3.4 Million Cars Recalled

Toyota, Nissa, Honda and Mazda have issued a recall affected 3.4 Million vehicles. The recall revolves around possible faulty airbags that may cause a fire or inadvertently fire causing personal injuries to the occupants. The large manufacturers rely on smaller companies and manufacturers for their parts.

The recall is the largest ever for airbags made by Takata Corp., the world's second-largest supplier of airbags and seatbelts. Due to a manufacturing defect in the propellant for the inflator, the airbag for the front passenger seat may not inflate correctly. As a result, there is a risk of fires starting or of passengers being injured. The faulty airbags were manufactured between 2000 and 2002 in a Takata factory in Mexico. Read more

 

The recall seems to be centered around cars from 2000-2004. There are reports that there is at least one known instance where the airbag deployed too forcefully. Dealers are likely to handle the required repairs.

NHTSA investigates Toyota, Ford and Honda

NHTSA has not issued any recalls but instead has launched an investigation into various models. First off, 561,000 Toyota Prius are under NHTSA investigation. There have been reports that the steering shaft was not assembled correctly. This investigations appears to be focusing on 2004-2009 model years. In 2012, Toyota had the highest number of recalled cars.

In 2012, Toyota had the most vehicles recalled of any brand in the U.S. market, the third time it achieved that dubious distinction in four years. And it has already had 1 million vehicles recalled since the beginning of 2013.

NHTSA is also investigating approximately 724,000 Ford Fusion, Escape and  Mercury Mariner and Milan vehicles. There have been several reports of stalled vehicles or losing power.

The problem could be the result of several issues including contaminated printed circuit boards and faulty throttle body assemblies. Vehicles produced between 2009 and 2011 are involved in the investigation.

87,000, model year 2005, Honda Pilots are also under investigation by NHTSA. There have been numerous reports of braking issues with the Pilot. The entire article may be accessed here.

 

Lexus Recall

Toyota Motor Corp has issued a recall of certain model year 2013 Lexus G2 350 Sedans. There appears to be a problem with the steering which may lead to a crash.

On the affected vehicles the electronic control unit or ECU that controls the variable gear ratio of the steering system could cause the steering wheel to be off-center. In a document filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the car maker said the problem can affect the car when it is restarted after being parked with the steering wheel turned.

If this happens the driver may not realize the steering wheel is off-center, and the car may move in an unexpected direction and possibly cause a crash.

 

The recall is to affect about 663 vehicles made between December 12, 2011 and February 7, 2012. To read more click here.

Toyota Recall

Toyota is recalling 2011 RAV 4 manufactured between Nov 24, 2011 and December 19, 2011 because the wrong specification was used in the curtain airbag which may cause the airbag to fail to deploy. The safety recall is expected to begin in March 2012. Read the NHTSA release here.

Toyota recall

79 reports dating back to 2007 has prompted Toyota to initiate a recall of 550,00 cars for a steering problem.

The latest recall is due to the possibility that the outer ring of the engine's crankshaft pulley may become misaligned with the inner ring, causing noise or a warning signal to light up, the company's U.S. sales unit said in a press release. If the problem isn't corrected, the belt for the power steering pump may become detached from the pulley, making it suddenly more difficult to turn the steering wheel.

In the US the recall affects 238,000 Toyota cars, including 2004 and 2005 Camry, Highlander, Sienna, and Solara and the '04 Avalon and '06 Highlander HV. It affects 137,00 Lexus vehicles including '04 and '05 ES330 RX330 and the '06 RX400h. Read more here

As it stands now, Toyota is still fighting numerous lawsuits from the sudden acceleration issues it has faced over the past couple years.

Car Manufacturers Issue More Recalls

Ford has announced that is it is recalling 400,000 Windstar models in "cold weather" states to resolve a bracket issue which could cause the vehicle to become unstable and the driver lose control.

Ford is recalling more than 400,000 Windstar minivans in cold-weather states to fix brackets and mounts which could separate from the vehicle's subframe and could cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle.

The recall involves 425,288 minivans from the 1999-2003 model years sold or registered in 22 states and the District of Columbia. (article)

Toyota has also issued a recall today involving over 1.7 million cars.

Toyota recalled nearly 1.7 million cars worldwide Wednesday for fuel leaks, the latest in a ballooning number of quality problems that could add another dent to its tarnished reputation in the crucial U.S. market.

