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Toyota recall: Engineers come up with pedal fix

Toyota recall: Engineers come up with pedal fix

Posting in Technology

Toyota engineers have cooked up "a precision-cut steel reinforcement bar" that will fix the sticking gas pedal problem that forced the company to suspend sales of a bevy of popular vehicles.

Toyota said Monday that its engineers have cooked up "a precision-cut steel reinforcement bar" that will fix the sticking gas pedal problem that forced the company to suspend sales of a bevy of popular vehicles.

With its reputation on the line, Toyota's fix is fairly simple on the surface, but now the company has to deploy the solution in the field. Toyota's recall issue comes at the intersection of numerous business issues ranging from tracking a global supply chain to customer communications to managing partners.

In a statement, Toyota said it has "developed and rigorously tested a solution that involves reinforcing the pedal assembly in a manner that eliminates the excess friction that has caused the pedals to stick in rare instances."

If you recall, Toyota recalled 2.3 million vehicles due to the sticking gas pedal on Jan. 21. On Jan. 26, Toyota suspended sales of eight models including popular cars like the Camry, Corolla and RAV4. That suspension will continue through the week of Feb. 1.

Toyota added that it will keep dealerships open for extended hours---including 24 hours at some locations---to fix the pedal. Accelerator pedals were getting stuck in an open position.

Here's a look at the fix in detail:

A precision-cut steel reinforcement bar will be installed into the assembly that will reduce the surface tension between the friction shoe and the adjoining surface.  With this reinforcement in place, the excess friction that can cause the pedal to stick is eliminated.  The company has confirmed the effectiveness of the newly reinforced pedals through rigorous testing on pedal assemblies that had previously shown a tendency to stick.

Jim Lentz, president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motor Sales, said:

Stopping production is never an easy decision, but we are 100% confident it was the right decision.  We know what’s causing the sticking accelerator pedals, and we know what we have to do to fix it.  We also know it is most important to fix this problem in the cars on the road. We are focused on making this recall as simple and trouble-free as possible, and will work day and night with our dealers to fix recalled vehicles quickly.

Contrary to published reports, Lentz said on NBC's Today show that the gas pedal issue was not related to faulty electronics.

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Larry Dignan

Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief Larry Dignan is editor-in-chief of SmartPlanet and ZDNet. He is also editorial director of TechRepublic. Previously, he was an editor at eWeek, Baseline and CNET News. He has written for WallStreetWeek.com, Inter@ctive Week, New York Times and Financial Planning. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Delaware. He is based in New York but resides in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure