announced late last month and the suspension of sales on affected models.
At Dublin Toyota, general manager Lance Tenwolde said the dealership is doing everything it can to assist customers in replacing accelerator pedals, which were the subject of the recall, and said to possibly stick, leading to runaway acceleration.
Dublin Toyota and other dealers are also facing a global recall of the Prius — the hybrid electric car which has become the leader of the green motoring revolution.
The Times of London reports this morning that in a deepening of the crisis at the world's largest car manufacturer, Toyota will this week warn 300,000 Prius owners — 3,500 of them in the UK — that the brakes on their car may fail in icy conditions or on bumpy surfaces.
"The news follows hard on last month's recall of 8 million Toyotas over fears of accelerator pedal defects in several models," the Times reports. "In Britain, the owners of 180,000 Toyotas have been told that their cars may have problems which lawyers in the U.S. claim have led to 19 deaths."
Already, before the latest Prius warning, Dublin Toyota has been working late into th night to repair possibly faulty accelerators.
"We have extended hours already, but the way we're looking at this, if we have people waiting, we're going to continue through the night," he said Thursday afternoon. "We're already open until 10 o'clock at night anyway."
The dealership received its first shipments of the replacement pedals five days ago. Workers there are also repairing models listed in an earlier Toyota recall where floor mats can possible interfere with the pedals.
"Unfortunately we just ran out of parts again, so we're waiting for Toyota to ship us some more," Tenwolde said, adding that he's asking customers for their patience.
Toyota first announced the recall Jan. 21, affecting 2.3 million vehicles: 2009 and 2010 Matrixes, 2005-2010 Avalons, 2007-2010 Tundras, 2008-2010 Sequoias, 2010 Highlanders; and certain 2007-2010 Camrys, 2009-2010 RAV4s and 2009-2010 Corollas. Last Friday, the auto manufacturer suspended sales of those models.
"It was about 30 percent of our inventory overall," Tenwolde said. "Since then, I think we've already repaired most of the Corollas, so I think we're almost back in business with the pedals, just not the floor mat issue."
Tenwolde acknowledged the recall has taken its toll on sales, but said no company is immune to recalls and Toyota has a solid reputation.
"I've been with Toyota for 23 years, so this is kind of a first for us, something of this caliber," he said. "But Toyota, every time they have a situation where they've run into a recall, they've done a really good job with it. I don't think they'll let the public down now."
Detailed information and answers to questions about the recall are available at www.toyota.com/recall or by calling a customer service line set up specifically for the recall, 1-800-331-4331.
Toyota said in the event the accelerator pedal sticks, the vehicle can be controlled by firmly pumping and pressing the brakes. The brakes should not be pumped repeatedly because it could deplete vacuum assist, according to Toyota, requiring stronger brake pedal pressure. The vehicle should be driven to the nearest safe location, the engine shut off and a Toyota dealer contacted for assistance.
Separate from the sticking pedals, Toyota has also recalled vehicle models which may have floor mats that can trap the gas pedal. That recall was announced Nov. 25 and affects the following Lexus and Toyota models: 2007-2010 Camry, 2005-2010 Avalon, 2004-2009 Prius, 2005-2010 Tacoma, 2007-2010 Tundra, 2007-2010 ES 350, 2006-2010 IS 250 and 2006-2010 IS 350.