In one of the problems announced Wednesday, an improper installation of a sensor to measure fuel pressure may cause the sensor to loosen as a result of engine vibration over time, and possibly cause fuel leakage, the company said. That problem also affects 280,000 Lexus cars sold abroad, 255,000 of them in North America and 10,000 in Europe. (article)

If you have suffered a personal injury due to a product defect or because of another's negligence, contact the Law Office of. D. Hardison Wood today! 919.233.0520

Toyota to Face Class Action

District Judge James Selna of Santa Ana, CA made the tentative ruling from Nov 19, final allowing class action suits against Toyota to continue. Toyota and its attorneys tried to have the cases dismissed stating the plaintiffs failed to precisely plead specific losses or identify an actual defect. Judge Selna stated,

“It is true that plaintiffs do not generally allege the precise dollar value of their losses, but that level of specificity is not required at the pleadings state,” Selna said in yesterday’s ruling. “The court is convinced that a safety consideration as fundamental as whether a car is able to stop when the brakes are applied is material to consumers.”
Selna rejected Toyota’s request to dismiss a claim that the company knew of a defect in the vehicles’ electronic throttle- control system and concealed it from consumers.

‘Sufficiently Alleged’

“Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged that Toyota had exclusive knowledge of material facts not known to plaintiffs and actively concealed those facts,” Selna wrote. (More)

 

If you have suffered a personal injury from a product defect please contact the Law Office of D. Hardison Wood at 919.233.0520.

Toyota Steering Issue

Toyota has now issued yet another recall of over 400,000 Avalon and and 39,000 Lexus LX470 vehicles. Why?

The Japanese automaker announced the latest Toyota recall Thursday, after receiving reports of at least three automobile accidents involving Toyota Avalons.

Toyota is recalling 373,000 Avalons from the 2000 to 2004 model years in the U.S. due to defective steering lock bars, which could break under certain conditions.

The Lexus LX470 recall affects 39,000 vehicles, due to potentially defective construction of the luxury SUV’s steering shaft, which could cause it to disengage if the vehicle experiences an unusually severe impact to the front wheels.. Read more

 

According to the NHTSA site the steering lock could break leaving the driver unable to control the vehicle and possibly leading to a crash.

If you have become a personal injury victim due to negligence of another, contact the Law Office of D. Hardison Wood to discuss your matter. 919.233.0520.

Toyotal recalls continue...

Toyota is recalling 17,000 model year 2010 Lexus HS sedans because of a problem with its fuel tank. This new recall has prompted the company to once again suspend the sales of such vehicles.

The defect was noticed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) under a crash test. The NHTSA has found that the fuel tanks in the vehicles leak when struck from behind at 50 miles per hour. (DailyMarkets)

Not surprisingly, Toyota has claimed they have been unable to reproduce the reuslts in their own crash testing....which was what they said with the other problems they have faced. Remember Toyota had to recall

Toyota’s recall crisis evolved when it suspended sales of 8 models for recalling 2.3 million vehicles to correct sticking accelerator pedals on many of its models in late January this year.

Following that,Toyota recalled, in April, 10,000 Lexus GS and LS SUVs and another 8,300 Lexus sedans last month. Further the US fined Toyota $16.4 million. Of course, that was merely a slap on the wrist to the company that makes much more than that.

If you or a family member has been injured by a product or a vehicle, contact the Law Office of D. Hardison Wood today!

New Toyota Recalls

Toyota has announced a recall of approximately 4,500 Lexus vehicles in Japan and said it would extend that recall into the US and other countries soon.

The recall affects Toyota's luxury Lexus "LS" line and involves a computerized system that oversees how the steering wheel controls the tires. Read more

It appears the vehicles involved may have been manufactured from late August through May.The estimate for affected US cars is said to be about 4,000. Toyota has already recalled over 8 million vehicles worldwide.

Toyota Legal Evasion?

An interesting news report by the assoicated press investigates how Toyota seems to engage in evasion and other deceptive tactics in legal proceedings.

Toyota has routinely engaged in questionable, evasive and deceptive legal tactics when sued, frequently claiming it does not have information it is required to turn over and sometimes even ignoring court orders to produce key documents, an Associated Press investigation shows.

For example, in a Colorado product liability lawsuit filed by a man whose young daughter was killed in a 4Runner rollover crash, Toyota withheld documents about internal roof strength tests despite a federal judge's order that such information be produced, according to court records. The attorneys for Jon Kurylowicz now say such documents might have changed the outcome of the case, which ended in a 2005 jury verdict for Toyota. Read More

The automanufacturers and their legal team don't always seem to think the rules apply to them.

The AP reviewed numerous cases around the country in which Toyota's actions were evasive, and sometimes even deceptive, in providing answers to questions posed by plaintiffs. Court rules generally allow a person or company who is sued to object to turning over requested information; it's permitted and even expected that defense attorneys play hardball, but it's a violation to claim evidence does not exist when it does.

Suing  foreign car manufacturers is difficult on many levels. Often times they claim the difficulty of producing certain documents or people for deposition due to the fact that they are in Japan or another foreign country. Other times, they claim the documents requested do not exist, and it is very difficult to just get a court order to go in there and search for the records the plaintiff needs to prove her case.

