Transportation Chief: Take Recalled Toyotas to Dealer for Fix ‘as Soon as Possible’

February 3, 2010

(ChattahBox)—-The problems with Toyota’s sticky gas pedals took another turn today, as Ray LaHood head of the Transportation Department increased the pressure on the beleaguered automaker, urging owners of the recalled vehicles to stop driving them and take them to their dealership for repair. But LaHood later clarified his remarks, saying that he meant to encourage Toyota owners to seek a repair as soon as possible. “I want to encourage owners of any recalled Toyota models to contact their local dealer and get their vehicles fixed as soon as possible,” said Lahood.

News of problems with a faulty brake pedal on some models of its hybrid Prius, also was reported on Wednesday, raising new questions about Toyota’s computer systems.

LaHood said that he plans to phone Akio Toyoda, the president of Toyota, to ensure that he understands the gravity of the situation. “I’m going to take the initiative to have a conversation with Mr. Toyoda very soon, to talk to him about how serious this is, and to make sure that he understands,” LaHood said. “I think he understands, but I’ve never talked to him. I just feel like I need to have a conversation with him.”

LaHood also pointed out that Toyota has been slow to act, during this crisis. The Japanese carmaker agreed to stop producing and selling the eight recalled models, only after pressure was applied by LaHood’s department. LaHood also said that the The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “is not finished with this safety issue involving Toyota.” The electronics on the vehicles remain suspect insist LaHood, despite denials by Toyota that the electronic systems are not to blame for the accelerator problems.

The Transportation Department is also considering imposing civil penalties against Toyota over its slow handling of the recalls.

Toyota insists that the acceleration problems are caused by floor mats and sticking pedals and that the fix shipped to dealerships will solve the problem.

Source: The New York Times


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