Training Begins For Toyota Mechanics
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
Around the country today, Toyota technicians are gearing up for the recall. Many are attending training sessions to better understand the problems and how to fix them.
Craig Lemoult, from member station WSHU Connecticut, sat in one of the classes.
CRAIG LEMOULT: Ken Punt is a technician at a Toyota dealership in Hartford Connecticut. He says a lot of people have been calling about the recalls recently, confused about whether their cars are safe to drive, or if they need to bring them in right away. One man came by the dealership yesterday.
Mr. KEN PUNT (Technician, Toyota): It's a concern but he didn't think that his car was really ever going to do what was said and you know, and I think he's right. I mean really, you know, drive the car, the notices will come out. We'll bring in and we'll take care of you. That's what we're here for it.
LEMOULT: Punt is one of about 40 technicians from Connecticut who are here at Gateway Community College in North Haven to hear a presentation from Jeff Gann of Toyota on how to fix the problems that led to the recalls.
Mr. JEFF GANN (Toyota): We're going to go through all the highlights and we're going touch on what we think stuff is important that you may not have caught on to as you read through the information. There are two different types of accelerator pedals for the Camry.
LEMOULT: The training session includes a video with demonstrations on how to fix the problems.
Mr. GANN: the modification will be slightly different for each type of pedal.
LEMOULT: 5.4 million Toyotas are being recalled because the gas pedal can get caught in the floor mat. The fix involves replacing a pad that's under the pedal as well as cutting down the pedal itself. Here's Gann again.
Mr. GANN: Shortening it by about an inch, inch and a half, so that just increasing that pedal distance between the pedal and the floor.
LEMOULT: The floor mats aren't the only problem. More than 2 million of those cars face a second recall because of sticky gas pedals. Technicians will handle both issues at the same time. Gann says the sticky pedal problem is being caused by two pieces of plastic inside the pedal that are touching. So to fix it they're inserting a little piece of metal called a shim to separate them. Gann holds a gas pedal in his hand and shows the technicians how to do it.
Mr. GANN: Right here and right here, you just want to make sure that it's in between the
Unidentified Man: So it doesn't ride up on that.
Mr. GANN: Right.
LEMOULT: The shims are designed to pick click into place.
(Soundbite of click)
Mr. GANN: That's it.
LEMOULT: Most of Toyota's 1,242 dealerships have extended their hours to deal with the recalls and some our working around the clock. Bart Foster works at a dealership in New London, Connecticut.
Mr. BARD FOSTER (Toyota Worker): This is kind of a kick in the pants but once we know what the fix is, we're happy and more than happy to do it for the people. You know what I'm saying? We the plus too. We don't like hearing our name go down. You know what I'm saying? I've been with Toyota a long time and my plan is to be with them for the rest of my life. So
LEMOULT: And you guys think you'll get through this?
Mr. FOSTER: Yes with flying colors.
LEMOULT: But even if technicians can get a handle on fixing all the cars with potential sticky pedals and floor mats that can get caught in them, they still might not be done with their work. Toyota has now acknowledged a design problem in the brakes of some hybrid Prius model.
For NPR News, I'm Craig Lemoult in Connecticut.
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