Local Toyota sites set for 'big job'
BY Rick Daysog
Advertiser Staff Writer
Local Toyota dealerships will begin making repairs to cars and trucks this weekend as part of a nationwide recall of 2.3 million autos with faulty gas pedals.
About 8,000 vehicles in Hawai'i, or roughly 10 percent of all Toyotas on Hawai'i's roads, are being affected by the recall.
They include about a quarter of all new models at local Toyota dealerships, which were temporarily taken off the new car lots for repairs.
Federal officials had urged Toyota last month to recall the vehicles amid complaints from consumers that the gas pedals would get stuck, causing the cars to accelerate.
Servco Pacific Inc. said its nine Toyota dealerships and service centers on O'ahu and the Neighbor Islands will be open for extended hours this weekend for the repairs, while its flagship Māpunapuna location will be open 24 hours.
The company also said it has beefed up its service staff.
"It's a big job," said Mark Fukunaga, Servco's chairman and CEO.
"But quite frankly, safety is our biggest concern and we're doing whatever it takes to get the job done fast."
Toyota is the most popular car maker in Hawai'i, accounting for more than 26 percent of all new cars and trucks sold in Hawai'i.
Servco began selling Toyotas in Hawai'i in 1958, making it one of the oldest Toyota car retailers in the country.
Fukunaga noted that some of the RAV 4, Highlander and Camry models sold in Hawai'i are not part of the recall because they were manufactured in Japan and don't have a gas pedal problem. The recall is for cars made in the U.S.
To find out whether they are part of the recall or not, RAV 4, Camry and Highlander owners should check the 17-character vehicle identification number, or VIN number, that can be seen through windshield on the front of the drivers-side dashboard.
VIN numbers starting with the letter "J" indicate that the car was built in Japan and is not part of the recall. If the VIN number for the RAV, Camry or Highlander does not start with a "J," Fukunaga recommended that the owners take their cars into their dealership to check.
The repairs will be made at no cost to the car owners and will be covered by warranty.
The repairs will take about an hour to an hour and a half, but customers should first set up an appointment first to avoid long waits.
Fukunaga stressed that there have not been any confirmed reports of accidents in Hawai'i involving sticking pedals.
He said the problem, which is caused by wear and tear on the car's pedal mechanism, is rare and is often brought on by extreme humidity and extreme heat.
If the car's gas pedal becomes difficult to press, is unsmooth when operating or is slow to return, drivers should take the car to a safe location, shut off their engine and call their Toyota dealer, he said.
A owner faced with a sticking gas pedal while driving should stop their cars immediately by pressing two feet on the brake pedal with steady pressure, then shift to neutral and turn off the engine using one click of the key, he said.
Toyota owners who want to make an appointment for repairs or have questions about their cars can call 839-2273 or 888-272-5515.