Friday, January 29, 2010

Consumer Reports Suspends Recommendations for Recalled Toyotas

/PRNewswire/ -- Consumer Reports has temporarily suspended its "recommended" status for eight Toyota vehicle models and one Pontiac model that may have accelerator pedals that can stick and cause unintended acceleration.

Consumer Reports are also advising used-car buyers to avoid purchasing any of the affected vehicles until this issue is resolved.

"Although incidents of sudden acceleration are rare, we are taking this action because the vehicles have been identified as potentially unsafe without a fix yet being available to consumers, and in general our position is that you shouldn't compromise on safety," said Jim Guest, President of Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports.

Toyota said Friday it is working to get new parts to its factories and is finalizing a fix for dealers.

Consumer Reports recommends that owners of the estimated 2.3 million vehicles involved in the recall become familiar with the warning signs of trouble, which may include the accelerator pedal being harder to depress, slower to return to its upper position, or simply not operating smoothly. It adds that all drivers should know what to do if their car suffers sudden unintended acceleration, and has posted specific steps for safely regaining control of a runaway vehicle at

The affected models include:

2005-2010 Avalon
2007-2010 Camry (excluding the Hybrid and some other models)
2009-2010 Corolla
2010 Highlander (excluding the Hybrid model)
2009-2010 Matrix
2009-2010 RAV4
2007-2010 Tundra
2008-2010 Sequoia
2009-2010 Pontiac Vibe

Toyota told dealers earlier this week to stop selling new vehicles on this list. Under federal law, dealers cannot deliver affected new cars to customers until the problem is corrected. Separately, GM halted sales of the Pontiac Vibe, which was included in the recall because it is nearly identical to the Toyota Matrix.

All nine of the models involved in this recall had performed well in Consumer Reports' road tests and reliability Ratings, and had earned our "recommended" designation as a result. In view of that fact, and the fact that the vehicles have also done well on government and insurance industry safety tests, we expect to be able to reinstate the "recommended" tag once we are satisfied the problem has been resolved.

"We continue to feel these are fundamentally good cars," explained David Champion, director of the group's Auto Test Center. "The instances of sticking accelerator pedals appear to be few compared to the millions of affected vehicles that have been sold. We took this step simply because we did not feel comfortable continuing to recommend them until the accelerator problem is fixed."

The website is being updated to remove the "recommended" tag on the affected models and replace it with a note saying the designation has been temporarily suspended. That update is expected to be complete sometime over the weekend.

While the Toyota problem is at the center of public attention at this moment, Consumer Reports also noted that unintended acceleration has been reported in other brands of vehicles. That underscores the need for all drivers to be aware of how to deal with this risk, however small it may be. See "How to cope with sudden unintended acceleration" for more information.

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