Tag Archive | "safety recall"

Chrysler Recalls Dodge, Jeep Vehicles for Pedal Flaw

Chrysler Group LLC recalled almost 35,000 Dodge and Jeep vehicles for accelerator pedals that may become stuck, Bloomberg reported.

The pedals in Dodge Calibers and Jeep Compasses for the 2007 model year were made by CTS Corp., the Elkhart, Ind.-based company that supplied similar parts in Toyota Motor Corp.’s cars. The recall covers 34,614 Calibers and 90 Compasses, with 73 percent in the U.S., Chrysler said in a statement.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said last month it was investigating Chrysler’s vehicles after five consumers reported pedals became stuck while driving. NHTSA said this week it is investigating Ford Motor Co. cars for pedals that may become stuck on floor mats. Toyota has ordered record recalls for pedals that were sticky or became trapped by mats, contributing to unintended acceleration.

The recalled Chrysler vehicles have electronic throttle control technology, the company said in a June 3 letter to NHTSA. The software is intended to stop cars when both the accelerator and brake are applied. Chrysler is based in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

Chrysler said it isn’t aware of any accidents or injuries related to the pedal defect.

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Toyota Stops Sale of Lexus LS as it Awaits Part

Toyota Motor Corp. has stopped sales of the Lexus LS sedan for about three weeks while it works to get parts to dealers to fix a problem with the vehicle’s steering system, The Associated Press reported.

Toyota on Friday recalled about 3,800 2009 and 2010 LS 460 and LS 600h sedans in the United States to fix a problem in which the steering wheel briefly shifts out of alignment with the wheels when it is turned to the extreme right or left and then quickly re-centered, such as in a tight U-turn. Toyota said it will remedy the problem by replacing the computer processor in the vehicle’s variable gear ratio steering system.

Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons said Lexus dealers will stop selling the LS until they receive the new computer chips for installation. The new parts are likely to begin arriving in mid-to-late June, he said.

Toyota has recalled about 4,500 LS sedans in Japan and 2,750 elsewhere around the world due to the same problem. The LS is Lexus’s highest-end four-door sedan and is priced at $65,380 for the 460 and $108,800 for the 600h hybrid model.

Toyota has sold about 4,000 LS sedans in the U.S. so far this year, accounting for about 6 percent of all Lexus sales. Vehicles covered by the recall were built between Aug. 28 and May 18. LS models produced outside that window do not experience the problem and are available for sale, Lyons said, adding that LS models are currently coming off the production line with the fix already installed.

Lexus builds all of the LS models at its Tahara plant in central Japan.

The automaker has been working to react faster to problems after coming under government scrutiny and being slapped with a record $16.4 million U.S. fine for its slow response to accelerator pedal recalls that affected more than 8 million Toyota vehicles worldwide. The automaker is also facing hundreds of state and federal lawsuits.

Toyota’s safety concerns have triggered the first major review of U.S. auto safety laws in Congress since the large tire recalls by Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. in 2000.

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Toyota to Fix 34,000 Vehicles Worldwide

TOKYO – Toyota will offer the same fix for stability control programming it has announced for the Lexus GX 460 in North America to vehicles in other regions, affecting 34,000 vehicles worldwide, the Japanese automaker said Tuesday.

Toyota Motor Corp. will update the stability-control software program to reduce the risk of vehicles sliding in some Land Cruiser Prado vehicles, as well as the Lexus GX 460, sold in other regions, The Associated Press reported.

The move to expand the measures to other regions follows Toyota’s recall in North America and its agreement Monday to a record $16.4 million fine in the U.S., levied for a slow response in earlier recalls.

Toyota has been fighting to regain its once-sterling reputation amid a spate of recalls, which have ballooned to more than 8 million vehicles worldwide, needing fixes for faulty gas pedals, defective floor mats and braking software problems.

Toyota has also been trying to be quicker. The latest global fix comes less than a week after Consumer Reports, an influential U.S. magazine, issued a warning about the Lexus GX 460 sport utility vehicle, saying it may be prone to rollovers.

The automaker said it will carry out similar fixes in Europe and the Middle East to what is involved in the North American recall.

The vehicles requiring the update are 13,000 GX 460 vehicles — 9,400 of them in the U.S., 1,000 in Russia and 1,000 in Oman.

Also affected are some types of left-hand-drive Land Cruiser Prado models. Those models total 21,000 globally, including 4,400 in Oman, 4,000 in Russia and 1,500 in the United Arab Emirates, according to Toyota.

Toyota said the vehicles could slide sideways when turning sharply at high speeds, partly because the fuel tank and the presence of the driver may make the left side of a vehicle heavier.

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Toyota Hid Pedal Defect, Violating Law, U.S. Says

Toyota Motor Corp. “knowingly hid a dangerous defect” that caused its vehicles to accelerate unexpectedly, the U.S. said, for the first time accusing the world’s largest automaker of breaking the law, Bloomberg reported.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood proposed a record civil penalty of $16.4 million, the most the government can impose. The fine recommended yesterday escalates the confrontation between Toyota and LaHood, who initially praised the carmaker for its handling of recalls the company attributed to faulty accelerator pedals.

