Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales USA, speaks at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last month. Toyota issued a recall of 2.3 million cars and trucks in the United States because of a potential problem with sticky accelerators.
Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales USA, speaks at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last month. Toyota issued a recall of 2.3 million cars and trucks in the United States because of a potential problem with sticky accelerators. Carlos Osorio/AP
Repaired accelerator pedals are a safe fix for the sticking problem that caused a massive worldwide recall of 4.2 million vehicles, the president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motor Sales USA said Monday.
"I drive Toyota products, my wife drives Toyota products, my family drives Toyota products, friends and neighbors drive Toyota products, and I can tell you that I wouldn't have loved ones in our products if I didn't think they were safe," Jim Lentz said in an interview with Melissa Block.
He said the pedals will be reinforced with a steel bar that is designed to reduce friction. The company says excess friction is what has caused the pedals to stick.
Lentz said the reinforced pedals cost about the same and are equally as effective as new pedals being put in new vehicles, but the reinforced pedals will get customers back on the road quicker.
"We want to get the customers back on the road with the fix as quickly as we possibly can," he said. "That's the reason we're going toward the reinforced pedal."
Customer requests for a new accelerator pedal as opposed to the reinforced pedal will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, he said.
If drivers should experience a sticking accelerator, Lentz said, they should put both feet on the brakes, apply steady pressure, put the vehicle in neutral, steer off the road, turn off the car and call a Toyota dealership.
Lentz said he hopes customers will give the company a chance to regain their confidence.
"I think we can demonstrate to customers that for 50 years we have been a great company and just have them come back and give us a chance," he said.