Local Toyota dealers working through recall - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Local Toyota dealers working through recall

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- Last week, Toyota recalled more than two million vehicles because of the potential for sticking gas pedals. Wednesday morning, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told congress, owners of recalled Toyotas should stop driving them until they can be fixed. He later said he misspoke.

"My advice is if anybody owns one of these vehicles, stop driving it, take it to a Toyota dealer because they believe they have a fix for it," LaHood originally said.

"What I said in there was obviously a misstatement. What I meant to say, what I thought I said was, if you own one of these cars or if you're in doubt take it to the dealer and they're going to fix it," LaHood said later.

"It seemed like it was a very irresponsible comment to be made by someone in a position within our government that secretary LaHood is in," Anderson-Weber Toyota Manager Jeff Weber said.

Dealers in eastern Iowa, like Anderson-Weber, are ready to help if you have one of the recalled Toyotas. Anderson-Weber got the parts in Wednesday; now it's install time.

Hours after LaHood said not to drive Toyotas, and then retracted that statement, Weber is clearing things up as he's been doing for a week.

"We've personally called hundreds of customers to talk to them and reassure them, and really get them the information that I think they're really not getting," Weber said.

Part of the problem: Weber says owners haven't yet received a letter from Toyota.

"They don't need to wait for that notification. If they have questions or they're concerned or want to know if their vehicle is involved, they can contact our dealership directly."

A big misunderstanding, says Weber, is the actual danger factor.

"It's not something that happens suddenly. It's not something you'd realize the car's operating fine one day, and the next day the pedal stays stuck. You would notice it starts to come up slowly," Weber said.

If you need a new part, the fix is quick and takes 10 or 15 minutes.

"We got the parts in this morning...We've done several dozen. We have the parts available to do hundreds," Weber said.

Weber says he's never gone through anything like this before, but his customers have been understanding and loyal.

"Longterm, I don't think this is going to have a significant impact. Toyota still builds quality automobiles. Our dealership has been around a long time. We're still going to take care of our customers the way we always have," Weber said.

Toyota is giving dealers payments of up to $75,000 to help win back customers' trust. The amount is based on how many vehicles the dealer sold last year. A letter to dealers from Toyota group thanks them for extending service hours and providing car washes and other services. The letter says the payments will help with covering those costs.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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