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More than 100 complaints lodged over fixed Toyotas

WASHINGTON (AP) - Complaints of sudden acceleration in Toyotas
repaired under recalls have nearly doubled in the past two weeks,
according to an Associated Press analysis of government data.
The complaints from 105 drivers raise questions about whether
Toyota's repairs will prevent the cars from speeding up on their
own or if there is another reason for the problem.
Toyota has said it is confident in its repairs and has found no
evidence of other problems, such as faulty electronics. The
automaker did not immediately comment Wednesday on the latest
complaints.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it was
contacting owners who have complained about their repaired
vehicles. David Strickland, NHTSA's administrator, said in a
statement Wednesday the agency has found "several instances in
which a dealer made mistakes in applying one of the recall
remedies."
He said NHTSA has discussed the issue with Toyota, which is
trying to improve instructions to dealers.
Toyota has recalled more than 8 million vehicles worldwide since
October over complaints that gas pedals can become sticky or
trapped under floor mats.
An AP review of a NHTSA database found reports of repaired cars
continuing to accelerate on their own had jumped to 105 since March
4, when the government reported 60 such complaints.
The complaints are submitted online or through a NHTSA hot line
and have not been independently verified.
In many of the comments, which can be filed anonymously, owners
said the sudden acceleration issue reappeared only days after their
cars were fixed at their local dealership.
"I went in for the recall and it seems there is a worse problem
now," wrote the owner of a 2008 Toyota Tundra in Boynton Beach,
Fla., who reported unwanted acceleration in early March. "I truly
believe this is an electronic problem."
John Moscicki, of Lake Oswego, Ore., told the AP his 2007 Camry
accelerated on its own five times before he got the vehicle fixed
under the floor mat recall last month.
On March 4, his repaired Camry took off from a standing stop on
the freeway and accelerated to 50 mph before Moscicki managed to
stop it by shifting into neutral, hitting the brake with his left
foot and pulling back the gas pedal with his right.
"It just went to the floor like some other system had control
of it," said Moscicki, who raced high-performance sports cars and
previously owned a Porsche restoration business.
His Toyota dealer had the Camry for a week, and Toyota sent in a
field engineer to examine the car without finding anything wrong.
Moscicki said he had planned to give the vehicle to his college-age
daughter but now intends to get rid of it. "I wouldn't let her
anywhere near this car," he said.
The safety concerns are difficult to pinpoint because they could
be related to any number of factors, said Diane Steed, who served
as NHTSA administrator during the Reagan administration.
Besides telephone interviews with owners, the agency will look
at how dealers fixed the cars, whether the problems involved common
parts or the same manufacturing facilities or whether human error
might be involved, she said.
Steed, who led the agency during a lengthy review of sudden
acceleration complaints in Audi sedans, said there is no specific
threshold that would automatically lead the agency to demand that
Toyota, or any other automaker involved in a recall, come up with a
new fix.
"It's really an engineering judgment call," she said. "The
real challenge is not so much the numbers but digging to get to the
bottom of what is the problem."
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Associated Press Auto Writers Dee-Ann Durbin and Tom Krisher in
Detroit, Dan Strumpf in New York and AP writers Allen Chen in New
York and Dibya Sarkar in Washington contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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