Toyota Quiet On Safety Issues

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Toyota Motor Corporation is elusive regarding defective automobiles manufactured by them.  Intense speculation has swirled around the auto behemoth over unintended acceleration problems with some Toyota and Lexus brands. Now, there are other troubles, says the Press Democrat.

According to the Los Angeles 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 19 death related accidents, a number larger than all other car makers combined, said the Times.

In 2003, Toyota engineers discovered that a plastic panel on its Siennas minivan could loosen and induce the gas pedal to stick, said Press Democrat, causing vehicles to accelerate out of control. The part was redesigned and by mid-year, the 2004 Siennas had the new panel; however, owners of vehicles with the defective piece were not notified.

After a 2009 federal investigation, Toyota admitted to regulators that the part could loosen and “lead to unwanted or sudden acceleration,” quoted Press Democrat. Toyota subsequently recalled over 26,000 vans last January, six years after the auto maker 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.

Previously, the Times reported Toyota registered more incidents of sudden acceleration in its 2008 model-year vehicles than any other car maker. The company recently announced its largest recall in history and said it will be replacing accelerator pedals on over four million 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) said the cars involved have an “underlying defect” that involves the cars’ accelerator pedal and driver’s side foot well, wrote the Times. Toyota adamantly maintained the problem was an “improperly installed floor mat,” but finally issued the enormous recall last September.

Prior to implementing a 2004 recall in Japan, Toyota had known for years about a dangerous steering defect in cars such as the 4Runner. They neglected to take the same action in the U.S., but an investigation did finally prompt a 2005 recall in the U.S., said Press Democrat.

NHTSA records disclosed that over the past 10 years, Toyota issued eight other recalls involving unintended acceleration, said Press Democrat, a figure higher than any other auto maker.

Currently, the embroiled company is named a defendant in at least 10 lawsuits alleging unintended acceleration resulting in four injuries and five deaths, reports Press Democrat, who also states that at least one attorney plans to reopen various  lawsuits involving Toyota rollovers due to concerns that the automaker “routinely hid information.”