Minnesota Toyota dealerships have begun fixing gas pedals in cars subject to a massive recall.
Right now, most of the cars in the service department at Walser Toyota in Bloomington are there for non-recall repairs. But the recall work will soon increase now that they have just received the first shipment of postage stamp-sized metal squares. Toyota says these little pieces of metal will prevent gas pedals from sticking open.
Service manager Dan Hahn said installing what appears to be an insignificant piece of metal takes only about a half an hour. Mechanics have to remove the gas pedal in order to install the reinforcement bar.
Hahn said normally the service department takes from 100 to 150 cars a day. Now, he said the department will open this Sunday to handle the growing number of recall repair requests.
"Right now, currently, we have about anywhere from 90 to 100 appointments just on Sunday alone," Hahn said. "The other appointments, because the recall is so new, we're working in with our regular work flow. Obviously, we have appointments that were already set earlier in the week.
"So, we're trying to put those in as much as we can. And then next week we'll be gearing up for more appointments. So, we're taking appointments for pretty much any time."
This latest recall comes on top of an earlier request to fix a problem where floor mats have come loose, jamming the gas pedal down causing unexpected acceleration.
Hahn said mechanics have to shorten the gas pedals by cutting or grinding down the end
"So ultimately, when the accelerator is pushed all the way down, even if it does, if there is stacked floor mats to get in the way it will clear that," he said.
In a room just outside the service department, about a dozen people waited for their cars. Julie Chatleain said the recall announcement didn't worry her because she'd never had any problems with her 2008 Camry.
"But, family members kept telling me to get it done and so I called and they said they would have the parts in the next few weeks here," Chatleain said. "And I made an appointment."
Toyota officials probably hope most of their customers react with similar calm and patience. Walser's director of new car operations, Doug Sprinthall said so far, that seems to be the case.
"They understand the situation," Sprinthall said. "We're doing everything we can to communicate, in a lot of different ways, both through the press, direct phone contact [and] we've revamped our whole Web site to get them the most up-to-date information. I think for the most part, as long as people feel they know what's going on, they're fine."
Sprinthall said Walser will likely be performing recall repairs on sticking gas pedals for the next three weeks. Now it appears there may be even more work ahead.
Some owners of the 2010 Prius have reported braking problems and company officials are considering a recall of more than 250,000 cars.
Sprinthall estimates that Walser has sold 100 of the 2010 Prius. So if that model is recalled, it may not jam up their service department.
However, Sprinthall and other Toyota sellers hope the recalls and the crowded service departments won't result in empty show rooms.