The fine was announced the week after Toyota reported U.S. sales rose 41 percent in March, signaling the company may be recovering from global recalls of more than 8 million vehicles. Toyota waited at least four months before telling U.S. regulators that gas pedals might stick, LaHood said in a statement yesterday. Companies have five business days to report safety defects, the Transportation Department said.

The department’s action showed “safety matters and they’re going to be tough as nails,” Joan Claybrook, a former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said in an interview. “That’s very appropriate. They caught Toyota red- handed.”

The Toyota City, Japan-based carmaker’s American depositary receipts, each equal to two ordinary shares, fell 42 cents to $80.84 at 4:02 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. They have declined 3.9 percent this year.

“We now have proof that Toyota failed to live up to its legal obligations,” LaHood said in the statement. “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.”

The U.S. investigation and review of documents provided by Toyota is continuing and may discover additional safety violations that lead to more penalties, LaHood said today at a news conference at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

“This is the first thing that we have found,” he said of the delayed disclosure about sticky pedals. “It may not be the last thing.”

Toyota received a letter from NHTSA yesterday asking for the fine, Mieko Iwasaki, a Tokyo-based spokeswoman for the carmaker, said by phone today.

“We are considering how to respond to it,” Iwasaki said. “Toyota is working toward making safe, reliable and high- quality cars to satisfy our customers and responding sincerely to customers’ comments.”

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Toyota Owners File 60 Complaints After Recall Fixes

More than 60 owners have complained of unintended acceleration in their Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles after dealer repairs under the automaker’s recalls, Bloomberg reported.

“We are determined to get to the bottom of this,” David Strickland, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said in e-mailed statement yesterday. NHTSA had reported 10 such complaints a day earlier.

The agency questioned whether Toyota has fixed the defects that caused unintended acceleration. The Toyota City, Japan- based automaker, the world’s largest, has recalled about 8 million vehicles worldwide to reshape and replace gas pedals.

“If it appears that a remedy provided by Toyota is not addressing the problem it was intended to fix, NHTSA has the authority to order Toyota to provide a different solution,” the agency said in its e-mailed statement.

Toyota started interviewing vehicle owners soon after receiving the complaints on repaired cars from NHTSA, the carmaker said in an e-mailed statement.

“Although most of these reports have yet to be verified, Toyota has been and remains committed to investigating all reported incidents of sudden acceleration in its vehicles quickly,” the company said.

Lawmakers asked Toyota to provide more information about tests it commissioned on whether the defect stemmed from an electronics glitch. Toyota has said a study found that the electronic throttle-control systems performed as designed.

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Toyota Sued Over Deaths in High-visibility California Crash

LOS ANGELES – Relatives of a California state trooper and three family members whose fatal car wreck helped spark Toyota’s wide-ranging safety recall have sued the automaker for defects they say caused the vehicle to speed out of control and crash, Reuters reported.

The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in San Diego Superior Court, was the latest in a wave of product-liability cases and other legal action brought against Toyota Motor Corp. over complaints of sudden, unintended acceleration in its vehicles.

But the Aug. 28 crash near San Diego of a Lexus ES 350 sedan driven by off-duty California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor drew intense media attention and renewed government scrutiny of safety problems that led to the recall of some 8.5 million Toyota vehicles worldwide.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda, grandson of the company’s founder, extended his condolences to the Saylor family in an apology he delivered to a congressional hearing last week.

Saylor was driving his wife, their 13-year-old daughter, and his brother-in-law on a family outing when their car “began to accelerate on its own” and sped out of control despite Saylor’s attempts “to apply the brakes and otherwise do everything possible to stop” the car, the lawsuit says.

The car reached speeds of up to 120 miles per hour before it struck another vehicle, plowed through a fence, hit a berm and flew through the air, then rolled several times into a field and burst into flames.

The family’s final moments before impact were captured in the recording of a frantic 911-emergency cell phone call placed by Saylor’s brother-in-law, Christopher Lastrella, in which he is heard telling the dispatcher, “Our accelerator is stuck … We’re in trouble … there is no brakes.”

Others in the car are heard saying, “hold on” and “pray” as the call ended, the lawsuit said.

The suit names Toyota, its U.S. division and other corporate entities as defendants, along with the Lexus dealership where Saylor was given the doomed car as a “loaner vehicle” while his own Lexus was being serviced.

Although the suit makes no specific allegations as to the root cause of the unintended acceleration, it says the car in question “was defective when it left the control of each defendant” and that “adequate warnings of the danger were not given.” The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages on behalf of the parents of Saylor and his wife.

Toyota officials have said they do not comment on pending litigation.

San Diego County Sheriff’s investigators concluded the crash likely was caused by the gas pedal becoming stuck in an all-weather rubber floor mat designed for a larger vehicle but placed by the Lexus dealership in the sedan loaned to Saylor.

But the accident report said “other avenues of unintended acceleration could not be explored,” mechanical or electrical, due to catastrophic damage to the vehicle.

The report also revealed that another driver who had been loaned the same car a few days earlier told investigators the vehicle raced out of control on him when the gas pedal jammed in the floor mat, which he managed to free after placing the gear shift into neutral.

He complained to a dealership receptionist when he returned the car, the receptionist told investigators she alerted the detail specialist on duty, but the detailer claimed never to have received such a complaint, the report said.

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