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Toyota recalled a number of trucks in Japan for a defective steering column but chose to wait nearly a year before recalling them in North America, despite a series of complains in the United States regarding the issue. The revelation comes on the heels of a $16.4 million fine imposed by the U.S. government as punishment for Toyota delaying the recalls of millions of vehicles over accelerator pedals that stick open unintentionally.
Toyota‘s recall issues just keep coming, with news from the Japanese automaker that it will recall 50,000 Sequoia SUVs from 2003. The problem with the trucks stems from the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system, but it is quite unlike the VSC problem recently identified in the Lexus GX460 – which was recalled for a stability control system that did not engage enough.
According to Toyota, the Sequoia’s VSC system could activate at low speeds (roughly 9 mph) causing a loss of acceleration for a few seconds. As a result the vehicle may not accelerate as quickly as the driver expects. Toyota says it changed the VSC system part-way though the 2003 year production, published a Technical Service Bulletin on the issue and that roughly half of the affected vehicles have already been fixed under standard warranty claims.
Toyota says no injuries or accidents have been reported due to this issue.
All 2003 model year Sequoia owners (including those who already had the vehicle serviced) will receive a letter from Toyota starting in late May to schedule a recall fix appointment. Those who already had the issue fixed at their own expense will be reimbursed by Toyota.
Toyota Sequoia owners seeking more information are asked to visit www.toyota.com/recall or call the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331.
Official release after the jump:
As reported earlier today, Toyota has now officially announced it will comply with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s civil fine of $16.4 million for not issuing a recall within an acceptable timeframe. The recall in question focused on 2.3 million vehicles for sticking accelerator pedals.
In a statement the Japanese automaker accepted the fine, but not the terms behind it, stating that it does not believe it violated the Safety Act. “We believe we made a good faith effort to investigate this condition and develop an appropriate counter-measure. We have acknowledged that we could have done a better job of sharing relevant information within our global operations and outside the company, but we did not try to hide a defect to avoid dealing with a safety problem.”
Toyota says it agreed to the fine to avoid further litigation but also to move beyond the issue and focus on improving quality. “This will allow us to focus on delivering safe, reliable, high quality vehicles for our customers and responding to consumer feedback with honesty and integrity. These have been core Toyota values for 70 years, and we pledge to make an even greater effort to adhere to this philosophy now and in the future. We also welcome a new, more transparent chapter in our relationship with NHTSA, consistent with our commitments to Congress and the American people.”
While the $16.4 million fine isn’t much for an automaker, the negative public perception generated by it can be much more significant. Toyota now seems to be quick to issue recalls and vehicles needing to be recalled don’t appear to be lacking with an announcement late last week of a recall for the Sienna minivan and just today for the Lexus GX460.
Official release after the jump:
It’s the fifth major recall for Toyota in the past few months and Toyota’s stellar reputation for quality is taking a beating. Toyota Motor Corp has just announced a recall of 600,000 Toyota Sienna minivans dating from 1998-2010. The issue with the vans is with the spare tire cable which may rust so severely that the spare tire, located at the rear of the van on the underside, could come loose. Toyota says this is a, “road hazard for following vehicles that increases the likelihood of a crash.”
The recall is for Sienna vans in Northern States or states which use salt on the roads in winter months – which causes increased corrosion. The states listed by Toyota include: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin and West Virginia. Owners of Sienna minivans in other states are welcome to bring their vehicle in for an inspection of the spare tire cable, Toyota says.
Toyota says it is working on a “fix” for the problem and will notify customers as soon as a remedy is available. Toyota will also send out notices to all Sienna owners to in the mean time to book an appointment to have the spare tire cable inspected.
Official release after the jump:
Toyota is expected to announce today that it will comply with a $16.4 million U.S. Transportation Department fine, imposed for a four month delay in notifying the government of faulty gas pedals on some of its vehicles. The fine is the largest civic penalty ever imposed on an automaker by the U.S. government.
Last week the Department of Transportation announced a $16.4 million fine for Toyota after it declared the automaker acted too slowly in informing the government about a problem with sticking accelerator pedals which later led to a recall. That might not be the end of it, however, as according to a report by Automotive News the DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) could levy yet another similar fine.
Breaking: Toyota Faces $16M Fine As Transportation Department Claims It Has Proof Automaker Hid Defect
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood seems to have found a “smoking gun,” in the Toyota recall controversy, alleging his department now has proof the automaker shirked its legal responsibilities. “We now have proof that Toyota failed to live up to its legal obligations,” he said yesterday. “Worse yet, they knowingly hid a dangerous defect for months from U.S. officials and did not take action to protect millions of drivers and their families.”
After Toyota recently debunked an ABC News report about sudden acceleration in its vehicles, the Japanese automaker has now decided to take on CNN, after the news outlet reported that Toyota knew about sudden acceleration issues as far back as 2002.
The story by CNN‘s special investigations unit reports that in a secret document Toyota admitted to electronic issues related to the throttle, even saying that in 2002, “Toyota had a sudden acceleration problem and that according to Toyota’s own technical service bulletin, the problem was electronic.”
