Local News

Feb 4, 2010 9:26 PM by Ariel Wesler

Toyota works to fix cars and reputation

More trouble for Toyota. The automaker said tonight it's now looking into brake problems with its luxury Lexus hybrid in Japan and the U.S.

That Lexus hybrid uses the same brake system that Japanese news reports say will lead Toyota to recall its 2010 Prius model.

More than 180 Prius drivers have complained the brakes don't respond when the hybrid is switching between its gas and electric systems.

It's an entirely different issue from the gas pedal recall that affects more than four million Toyotas worldwide.

Dealers across the country are just starting to get parts to fix that problem.

The Toyota saga continues, and after a long week for the automaker, it's gearing up for a long road ahead, fixing its cars and its image.

"Before when I would buy a car, I would think Toyota. Now, it would make me a little hesitant to say Toyota," said Renee Carrasco, who owns a 2005 Toyota Prius.

And the competition is cashing in. Locally, Nissan says it's seeing a small boost in sales related to the Toyota recall, but used toyota's still remain on their lot.

Toyota is one of Nissan's top competitors.

"By showing that to them the fax and figures about the number of millions of cars that they're recalling, it's helping us," said Tim Rabara, a Nissan sales consultant.

Not long ago, General Motors began battling some consumer confidence issues of its own. Now, it's offering incentives to get drivers out of their Toyotas.

"If you're a Toyota or Lexus owner, you can get 0 percent financing for 60 months on virtually any new 2010 Buick or GMC, said Rob Stowasser, owner of the Stowasser dealership in Santa Maria

With eight models on hold, Toyota had been pushing the Prius. Now, possible brake problems on the 2010 model have executives deciding whether to issue another recall and customers asking what's next.

"It makes me wonder if something's going to pop up or maybe they knew of something and they haven't said nothing," Carrasco said.

as Toyota works to keep its repuation from getting stuck in reverse.

Toyota isn't alone. Ford announced today it will fix more than 17,000 Mercury Milan and Ford Fusion gas hybrids that can give drivers the impression the brakes have failed.

Santa Maria Toyota isn't wasting any time trying to keep its reputation intact and customers happy.

It will offer safety clinics every Saturday this month and a complimentary barbecue.

The service department will be open from 7am to 7pm Monday through Friday, and Saturday 8am to 6pm.

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