The NHTSA is launching an investigation to ascertain whether Toyota delayed their notifying investigators of a known defect on compact trucks in Japan back in 2005. The trucks were later recalled in the U.S. for a steering rod issue. The Japanese recall was issued in 2004, but the issue lies in the allegation that Toyota told the NHTSA that it had received no complaints about the problem from American consumers, and that certain operational conditions meant that the Japanese problem didn”t exist in the U.S. market.
The NHTSA has obtained documents through a private lawsuit that showed that Toyota had actually received a number of complaints on the issue, and this was not shared with the NHTSA.
“Safety is our number one priority and we take our responsibility to protect U.S. consumers seriously,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. “With new assurances from Toyota about their efforts to improve safety, I hope for their cooperation in getting to the bottom of what happened.”
A Toyota spokesperson has said that the company intends full cooperation with the NHTSA”s investigation. Federal regulations require automakers to inform the agency within five days of the determination of a safety defect, and failure to do so can result in a fine of up to $16.4 million, which Toyota recently paid for concerns tied to another recall.
-By: Stephen Calogera