Toyota Supplier Says Sticky Gas Pedals Not the Problem

CTS is shipping new pedals, but says Toyota admits they caused no deaths.

January 28, 2010, 3:21 PM

Jan. 29, 2010 — -- A fix is in the works in the next few days for the 2.3 million Toyotas under recall, according to the automaker. New gas pedals are being shipped to replace the "sticky" gas pedals that Toyota blames for random acceleration in its vehicles.

But even the company's own supplier, Indiana-based CTS, says Toyota is far from done in ending the problem of runaway cars -- and that Toyota told it none of the serious accidents or deaths linked to runaway cars was caused by "sticky" gas pedals.

The pedal's problem was determined by Toyota to be excessive wear of an interior part, caused by condensation build up, making the gas pedal slow to return to idle.

But Mitch Walorski, director of investor relations for CTS, said Toyota had acknowledged that this "rare set of conditions" had not caused any accidents.

"They acknowledged that they did not cause any accidents or injuries related to that condition of the pedal," said Walorski.

Walorski says CTS began shipping a redesigned gas pedal from its plant in Canada this week to Toyota.

Whether or not sticking gas pedals are the cause of random acceleration in Toyotas, there are many reports of runaway Toyotas that are not on the list of models recalled by the company to replace the pedals.

Dr. Alan Ostroff of Philadelphia says his Prius, which is not on the recall list, just "took off" on him.

" I panicked," Ostroff told ABC News. "It's like driving on ice, you hit the brakes and you can't stop."

When Ostroff's Prius got within a few feet of hitting the car in front of him, he swerved into oncoming traffic. He says he just missed a huge truck.

Ostroff said there also no problem with his floor mats. Toyota had previously blamed poorly fitting floor mats for the random acceleration incidents in some of its cars, and issued a recall to replace them. Ostroff now refuses to take his car back out on the road until Toyota finds the problem.

Runaway Toyotas

"I think the bulk of the problems we're seeing have nothing to do with some kind of accelerator pedal or with the floor mats," safety expert Sean Kane told ABC News. "It has to do with other components in these vehicles, most likely in the electronics." Kane is with Safety Research & Strategies, a private auto safety firm in Rehoboth, Massachusetts.

Reports of the runaway Toyotas surged after the company began to use tiny computers to control acceleration, and as Toyota appeared to put more emphasis on cost cutting and less on its famed quality control.

In a speech last year, the new Toyota President, the grandson of the founder, lamented the drive to profits.

Said Akio Toyoda, "We may have stretched more than we should have, and that made us unable to capitalize on Toyota's traditional strengths."

Questions are also being raised about whether the federal government should have done more, and the House Commerce Committee said today it would hold hearings on the issue next month.

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