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Can non-recalled Toyotas experience same accelerator issue?

By Nicole Gonzales | Posted - Apr. 6, 2010 at 5:59 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- A Manti woman was released from the hospital Tuesday night after suffering a broken back bone in a car crash. Cathy Whitaker, 55, says her Toyota gas pedal stuck, even though her car was not one of the models recalled.

Monday night, Whitaker crashed into the Manti Elementary School fence in order to stop her runaway Toyota.

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"Before I could even attempt to turn, all of a sudden it's like someone pressed on the accelerator," Whitaker said.

Sanpete County detectives say her accelerator stuck, similar to thousands of recalled Toyotas around the country.

The problem is, her car wasn't recalled by Toyota. She was driving a 2006 RAV4. The only RAV4 with a reported problem is the 2009-2010 model.

KSL went to a Salt Lake City mechanic who is not affiliated with Toyota to see if Whitaker's claim is possible.

![](http://media.bonnint.net/slc/1738/173888/17388808.jpg)**Toyota suspends sales of:**
• 2009-2010 RAV4 • 2009-2010 Corolla • 2009-2010 Matrix • 2005-2010 Avalon • 2007-2010 Camry • 2010 Highlander • 2007-2010 Tundra • 2008-2010 Sequoia
The mechanic we spoke to has more than 30 years of experience. In that time, he's never seen a non-recalled car have the same issues as a recalled model. However, he says it is still possible.

Dennis at Master Tech Automotive says recalls are usually model-specific -- that those cars outside the recalled group will not experience similar problems.

"They can narrow it down right by the serial numbers of whatever cars are affected by it," he said. "You're usually not going to see it because there's so many different models variations."

Dennis says anything is possible when parts are controlled by electronics, but he says those computer parts usually go into an idle mode if something goes wrong -- not an accelerated pace, like the case in Manti.

Either way, if Whitaker or Toyota wanted to know what really happened, they could find out easily.

"Toyota can go back in with another computer that can go more in depth than a computer can that a shop has," Dennis said. "They can actually read all of her actions and all the actions of the car."

The website ConsumerReports.org independently tracks recalls. In February it uncovered accelerator complaints to the government that affected more models outside the recall list.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, which is investigating complaints against Toyota, didn't return KSL's calls today.

E-mail: ngonzales@ksl.com

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Nicole Gonzales

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