AP Sources: Govt clears Toyota gas pedal fix

By Ken Thomas and Tom Krisher/The Associated Press

DETROIT — Federal regulators have cleared Toyota’s plan to fix millions of sticky gas pedals, and dealers could get parts to make the repairs as early as Thursday or Friday, people briefed on the matter said Saturday.

Two dealers said they were told the news by Toyota executives, and a Department of Transportation official confirmed that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had no objections to Toyota’s plans.

Toyota plans to announce details early Monday, according to the dealers, who asked not to be identified because the fix had not been made public. The DOT official also requested anonymity because the announcement had not been made.

Telephone messages left with two Toyota spokesmen Saturday were not immediately returned.

Toyota has recalled 4.2 million vehicles worldwide because the gas pedal systems can get stuck. The company said the problem is rare and is caused by condensation that builds up in the gas pedal assembly.

Several dealers have said the fix involves slipping a shim into an area where springs push the gas pedal back to its resting position after a driver has eased off the gas, but Toyota has not commented on the repair.

Dealers have been in the difficult position of having no parts to fix the cars ever since the recall was announced on Jan. 21.

The recall in the U.S. covers 2.3 million vehicles and involves the 2009-10 RAV4 crossover, the 2009-10 Corolla, the 2009-10 Matrix hatchback, the 2005-10 Avalon, the 2007-10 Camry, the 2010 Highlander crossover, the 2007-10 Tundra pickup and the 2008-10 Sequoia SUV. The recall has been expanded to models in Europe and China.

Toyota said that not all the models listed in the recall have the faulty gas pedals, which were made by CTS Corp. of Elkhart, Ind. Dealers can tell which models have the CTS pedals.

“They’ve got a fix and it’s been approved by NHTSA,” said one of the dealers who was happy that parts would be coming soon.

Toyota announced late Friday that it would begin shipping new gas pedal systems to dealers as well.

Legally Toyota did not need NHTSA’s approval for the fix, but the company submitted the plan to the government agency on Thursday, and it would be unlikely to proceed without the government’s blessing.

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Thomas reported from Washington.