Toyota service techs get trained for onslaught of gas-pedal repairs

Toyota dealers and service technicians are awaiting training before they handle a wave of recall-driven gas pedal repairs that will begin this week.

Dealers will extend hours and some will be open 24 hours a day,” Jim Lentz, president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motor Sales, said today during a conference call.

That means overtime and extra pay for service technicians.

“First, our people have to be trained. Then we need to have the parts,” said Bob McInerney, vice president of McInerney Toyota in Clinton Township. “We have five technicians and they’re willing to work around the clock.”

“We have strict orders to fix the customer’s cars first,” said Gordon Stewart, a Harper Woods-based dealer who has a Toyota franchise in Hoover, Ala. “We have mechanics volunteering to work all night.”

Mike LaFontaine, a Toyota dealer in Dearborn, said his 15 technicians are waiting to be trained on how to make the accelerator pedal repairs.

Toyota engineers have designed a steel reinforcement bar for the pedals to keep them from sticking in certain situations.

Service technicians are to install the bar into the pedal assembly to reduce surface tension between the friction shoe and the adjoining service. Toyota said excess friction can cause the pedal to stick. The repair should take about 30 minutes per vehicle.

Lentz said parts will begin arriving at dealerships by Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Toyota supplier CTS is shipping redesigned pedals to five assembly plants where production stopped a week ago.

Toyota last month recalled 2.3 million cars and stopped selling eight models because the accelerator pedal can, on rare occasions, stick in a partially open position. A separate Toyota recall covers 5.4 million vehicles in which all-weather floor mats may become entrapped in the accelerator, causing an unwanted burst of speed.

McInerney and LaFontaine said they did not plan to hire additional service technicians to handle the additional work.

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