Toyota fixes on recalled models due soon

By Mike Benbow Herald Writer

EVERETT — Toyota Motor Corp.’s decision to recall more than 2.4 million of its most popular cars for a gas pedal problem has made things complicated at Everett’s Rodland Toyota.

The dealership can’t sell half its inventory — 76 new vehicles and 30 used ones are out of bounds. It’s still trying to sort out the numbers for its rental fleet.

And it’s handling about 100 calls a day from concerned drivers worried that their cars could be dangerous.

But despite the confusion, owner Buzz Rodland said the recall is the right decision for a company with a reputation for quality and reliability.

“These are mechanical issues that can happen with any manufacturer,” Rodland said Thursday. “What matters is what they do about it.”

What’s happened with many new Toyota models, including Camry, Corolla, Venza, Highlander, Tundra and Matrix, is that the gas pedals can stick and cause acceleration without warning.

Experts say the problem is rare and that owners are unlikely to experience any trouble. “We sell a lot of cars and we haven’t had a single incident,” Rodland said.

He said the company has isolated the problem to one of two manufacturers who make the part and is developing a solution that should be available within two weeks.

“We expect the fix to be painless and quick,” he said.

No hydrid vehicles are involved, nor are any cars or trucks with a Vehicle Identification Number beginning with the letter “J,” Rodland added.

Rodland said the recall has panicked some people and that he understands why. “It’s a safety issue and nothing is more important than safety,” he said.

Rodland said the recall has left him with the unusual situation of having one group of cars he can sell and one group that he can’t. He added that many Toyota buyers remain very loyal.

“I had one customer who just wanted his money back and that’s what he got,” Rodland said. “I had another one yesterday who said he wanted the car and he would pick it up after it’s fixed.”

Rodland said customers with concerns should feel free to call the dealership at 425-353-1111 for the latest information.

On Tuesday, the company said it was suspending U.S. sales and production of eight different models. On Wednesday, Toyota added 1 million vehicles to the recall. On Thursday, it extended recalls to China and Europe.

The decision comes as Toyota and all other automakers are trying to emerge from a terrible slide in sales that abated a little with the government’s Cash for Clunkers program.

Rodland said he was proud of the company for “standing behind every one of its vehicles” and not just continuing to manufacture cars and pushing the problem to its dealers.