"They've used the Pacific Ocean as a great defense to producing documents," said Graham Esdale, a lawyer in Montgomery, Ala., who has sued Toyota. "If Ford or General Motors tells you something and you don't believe that it's right, you can get a court order to go get access to the documents instead of relying on them. We can just go there and start poring through documents. We don't have that with the Japanese manufacturers."

Now having said all that, even with the difficulties we face in bringing a case against foreign manufacturers - it can be done. And frankly, our clients who have suffered harms due to negligence on the part of these companies deserve the opportunity to bring their case forward.

If you would like to discuss your potential claim, please feel free to contact us at 1-877-829-7211.

Continued SUA Complaints Hound Toyota

NHTSA is now aware of many sudden unintended acceleration SUA complaints being lodged by consumers of Toyota vehicles.  What's new right?  Well, despite Toyota's reassurances to Congress last week, the vehicles cited in these new complaints are ones that have already been fixed pursuant to the recommended recall.  Is the recall fix not working?  Is it being performed incorrectly?  Stay tuned as we bring you the latest on Toyota's sudden acceleration saga.  The Wall Street Journal has more in depth here (subscription required).

Attorneys at the Law Office of D. Hardison Wood are currently investigating a number of SUA complaints in Toyota vehicles.  If you or a loved one has been affected by a sudden acceleration, please feel free to contact us at your earliest convenience.

Liveblogging - The Toyota Hearings - Day Two

We will have analysis of day one's Toyota Testimony (available in full here) and we'll try to liveblog today's events.  Stream available here.  Some documents are becoming available and we'll post as we can.  You can always check the Committee's website too.

Chairman Towns - Opening Remarks.*.pdf

Sec. LaHood - Prepared Testimony *.pdf

Mr. Akio Toyoda - Prepared Testimony *.pdf

Mr. Yoshimi Inaba - Prepared Testimony *.pdf

Ms. Joan Claybrook - Prepared Testimony *.pdf

***MAKE SURE YOU REFRESH YOUR BROWSER FROM TIME TO TIME IF YOU ARE FOLLOWING ALONG.***

 

5:45pm - Mrs. Lastrella is testifying and it is very emotional.  I really hope Toyodasan hasn't left yet and hears this testimony.

5:32pm - It appears clear to me that the staffers on the majority at least have found lots of Tacoma instances.  That's reading between the lines folks!

5:23pm - Rep. Clay (D-MO) follows up the electronic problem question.  Mr. Toyoda has said today that he is certain the problem is not electronic.  Then why, asks Rep. Clay, are you including a software fix and did you hear the testimony yesterday saying there was an electronic problem?  FWIW, we're losing this argument in its semantics and translation issues.  Toyoda says "thus far" there is no electronic problem found.  He says he heard Dr. Gilbert's testimony, but doesn't know details.  He emphasizes this isn't about who is right or wrong, but we need to conduct more tests and extend cooperation.  Inaba says he is happy to meet with Dr. Gilbert.  Wasn't this on ABC news last folks?  They are talking about the Gilbert test like its some sort of black op or something.  Inaba says this is intended manipulation, not an unintended acceleration test.  Of course, that's the point of the test.  Come on.  This is like saying you can't prove gravity unless you're in space.

5:15pm - Rep. Kaptur (D-OH) starts by ripping into Toyoda.  "Where is the remorse" invoking the death of a Michigan woman who tried to stand on the brakes in order to stop it.  Unfortnately, Rep. Kaptur thinks NHTSA is actually NISHTA, which is a whole different thing.  She's bringing up the Toyota Way book.  "How did Toyota lose its way?  You say your company grew too fast.  Some smart lawyers gave you those words."  Sounds like a prelude to panel III.  "Isn't the Toyota way to push deregulation?"  Toyoda's response: "our people may have not kept pace with expansion."  He says he is going to transform the Toyota business.  Lots of transformation talked about today, as well as trips to Japan.  Maybe if we agree to have a transformative trip to Japan?  Some of this is really silly, and Rep. Kaptur was obviously doing her best to make sure the sober seriousness is not lost in the talking points.

5:07pm - Rep. Speier (D-CA) expresses dismay that Toyoda didn't know that NHTSA came over to Japan.  Toyoda says its true.  Speier asks for all docs, memos, etc. that came from that meeting.  He says he will do so.  Someone needs to tell the committee staffers to keep their reps asking for memos, and docs, because apparently Mr. Toyoda cannot say no.  Speier says I hope you will never use excuse that this is driver error ever again.  Yikes!  Isn't that their stated defense?  Mr. Toyoda promises to never never link customer fault going forward.  That could hurt.  Well done Rep. Speier.  Seems to have gotten some really good concessions from the witnesses late in the day.  Does Mr. Toyoda not understand that Toyota's official position is that ALL of the cases of injuries in SUAs are the result of driver error?  This is a pretty big deal that he promises never to make that argument again.

