Toyota Issues Tacoma Recall, Plans Review of Electronic Throttle Control Systems

Toyota issued another recall over the weekend, this time for about 8,000 2010 Tacoma trucks. Meanwhile, the automaker has announced that it will take another look at the electronic throttle control systems to see if they might be behind any of the unintended acceleration problems that have sparked the recall of millions of Toyota and Lexus vehicles in the past several months.

The Tacoma recall was issued so Toyota can fix a problem with the front drive shaft that could cause the vehicle to lose control. According to the Associated Press, a crack could develop that could lead to the front driveshaft separating and falling from the truck. The recall involves 4-wheel drive Tacomas that were built from mid-December 2009 to early February 2010.

A Toyota spokesperson told the Associated Press that most of the Tacomas affected by the recall are on dealer lots or in the distribution chain.

Japanese media are reporting this morning that Toyota will be taking another look at the electronic throttle control system in its Toyota and Lexus models, with the intention of proving that the systems are not responsible for unintended acceleration problems in its cars. External experts will be used to conduct the review, and the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) may also participate.

Last week, Toyota told the U.S. Congress that it did not believe problems with the electronic control system were responsible for unintended acceleration problems.

Since January 2010, Toyota has recalled 5.3 million vehicles in the U.S. because of problems with unintended acceleration. The recalls started in September, when Toyota announced it was recalling and replacing floor mats on approximately 4.2 million vehicles which were allegedly causing accelerator pedals in the vehicles to become stuck in the depressed position, leading to uncontrollable and rapid acceleration of the vehicle. On January 21, Toyota recalled 2.3 million vehicles due to accelerator pedals on those vehicles becoming stuck in a depressed position, causing unexpected and unsafe acceleration. Toyota accelerator-related problems have been linked to crashes that killed at least 19 people.

Attorneys for some people involved in Toyota unintended acceleration lawsuits have blamed the electronic throttle control system for the problems. They point out that unintended acceleration complaints began to increase significantly in 2002, when Toyota began installing such systems in a broad range of its vehicle lines.

Last week, we also reported that a former lawyer for has asserted that sticking gas pedals and floor mats are not to blame for unintended acceleration problems. Dimitrios Biller, who worked for Toyota from 2003 to 2007, recently told ABC News that the electronic throttle system was to blame. Biller, who says the evidence he has from his time at Toyota is still considered privileged, has filed his own lawsuit against Toyota alleging it withheld data in civil lawsuits and from the government, and is also being sued by the company.

The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is set to take up the Toyota unintended acceleration issue at a hearing later this month, and it appears the committee’s investigators aren’t satisfied with the company’s explanations for unintended acceleration either.

“There appears to be a growing body of evidence that neither Toyota nor NHTSA identified all the causes of sudden unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles,” committee investigators told lawmakers in a memo this week. “Moreover, there is substantial evidence that remedies such as redesigned floor mats have failed to solve the problem.”

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