House Panel Launching Toyota Probe

01.29.10 | FL News Team

A congressional panel is launching a probe today into the sticking gas pedals that have prompted Toyota to halt sales of eight popular vehicle models. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is expected to call the automaker and federal safety officials to testify on the accelerator problem next month. In the meantime, it's asking both groups to hand over any relevant e-mails or documents. The committee says 19 deaths in the past ten years may have been caused by sticking accelerators in Toyota vehicles. The automaker originally said the problem was related to a 2009 recall involving floor mats that were catching on the gas pedals of some vehicles. Toyota has since said that condensation from heaters may be building up in the spring mechanism responsible for pushing the gas pedal back into the idle position. The automaker believes that over time, the condensation can wear on the component, making some accelerators stick down.

 The company that makes gas pedals for Toyota is blaming the automaker's design for the condensation problem. CTS Corporation claims it built all components to the automaker's specifications. The company says it has redesigned the problematic part and is boosting production so Toyota can get its cars back on the road. Toyota is also working with officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on possible solutions to the accelerator problem. Toyota has recalled more than seven-million vehicles worldwide and has stopped selling eight models involved with gas pedal issues. It has also shuttered several North American plants and is laying off 14-thousand workers until the matter is resolved.