4:54pm - Toyoda agrees that NHTSA should ask manufacturers to report problems worldwide instead of just inside this country and agrees to assist in doing that.  I get the feeling that the initial testimony was vetted nearly as carefully as the talking points are being vetted.  Not sure why almost every Congressman on this panel feels the necessity to start off saying: "now I've owned Toyotas."  Or "my wife drives a Lexus" but... Are we getting ready for an "If by Toyota" speech?  Mr. Toyoda is still apologizing... and still feeling regret.  Toyoda says to the question of why it took so long to act, "we're setting up a committee."  Who said they didn't know Washington lingo?

3:44pm - Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) asks Mr. Toyoda what he's learned.  There was an interesting moment there prior to this in Inaba's Q&A about the Santee crash.   Toyoda is now speaking about what he's learned, and its hard to hear because the buzzers are going off for the next vote.  I think this is like the 3rd or 4th interruption today.

3:37pm - Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY) reps the area where Toyota's major N. American presence is located.  He's really talking about how great Toyota is, how much we've all learned from them.  And he says we all need to remember that Toyota is doing a great job here by "taking responsibility" for this and holding themselves "accountable."  We'll have more to say on this, but I haven't seen Toyota "take responsibility" for a single instance of SUA yet.  I've seen them apologize, but they haven't taken responsibility.

3:29pm - Some interesting questions about awareness of Mr. Toyoda and the problems related to SUA.  Rep. Connolly is doing the questioning here.  Says that Mr. Toyoda is contradicting Sec. LaHood's testimony.  Asks Toyoda for clarification.  Mr. Toyoda dodges, says someone else was in charge of that.  Connolly: "what did we know and when did we know it?"  Btw, the old saying from my days working on the Hill was that once they start asking that question, you're in trouble.  Asks Inaba what was meant by "secured favorable ruling" in the Toyota docs.

3:18pm - Some technical difficulties on our end... so our coverage between 2:20pm and now is kapoof.  Looks like Rep. Mica is back.  From our perspective, this testimony has been extremely boring.  Kanjorski made some great points, but we've really just been talking about how bad all this is and very little about how to fix this going forward and make sure it doesn't happen again.  Mica is just shocked, shocked to see that "no defect found" is in Toyota's list of "wins".  Not sure if Mica thinks anyone is buying this.  Inaba responds.  Once to straighten facts.  I just got on the job.  Mica points out he'd been working for Toyota 40 years.  It is a shocking statement to have this in your corporate presentation that its a "win" to kill a product defect investigation.  But I'd be surprised if other car companies don't have similar statements in similar instances.  Mr. Toyoda claims he knows nothing about such documents.  But he is upset about them.  Should not be looked at as the type of thing that Toyota endorses.  Looks like another vote is being called.  So Del. Norton is back in the chair.

2:20pm - We're back. Toyota's representatives are sworn in.  Mr. Toyoda and Mr. Inaba.  Chairman Towns begins with remarks, noting this is a voluntary appearance by Mr. Toyoda.  Giving Mr. Toyoda a little more time.  There is a translator available, though I believe Mr. Toyoda is widely known as fluent in English.  His prepared testimony is linked above, which he is reading from now.

1:07pm - We are taking a break. The testimony is still going on.  We'll be back when Mr. Toyoda begins his testimony.

***EARLIER  COVERAGE CONTINUES ON THE FLIP***

 

12:59pm - Flake yields to Issa.  Issa says the Cobalt has "far more complaints" than Toyota and wonders why we aren't moving more quickly?  Is GM not willing to do what Toyota was willing to do?  Personally, I've seen no evidence that Cobalt's have more complaints than "Toyotas".  This is an apples to oranges comparison.  LaHood agrees to stand guard on this.  Rep. Davis (D-IL) begins.

12:55pm - Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) brings back the issue of whether domestic and foreign motor companies are being looked at the same.  He argues the recall will cost Toyota billions of dollars.  He wants to be assured that there's no favoritism here.  Wants to look at the statistics of complaints and how they are dealt with.  There is a real dissonance here between the allegation that NHTSA and Toyota were "too cozy" and that at the same time, NHTSA is grilling Toyota because the government owns GM.  LaHood says absolutely positively no way we are treating them differently.

12:53pm - Back to other side of the aisle.  Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) asks LaHood why NHTSA denies petitions because they are looking at other things.  Sees NHTSA's credibility at stake.

