The speed with which Chrysler Group
25,000 Dodge Caliber and Jeep Compass vehicles demonstrated how wary automakers have become of repeating the public relations debacle experienced by
over a series of large recalls and quality issues, analysts said.
The recall, announced this month, of the 2007 model-year vehicles follows a
probe into problems that surfaced in late April after five complaints of binding or sticky gas pedals.
The pedal system is built by
of Elkhart, Ind., which also built the accelerator pedal assemblies recalled in 2.3 million Toyota vehicles in late January.
"Clearly, Chrysler and CTS have taken a look at what happened at Toyota and said they don't want that happening to them," said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety.
Manufacturers are especially sensitive to issues dealing with gas pedals and acceleration, Ditlow said.
Toyota has had a series of embarrassing global recalls of accelerator pedals and other issues that involved millions of vehicles, as well as a record $16.4 million fine from U.S. safety regulators.
"Everybody has been paying much more attention since the Toyota recalls and product-liability issues," said Aaron Jacoby, who heads the automotive group at law firm Arent Fox law in
. "When manufacturers and suppliers have a problem, they want to solve it in a way that best deals with the issue for consumers and shareholders."
In addition to facing more than 200 federal lawsuits over alleged sudden-acceleration problems, Toyota also has seen its market share slide in the U.S. Through the first five months of this year, the Japanese automaker's U.S. market share has dropped to 15.2 percent, from 16.2 percent a year earlier.
Chrysler is recalling its vehicles after some drivers complained that the gas pedal did not return to the idle position when released. Four of the complaints said the drivers found parts from the pedal assembly loose on the driver's side floor.
A NHTSA analysis found that the problem resulted because pockets in the pedal assembly that hold bushings, which act as a bearing for the pivot shaft of the accelerator pedal arm, were too large.
In a letter to NHTSA, Chrysler said the vehicles also have an electronic throttle-control system that reduced engine power when there was a "disagreement" between the brake and the accelerator signals. Chrysler said the system prevented the pedal problem from causing "an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety."
Only pedals installed in cars manufactured between March 7 and May 19, 2006, are affected. The automaker said its recall was intended to find those faulty pedal assemblies and replace them.
In the Toyota cases, the automaker and NHTSA said the pedals tended to stick in a partially depressed position or were slow to return to idle position. On Jan. 26, regulators opened a defect investigation into CTS, the first against the company.
CTS has repeatedly denied that its pedals cause sudden acceleration or can fully stick. It called the issue a "slow return pedal phenomenon" and said in a statement that it was unaware of any accidents or injuries because of it. The NHTSA investigation is pending.
Days after the Toyota pedal recall,
said it was halting production of a van in China and recalling about 1,600 that had been shipped because they used pedals similar to those in the recalled Toyotas.
Chrysler's recall follows a NHTSA investigation May 28 of Ford-built Fusion and Milan sedans for gas pedals that can be trapped by floor mats.
Tribune Newspapers reporter Ken Bensinger contributed to this report.