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Toyota recall issues persist

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Toyota recall issues persist

Regulators probing complaints of unintended acceleration involving repaired vehicles

Christine Tierney / The Detroit News

U.S. safety regulators are looking into fresh complaints from a few Toyota owners reporting unintended acceleration of recalled vehicles that were just repaired.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Wednesday it had identified 10 post-recall allegations of unintended acceleration in Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles.

NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said the agency was looking into the reports and trying "to get to the bottom of the problem and to make sure Toyota is doing everything possible to make its vehicles safe."

"If Toyota owners are still experiencing sudden acceleration incidents after taking their cars to the dealership, we want to know about it," he said in a statement.

Toyota dealers have repaired 1 million of the 5.3 million vehicles recalled in the U.S. to prevent unintended acceleration.

But concerns linger whether Toyota's fixes eliminate the risk. Dealers are shortening and redesigning the gas pedal and adjusting the floor to prevent loose floor mats or other materials from jamming the accelerator pedal. The remedy includes the installation of a fail-safe measure, a brake override feature.

On Tuesday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood rejected allegations that the remedies approved by NHTSA didn't get to the heart of the problem.

"We know from our investigations that the floor mat is a problem," he told the Senate Commerce Committee. "We know the sticky pedal is a problem," he said, referring to a separate recall to fix faulty pedals that can be slow to return and get stuck.

NHTSA has linked 52 deaths to crashes allegedly caused by unintended acceleration of Toyota vehicles since 2000.

Toyota had no immediate comment on the new complaints.

In one incident reported by the Associated Press, Stewart Stogel, 49, of Mount Vernon, N.Y., said his 2009 Camry accelerated to about 15 mph on a street near his home on Saturday, five days after a dealership trimmed the gas pedal and installed new brake override software.

The car didn't stop for several seconds even though he pressed on the brakes. Stogel said he barely avoided a wall and nearly went down an embankment.

Stogel called his dealer, who told him to return with the car so that Toyota engineers could inspect it.

The recalls and safety concerns have taken a toll on Toyota sales, which fell 8.7 percent in February.

Toyota is offering repeat buyers two years of free maintenance to bolster

From The Detroit News:


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