Toyota Mum On Safety Problems

We’ve been following issues with <"">defective automobiles manufactured by the Toyota Motor Corporation. Much intense controversy has surrounded the car giant over unintended acceleration issues with some Toyota and Lexus brands. Now, says, Press Democrat, there are other serious problems at the carmaker.

According to the Los Angeles Times (Times), Toyota “has delayed recalls, kept a tight lid on disclosure of potential problems, and tried to blame human error in cases where owners claimed vehicle defects.”

Toyota and Lexus vehicles have been involved in accidents that caused 19 deaths, a figure larger than at all other carmakers combined, said the Times.

In 2003, engineers at Toyota found a plastic panel that could loosen and cause the gas pedal to stick on its Sienna minivans, said Press Democrat, causing vehicles to uncontrollably accelerate. The part was redesigned and by mid-year, the 2004 Siennas were produced with the corrective panel; however, owners of vehicles with the defective panel were not advised. It took a 2009 federal investigation for Toyota to admit to regulators that the part that could loosen and “lead to unwanted or sudden acceleration,” quoted Press Democrat. Toyota finally recalled over 26,000 vans last January, six years after Toyota told the Times that the Sienna had no defects and “a safety recall was not deemed necessary” saying the replacement part was simply “an additional safety measure,” quoted Press Democrat.

We recently wrote that the Times reported Toyota registered many more reports of sudden acceleration in its 2008 model-year vehicles than other carmakers. Toyota recently announced it largest recall in history and that it will be replacing accelerator pedals on over four million recalled vehicles in the U.S. and Canada. The pedals, said the Associated Press (AP), can become stuck in floor mats. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently stated that the cars involved contain an “underlying defect” that involves the cars’ accelerator pedal and driver’s side foot well, said the Times. Toyota long maintained the issue is with an “improperly installed floor mat,” but did finally issue the massive recall late this September.

Toyota knew of a dangerous steering defect in cars such as the 4Runner, for years before it implemented a 2004 recall in Japan. Toyota deemed the recall unnecessary in the U.S.; however, an investigation prompted a 2005 recall in the U.S., said Press Democrat.

A search of NHTSA records revealed that the carmaker issued eight other recalls surrounding unintended acceleration over the past 10 years, said Press Democrat, noting this figure is higher than at any other automobile maker.

As of today, the auto giant is named as a defendant is some 10 lawsuits that allege unintended acceleration resulting in four injuries and a stunning five deaths, said Press Democrat. Also, at least one attorney is seeking to reopen a variety of lawsuits involving Toyota rollover issues over concerns the automaker “routinely hid information,” said Press Democrat.

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