U.S. sees "no reason" to challenge Toyota fix

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration is satisfied with a plan by Toyota Motor Corp to address a massive recall by fixing or replacing defective accelerator pedals, the U.S. Transportation Department said on Monday.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reviewed the automaker’s plan to install new parts in existing accelerator systems or replace them entirely.

Sales of new models on the list of 2.3 million vehicles recalled in January have been suspended until the remedy is in place. Toyota said it started shipping parts to dealers on Monday. Production of new vehicles is set to resume February 8.

Owners who opt for a repair now at dealers may later receive a new pedal when it is available, NHTSA said in a consumer advisory.

NHTSA is not required to approve Toyota’s approach but can object if it does not believe the solution is adequate.

“Toyota has announced its remedy and based on its current knowledge, NHTSA has no reason to challenge this remedy,” the agency said in a statement.

“Owners of affected Toyota vehicles should contact their local dealer immediately and exercise caution until repairs can be made,” NHTSA said.

The January 21 recall of Toyota vehicles, including certain Camry and Corolla sedans, centered on accelerator pedals that would not spring back properly or become stuck when depressed.

No deaths or injuries are suspected in cases of sticking pedals, the government said.

NHTSA has launched a separate investigation of CTS Corp, the supplier of the faulty pedal assemblies to Toyota, to determine if “proper and timely notice” has been given to its customers.

Regulators also want to see if additional defect notices and possible recalls are required by other manufacturers who may have installed defective CTS accelerator pedals, NHTSA said.

Toyota’s January recall followed a massive recall in late 2009 of certain Toyota and Lexus sedans and pickups for loose floor mats that can jam the accelerator pedal.

The floor mat problem is suspected in crashes that have killed five people, according to complaints received by the government.

Reporting by John Crawley; Editing by Tim Dobbyn