WASHINGTON — Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood now says he misspoke when telling owners of recalled Toyotas to stop driving them.
Instead, LaHood says take the vehicles to dealerships to get them repaired.
LaHood told reporters it was "obviously a misstatement" when he told a House panel earlier Wednesday that he would advise owners not to drive recalled vehicles. The remark came during testimony to the Appropriations subcommittee on transportation.
Toyota's most recent recall in the United States affects 2.3 million vehicles with the potential for sticking gas pedals.
Meanwhile, Toyota is giving its U.S. dealers payments of up to $75,000 to help win back customers' trust in the wake of a massive safety recall.
"Within the next several days, you will receive a check from us (no strings attached) with a simple request — 'do the right thing on behalf of Toyota customers'," Toyota group vice president Bob Carter said in the letter to dealers that was sent late Tuesday and obtained by The Associated Press.
Carter thanks dealers for extending service hours and providing car washes and other services. He also suggested other measures, like additional hires to help with recall repairs, mobile repair services, dedicated recall service lanes and complimentary oil changes.
"Toyota dealers already know the first and most critical step of rebuilding the confidence and trust of Toyota owners is the interaction and service they receive in your dealership," Carter said.
Toyota is sending checks this week based on the number of cars each dealer sold last year. Dealers who sold fewer than 500 cars will get $7,500. Dealers who sold more than 4,000 will get $75,000. Toyota has around 1,200 U.S. dealers.