Many Toyota owners in SLO County remain loyal to Toyota brand

Tribune photo by Jayson Mellom

Sam Lutrin of San Luis Obispo is not afraid to keep driving her 2007 Toyota Camry, even though it may be affected by the recall.

“We will give (the Toyota dealership) a call, probably,” she said without much concern before grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s in San Luis Obispo.

Nearly every Toyota owner interviewed Wednesday, whether or not their car was affected by a recall, said they still felt loyal to the brand.

At Toyota of San Luis Obispo, the county’s only Toyota dealership, customers waited calmly in its service center lounge.

Near the dealership’s front along Los Osos Valley Road, Scions and Priuses were prominently featured instead of the popular but newly recalled Camrys and Corollas. Managers declined to answer questions.

Daniel Arndt, owner of Toyworx, a Toyota repair center in Grover Beach, said he received at least a dozen calls from worried owners of recalled vehicles.

However, after 19 years of repairing Toyotas and experiencing previous recalls, Arndt said, “It’s a major ordeal, but Toyota will handle it. I remain confident they’ll step up to the plate and take care of it for their customers.”

Erich Robenhorst of Atascadero drives a 2005 Tacoma affected by Toyota’s recall last fall of models with floor mats that could cause accelerator pedals to stick.

“Yeah, the pad under my accelerator creeps up, but I’m just used to adjusting it,” he said. “… I am not concerned at all.”

Elna Coley, a Toyota owner in San Luis Obispo unaffected by the recall, said the possibility that some accelerators of recently recalled cars might stick on their own is “kinda scary,” but she added, “I’ll give them another chance.” She cited brand loyalty as her reason. Her previous Toyota, which was built in 1989, was still running with 240,000 miles when she traded it in for a newer model.

Letitia Irwin of San Luis Obispo, who drives a 2006 Camry, wonders if the problem could in fact be more widespread than Toyota is acknowledging.

“I am slightly worried that it might affect previous models. … In the past, accidents have been blamed on ‘driver error,’ when it could have been this problem.” She did say, however, that she will remain confident in the brand if it is confirmed that Toyota responded as quickly as possible to the problem.

Toyota Motor Corp. representatives did not return phone calls.