“The gas pedal got stuck on my way to school this week, and my car kept going and going and it wouldn’t stop,” says Queanna Cole, an Alabama woman who drives a 2009 Camry. The incident put a scratch on her car, but it left a bigger dent on her peace of mind. “I’m scared to dive my car. It’s been parked since Tuesday. I haven’t driven it anywhere. I’m scared,” she said.
Cole is one of millions of Toyota customers whose cars or trucks fall under a massive recall due to sudden and unintended acceleration. Though Toyota says the defect is rare, the company has received so many reports of similar incidents that it had to take action. More than eight million Toyota vehicles around the world have been recalled to date because of the unintended acceleration problem.
Car dealers are beginning feeling the heat. The company has suspended sales of its cars and trucks this week to make the necessary repairs on them before they are sold to the public, a move that will dampen sales by an estimated 75 percent for the year 2010. On Monday, Toyota announced parts were being shipped to dealers and many dealers will work extended hours to complete the recall campaign as quickly and conveniently as possible.
Toyota dealers, like Bruce Limbaugh with Limbaugh Toyota in Birmingham, Ala., are urging customers with affected models to call dealerships for answers to questions regarding the recall. “Our first consideration and concern is for our customers, their safety, for them and their preconceived concerns,” he said.
But many consumers remain skeptical of the carmaker with the once-stellar reputation. According to the New York Times, which received information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 19 sudden accelerator deaths involving Toyota vehicles is more than reports from all other automakers combined.