Official's remark complicates Toyota recall mess

(AP) - Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood toldToyota owners Wednesday they should stop driving their vehicles,then quickly took back his words, adding to confusion over thesafety of millions of recalled cars. Toyota, for its part, tried toreassure drivers that sticky gas pedals have been rare - and thecars can be stopped in any event by firmly stepping on the brakes.

The final word from LaHood: "What I meant to say or what Ithought I said was, if you own one of these cars or if you're indoubt, take it to the dealer and they're going to fix it."

The back-and-forth played out as word surfaced that Toyota MotorCorp. also has been the subject of more than 100 complaints in theU.S. and Japan about brake problems with the popular Priusgas-electric hybrid, which is not part of the recall. The NationalHighway Traffic Safety Administration has received about 100complaints, two of them involving crashes that resulted ininjuries. In addition, Japan's transport ministry said it hadreceived 14 complaints.

Rep. Bart Stupak, chairman of the House Energy and Commerceinvestigative subcommittee, said he planned to ask Toyota about thecomplaints related to the Prius.

Further clouding the picture for consumers: the notion thatproblems could extend beyond Toyota vehicles. Federal officialshave widened their investigation of malfunctioning gas pedals tosee if the same problem exists in cars made by other autocompanies.

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