Toyota, GM Recall 600,000+ Cars for Power Window Problems

Toyota Motor Corporation and General Motors Corporation warned customers this week about <"">faulty power-window systems in some of their top-selling vehicles, resulting in a North American recall that involves over 662,000 cars.  Toyota is recalling 539,500 2003-04 model Corolla compact cars and Matrix crossover vehicles due to defective bolts in the window systems.  Toyota said the faulty bolts originated from a supplier and have now been redesigned. As part of the efforts in North America to resolve the problem, Toyota said it will notify about 50,000 Canadian customers that they will require free repairs offered by Toyota.  The cars involved in the recall were assembled in Canada at a Cambridge, Ontario plant.

GM also announced a recall for the same problem involving approximately 123,000 Pontiac Vibe hatchbacks.  The Pontiac Vibes share the same platform as Toyota’s Matrix and are built by GM as part of a joint venture with Toyota.  In those vehicles with power windows, the glass bolts in the front windows may loosen which causes the glass to separate from the window regulator, Toyota reported.  Cars with manual windows are not subject to the recalls.Toyota will notify vehicle owners by mail, starting in late April, and advised owners to contact their local Toyota dealer for inspection and repairs.  Replacement of the driver and front passenger door glass bolts will be done at no charge, Toyota said.

Last year, Toyota and GM were named in a lawsuit alleging managers at a California auto plant ignored serious problems, including defective seatbelts and breaking systems, found in cars rolling off the facility’s assembly line.  The plaintiff, a certified auditor at the plant, accuses her superiors of deleting or downgrading defects from her vehicle reports.  The Toyota and General Motors whistleblower lawsuit also claims managers retaliated against her.  The plaintiff, a trained expert in spotting vehicle defects, claims that since 2005, her superiors at the Toyota and GM NUMMI plant regularly altered her vehicle reports to eliminate or downgrade instances of defects which included broken seat belts, bad headlights, poor braking systems, and steering wheel alignment problems.  Toyota and GM jointly operate New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI) in California and embarked on the joint venture in 1984.

The plaintiff claims she was demoted twice, accused of being “crazy and violent,” and was forced to undergo a mental fitness test.  The lawsuit also says a NUMMI manager threatened to fire her and attempted to get the plant’s personnel department to do so.  According to the lawsuit, this was done in an attempt to “break” the plaintiff so she would quit her job at NUMMI.

Toyota, once thought of as a paragon of reliability, has been plagued by quality problems.  Consumer Reports said Toyota “is showing cracks in its armor” and will no longer get automatic recommendations from the magazine for new or redesigned vehicles.  It also removed several Toyota vehicles from its recommended list because of quality issues.  Toyota recalled 766,000 vehicles in the US last year, up from 210,000 in 2003.

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