Toyota has responded, essentially debunking the document and exposing CNN‘s faulty reporting; the “secret document” being a 2002 Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) published by Toyota and sent to all of its dealers as well as being publicly available online through several government and independent websites as well as through Toyota’s own site: https://techinfo.toyota.com. In fact, the 2002 TSB was discussed by Toyota Motor Sales USA President Jim Lentz during his appearance before the Congressional testimony looking into Toyota’s recall woes.
As for the content of the TSB, Toyota says that the issue was never sudden acceleration but rather, “a drivability issue at speeds of between 38 and 42 miles per hour at light throttle.” the TSB continues, “This condition was strictly related to a function internal to the transmission torque converter under certain throttle conditions. It manifested as a slight rocking motion, or surge, while holding steady throttle at the specific speed window. This issue was in no way related to any kind of sustained acceleration.”
Toyota contests the misinterpretation of the word “surge” in the document, which is says has been taken out of context. Toyota’s statement says that, “The term surge has been used across the industry for many years to describe a condition where there is a very slight slow-down and speed-up perception (typically two miles per hour or less) while holding steady throttle at low to moderate speeds.” Toyota also says almost every other automaker has issued a similar TSB, with 80 such TSBs being published in the last 10 years.
It would appear as though CNN has now followed after ABC News, with horribly poor investigative journalism that puts ratings ahead of integrity, research and fact checking.
See the official Toyota release and CNNs original story after the jump:
Last week James Sikes made headlines when his 2008 Toyota Prius raced out of control of a California highway, with speeds approaching 100 mph. Sikes claimed this was a case of unintended acceleration, with repeated attempts to stop the car not working. A believable story considering Toyota’s long list of recent recalls, it now appears to be a hoax with Runaway Prius Guy quickly becoming the next Balloon Boy.
The Orange County, California, District Attorney has announced plans to file a civil lawsuit against Toyota. The suit is over safety concerns with Toyota vehicles, and comes as Toyota has recalled over eight million vehicles worldwide due to several different safety issues. The suit aims to stop Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. from “continuing to endanger the public through the sale of defective vehicles and deceptive business practices.”
A Prius driver claims his 2008 model Toyota accelerated uncontrollably at speeds of up to 90 mph on a San Diego freeway before California High Patrol officers helped him stop his runaway car. The driver, 61-year-old James Sikes, said the acceleration happened when he overtook another car on Interstate 8, after which the car accelerated uncontrollably for the next 20 minutes as he traveled over 30 miles.
Toyota today confirmed that it will extend the pick-up and drop-off of vehicles involved in the recent recalls to all its customers in the United States. Earlier in week, Toyota announced the program of extraordinary service for its customers in the New York region.
Services provided by Toyota include a pick up and return of the vehicle by a dealership employee, driving the customer to the dealership or his or her place of work, or (when necessary), providing alternative transportation including a loaner vehicle, rental car or even taxi reimbursement.
Toyota says the service will be covered entirely by the company, and will not have to be covered by dealers. It applies to all customers with a recalled vehicle in one of four recalls: sticking accelerator pedals, floor mat pedal entrapment, anti-lock brake system software updates, and Tacoma front drive shaft inspection.
Toyota advises that anyone with additional questions should contact the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331 or the Lexus Customer Assistance Center at 1-800-255-3987, or visit www.toyota.com/recall.
Official release after the jump:
Toyota Critic Safety Research & Strategies Founder Admits Report Funding Came From Firms Suing Toyota
During questioning at the House Committee’s investigation into Toyota’s ongoing recall crisis, safety advocate group Safety Research & Strategies founder Sean Kane admitted that his group is hardly an unbiased participant. In fact, Kane admitted that a recent report outlining Toyota’s faults was funded by five different law firms, all of which are currently engaged in litigation with Toyota.
After ABC News aired a segment yesterday where an expert was able to recreate a case of unintended acceleration, Toyota has taken to the offensive and challenged the news outlet and its source. In a video segment (see below), David Gilbert, an automotive technology professor at Southern Illinois University, recreates the problem in a Toyota Avalon, by introducing a short circuit to the controls to show that in such a circumstance the ECU does not record a fault and does not go into a “limp-mode.” The “short circuit” that Mr. Gilbert has introduced is intended to replicate a similar situation caused by moisture or wear.
Toyota has said that it has already been in touch with Mr. Gilbert using a similar setup in a Toyota Tundra and that in that circumstance the introduction of a transistor to create the short circuit creates, “an abnormal connection between two otherwise independent signals coming from the accelerator pedal sensors.” In other words, Toyota is asserting some pretty basic science, that the introduction of a new variable pretty much negates the process.
In an effort to set the record straight, Toyota has said it would like to investigate Mr. Gilbert’s new method and the Avalon in question, inviting ABC News to come along.
Get more Toyota Recall News at the AutoGuide Toyota Recall News Hub
See the ABC news video and Toyota’s response after the jump: