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Accelerator Victim Giving Toyota a "Long Leash" For Now

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San Francisco, CACarol bought her 2004 Matrix Toyota secondhand from the dealer with only 38,000 miles on it. With that little mileage on the car, however, Carol suspected that the previous owner knew of the Toyota accelerator problem, which has been ongoing since 2003.

"When I bought the car I asked the sales manager why someone was reselling with such low mileage but I didn't get an answer," says Carol. "I asked the same question to the mechanic and he said, 'I'm not getting into this, you have to talk to the salesman.'

"I didn't think anymore about it until December 2008. I was pulling into my driveway and as I nudged up to the door, the car just flew into the garage—I destroyed the door, crashed over the clothes dryer and blew out the back of my house, which is still in disrepair. I have since replaced the garage door and the dryer. The car is still sitting in my garage, totaled—if I'm lucky, I might be able to sell it for parts.

"I was absolutely shocked. Even if I stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake, I would never have floored it! I have an exemplary driving record. I'm 56; I've been driving in and around San Francisco for 30 years and I have had nothing more than parking tickets.

"As a cost-cutting measure I didn't get collision; since my driving record was perfect, I thought it was a good budgetary restraint. Unfortunately, my vehicle insurance company still refuses to help me, so then I planned to go after Toyota.

"At first I wrote to the dealership, Melody Toyota, and they said it was a matter for the Toyota manufacturer. Next, I sent a diplomatic letter to Toyota HQ in Cedar Rapids, including photos of my car, photos of the damage, the current blue book value (in excellent condition), and the cost to replace damages. I wrote this letter on March 2 and have not yet received a reply. I figure I will give them a long leash (and not call directly) before I turn into a monster!"

The following is the letter Carol wrote to Toyota:

In the early evening of February 22, I received a call from Melody Toyota, where I purchased my car in 2005. The manager called in response to a letter I wrote to them. Copy enclosed. He said this would be a matter for your office.

I am also enclosing an article my mother sent me indicating Toyota knew about sudden acceleration problem as far back as 2003. Enclosed also are photos of my car. Melody Toyota has more photos.

In addition to these items I am including a statement from [someone] who hauled off the damaged door and put up plywood. The damaged door was in perfect shape before the sudden acceleration. Also enclosed are the proposal and receipt from Alco, who saw all the damage and was contracted to replace the garage door. The other matters are yet to be resolved.

The current Blue Book value, in excellent condition, which it was, would have been $8,305. The cost to replace the garage door was $1,650. And the estimates I have to repair the back of the house, range up to $6,000. Total is $15,955.

I hope we can reach a resolution to the problem without further complications. I await your response.

Carol is now planning to contact a lawyer.



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