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Accelerator pedal repairs underway: Toyota

Troubled Japanese auto giant Toyota said Friday it had begun repairing sticky accelerator pedals in the United States behind the recall of millions of vehicles worldwide.

The carmaker's US branch, Toyota Motor Sales USA, said repairs were underway after dealers across the country had received the necessary parts, information and training to repair the accelerator pedals.

It also announced that it had begun mailing letters to owners of recalled vehicles to inform them of when they can bring their cars to a dealership for repair.

According to Toyota, mechanics only need 30 minutes per vehicle to complete the repairs. The company had announced on Monday that the simple fix involves installing a precision-cut steel reinforcement bar into the accelerator pedal assembly to eliminate the excess friction that has caused pedals to stick in rare instances.

But the automaker has also faced a litany of complaints about other technical problems, including brake failure and floor mats trapping the accelerator pedals.

"Nothing is more important to us than the safety and reliability of the vehicles our customers drive, and we are determined to live up to the high standards people have come to expect from Toyota over the past 50 years," Toyota USA president and chief executive Jim Lentz said in a statement.

"Everyone at Toyota is focused on making this recall simple and trouble-free for our customers."

However, the car's troubles escalated further as Toyota looked set to recall several hundred thousand Prius hybrids and was slapped with a US lawsuit alleging it covered up safety problems.

The Nikkei business daily said that Toyota had decided to recall an estimated 270,000 Prius cars in Japan and the United States to fix a brake problem affecting the newest version of the hybrid.

"We're working hard to ensure that our dealers have the resources and support they need to make sure our customers get their cars fixed quickly," Lentz said.

"The parts have been shipped, the dealers are trained, and they are already making the repairs," he added noting that many dealers were working extended hours. Some have even opened around the clock to deal with the impact of the massive recall.

Toyota said it was sending checks of 7,500 to 75,000 dollars to its dealers to help them with any additional costs related to the repairs.