Toyota Motor Corp. halted sales of some of its top-selling models Tuesday to fix gas pedals that could stick and cause unintended acceleration. Last week, Toyota issued a recall for the same eight models affecting 2.3 million vehicles.
In December, Darlene Green pulled into her Lakeville driveway in her 2006 Toyota Solara and hit the brake, but the car continued on — right into her husband’s truck.
“I had my foot on the brake and all of a sudden the car just went,” Green, a mother of three and grandmother of eight, recalled Wednesday.
“I hit the truck; I hit the gas grill, landed on a hay bale in my yard. As I landed on the hay bale, (the car) finally came to a stop,” Green said. “The nose had already hit the fence.”
The incident cost her $5,000 in damage to her Solara — a sports model of the Camry that is not part of a massive voluntary recall by Toyota, she said.
Despite the problems with her car, Green, who is awaiting word on what to do next from Toyota, is still driving it because, she said, “I love my car.”
But local Toyota dealerships are not loving a decision by the Toyota Motor Corp. on Tuesday to halt sales of some of its top-selling models to fix gas pedals that could stick and cause unintended acceleration.
The decision arrived as local automakers were already dealing with slumping sales from the economic downturn over the past year.
Last week, Toyota issued a recall for the same eight models affecting 2.3 million vehicles.
Toyota is also suspending production at six North American car-assembly plants beginning the week of Feb. 1. It gave no date on when production could restart.
Now, local Toyota dealers are clearing their lots, canceling sales of several Toyota models and waiting for direction from the well-known automaker.
“We don’t know what the fix is (yet),” Todd Copeland, co-owner of Copeland Toyota in Brockton, said of servicing the recalled models.
The Brockton dealership has started calling customers to inform them of the voluntary recall, and to answer any questions they may have, Copeland said.
“It’s a safety issue and anything that has to do with safety is of the utmost importance,” Copeland said.
He said if customers are experiencing the accelerator problem, “we’re taking the car in and looking at it immediately.”
Wednesday afternoon, employees at Copeland Toyota were tagging dozens of recalled cars sitting in a large parking lot. Copeland said he has been instructed by Toyota not to sell the cars.
But there are still lots of Toyota models that are not recalled, including Prius and Tacoma, that the dealership is selling, Copeland said.
Copeland would not say how much of his inventory was affected by the recall. But he said he was hopeful Toyota would come up with a fix soon.
Over at Route 44 Toyota in Raynham, General Manager Timothy Bruno said he began clearing about one-fourth of his car dealership lot after hearing of Toyota’s decision.
“Is it bad for us? Yeah. I could have had a better night last night,” Bruno said Wednesday.
He moved 94 recalled cars, including several 2010 Toyota Corollas, to a lot next door to Route 44 Toyota, he said.
“We can’t sell them. Toyota is going to let us know and we’ll go from there,” Bruno said.
John Sullivan, owner of Sullivan Brothers Toyota in Kingston, was confident that Toyota will have a repair plan within days. The Kingston dealership may extend its service center hours depending upon response to the recall.
Sullivan said he doubts the incident will harm the Toyota brand’s reputation among car buyers.
“In the short term, it could be a slight black eye, but you can’t judge the company based upon one snafu,” he said.
Employees at Toyota of Braintree began inspecting new car models one by one Tuesday morning and found about 100 out of 800 vehicles that needed the equipment fix.
Only vehicles made in the U.S. appear to be affected by the problem, which has been linked to parts manufactured by CTS Corp. of Elkhart, Ind., at a plant in Ontario, Canada.
Meanwhile, Green, the Lakeville woman who had troubles with her Solara, is worried. She heard the advice to put the transmission in neutral if the gas pedal starts to stick, and was not satisfied.
“If you’re in a panic, are you really going to stop and think, ‘Let’s throw it in neutral?’” Green said.
Enterprise writer Maria Papadopoulos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.