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Published: Thursday, 3/4/2010

More drivers file complaints after Toyota fix


WASHINGTON — More Toyota drivers say their cars have sped up by themselves even after being fixed to correct the problem.

Another five people have reported problems to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's complaint database, describing surges of speed that came without warning. That is on top of at least 15 similar cases found by an Associated Press review of the data on Wednesday.

The complaints, which are submitted online or through a NHTSA hot line, have not been independently verified. Government investigators said Wednesday that they had found 10 possible cases of post-fix problems.

As part of two recalls involving more than 8 million vehicles worldwide, Toyota is installing special metal shims and shortening gas pedals to solve the problem of unintended acceleration. The Japanese automaker blames the problem on gas pedals that can become sticky or be trapped under floor mats.

The company says it is confident its fixes will take care of the problems, but that its engineers will check into the complaints.

The driver of a 2008 Camry, which received fixes under two Toyota recalls, wrote in a complaint that the sedan speeds up when it is started.

"I can drive up to 30 miles an hour without applying the gas," the driver wrote.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told a Senate appropriations subcommittee Thursday that drivers who are still having problems after the fixes should take their cars or trucks back to the dealer.

A panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that deals with consumer protection told lawmakers Thursday it plans to hold a March 11 hearing to look at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The hearing was titled, "NHTSA Oversight: The Road Ahead."

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