Toyota will inform its 1,200 U.S. dealers Monday of its plan to fix sudden acceleration problems, which have prompted a massive recall and the sales halt of eight models, ABC News has learned.
The plan involves the 2.3 million Toyota vehicles with faulty gas pedals and 5.4 million with defective floor mats. As many as 2 million vehicles could have both issues.
Details about the gas pedal fix are expected to be unveiled by the head of Toyota's American division in a conference call with reporters Monday.
"I'm very relieved Toyota is going to release the recall information," said Ernie Boch, who runs the nation's second-largest Toyota dealership in the United States, near Boston. "I'm very confident Toyota hasn't rushed the decision. They've thought about it, and they are going to get it right."
Dealers expect to receive parts to make the fix in a few days, but Boch estimates it could be months before all 8 million affected vehicles in the United States are serviced. First, mechanics would need to be trained to make the fix, and then notices would need to be sent to vehicle owners.
"As soon as the customers get the recall notice, we are going to be open 24 hours a day in service to take care of this problem," Boch said.
This isn't the first time Toyota has announced a remedy for the acceleration problems, which the carmaker says are rare. The issue has been linked to at least a dozen deaths.
Initially, the automaker said gas pedals getting trapped under floor mats were to blame. Then, it said the pedals were too long. Now, the fix appears to involve both pedals and mats.
"For [Toyota's] sake, they better get it right this time," said longtime automotive journalist Rick Popely. "If this continues, other problems surface, they could go from having a solid reputation as an auto manufacturer to the gang that couldn't shoot straight."
Car Dealers Hopeful About Toyota's Future, Customer Loyalty
If Boch receives the necessary parts in a few days, he hopes to be selling cars again within a week. Until the halt in sales is lifted, 60 percent of his inventory is sitting on the sidelines.
"Are we going to lose customers? Yes," Boch said. "But customers will understand that Toyota is doing the right thing. This is a very difficult situation, but Toyota will make it right."