Friday, January 29, 2010
With Toyota stopping sales for recall, is yours safe to drive?
With Toyota's stunning decision yesterday to stop sales of eight models, is it safe to drive your car?
That's something a lot of Toyota drivers should be asking themselves today. If thousands of cars , including best-sellers Corolla and Camry, can't be sold because of fears the accelerator could stick, then why is it safe to keep driving millions of cars on the road that also could become runaways?
So far, Toyota is standing pat, saying it's just fine to keep driving your Toyota -- even if under recall -- as long as it's not experiencing telltale signs that it could be susceptible to a sticking accelerator. Of course, just a couple of days ago Toyota was insisting that it was just fine to sell new cars that were subject to a recall. Look how fast that message changed:
"As part of the recall, we are obliged to suspend sales until there is a remedy ... but the advice for customers remains the same," Toyota spokesman Mike Michels tells Drive On. While Toyota's recall was voluntary, Toyota says it's following government protocols that require it to stop selling cars unless it has an immediate remedy, and it doesn't. It can't fix the part that can wear and cause unintended acceleration in all the cars right away.
If you own a Toyota that's under recall, pay careful attention to whether the accelerator pedal action seems rough or is sluggish in returning to the idle position, he says.
Only then, if you experience this, "They should not operate the vehicle anymore ," Michels says. He insists that "recalls happen all the time where owners continue to drive their cars."
But few recalls can cause a problem as sensational as ones that have killed some Toyota or Lexus drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has already shown that drivers of a runaway Toyota or Lexus may be unable to stop the car by stomping on the brake pedal, become confused in trying to shift into neutral or contend with stop-start buttons that take three seconds of continuous pushing to shut off.
Toyota had already ordered drivers of many models to remove floor mats that could jam under accelerator pedals. The latest problem reversed Toyota's previous denials that accelerator pedals could jam open on their own, and a permanent fix could be a long time in coming.
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