After Expanded Recall, More Scrutiny for Toyota

BY Carolyn O'Hara  January 29, 2010 at 5:53 PM EDT

A day after extending its vehicle recall to China and Europe, Toyota* faced new scrutiny Friday on Capitol Hill over whether the company delayed too long in proceeding with its recalls, which according to the New York Times affect more than 9 million vehicles worldwide.

Both the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee plan to hold hearings in coming weeks into whether the company’s actions concerning sticking accelerator pedals endangered public safety and whether the company acted fast enough in response to public complaints.

Last night on the NewsHour, we reported on the expansion of the Toyota recall. We received letters from viewers asking for more information on what to do if the accelerator sticks while driving.

Here’s a fuller explanation as recommended by Toyota:

* To stop immediately, step on the brake pedal with both feet and apply steady pressure. Do not pump the brake.

  • Shift the gear into neutral while pressing the brake to make a controlled stop. Then turn off the engine.

  • If the car won’t shift into neutral, shut the engine off by turning the key, but do not remove the key. Doing this will disable power brakes and steering. But Toyota says manual steering and braking control can still be maintained by the driver.

  • If the car uses a button for ignition, press the button steadily for at least three seconds to turn the engine off.

In Denver, Toyota dealers have been told not to talk to the news media, preferring people like Tim Jackson, the president of the Colorado Auto Dealers Association, to respond to questions. NewsHour correspondent Tom Bearden spoke to him yesterday, as well as other auto dealers, like Chevy dealer Dan Johnson, who are looking to make some sales amid the Toyota scrutiny. Watch excerpts of their interviews here:

*For the record, Toyota is a NewsHour underwriter.