Local dealership affected by Toyota recall

Cody Francis

Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc., has told dealers to suspend the sales of eight vehicle models after a recall last week to correct a problem with a computer mechanism that causes the accelerator pedal to stick.

According to Toyota’s Web site, the recalled models are: 2009-2010 Corolla, RAV4 and Matrix; 2008-2010 Sequoia; 2007-2010 Camry and Tundra; 2005-2010 Avalon; and 2010 Highlander.

Jim Wise, general manager of Don Joseph Toyota on W. Main Street, said those who own a Toyota shouldn’t panic, as the majority of the models most likely have nothing wrong with them.

“Some of the vehicles that are built in Japan; (the recall) doesn’t have any effect on them,” Wise said. “Some vehicles have the Japanese-built accelerator in it, and they’re not affected at all. This part is built in Canada … so that’s the part that is involved. Less than one percent of vehicles may even have an issue with it.”

Even though most of the recalled vehicles won’t have a problem, the sales suspension will hurt dealers across the country. Wise said his dealership doesn’t carry large numbers of most of the recalled vehicles, but the fact he can’t sell Camrys and Corollas could cause Don Joseph to take a big hit to their wallet — he said those are his two biggest sellers.

“We have 16 vehicle (models) in the lineup, and you’re talking eight, seven of them that are actually affected,” Wise said. “The two that are probably most dramatic are the Camry and Corolla because they’re definitely our flagship vehicles. Absolutely it’s going to affect sales, especially right now the way the economy is. Those sales were already slow in the first place, now we’ve just cut back on what we can sell, and some are the things we were actually selling.”

Wise said he wasn’t sure how many vehicles would be affected by the recall on his lot, but he estimates about 30 of Don Joseph’s 100-plus vehicles his lot carries must be inspected.

Curt McAllister, Toyota’s Midwest public relations manager, said the company has no time frame as to when the sales of these vehicles will be permitted again, but sales are secondary to customer safety and satisfaction.

“We’re trying to come up with a remedy as fast as we can,” McAllister said. “We know that some of the dealers are going to experience some lulls in their sales, but more importantly the safety of our customers is our first priority, and that’s why we had this historical sales stoppage  — to make sure that our vehicles are the quality vehicles that the customers purchased and, more importantly, is that those customers stay as safe as possible.”

Wise said he anticipates the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration will approve production to start-up again, but that is just his guess. He said any customer can come in to get a car inspection. In fact, he encourages them to.

“Right now, we are offering the customers to come in and let us visually inspect their vehicle just to make sure they have one of the parts that are failed or ones that may not be involved in it,” Wise said. “We’re actually being proactive in regards to that before any notification that the customer feels scared to drive the vehicle, or any concern that we are actually inspecting them now for them. We’re doing that on a dealership basis, not on a mandate by Toyota or anything like that.”

Contact public affairs reporter Cody Francis at [email protected].