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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Toyota dealer adds hours, staff


By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Photographers snapped pictures yesterday at a Tokyo Toyota dealership as a technician fixed the braking program of a Prius one of 437,000 Toyota vehicles recalled worldwide to fix brake problems.

KOJI SASAHARA | Associated Press

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TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT

Toyota/Lexus customers may call 839-2273 to schedule an appointment for a one-hour software upgrade to the third-generation 2010 Prius and Lexus HS250.

Neighbor Island customers should call 888-272-5515 (toll free). Information is also available at www.toyotahawaii.com.

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Hawai'i's largest Toyota and Lexus dealer has extended service hours and increased staffing for a software upgrade to the third-generation 2010 Prius and Lexus HS250, which were recalled around the world yesterday to adjust the brake system.

Yesterday's recall of the 2010 Prius and Lexus HS250 models affects about 410 Prius and 53 Lexus cars sold in Hawai'i.

Unsold models on dealership lots will undergo the software upgrade to adjust the brake system before they're sold, Servco Pacific said yesterday.

The latest Toyota recall is separate from the sticking gas pedal recall that affects about 8,000 vehicles in Hawai'i, of which about 1,000 have been repaired so far, said Rick Ching, president of Servco Automotive.

"Our overriding concern is the safety of our customers," Ching said. "We want our customers feeling confident in their cars. We're working hard to get this resolved and the good news is we're making progress on getting those vehicles repaired."

All of Hawai'i's Toyota dealers and Servco's nine service centers have extended their hours to repair the sticking gas pedals and now to perform a one-hour software upgrade designed to re-program the cars' electronic control units to adjust their brake systems, Ching said.

The work is free to customers and Servco will be reimbursed for the upgrades by Toyota, Ching said. But Servco will bear the additional cost of extending the hours of its service centers.

"We have people working extra hours and we are bringing people in to help with the additional work," Ching said. "But our focus really is not on how much this is going to cost it's how fast we can get those cars back to our customers."

Servco employees are also calling Toyota and Lexus owners to schedule appointments.

"In general, many of the customers have been very supportive and we appreciate their understanding during this difficult time," Ching said. "We understand it's an inconvenience and our customers have been supportive and very accommodating ."

There are no known reports of injury or accidents in Hawai'i involving the 2010 Prius or HS250 vehicles because of the brake issue, Servco said.

Mark Fukunaga, chairman and CEO of Servco, said Toyota engineers developed a software update for the 2010 Prius and are working on a separate update for the Lexus HS250.

"It is not a brake failure, but drivers felt the brakes did not feel right, especially on rough or icy roads," Fukunaga said in a statement.

"We apologize for the inconvenience these recalls have caused our customers," Fukunaga said. "The safety of our customers is our most important concern, and we will work quickly to ensure the Lexus and Toyota vehicles they drive meet our highest standards."

Servco officials are also monitoring reports of possible steering problems in 2009 and 2010 Toyota Corollas.

Yesterday, Toyota also announced a voluntary recall of a limited number of 2010 four-cylinder Camry sedans because of a possible brake line interference.

Servco said it sold three of the Camrys and have contacted the owners to bring their cars in for inspection.