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Several Houston-area Toyota dealers said Wednesday they’ve received a relatively small number of the new parts for the gas pedal recall and are waiting for bigger batches by week’s end.

At Joe Myers Toyota, mechanics underwent training to fix the gas pedals and practiced first on a few cars from the dealers’ lots, said Jerry Rocco, the dealer’s general manager.

“It’s a very simple fix for a technician to do, but we wanted to make sure it’s right going out,” Rocco said Wednesday.

Sterling McCall Toyota and Fort Bend Toyota also got their first shipment of parts Wednesday and began making repairs on customers’ vehicles, said Pete DeLongchamps, vice president of manufacturer relations and public affairs of Group 1 Automotive, one of the nation’s largest automotive groups, which has 13 Toyota dealerships, including those two locally.

Some dealerships have announced longer hours to accommodate the repairs. Sterling McCall Toyota will be open three hours later on weekdays: closing at 10 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. Extra mechanics are on duty at Joe Myers Toyota, where everyone is working six days a week instead of five until the repairs are finished.

“We want to get this done as quickly as we can with the least amount of hassle possible. Everybody’s going to be working hard and working late,” Rocco said. “The technicians don’t mind doing it. They know we have to take care of our customers.

“We want to get these customers in and out as fast as we can, but we don’t have enough parts for everyone yet.”

Online appointments

Toyota is sending out letters to owners of recalled vehicles, and once owners receive them they can schedule appointments online, Group 1’s DeLongchamps said.

Toyota stated on its Web site that those letters may be received by as early as this week.

However, DeLongchamps noted, “customers are also coming by without appointments, and we’re trying to get their cars serviced as quickly as possible.”

Group 1 has still not received clarification on how many parts it will get daily, he said, which had made it hard at this point to schedule appointments far in advance. It’s still early in the process, he noted.

Perks for customers

Local dealers are throwing in perks to help keep customers satisfied.

At Joe Myers and Sterling McCall, service department workers are washing customers’ cars for them when they come in for the repairs, for example.

“We haven’t decided what else to do yet,” Rocco said. “It’s all coming at us so fast, it’s hard to keep up.”

But dealers said they would do what they could to keep customers happy.

“We are going to extend the highest level of customer service to our clients,” Group 1’s DeLongchamps said.

Customers of recalled Toyotas have been understanding, DeLongchamps said.

“Clearly, customers are anxious to get their cars repaired, but overall they’ve been patient and professional,” he said.


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