12:46pm - Rep. Chaffetz (R-UT).  Questions about whether Toyota is being looked at the same.  Asks about the 2005-2006 GM Cobalts.  LaHood says NHTSA looks at every complaint.  Congressman wants to know why did it take so long?   Alludes to whether or not there is UAW involvement.  LaHood: "absolutely not."  This line of questioning isn't going anywhere, but Chaffetz continues.  "Why is the agency negotiating with Toyota?"  LaHood already laid out that they wanted to move quickly, so they brought the company on board rather than making it adversarial.  Now we're back to the resources question.  Wants to know why petitions are routinely denied for "lack of sufficient resources."  LaHood doesn't know about the language.  Chaffetz wants to know why there are more attorneys coming into NHTSA than engineers.  LaHood doesn't know exact numbers, will get back to put it on record precisely.  It is astonishing to me that members of this committee have absolutely no idea how NHTSA operates.  "Do you believe there is too cozy a relationship between NHTSA and the industry?"  LaHood says "No!"  Repeats that in the last 3 years there have been 23M vehicles recalled.  That is a lot of cars folks, and it makes me wonder how safe these "next generation" vehicles really are.

12:41pm - Rep. Mike Quigley (D-.IL) asks LaHood about the black box standards (EDRs).  LaHood doesn't seem to know the exact status of whats going on there.  Somebody at DOT should have briefed this issue before the testimony.  Here's a link to the FedReg notice (scroll down).  Maybe someone has an iPhone on the front row? 

12:38pm - We're back.  Rep. Duncan (R-TN) is questioning.  Toyota has a fairly large presence in Tenessee.  LaHood says they are going to hold Toyota's feet to the fire.  They aren't compromising on safety, even if there's a savings in money. 

12:30pm - 10 min. break.  LaHood will cont. after break.  Later today Mr. Toyoda will testify.

12:10pm - Del. Norton (D-DC), still chairing, asks about the "culture" of secrecy... ?  LaHood says he phoned Mr. Toyoda directly and sent his people to Japan to avoid that problem.  Norton says that apparently the culture at Toyota is that these things work themselves over time.  LaHood says the business in Toyota doesn't always hear what the folks in North America are telling them.  LaHood says that the game has changed completely with Mr. Toyoda coming here directly to testify.  Is that really a game-changer?  Don't we expect our captains of industry to come and answer the people directly?  Maybe LaHood means that in Japan, they don't expect that.  Not sure of the point of this line of questioning.  Norton wants to know how Toyota's brand got tarnished so quickly.  LaHood says: "Toyota became a little safety deaf."  Those are pretty strong words from the U.S. Sec. of Transportation.  He also says that the Japan needs to listen to North America.  Norton brings up the over-ride system.  Notes that other companies did have over-ride systems in their vehicles, but not Toyota.  Why wasn't over-ride in Toyotas?  asks Norton.  Norton wants to know why a company with such a sterling safety record wouldn't put the over-ride in to begin with.  LaHood defers to Mr. Toyoda.  Norton quotes an auto safety consultant, talking about the brake over-ride feature being a standard to be looked to.  Norton asks LaHood whether or not brake over-rides need to be in all electronic throttle controlled vehicles.  LaHood demurrers.  This is really the essential question and LaHood doesn't have a final answer.  That is strange because Toyota has already announced they will make the brake over-ride standard in their new lines.  Del. Norton asks about making EDR's openly available.  LaHood agrees.  Norton wants to know if there should be a federal standard.  Both seem to not know that in 2012 all EDRs will be opened up to consumers.  "How long will it take" asks Del. Norton.  LaHood defers again.  I bet LaHood is wondering when that vote will be over.  LaHood wants to use the restroom, requests a breather for 10 min.  We'll be back folks!!!!

12:00pm - DC Delegate Norton now chairs the session (votes going on in the House, and since DC doesn't vote, she's got the chair).  Rep. Souder (R-IN) (did he already vote?) begins.  He asks LaHood, "no vehicle is 100%?"  LaHood doesn't take the bait, thankfully.  LaHood is very animated right now.  It is refreshing in some sense to watch.  Souder asks about the suppliers, are they supplying other companies?  Is it a supplier problem?  Etc.  Toyota initially looked at one of the problems coming from an American supplier, CTS.  CTS is in Indiana, many of the workers live in Souder's district.  Rep. Souder worries that we aren't allowing the companies to fix the problem with all the hysteria.  Wonders if LaHood is concerned that the sunlight will keep manufacturers from researching the problems.  LaHood, again, doesn't take the bait.  Says he hopes the manufacturers will make cars that are safe.  Souder uses a strained analogy, lowering the speed limit on interstate highways to 30mph.  Lahood: "our job is for people who drive cars."  Says they won't rest until all the Toyotas are 100% safe.  Again, this leaves the elephant in the room... Toyotas, at least in LaHood's opinion it seems, aren't 100% safe.

