After Toyota recalled nearly 3.4 million vehicles this week due to sudden acceleration issues, and also announced it would suspend sales and production of eight popular car models, there is growing confusion surrounding exactly which vehicles are affected.
ABCNews.com's Blotter Tip Line has been flooded with e-mails from readers saying Toyota dealers have told them that it's safe to drive or buy the Toyotas on the recall and "do not sell" lists -- as long as the cars have a Vehicle Identification number (VIN) that begins with a "J." The "J" means the cars were manufactured in Japan, not the U.S.
One Blotter reader said he bought a 2010 Toyota RAV4 last weekend before hearing about the latest recall. When he returned to the Illinois Toyota dealership where he purchased his car, he was told his vehicle isn't included in the recall or the "do not sell" list because it has a "J" VIN.
"Is there any way to confirm this?" the reader asked in an e-mail to the Blotter. "I just spent $30,000 on a vehicle I want to know is safe."
Toyota's public announcements of recalls and of suspended sales have not mentioned any exceptions based on VINs or on place of manufacture.
But Toyota says this Blotter reader's vehicle is not, in fact, affected by the latest recall. A spokesman for the motor company confirmed that four vehicle models – the RAV4, Corolla, Highlander and Camry – can continue being sold in the U.S. as long as they were made in Japan (and, consequently, have a "J" VIN).
The spokesman could not give ABC News a breakdown of how many vehicles on dealer lots in the U.S. fall under this category, but did say that it is a small percentage.
In addition, the spokesman said some of the U.S.-made Camrys can also still be sold to consumers -- as long as the accelerator pedal assembly in question was made in Japan.
There are two separate lines of Camrys made at Toyota's auto plant in Kentucky. One uses the gas pedal assembly manufactured by CTS, which is the pedal linked to the recall, and those cars are not being made or sold. The other line uses a Japanese-made pedal assembly from a company call Denso, and those cars can be sold.
Dealers have to do a visual inspection of these Camrys to determine what pedal assembly exists on the vehicles on their lots.
All Matrix, Avalon, Tundra and Sequoia vehicles were made in the U.S., and none have the Japanese pedal assembly, so these models cannot be sold.
On Wednesday, Toyota told millions of owners of cars involved in its giant safety recall to keep driving the vehicles.
"Stop sales does not mean stop driving," said John Hanson of Toyota USA.
On Thursday, Toyota told ABC News that new accelerator pedals, manufactured by CTS, had passed tests for problems and were being shipped this week.
"We are looking to repair or replace as many of the accelerators in as short a time as possible," said Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons.
Lyons said some accelerator assemblies could be replaced in their entirety and in other cases existing accelerators could be repaired.
He said Toyota engineers determined that the accumulation of water in an interior part of the pedal assembly was causing excessive wear, "making the pedal slow to return to idle."
The company said owners should continue to drive their cars but be aware of a possible problem with the gas pedal.
"It happens only rarely," said John Hanson.