Toyota plans to replace the gas pedals on four million vehicles in the United States because the pedals can get stuck in the floor mats and cause sudden acceleration, a flaw that led to the sixth-largest recall ever in the U.S.
The repairs are a critical step to restoring the reputation of the world's biggest automaker, which suffered a blow when the recall was announced in September after years of making safe, reliable cars and trucks.
In plans outlined Wednesday, dealers will offer to shorten the length of the gas pedals by about two centimetres beginning in January as a stopgap measure while the company develops replacement pedals. New pedals will be installed by dealers on a rolling basis beginning in April, and some vehicles will get a brake override system as a precaution.
Toyota Canada said it was working with Transport Canada to resolve the specific Canadian circumstances.
The massive recall is the largest in the U.S. for Toyota Motor Corp. The Japanese automaker had earlier told owners to remove the driver's side floor mats to keep the gas pedal from becoming jammed.
Popular vehicles such as the midsize Camry, the top-selling car in America, and the Prius, the best-selling gas-electric hybrid, are among those to be fixed. The recall also includes the luxury Lexus ES350, the vehicle involved a fiery fatal accident in California that focused public attention on the danger.
Spokesman Irv Miller said Toyota is ``very, very confident that we have addressed this issue.'' Toyota has no reason to believe that there are problems with the cars' electronic control systems, he said. An electronic-control malfunction also could cause unintended acceleration.
Toyota officials said the floor mats are only sold in the U.S., and the recall would be limited to North America.
Toyota would not say how much the repairs would cost, but analysts expected them to be extremely expensive because of the work involved and the manufacturing of new pedals. Toyota also said it would provide newly designed replacement floor mats.
Toyota developed a sterling reliability reputation but faced challenges as it rapidly expanded. While recalls do not always indicate poor reliability, Toyota executives are concerned about large numbers of recalls and have pushed for improved quality controls.
In a separate action, Toyota announced Tuesday the recall of 110,000 Tundra trucks from the 2000-03 model years to address excessive frame rust.
``Their reputation has taken a hit because the actual quality has taken a hit,'' said Aaron Bragman, an automotive analyst for the consulting firm IHS Global Insight. ``That's absolutely critical for Toyota to get that fixed because that's the central pillar that they've built their business on.''
The recall involves 3.8 million vehicles, including the 2007-10 Camry, 2005-10 Avalon, 2004-09 Prius, 2005-10 Tacoma, 2007-10 Tundra, 2007-10 Lexus ES350 and 2006-10 Lexus IS250/350.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said 4.26 million vehicles would be covered, including new cars and trucks sold or manufactured since September.
The largest cumulative recall in the United States occurred in several increments during the past two years and involved 14 million Ford vehicles with faulty cruise-control switches that could cause fires.
The largest single recall happened in 1996 involving 7.9 million Ford vehicles that needed new ignition switches.