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Toyota recall repairs ramp up in Utah

Deluge of car owners seeking reparation is expected to increase

Rus Steinfels, a Toyota technician, works on an engine at Mark Miller Toyota Friday.
Rus Steinfels, a Toyota technician, works on an engine at Mark Miller Toyota Friday.
Keith Johnson, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Toyota owners looking for company-prompted repairs are flowing into Utah dealerships, but the real flood is expected to begin next week.

"We're scheduling more and more appointments," Mark Tetzlaff, spokesman for Menlove Toyota in Bountiful, said Friday, when the dealership performed repairs for about 30 customers. "Next week will probably be (an even) heavier week."

Last month, Toyota announced it would suspend U.S. sales of eight recalled vehicle models to fix accelerator pedals that stick. As part of the plan, Toyota halted production at five manufacturing facilities for the week of Feb. 1 "to assess and coordinate activities."

There are 2.3 million vehicles involved in the recall, which also was announced last month.

That recall came just months after Toyota recalled 4.2 million vehicles because of gas pedals that could become trapped under floor mats, causing the vehicle to accelerate. Toyota has already begun installing a modified gas pedal in newly built vehicles at its U.S. plants that should alleviate the problem.

Mark Miller, owner of Mark Miller Toyota in Salt Lake City, said about two dozen repairs were completed Friday and he expects the number to increase drastically next week as vehicle owners respond to letters mailed out by the company notifying them of the recall campaign.

"The challenge we're going to have … is to try to get to 100 percent (participation) in the campaign," Miller told the Deseret News.

Tetzlaff said the Menlove dealership has received a large inventory of parts to make the necessary repairs on the gas pedal involved in the latest recall. He said the service department will extend its daily hours to 9 p.m. in order to accommodate the added workload.

The recall and sales suspension involve the 2009-2010 RAV4, the 2009-2010 Corolla, the 2009-2010 Matrix, the 2005-2010 Avalon, the 2007-2010 Camry, the 2010 Highlander, the 2007-2010 Tundra and the 2008-2010 Sequoia.

In yet another potential blow to the Toyota image, the giant carmaker is currently considering a possible recall on the popular Prius Hybrid.

Safety regulators in the United States and Japan are investigating a braking problem with Toyota's latest version of the Prius, an icon of "green" design that has lifted the public image of the automaker.

e-mail: jlee@desnews.com