By on February 2, 2010

One of the lingering concerns over the Toyota recall is whether Toyota’s “precision steel” shim fix to the recalled CTS gas pedal assembly will be a reliable long-term solution. Our analysis indicates that these questions might be well-founded, and we’re not the only ones concerned about the viability of Toyota’s proposed fix. In an interview with Toyota’s Jim Lentz yesterday evening, NPR asked why Toyota was using a redesigned pedal for new production, but only offering the shim fix to existing customers. Lentz insisted that the repaired pedals would be as good as the redesigned pedal, that the costs of repair and replacement were about the same, and that the main reason Toyota was repairing rather than replacing recalled pedals was the desire to “get customers back on the road… as quickly as we possibly can.” That’s when NPR went for the jugular.

NPR asked: “if I’m a Toyota owner subject to this recall and I say ‘I don’t want a repaired accelerator pedal, I want a new one.’ Is that an option?” To which Lentz replied: “it will be looked at on a case-by-case basis.” When NPR asked for Lentz to clarify what he meant by “case-by-case basis,” he said “It’s really up to… between the dealer and the customer. We would like to see customers get this fix done with the precision cut steel bar and see how that is. I think the customers are going to be very satisfied with overall quality of the pedal and the feel of the pedal.”

In short, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. If you’re paranoid about the quality of Toyota’s “precision steel” shim repair, ask for a new pedal. And tell ‘em Jim Lentz sent you. Of course, there’s no guarantee that your Toyota dealer will have new pedal assemblies, as they’re being sent to plants for installation in newly produced cars. Nor is there any guarantee that the “redesigned” assembly isn’t simply the same CTS unit with the shim pre-installed.

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30 Comments on “Lentz: Don’t Like The Gas Pedal Fix? Insist On Replacement!...”


  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    “Containment” action (shim) versus latest “permanent” (revised assembly) corrective action. I know which one I would prefer.

  • avatar
    njoneer

    Insist on replacement with a Denso pedal assembly

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Your choice may be repair now or replace later. In the meantime, you will have to do without the car or risk a UA incident.

  • avatar
    Philip Riegert

    Working at a dealer I can tell you that it will be a *long* wait for the replacement. And all that I can do is make a case with Toyota and they will make the ultimate decision anyway. As dealers we really have no control. In the end, Toyota will make the call.

  • avatar
    shaker

    If you refuse the shim and hold out for a new pedal assembly, does the liability shift to *you* in any way if you continue to drive the car?

    Something to think about.

  • avatar
    210delray

    I heard the NPR interview yesterday evening and I would hardly characterize the question as “went for the jugular.”

    As Kendahl and Philip mentioned in the last couple of posts, you’ll get the shim a lot faster than a replacement pedal.

    • 0 avatar

      It was a question that Lentz couldn’t completely answer. My guess is he wanted to say no, the fix is all you need… the fact that he hedged, and left replacement as an option strikes me as revealing. Especially since replacement likely won’t be an option without an extended wait.

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    Lol, now where have I seen something like “precision cut steel bar”.

    Oh yeah:

    http://www.scienceblogs.de/astrodicticum-simplex/inrodwetrust.jpg

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    It may even be award winning…

    http://americanglob.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/Inanimate-Carbon-Rod.gif

  • avatar
    late_apex

    Is there a conclusive list of what models and years are impacted by this issue?

  • avatar
    50merc

    The market will tell us: are junk yards getting requests for Denso pedal assemblies pulled out of scrapped Toyotas? Another indicator: will Toyota Distributors and dealers have to stop adding extortionly overpriced mandatory “options” and extra markups to vehicles? It would be interesting to see Toyota dealers having to say “don’t worry, the Camry is just as good as an Accord or Fusion” or “we’ll meet their price!”.

  • avatar
    capdeblu

    Having driven a trouble free Toyota for the last 6 years I would still trust them over the domestic auto manufacturers to make the right decision to fix this mess.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Toyota’s NHTSA filing says its CTS ePedal assembly cost is $15. Your friendly local dealer charges US$115, even more in Canada where we don’t leave home without bending over and greasing up. Cry me a river about the money Toyota will lose on this debacle.

