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Toyota owners share their scary, positive stories -- and some date back years

Over the past several days, I've received a number of unsolicited e-mails from Toyota owners, sharing the sometimes scary, sometimes positive experiences they've had with their Toyotas, focusing on unintended acceleration and braking problems. And many of these stories go back years. Here's a compilation of a few of those stories:

-- "I bought my Prius in August of this year. This car has an awesome ability to stop and stop immediately. I'm a city guy, so the chuckwagon washboard roads haven't been in my experience."

-- "I have a older model of Camry and I am having the same problem -- gas pedal sticks."

-- "I have a 2005 Prius with the SAME EXACT brake problem as the 2010 Prius."

-- "I’ve been complaining to my husband about our Toyota minivan (about 3 - 4 years old) since we purchased it. The van will surge forward without me pushing on the gas pedal. It’s erratic and only happens when idling or in drive without the gas pedal depressed. We never had it serviced for this problem' because in my husband’s words: 'this is really just your imagination!' And maybe it is, but now I’m wondering if it’s something that all Toyotas have but some worse than others. There are times when I’ve felt unsafe in the van, but have learned to compensate for the problem."

-- "Who should I report a problem with a 2005 Prius that had the "stuck" pedal problem? There is more than a floor mat problem -- it has something to do with cruise control. This problem has happened to me twice. I had the car towed to a Toyota dealer the first time it happened and they could find no problem."

-- Not five minutes ago, I got a phone call from a Post reader who says he's had problems with his regularly serviced 2003 Toyota Camry since buying it. When he applies the brakes while driving over bumpy roads, the brakes will not engage unless he mashes on the pedal.

-- Look at this online review (from 2003 from a prospective Toyota 4Runner buyer: "I floored the accelerator to see how it would get up and go. Imagine my surprise when I took my foot off the accelerator and found that it stayed fully depressed! The only way to get back control of the engine was to shift into neutral and turn off the ignition. This allowed the acceleartor to be released. We pulled off the highway, found a relatively empty surface street and repeated the test. Once again, when the accelerator was floored, it would not return until the ignition was turned off."

And, finally, there was this delightful response from a reader, taking exception to a line I wrote in this story from Thursday:

"I've just finished reading your story, 'A big dent in Toyota's reputation' in the Thursday Business Section. A fine story, informative and well written. My only issue is with the second paragraph, which is talking about 'vehicles you could count on for years.' You say 'Much like Detroit used to make. I was wondering: when exactly did Detroit make vehicles you could count on for years? My first car was a 1942 Packard, followed by a series of Fords and Chevrolets, until I abandoned them about 15 years ago. Even in those old days, we lamented and joked about the poor quality, flimsy construction and unreliability of American cars. We called them 'Detroit Iron' and joked that FORD stands for Fix Or Repair Daily, and said 'I have a Shivver-lay: it Shivers on the road and Lays in the garage.' "

(That's a pun on "Chevrolet," in case you didn't get it.)

First off, I respect any person whose first car -- first car! -- was a 1942 Packard, which looked like this (Wow!). Second, I wrote back and told him that I was probably unduly influenced by the endless stream of Oldsmobile Delta 88s my Dad bought from the 1960s to the '80s, which were so reliable they would probably survive a theater-level nuclear attack.

Follow me on Twitter at @theticker

By Frank Ahrens  |  February 5, 2010; 2:07 PM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Toyota, Toyota recall update, toyota recall model and years  
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