Concerned? Ask your Toyota dealer

toyota.gi.top.jpgTransportation Secretary Ray LaHood urged owners of Toyota cars affected by the recall to go to a dealer.By Aaron Smith, staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Wednesday that owners of Toyotas affected by the recall should bring their cars to a dealer.

"My advice is if you have one of these vehicles, if you have a doubt, take it to Toyota today," LaHood told reporters after a hearing on Capitol Hill.

Earlier, LaHood had told a House committee that Toyota owners should "stop driving" and bring affected cars back to the company. He later referred to that as a "misstatement."

The Transportation agency also released a statement advising owners "to contact their local dealerships to arrange for fixes as soon as possible."

"We appreciate Secretary LaHood's clarification of his remarks today about Toyota's recall for sticking accelerator pedals," Toyota said in a statement. "We want to make sure our customers understand that this situation is rare and generally does not occur suddenly."

The automaker said if Toyota owners notice a problem, they should contact their dealerships immediately. But if a car is not experiencing pedal issues, Toyota said it is confident the vehicle is safe to drive.

Toyota officials announced on Monday they had found a solution that involved reinforcing the pedal assembly with a part that is being rushed to dealerships.

The problem, however, is that drivers are not likely to get a quick fix. Toyota told dealers in a letter on Tuesday that "parts and technical instructions will begin arriving this week for you to begin initiating repairs."

The confusion has worried Toyota owners like Maria Ciresi, 75, of Smithtown, N.Y.

"I'm deadly afraid to use it," said Ciresi, referring to the new car she bought in November that has only 300 miles on it.

She said she contacted two of her local Toyota dealerships, but was told that they "don't know when" they would be able to fix her car.

"You have to be notified first by mail," she said.

Ciresi said she contacted Toyota directly, and was told to "drive the car, and if anything happens, put it in neutral."

Meanwhile, Ciresi said she's paying $190 a month for insurance and $263 a month on car payments for a vehicle she doesn't dare use.

LaHood also acknowledged that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating Toyotas not just for problems with gas pedals, but for problems with the electrical systems, as well.

"We will also be investigating the electronic components that are in these cars and if they're not safe, we'll have Toyota take a look at that," LaHood said.

He said that Toyota has been cooperative in the investigations.

Toyota has recalled millions of vehicles in recent weeks due to problems with sticking gas pedals that cause the vehicles to accelerate out of control and later halted the sale of the eight vehicles involved in the recall.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the model-make of a car. To top of page

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