Toyota's big recall halts sales, production of 8 models

By Blake Ellis, contributing writer, and Peter Valdes-Dapena, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. is telling dealers to suspend sales of eight models, and halting production of those models, after a recall to correct a problem that could cause the accelerator pedal to stick.

About 2.3 million vehicles are affected by the recall, which was announced last week, Toyota (TM) said Tuesday in a statement. That's more autos than the 1.8 million Toyota sold in all of 2009.

"Toyota has a legal obligation to stop the sale of vehicles that would be affected under the recall," a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) spokesman said.

In issuing the recall, the automaker said it had not yet found a way to fix the problem, but wanted owners to be aware of the potential issue.

While stopping sales of recalled is standard procedure, stopping production of the cars is unusual, a Toyota spokesman admitted.

But because no remedy has been found, it's not known how long the sales suspension will last. That meant Toyota would be producing cars it couldn't sell and that would only need to fixed later before they could be sold.

"Helping ensure the safety of our customers and restoring confidence in Toyota are very important to our company," Toyota USA group vice president Bob Carter said Tuesday. "This action is necessary until a remedy is finalized."

The situation is rare, Toyota said last week, but can occur when accelerator pedal mechanisms become worn. The problem will usually develop gradually, Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons said.

The pedal may become harder to press and may become slower to return when released. In the worst cases, it may become stuck in a partially depressed position.

In that case, applying the brakes should be enough to get the car back under control, the automaker said.

Owners who are not experiencing any problems should be able to continue driving their cars, Toyota said. If they experience any sticking or hesitancy in the gas pedal, they should stop driving the car and call the nearest Toyota dealer.

A Toyota spokesman said there are no confirmed deaths traceable to the defect.

The new recall, involving sticking accelerator pedals, is separate from an ongoing recall of 4.2 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles due to the risk of pedal entrapment because of a loose floormat.

About 1.7 million Toyota Division vehicles have been affected by both recalls, meaning that the new recall affects 600,000 additional vehicles.

Stopping production

The automaker said that it will halt the production of vehicles at certain production facilities in Canada, Indiana, Kentucky and Texas during the week of Feb. 1 to "assess and coordinate activities." The vehicles currently being built will not be sold until they are fixed, a Toyota spokesman said.

"Suspending sales and production is certainly good to reassure the public that they are serious about doing something, but too many jobs and lost sales are involved for this to be a PR stunt," Edmunds.com Director of Vehicle Testing Dan Edmunds said in statement. "They must really be concerned about this being something other than a rare condition. Hopefully this means the fix is very close to being ready, because suspension of production and sales is not tolerable for very long."

About 14,000 Toyota workers will be idled d

The recall affects Toyota's 2009-2010 RAV4, Corolla and Matrix; 2005-2010 Avalon; certain 2007-2010 Camrys; 2010 Highlander; 2007-2010 Tundra and the 2008-2010 Sequoia.

General Motors' Pontiac Vibe, which is essentially the same car as the Toyota Matrix, was also included in the recall. GM is not participating in the order to stop selling the cars because it has already stopped production of Pontiac vehicles as part of its wind-down of the Pontiac brand, a GM spokesman said.

Toyota owners with questions should call Toyota's customer service line at 800-331-4331.

-CNN's Allan Chernoff contributed to this report.  To top of page

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