Toyota Suspends Sales of Recalled Vehicles

The 2007 Toyota Camry is shown at the North American International Auto Show in a Detroit file photo from Jan. 9, 2006. The redesigned Toyota Camry, the hottest-selling car in America, is the winner of Motor Trend Magazine's 2007 Car of the Year award. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File) AP Photo

Updated 11:04 p.m. EST

Toyota has instructed U.S. dealerships to suspend sales of eight car and truck models with accelerators that stick.

The company said last week that it is recalling 2.3 million of the affected models, in which the gas pedal can stay depressed or return to quickly to idle - the latest in a string of quality problems that have bedeviled the Japanese automaker.

The recall affects the 2009-2010 RAV4, the 2009-2010 Corolla, the 2009-2010 Matrix, the 2005-2010 Avalon, the 2007-2010 Camry, the 2010 Highlander, the 2007-2010 Tundra and the 2008-2010 Sequoia.

The problem has already been linked to at least six deaths, reports CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes.



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Due to the sales suspension, Toyota is expected to stop producing vehicles on five production lines - four in the U.S. and one in Canada - for the week of February 1, the company said in a press release.

The move - halting production and sales of certain models in response to a recall - is unprecedented, auto industry expert John McElroy told CBS News producer Carter Yang. McElroy compared it to Johnson & Johnson's recall of Tylenol in the early 1980s.

It shows that the company is extremely concerned about a public image tarnished by the recalls and does not have its arms around the technical issue, McElroy said.

"The sticking accelerator pedal recall is separate from the on-going recall of Toyota and Lexus vehicles to reduce the risk of pedal entrapment by incorrect or out of place accessory floor mats," the press release said. "Approximately 1.7 million Toyota Division vehicles are subject to both separate recall actions."

The latest move comes just months after Toyota Motor Corp. recalled 4.2 million vehicles over concerns that accelerator pedals could become lodged under floor mats, causing sudden acceleration. That problem was blamed for several crashes, including an accident involving a Lexus that accelerated to more than 120 mph before crashing in San Diego, killing four people.

But Toyota said this recall is due to problems with the actual gas pedal mechanism, causing the accelerator to become stuck regardless of whether the vehicle contains a floor mat. Toyota said in certain rare cases, the gas pedal mechanism wears down, causing the accelerator to become harder to press, slower to return or, in some cases, stuck.

In a letter to federal safety officials dated Jan. 21, Toyota said the problem appeared to be related to the potential build-up of condensation on sliding surfaces in the accelerator system that helps drivers push down or release the gas pedal.

Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons said the automaker does not yet have a solution to the latest problem but is working to develop one.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a statement that the problem is "a serious safety issue and we are pleased Toyota is taking immediate action to address it."

The safety stumbles have dinged Toyota's reputation in the U.S. as a builder of dependable, high-quality cars. Last year's recall was the sixth-largest ever in the United States.
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