    • 0 avatar
      Stingray

      I’m pretty much sure the parts for the recall will be purchased at Toyota price. Not customer price.

      Remember that one BIG source of revenue/profit in this industry is in the spare parts business.

      A part for the line mostly always cost much much less than the price charged to a customer.

    • 0 avatar
      Contrarian

      That’s a typical markup. OEM parts that I used to design, sold to GM for ~$6 and went for $60-80 at the dealer. It’s more than just a scam however. The individual packaging, shipping, inventory, catalogging and part number maintanance costs for dealer replacement parts are monstrous compared to simply sending 3 million parts a year to a couple/few of factories.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    As I continue following this matter everyday, I become more and more disappointed about this brand. Even as I’m not a fan, I have always seen them as a benchmark for the industry, and as such, I wanted to learn from their methods. I’m questioning myself this. As a matter of fact, after seeing what happened in 2009 (and goes on this year) I got to the conclusion that there are no “sacred cows” in this business.

    This guy Lentz (president of Toyota USA, no less) is supposed to stand by the solution their engineers/supplier developed. Not tell the customers, if you don’t like it, push for the whole new pedal. Whatever the reason he gives.

    He deserved the interviewer went to the jugular. In fact, it should have become bloodier.

    Is he sure of the job being done? Why is he suggesting to push for other solutions? if they don’t have enough parts, how are they going to guarantee the fix on the ‘case by case’ scenario? and, what they’re going to do if enough customers refuse to install the shim and go for the full replacement? (murphy’s law in the last case tells me they’ll eventually become majority, given the panic induced by the media).

    They look like noobs to me in this issue. Everyone has to be a noob once in its life.

    This is going to tarnish their image, and well deserved they have it.

    I’m sorry for the Toyota workers and employees, and all they’re passing right now, specially the ones directly handling this problem. But their managers don’t seem to be up to the task in this case.

    /rant

    • 0 avatar
      Bimmer

      As you can see from previous stories by Mr. Niedermeyer and Mr. Lang all Toyota really cares is to cut cost and to make profit (nothing wrong with that idea as long as no one is paying with their life for it). So, instead of making redesigned pedal assemblies first available to existing owners (who cares, they paid for their vehicles already), Toyota is more worried about potential customers (whose money they don’t have yet) by restarting production ASAP and installing pedals there.

  • avatar
    dolo54

    Big story – on gizmodo Steve Wozniak has claimed that he has an unintended acceleration issue with his prius that is a software issue and that he can replicate. This is a prius that is not under recall. If you go to this story he actually posts in the comments (according to giz that’s really him). http://gizmodo.com/5462004/steve-wozniak-explains-that-faulty-software-caused-his-car-troubles

    “I can nudge my cruise control speed lever and my speed barely goes up, say from 80 to 81.I nudge at again and again, up to 83. Then I nudge it again and the car takes off, no speed limit. Nudging the cruise speed control lever down has no effect until I’ve done it about 10 times or more. By then my Prius is doing 97. It’s scary because it’s so wrong and so out of your normal control. I tested this over and over the night I observed it.”

    • 0 avatar
      JeremyR

      It’s “big news” that if every time you nudge your cruise control it accelerates the car by about 1.5mph, and if you do this ten times, you will have accelerated by 17mph?

  • avatar
    Mullholland

    Lentz’s waffling on the shim as fix is a return to the stalling, stonewalling and spinning that got Toyota into this mess. Everyone knows that when the manufacturer tells you to take any issuse up with the dealer the answer is NO. It’s why manufacturers have dealers. So the corporation can say yes and the dealer says no or the other way around if that’s to their advantage.

  • avatar
    fgbrault

    I wonder. I found a post where the poster has a sticking problem and his dealer told him his car is not part of the recall as it has a Denso accelerator unit.

    http://www.toyotanation.com/forum/showthread.php?t=322554&page=19

    The post is by double07.

