January 25, 2010
We polled a couple of graduates of the Toyota School of Hard Knocks for their reactions to Friday’s sticky accelerator pedal recall, and the consensus was: this wouldn’t address my problem.
Kevin Haggerty, owner of the 2007 Avalon that arrived at the New Jersey dealership in a state of automotive hysteria (the vehicle, not Haggerty), said he surprised by the specifics of this recall, but not by Toyota’s attempt to look responsive.
“They needed to come up with something, but I don’t think it’s going to end the problem. I don’t think the accelerator pedal stuck in my case.”
In a Los Angeles Times article, Toyota disputes this. Spokesman Bryan Lyons said that Haggerty’s experience “matches our recall finding exactly.” Of course, Toyota gave Haggerty’s Avalon entirely new pedal and throttle assemblies, but Haggerty believes that the automaker took the broadest possible repair approach for a reason:
“Toyota instructed (the dealership) on what to replace because they didn’t know what to replace,” he says.
Haggerty’s 2007 Avalon is the subject the October floor mat consumer advisory, the November floor mat recall and the sticking accelerator pedal recall. That puts him miles ahead of Jordan Ziprin of Phoenix, who asked NHTSA to investigate SUA after he experienced an SUA event with his 2002 Camry. Ziprin’s request resulted in Defect Petition 05002. NHTSA kept that investigation open for four months, then closed the petition with no finding, patted Ziprin on the head and sent him on his way. The earlier-model Camrys have never been recalled for SUA, even though SRS has found that the complaint-rates for 2002-2006 Camrys are among the highest of all models.
Ziprin was similarly unimpressed by the accelerator pedal recall.
“I think they are just avoiding the real problem in the computer unit and the software, which they are avoiding because of the immense cost involved,” Ziprin said. “These are just halfway measures.”
And Jeffrey Pepski, the 2007 Lexus ES 350 owner, who experienced an SUA event in which the vehicle surged from 60 mph to 80 mph, says a sticking accelerator pedal certainly didn’t explain his close encounter. In April 2009, Pepski asked the agency to investigate SUA in Lexus vehicles. That probe also was shuttered in a matter of months – NHTSA concluded it was floor mat interference and Toyota launched a floor mat recall. As part of the recall population, Pepski’s vehicle was eligible for a redesigned pedal, a brake-to-idle feature and new all-weather floor mats, but he refused to drive his ES350 again. Eventually, Pepski reached an agreement with the dealer that allowed him to trade his Lexus for an RX model – although the deal didn’t make him whole. Like his Hard Knocks classmates, Pepski thinks the recalls, so far, aren’t solutions.
“It’s a band aid that doesn’t go back to the underlying root of the problem,” he says.
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