Timing of Toyota Venza Recall Has NHTSA’s Attention

U.S. safety regulators want to know why Toyota delayed recalling the Venza in the U.S. after recalling it in Canada late last year.

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Toyota informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on December 16 that it had recalled the Venza in Canada that month because its all-weather floor mats “could move forward during the vehicle usage” and “may interfere with the accelerator pedal.” Toyota said it was not issuing a Venza recall in the U.S. because the floor mats in question were not imported to the U.S.

On January 27, 2009, Toyota reversed course and added the Venza to its ongoing recall in the U.S. for defective floor mats. At the same time, the automaker added the Corolla, Highlander and Matrix to that recall.

According to The Los Angeles Times, Toyota continues to maintain that the floor mat used in Canada is different than the one used in the U.S. The company decided to issue the U.S. recall when it determined that the U.S. floor mat could also become entrapped and interfere with the accelerator pedal.

However, the remedies for correcting the problem in Canada and the U.S. were identical. The Times is also reporting that the Canadian mats were made by Remington Industries of Ooltewah, Tenn. So far, Toyota has not revealed where the U.S. mats were made.

According to the Times, the NHTSA is looking at the timeliness of Toyota’s recalls. “The automaker has submitted more than 70,000 pages of documents, which NHTSA officials are continuing to review,” agency spokeswoman Julia said in a statement. “Based on the evidence, we will continue to hold Toyota accountable for violations we find in our ongoing investigation.”

Earlier this month, the NHTSA announced it was seeking the maximum penalty allowed by law – $16.375 million – from Toyota for the way it handled a January accelerator pedal recall. The agency is also said to be considering other fines related to Toyota’s September floor mat recall.

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