11:54am -Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) begins with CBS documents.  Asks if Sec. LaHood is aware of the docs.  LaHood says no.  Says he's interested in these docs.  The electronic interference issue is "going to be" investigated by NHTSA according to LaHood.  LaHood states: "we have asked for a voluminous amount of data" from Toyota.  If they need to go to Japan to get these docs, they will.  I wonder if LaHood knows that Toyota can simply email the docs to him through YouSendIt, or a similar service.  I wonder if Kucinich knows that.  All these trips to Japan sound expensive.  Kucinich does get at the issue of why, if no electronic issue is responsible, did Toyota include a software patch in their recall fixes?  LaHood agrees to investigate fully that issue.  "Its on our radar screen"

11:49am - Inside baseball on having Administrator Strickland testify.  Rep. Mica (R-FL) begins his questions.  Says he's "baffled" by the President's request of "only $5M."  Here's a question for Rep. Mica, are you going to agree to vote for more taxes to pay for more safety engineers?  Rep. Mica wants to know how many vacancies there are at NHTSA.  More inside baseball.  He brings up the issue of "revolving door."  Mica brings up Scott Yon, another NHTSA employee working for Toyota.  Wants to know what sort of ban there is.  LaHood says its a two year ban.  Mica supports LaHood's call for tightening standards and "closing revolving door."  LaHood wants the ol' Oberstar bill to get support of the committee for transit safety. 

11:39am - Rep. Cummings (D-MD) begins.  Starts in on whether or not the Toyotas are safe.  Sec. LaHood says the cars affected by the recalls "are not safe."  "For now, any car on the website needs to go back to the dealer to be fixed.  They are not safe."  LaHood says there are people who believe there is an electronics problem in Toyotas.  But for now, the DOT doesn't have the information to say one way or the other.  States NHTSA will look at other issues.  LaHood reminds Rep. Cummings the President has proposed 66 new employees for NHTSA in the budget.

11:34am - LaHood is asked why the Adminstrator from NHTSA is not testifying... "Don't get mad at me Ray, that was the LA Times."  Rep. Burton (R-IN).  LaHood states that Strickland has been involved for about 40 days, strikes a  "buck stops with me" pose.  Rep. Burton asks about "sweetheart deal" between Toyota and former NHTSA employees.  Chris Santucci, a former NHTSA employee, and now a Toyota employee in their Washington office, is intimately involved in the Toyota recall investigations.  LaHood says they can work for Toyota (former NHTSA), but they "cannot come back and talk about things they worked on" while at the agency.  LaHood concedes that the regulation ought to be tightened up.  Burton ends: "I still love you Ray."

11:29am -Rep. Kanjorski (D-PA) begins his statements.  Commends Sec. LaHood at outset.  Wants to find a way to utilize information from around the globe that is shared by the countries and available to the world "since we're in a global marketplace."  He confesses his love of Portuguese sardines.  I'm hoping this isn't a metaphor.

11:23am - Rep. Towns beings Q&A.  Asks Sec. LaHood: "Do you think its safe to drive a Toyota today?"  LaHood doesn't answer directly.  Repeats they are going to work 24/7 until every Toyota is safe.  This leaves the question answered in the negative.  Rep. Issa asks about the NHTSA website, saying it isn't so simple to use.  LaHood agrees they need to make that information more readily available.  Rep. Issa asks Sec. LaHood about the recall in Great Britain.  Wonders whether there is some sort of alert that NHTSA can use.  LaHood agrees it should be part of it.  Wants to share more information with manufacturers.  Rep. Issa asks about the Toyota Blade (Japan only) which had a change to the pedal length.

11:11am - Chairman Towns swears the first witness, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.  Begins remarks with plea for greater authority from Congress by citing other disasters (FAA, Metro transit accident, etc.).  Talks about "distracted driving".  "I'm on a rampage" against people texting, talking on the phone, etc.  "Toyota recall situation is extremely serious."  Notes the recalls are among the largest in history.  Tells consumers to contact Toyota dealers now if experiencing problems.  Asks affected drivers to take floormats out of their car until recall fix obtained from dealer.  On the Prius, asks folks who experience change in brake response to immediately contact their dealer.  Sec. LaHood is very animated today, moreso, in my opinion, than usual.  You can tell he's upset about this, and about the criticisms levied against NHTSA.  "When there needs to be a recall, we do it."  LaHood states that NHTSA was unhappy with Toyota's response.  So they flew to Japan.  LaHood argues that by engaging Toyota directly, they (NHTSA) sped things up.  Sec. LaHood stumbles over "electro-magnetic interference."  Freudian?  Safety is top priority.  He listened to the 911 tape of the Saylor crash.  This is the Santee crash, referred to by Chairman Towns at opening.  You can learn about the Santee tragedy here.  "We will not sleep at DOT and we will work 24/7 at NHTSA to make sure every Toyota is safe to drive."

