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Toyota will fix the problem
Franklin confident car maker will come back strong
W BIZ TOYOTA 011
Franklin Toyota sales representative Donnie Hicks, background right, scans the lot for potential customers Monday. Hicks, who has worked for the local dealer for about five years, says sales have been slower since Toyota issued its massive recall, but hasn't dropped off as much as some might have guessed. He says he hasn't had any customers who have experienced the problems associated with the recall but has answered a lot of questions. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Toyota vehicles affected by the recall include:
Certain 2009-2010 RAV4
Certain 2009-1010 Corolla
2009-2010 Matrix
2005-2010 Avalon
Certain 2007-2010 Camry
Certain 2010 Highlander
2007-2010 Tundra
2008-2010 Sequoia

No Lexus Division or Scion vehicles are affected by this action. To learn more about the recall you can go to www.toyota.com/recall.

 

   Monday, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc. announced it will begin fixing accelerator pedals in recalled Toyota Division vehicles this week. In addition, Toyota has launched a media campaign to bolster its reputation for quality as nervous customers confront dealers across the country about faulty gas pedal systems.
       Although some Toyota dealers across the country reported that there had been a noticeable drop in customer traffic and sales over this past weekend, local Toyota dealer Robbie Franklin said business has remained steady for now.
       "We sold the same number of Toyotas this past weekend that we sold the weekend before," said Robbie Franklin, owner of Franklin Toyota in Statesboro. "We are continuing to sell and deliver the models that we can."
Franklin said there have been several inquiries about the recall, and he certainly understands everyone's concern.
      "It is a serious problem, and it needs to be fixed," he said. "I know that Toyota will stand behind its product and fix immediately what needs to be fixed. We haven't had any specific customer complaints here at our dealership, but there certainly has been a lot of concern."
       The company has said the recall of about 4.2 million cars and trucks is related to condensation that builds up in the gas pedal assembly and can cause the accelerator to get stuck. The repair involves installing a steel shim a couple of millimeters thick in the pedal assembly, behind the top of the gas pedal, to eliminate the excess friction between two pieces of the accelerator mechanism. In rare cases, Toyota says, that friction can cause the pedal to become stuck in the depressed position.
      At Earl Stewart Toyota in North Palm Beach, Fla., sales initially dropped off after the recall announcement but began to rebound by the weekend. General manager Stu Stewart said he'd even sold some cars in recent days that have the faulty gas pedal system. Customers will just have to wait for the cars to be fixed before picking up their new vehicles, Stewart said.
       The pedal recall is separate from another recall involving floor mats that can bend and push down accelerators. The two recalls combined affect more than 7 million vehicles worldwide.
       "I was aware that there had been some problem with the floor mats," Franklin said. "I did not know anything about a problem with the accelerator pedal itself. That was news to me when the recall was issued."
       Toyota issued a statement on Monday stating that parts to reinforce the pedals are already being shipped for use by dealers, and dealer training is underway. According to the statement, many Toyota dealers will work extended hours to complete the recall campaign as quickly and conveniently as possible, some even staying open 24 hours a day. The company has also taken the unprecedented action of stopping production of affected vehicles for the week of February 1.
       "We should have the necessary parts and technical specifications by Friday," Franklin said. "I would encourage Toyota customers to call us and see if their vehicle is on the list or just bring it in. If it needs to be fixed, we can certainly go ahead and do that or set up an appointment to have it done. If someone needs a loaner car, we can make arrangements. It is something that needs to be taken care of, and we are here for that."
       Franklin said it doesn't matter whether or not the car was purchased from his dealership.
      "Any Toyota from any dealer can be fixed here," he said.
       On January 21, Toyota announced its intention to recall approximately 2.3 million select Toyota Division vehicles equipped with a specific pedal assembly and suspended sales of the eight models involved in the recall on January 26.  Toyota said car owners would be notified by mail and told to set up appointments with their dealers. It said cars already on the road would get priority over those on the lot.
       "I am sure that Toyota will want us to fix our customers cars before we begin fixing the cars yet to be sold," Franklin said. "That is what we will focus on first. The recall affects 60 percent of the cars that we have on our lot. That is just a reality, but, we still have plenty of cars that it doesn't affect. From a sales standpoint, the key will be having cars that you can sell and deliver, and we do right now."
       Toyota insisted the solution, rolled out six days after it temporarily stopped selling some of its most popular models, had been through rigorous testing and would solve the problem for the life of the car.
       "I am not worried about Toyota following through with what it said that it will do," Franklin said. "I bought this dealership in 1977, and they have always stood behind their automobiles. We will get through this, and continue to deliver a quality product. I just urge Toyota customers to come by and see us. If your car is one of those that has been recalled, please let us take care of this problem."

      The Associated Press contributed to this report.