Toyota is concerned dealers are selling used cars without conducting recall-related repairs, according to an internal email leaked to Jalopnik. The same email also warns of Inside Edition conducting "ambush interviews." Why is Toyota worried?
In the last year, Toyota's recalled more than 5 million U.S. vehicles, covering a majority of the models they sell. The problems range from bad floormats to sticky accelerator pedals and involve various complex repair schemes.
Many of these repairs took a while to implement as Toyota had to refine the process. Those with a sticking pedal were offered two possible repairs: metal Chicklets or full replacement, althought you'd only get the later if you complained about it.
Any of the more than a dozen Toyota models being sold used on a dealer lot could have potentially any number of repairs necessary, and a new email from a regional dealership service manager for Toyota Motor Sales USA raises the question of how quickly they're being fixed.
In the email, the representative says the issue came up during a PR conference call:
During our field PR conference call today we learned that the CBS "TV news magazine" Inside Edition has been going to the NHTSA and Toyota websites to identify VINs of used cars in dealer inventory that have not yet had the
recall repairs made, then attempting to buy them."
This seems to indicate there are cars on dealer lots without the repairs, although so far there's no proof they've sold any.
The email goes on to warn against even letting someone test drive a car without a repair and says a pre-delivery check should assure against anyone taking an unrepaired car home. Given Toyota's often adversarial relationship with the media it appears the company is attempting to prevent another "gotcha moment."
At two points in the email the representative lets some contempt for the media slip in, saying "They are obviously working on a negative scare story" and putting quotation marks around the word "investigation."
We've sought a comment from Toyota and are awaiting a response.