11:05am - Issa opens with his statements.  Asks that Rep. from KY be allowed to attend.  Kentucky his home to one of the largest Toyota manufacturing plants outside of Japan.  Rep. Issa shows a slide "From Recall to Recovery" showing big recalls from different industries.  "We judge them ... by how quickly they respond."  "Today we will be asking Mr. Toyoda as to whether they are a good company or a great company."  "Prior to today we cannot say that Toyota was a great company."  Shows a second slide.  Its a brief timeline of the SUA investigation and complaints.  Issa questions whether NHTSA did all the could, as well as whether Toyota did all they could. 

11:00am - Chairman Towns (D-NY) opens with emotional quotes from SUA crash.  He notes serious questions of whether or not NHTSA used all available tools to investigate the problem.  Expresses his own personal doubts since former NHTSA employees were hired by Toyota.  He also points out that Toyota officials bragged about closing down NHTSA investigation.  Alleges Toyota withheld information from NHTSA during Prius recall investigation as well.  "NHTSA failed the taxpayers.  Toyota failed their customers."  "We now have 39 deaths attributed to sudden acceleration."  He recalls the Pinto explosions from the 1970s, noting only 27 deaths occurred in those Fords.  "Can the American people trust NHTSA...?"  He yields to Rep. Issa (R-CA). 

Toyota Tacomas - Part of Recall

And yet another Toyota recall....Toyota announced that approximately 8,000 Tacoma pick up trucks (MY 2010)are being recalled. This recall is a result of a problem with the front propellar shaft, once again, a problem that can cause the vehicle to lose control.

The automaker told dealers Friday that a crack could develop that could lead to the front driveshaft separating and falling from the truck, causing the vehicle to lose control. (Read the story)

If you have been affected by the massive recalls and problems found in this and other vehicles please feel free to contact our firm to discuss your matter. 1-877-829-7211.

More Toyota Recalls

Toyota is facing a mounting pile of problems to mend in 2010. Due to the rising number of recalls, and the dangerous nature of these defective products, Toyota customers are wise to stay informed and up-to-date as to the status of their vehicle.

The following are the latest two recalls from Toyota:

-Toyota Camry 2010 models are being recalled due to a series of insufficient parts which, under certain circumstances, could puncture the brake tube, impacting the vehicle’s braking capabilities and increasing the risk of a crash. There are 7,314 potentially affected vehicles.

Toyota will notify owners of potentially affected vehicles, and if needed, dealers will replace or adjust the faulty brake tube at no charge. Owners may contact Toyota at 1-800-331-4331.

The full recall summary can be found here.

-Toyota is also recalling approximately 148,549 2010 Prius and Lexus models. These vehicles have braking inconsistencies, leading to increased stopping distances, which creates the potential for a crash. The remedy will require a rewrite of the ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) control program, and will be free of charge to customers.

Owners may contact Toyota at 1-800-331-4331 or Lexus at 1-800-255-3987 for more information. Owners may also call the NHTSA’s Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 or visit www.safercar.gov.

A full summary of this recall can be viewed here.

If you have suffered injuries as a result of the malfunctioning vehicles listed above, or from any of the many recent Toyota recalls, please contact our office immediately at 1-877-829-7211 to discuss your potential case.

/ab

Breaking News: Toyota's Latest Recall

 

Yesterday, Toyota announced a voluntary recall  of an additional 2.3 million vehicles due to “isolated reports of sticking accelerator pedal mechanisms…”.

This announcement follows on the heels of Toyota’s recall of 3.8 million Lexus and Toyota vehicles for floor mat design that interferes with accelerator pedals and can result in stuck throttles.

 

 

Though Toyota’s announcement in no way implicates the earlier, larger recall, it is obvious that the reports of sudden acceleration are causing problems at the world’s largest car manufacturer.

It appears Toyota’s public stance on sudden acceleration in their vehicles is coming full circle. Ever since late 2002 and early 2003, there have been documented reports of Toyota vehicles experiencing sudden unintended acceleration. Many can be found here

Initially, some calibration corrections to the electronic control module were recommended by the company in a low profile TSB, though Toyota insisted these instances were isolated. Some real time context for these issues can be reviewed at the Edmunds.com Toyota Camry forum  (which dates back well into 2003). Car owners on that forum reported many instances of “surging” in the V6 engine in the summer of ’03.

Then from 2004-2005 a series of investigations are launched by NHTSA’s ODI. Toyota’s nearly uniform response to each of these investigations is that there is no defect, but by mid-2006, Toyota starts to look at changes to the carpet floor covering on their Highlander and Lexus RX vehicles.

This view, that perhaps the floor covering or other outside interference with the pedal is causing these reports, becomes Toyota’s position throughout 2007 and includes Toyota sending notice to its Lexus dealers about instructing consumers on proper floor mat us. In September of 2007, this view crystallizes when Toyota issues 55,000 vehicle recall of Toyota and Lexus models equipped with optional all weather floor mats.

