Toyota ponders new pedals, lubrication as fixes in latest recall
The newly identified problem is caused by a mechanism that controls the accelerator pedal's return to the idle position after being pressed to the floor, the person said. Toyota spokesman John Hanson confirmed the source's report that the components were made in Canada by supplier CTS Corp..
A woman answering the phone at CTS' office in Elkhart, Ind., declined to comment. Messages left for two CTS officials weren't returned.
The latest recall follows an ongoing recall of 4.2 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles announced last fall to address unintended-acceleration incidents.
Yesterday, Hanson said the problem is rare and stems from pedals that “prematurely wear” because of a supplier's faulty pedal design. Today he said condensation can prevent the pedal from fully springing back into position, but he did not identify fixes Toyota is reviewing.
Hanson said the issue involves only CTS, one of the two parts makers that build the pedal mechanisms for Toyota.
The recall further tarnishes Toyota's reputation for top-notch quality. Last year's recall to replace floor mats, reshape accelerator pedals and make other fixes to address reports of unintended acceleration was Toyota's largest U.S. recall ever. It also pushed the automaker to the top of the U.S. safety recall list for the first time ever.
The latest recall covers 2005-10 Avalons, 2007-10 Camrys and Tundras; 2008-10 Sequoias; 2009-10 Corollas, RAV4s and Matrixes; and 2010 Highlanders.
The person familiar with Toyota's plan offered no timeline for the fix, but said replacing the pedal would take a long time because new components would have to be re-engineered and manufactured.
The glitch is not related to the car's electronic throttle control system, the person said.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found no evidence of faulty electronic controls in Toyota vehicles, yet the technology remains suspect.
“For some incidents, the only other explanation is the electronic controls,” said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, based in Washington. “Toyota keeps saying there are no problems with the electronic controls, and we simply disagree.”
Toyota's electronic throttle control system has dual sensors backstopping each other in monitoring the accelerator pedal's position, along with two more sensors double-checking the throttle position. Meanwhile, a control computer actuates the throttle and a monitoring computer surveys all the computer signals in the circuit.
If any abnormal signals are detected, the engine is immediately returned to idle.
Robert Sherefkin contributed to this report.
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