Free Toyota Repairs To Start This Week

Published On: Feb 02 2010 05:47:02 AM HST   Updated On: Feb 02 2010 06:09:45 AM HST

The manager in charge of the state's busiest Toyota dealer on Monday night told KITV that Toyota owners whose vehicles have been recalled can start getting free repairs as soon as the end of the week.

About 8,000 cars on the road statewide are affected by the recall.

"We just want to apologize for the inconvenience of this recall," Servco Pacific Toyota CEO Mark Fukunaga said. His Toyota dealership in Mapunapuna is the state's largest.

Fukunaga said the service department at his dealership, which usually closes at 6 p.m., will remain open 24 hours a day to handle repairs on thousands of Camrys, Corollas and other Toyotas.

"We want to have every car fixed. We want to keep every owner happy and comfortable with their car, and we want to do it as quickly as possible," Fukunaga said.

He expects to begin the repairs by the end of the week and owners can call now to set up repair appointments.

Toyota said excessive wear on two interlocking parts of gas pedals in some models created too much friction, making the pedals sticky.

The addition of a small steel plate will keep the two surfaces apart.

"We would say it's under an hour, and probably more like 30 minutes to do the fix," Fukunaga said. "So it's fairly straightforward."

While there have been no sticky gas pedal accidents in Hawaii, there have been deaths and accidents reported in the last six years linked to runaway Toyotas on the mainland.

And some people question whether the automaker tried to hide the problem, including the former head of the federal auto safety agency.

"Toyota has said that they've been giving information to the government over a period of years, but it really has come out very, very slowly, little pieces ? drip, drip, drip," said Nicole Nason, former administrator of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

Toyota USA President Jim Lentz insisted the company has been honest.

"There is no cover-up," he told ABC News' Brian Ross. Ross asked how long Lentz had known about not just sticky gas pedals but runaway Toyotas.

"It's a lot of detail that goes into all this," Lentz responded. "We've been upfront. We are taking care of customers right now."

Toyota dealerships said that any of the new cars currently being sold are safe because sales workers have removed all of the recalled vehicles from showrooms and sales lots.


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