    • 0 avatar
      Bimmer

      Very same Toyota forum has another post by ToyotaLexus:

      “Last week I looked under the dash and confirmed that
      my 2007 Camry(Kentycky-made) has the CTS gas pedal.
      (doesn’t have the 4 bolts and no Denso logo on it)

      This afternoon, I stopped by the dealer to get an oil
      change. I haven’t kept up with the news so I was
      kind of surprised when the service advisor told me
      they already had the part to fix the gas pedal. Half
      hour later, he came back and told me that my gas
      pedal was indeed made by CTS, but it’s not included
      in the recall.

      Based on what I’ve read here and elsewhere, I did
      not believe him. I asked him to check again
      and the technician came out and confirmed it. My
      pedal was made by CTS, but not included in the
      recall. The tech even showed me the “fix” and how
      it wouldn’t fit on my gas pedal.

      Being the skeptical kind of person that I am, I left
      and drove to another dealer 15 miles away. Guess
      what? They said the same thing… They showed me
      another Camry that also had the CTS gas pedal, but
      it look slightly different than my gas pedal. (both
      look completely different than the Denso unit, of course)

      I don’t get it…. I thought there were only two kinds
      of gas pedals fitted on the Camry: Denso and CTS.
      Is there a third kind that’s also made by CTS?”

      Here’s link: http://www.toyotanation.com/forum/showthread.php?t=322554&page=21

      So, was there different variation of CTS pedal prior to 2009? Why did Toyota change it, since recalled Camries are 2009-2010, but not 2007?

  • avatar
    Steven02

    Looks like people should also request the ECU update.

    http://money.cnn.com/2010/02/01/autos/toyota_gas_pedal_fix/index.htm?hpt=Sbin

    “Lentz said he is confident that resolving this issue and the floor mat entrapment problem will solve the problem for Toyota. The automaker has also said it is making “brake override” — a system that cuts engine power to the wheels as soon as the brake pedal is pressed — standard equipment on all of its cars.

    The “brake override” software will also be added to the internal computers on some cars as they are brought in for recall repairs, a Toyota spokesman said.”

  • avatar
    George B

    If I owned a Toyota, I’d wait until they determine the root cause of the cases where there is WOT where neither floor mats nor the accelerator pedal seem to be a factor. So far I haven’t heard an explanation for the case of Kevin Haggerty’s 2007 Toyota Avalon. He drove it to the dealer with WOT, shifting between drive and neutral, so they could witness the problem.

    http://www.safetyresearch.net/2010/01/25/well-they-had-to-do-something/
    http://www.leftlanenews.com/toyota-avalon-displays-unintended-acceleration-without-floor-mat.html
    http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/hunterdon-county/express-times/index.ssf/2010/01/recalled_toyota_owners_acceler.html

    This is a specific case where a mechanic was a witness to the problem because the owner went to the trouble of getting the car to a Toyota dealer while it happened.

    Edward, can TTAC interview Kevin Haggerty and Jeffrey Pepski?

  • avatar
    YotaCarFan

    Toyota CEO: “We would like to see customers get this fix done with the precision cut steel bar and see how that is. I think the customers are going to be very satisfied with overall quality of the pedal and the feel of the pedal.”

    This guy is really reassuring! So, they will field a bunch of shims to guinea pigs, “see how that is”, and then perhaps revise the shim based on real world tests? And, he thinks we will find the pedal’s quality good? This guy better not try to get a job selling cars for a living!

  • avatar
    eastcoastcar

    Lentz is digging a very deep hole for Toyota. The shim is easily seen to be a quick fix, as if you took the car to your very skilled mechanic, explained the problem and he took a look and said ‘well, to get you back on the road, let me put this shim in,’ and you said ‘are you sure?’ and he said ‘yes,’ and you went with it, but wondered about the car in general. Also, what is Toyota doing using American parts in their renowned Japanese quality cars? Everyone knows that Americans can’t make or design anything decent–which is why all we buy is from China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea or Germany. NPR was right to challenge this American Toyota executive on quality and his MBA-like answers. I don’t want an American trained MBA to decide what throttle goes into my Toyota; I want a skilled engineer to make that decision, backed up by ‘total testing,’ not press release nonsense. Toyota better get serious or this will be their ‘Audi’ moment.


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