Toyota Recalls 1.3 Million Cars for Stalling Problem

Since last November, Toyota has recalled about 8.5 million vehicles worldwide to resolve floor-mat interference and sticking pedal problems that may lead to incidents of unintended acceleration. Some vehicles are subject to both recalls.

Now, said Bloomberg News, the beleaguered automotive giant is recalling 1.13 million Corolla and Matrix cars for yet another flaw. This time, Toyota vehicles are being recalled for what U.S. regulators described as a problem that could cause stalling “at any speed without warning,” quoted Bloomberg News. The recall impacts 2005-2008 model years in the United States and Canada, said Bloomberg News, and noted that there have been at least three accidents linked to the stall defect.

Another 200,000 of General Motors’ Pontiac Vibe hatchbacks are also included in the recall, said Bloomberg News, citing a GM statement. The Vibes and Matrixes were produced as part of a joint GM-Toyota venture, wrote Bloomberg News.

Regarding the acceleration issues, complaints to the National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA) attributed 93 deaths to sudden acceleration of a Toyota vehicle. Earlier this year, Toyota agreed to pay a record $16.375 million fine levied by the NHTSA for concealing information related to a January recall of 2.3 million vehicles for sticky accelerator pedals. The company also faces more than 200 lawsuits resulting from the sticky accelerator and floor mat recalls.

Toyota has blamed the acceleration problems on driver error, but consumer advocates and plaintiffs’ attorneys have alleged that they are the result of a defect in the vehicles’ electronic throttle control system.

Late last month we wrote that Toyota Motor Corp. issued a recall of 412,000 passenger cars for steering problems, citing The Associated Press (AP). According to Toyota, three accidents were reported in connection to the defect, to date.

In addition to the over 200 lawsuits Toyota faces in the U.S. alone over accidents, decreased resale values, and a stock drop, said the AP, Toyota faces two investigations; the most recent involving a federal grand jury probe into steering-related defects in its vehicles, and possibly how it handled a 2005 recall.

And, while the NHTSA investigates the 2005 recall, which involved defective steering rods, it seems that Toyota waited 11 months to issue a U.S. recall, after it had already done so for trucks in Japan. The recall in Japan took place in October 2004; the US recall, involving 977,839 similar vehicles, took place September 2005. In 2004, Toyota told US regulators the problems were limited to vehicles in Japan. Under US law, carmakers have five days to report safety problems to regulators.

Although it has not yet determined the timing, the NHTSA has reports of three deaths and seven injuries linked to the faulty steering rods on 4Runner SUVs and T100 and Hi Lux compact pickups, which involve 1989 to 1998 models.

According to The New York Times previously, Toyota received two other subpoenas this year: From a grand jury in February for documents related to sudden acceleration and braking and from the Michigan attorney general in March for information on recalls.

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