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TESS VIGELAND: We hope you’re not stuck in gridlock listening to the broadcast, but if you are on the way to grandma’s house and you’re driving a Toyota, traffic may be the least of your problems. That recall we mentioned includes certain models of the Camry, the Avalon, the Prius, Tacoma, Tundra and the Lexus. Seems the gas pedal can get stuck in the floor mat. The government is attributing at least five deaths to the problem. And today Toyota announced it’s going to replace the accelerator on all of the recalled vehicles.
Marketplace’s Jeremy Hobson tells us what that means for customers, dealers and for Toyota.
Jeremy Hobson: Toyota isn’t saying what it expects to pay for the fix, which involves installing a smaller gas pedal or changing the shape of the floor.
The auto-industry tracking firm Edmunds.com says the price tag could reach $200 million. Philip Reed is Edmund’s senior consumer advice editor.
Philip Reed: This is definitely a significant recall. Not as much in numbers, as it is in the perception of the public of the reliability and safety of Toyota.
Reed says while a recall like this won’t help Toyota dealers sell cars, it’s not all bad for them.
Reed: It actually brings people into the dealership, which dealers are always in favor of.
He says many customers coming in for a fix might decide to pay for an oil change or a tune up while they’re around. And then there will be those who don’t fix the problem at all.
Dave Sedgwick: There’s always a percentage of people that don’t bother or don’t hear about it.
Dave Sedgwick is automotive editor for the Detroit Daily Press. He says it’s likely most will hear about it, since Toyota is sending out letters to affected customers. Sedgwick says what’s less clear is how this will affect Toyota’s reputation.
Sedgwick: What everyone immediately thought of when they heard about unintended acceleration was Audi back in the 1980s. There were a number of serious accidents, some fatal. And it practically drove Audi out of the U.S. market.
Sedgwick says that won’t happen to Toyota, as long as this remains, in his words, “a floor mat issue.”
In New York, I’m Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.