From September of 2007, until just yesterday, Toyota’s public position has been resolute: any instances of stuck accelerators were likely caused by floor mat entrapment.

But yesterday’s recall mentions nothing about floor mats, nothing about carpet covering, and deals precisely with the inner workings of the accelerator pedal. How much longer will it be until Toyota comes full circle and looks at the electronics involved in the throttle control as it started to way back in 2003? We don’t know, but we do know that reports  of sudden  unintended  acceleration continue  to pop up in vehicles equipped with electronic throttles. And though this problem appears to be affecting Toyota’s more than the general population of vehicles, it is a problem that is becoming serious.

Currently we are investigating several reports of “engine surge” or “sudden acceleration” in Toyotas and other model vehicles. Sadly, several of these cases involve serious injury to the occupants. If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident caused by sudden acceleration of their vehicle, please ask them to contact the Law Office of D. Hardison Wood.

Safety Tips:

What do you do as a driver if your Toyota suddenly accelerates?

First, you must remember something very important about the design of Toyotas. They do not, for the most part, include a safety mechanism that cuts the engine to idle when accelerators and brakes are depressed simultaneously. So the brakes alone will likely not be enough to slow down the car. If the unexpected does happen, here are some safety tips on how to deal with the situation.

  1.  Firmly depress and hold the brake pedal down.
  2. NEVER pump the brakes. This will cause your brakes to lose whatever minimal stopping power they may have had.
  3. Shift your vehicle into neutral.
  4. Once the vehicle comes to a stop, immediately turn the ignition off and safely exit.

 

Toyota Recall

Toyota will be recalling nearly 3.8 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles. The report cites this recall will be in an effort to fix a safety problem where floor mats are jamming the accelerator. The unsecured floor mats are allegedly either getting caught or somehow jamming the accelerator to a point where the vehicles are speeding out of control. Some of these vehicles have led to horrible crashes killing innocent occupants. A recent crash has finally prompted Toyota to take some action according to NHTSA. Of course it remains to be seen if it truly is the floor mats causing these problems or if it possible there are other issues with these vehicles.

The impending U.S. recall, the largest in Toyota's ( TM - news - people ) history, followed a horrific crash last month in San Diego in which a mat was suspected of snagging a gas pedal on a runaway Lexus, ending with a fiery crash that killed four family members.

The recall will invlove the following models:

The affected vehicles include 2007-2010 Camry, 2005-2010 Avalon, 2004-2009 Prius, 2005-2010 Tacoma, 2007-2010 Tundra, 2007-2010 Lexus ES 350 and 2006-2010 Lexus IS 250 and IS350

To read the entire article click here.

Toyota Highlander Recall

Seat belts can save your life if they work. 90,000 2008 Toyota Highlanders and Toyota Highlander hybrids are being recalled due to the fact that the seat belts' locking mechanisms failing.
The locking mechanism on the seat belts apparently cannot secure properly when certain rear-facing child safety seats are used, which could cause the child seats to move, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported on Friday. Read More
If you have been affected by a seat belt failure or any other mechanism defect, please report it the NHTSA. If our law firm can be of  any assistance please do not hesitate to  contact us.




Toyota - Unintended Acceleration

The Office of Defect Investigation (ODI) at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is looking into a report that a Toyota Sienna accelerated without explanation.

 According to the report,
Safety regulators said that field data “indicates that when a retainer pin is missing from the driver's side center stack/console trim panel, the panel can detach from the console and the accelerator pedal can become entrapped under the trim panel causing unwanted acceleration.”
The ODI is launching this  investigation to determine if  more vehicles are affected. It is so  vital that consumer report such defects and problems to the  ODI so investigations such as this may be conducted.
Read the story

2007 Toyota Tacoma Under Investigation

There have been a number of cases where there has been unexplained acceleration when the drivers have said they had hit the brakes.  
A nationwide investigation by the Channel 4 I-team found complaints about the 2007 Toyota Tacoma that included mysterious acceleration even when drivers said they hit the brakes.

Channel 4 found a growing number of drivers who have had problems with the vehicle, which has prompted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to start conducting tests on the model.
Of course the initial  reaction  on the car company's  part would be want to  blame it on driver error.  But of important  note :
But even Toyota found a problem unrelated to driver error in other models. During the course of this Channel 4 investigation, Toyota announced an equipment recall for "all weather floor mats" in the 2007 and 2008 Camry and Lexus 350 automobiles. Toyota said that those floor mats could come loose and slip onto the gas pedal.
As this story says, many drivers will never even report the problem, and simply get rid of the truck.  It is important  that if  there is an issue with the  vehicle, it be reported, not just forgotten. The reports are necessary to ensure a thorough investigation occurs in order to remedy the situation if there truly is a product defect.
Read the entire story.