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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Toyota teams to check speeding vehicles

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Toyota teams to check speeding vehicles

Engineers, technicians will respond to new acceleration complaints

BY GREG GARDNER

FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER

Toyota will contact anyone reporting unintended acceleration of a Toyota, Lexus or Scion vehicle within 24 hours and dispatch teams to investigate the vehicle, the company said Thursday.

"As we did in two recent, much-publicized cases in San Diego and Harrison, N.Y., we will continue to work with law enforcement agencies and federal regulators," said Steve St. Angelo, Toyota's chief quality officer for North America.

The teams are to be assigned from a group of 200 engineers and technicians from the company's sales, manufacturing and technical centers in California, Kentucky, Michigan and other locations.

Toyota has recalled nearly 6 million vehicles in the U.S. to replace or remove floor mats, or repair gas pedals that may stick and cause vehicles to accelerate without warning.

In the San Diego incident last month, a driver reported that his Prius was traveling at a high rate of speed, the accelerator pedal was stuck and that the vehicle was out of control and could not be stopped.

An emergency operator instructed the driver to shift the car into neutral and turn off the power button. With additional help from a California Highway Patrol officer, the car came to a safe stop.

Toyota engineers tested the accelerator pedal and concluded it worked normally with no mechanical binding or friction. The front brakes showed severe wear and damage from overheating, while the rear brakes and parking brake were in good condition and functional. Toyota said the driver's report was inconsistent with what its inquiry found.

In the New York case, a woman said her Prius suddenly accelerated as she pulled out of a driveway, sped across a street and crashed into a stone wall. Investigators from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said they found no evidence that the woman applied the brakes before hitting the wall.

Toyota did not say whether the new response teams will visit customers who have already reported unintended acceleration.

The Free Press reported last month that 731 Toyota owners not covered by the recent recalls have reported unintended acceleration to NHTSA. In addition, 10 owners reported the phenomenon even after their gas pedals were repaired under the recall.

NHTSA pressured Toyota into recalling vehicles for sudden acceleration after receiving 3,400 complaints dating to 2004.

link:

http://www.freep.com/article/20100409/BUSINESS01/4090382/1331/Toyota-teams-to-check-speeding-vehicles

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