By on June 14, 2010

A lawsuit brought in California against Toyota led to the disclosure of allegedly damning documents that could cost Toyota another huge fine if the documents contain what the lawyers say. Unless lawyers (or the media) were asleep at the wheel. According to USA Today, these documents “point to possible delays involving an earlier safety issue, one that could result in loss of steering control.” USA Today says records that are part of the lawsuit show that Toyota was dealing with cracking and breaking steering relay rods in the U.S. for at least 11 years before it recalled 330,000 pickups and SUVs in Japan to replace the rods — and 12 years before its 2005 recall of nearly a million similar trucks in the U.S.

Sounds kind of familiar. I’m not suffering from Alzheimer yet, so let’s go on a fact-finding mission to the TTAC archives …

In April, Toyota was slapped with a $16.4m fine for delaying a recall due to defective accelerator pedals. Toyota paid without an admission of wrongdoing.  Then, the DOT said there could be a second fine, based on the theory that there were two separate defects in the pedals. In May, while Ray LaHood visited the Toyota headquarters, the DOT said that they are looking into a third fine, this time for the Hilux Surf that was recalled in Japan in 2004, but was recalled only a year later in the U.S. This was about steering rods that were subject to fatigue, cracks and breaks.

That sounds very much like what the lawyers unearthed in California.

Says USA Today today: “Now NHTSA — which accepted Toyota’s assertion after the 2004 steering rod recall in Japan that U.S. action was not needed — has opened a probe demanding that Toyota explain why it waited nearly a year to recall the compact pickups, 4Runner SUVs and T-100 pickups in the U.S. to fix the rods.”

As a matter of fact, the NHTSA had opened the probe months ago, but nobody is checking anymore. The press is just blindly writing what lawyers feed them. There is no mention of a fresh probe into Toyota on the NHTSA website. The NHTSA usually is not shy about these matters.

On May 10, 2010, NHTSA announced: “NHTSA Opens Investigation into Timeliness of 2005 Toyota Steering Relay Rod Recall.”  Ever since: Nothing. Cognoscenti will remember that the Hilux is sold as the 4Runner stateside.  Lawyers may not know that.

Nobody in the press thought it worthy of digging into this matter. Instead, everybody printed reams of warmed-over stories that sound like they were written by a lawyer.

In the computer age, it took us 10 minutes to find out that they were fed news that was more than a month old. They swallowed it. Can you get food poisoning from news that exceeded its shelf life? Lawyers should look into this.

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5 Comments on “New Record Fine Against Toyota? Or Record Fail Of Lawyers And Media?...”


  • avatar
    cdotson

    Shock and surprise: Journalists in the mainstream media caught phoning it in.

    If they’d been doing their danged jobs over the past decade we wouldn’t *need* sites such as “the Truth about” anything.

    Semi-related note, I once followed a Mexico-tagged Hilux down the local highways near Richmond, VA just a couple miles from my house. It looked surprisingly out of place and distinctive despite being a silver 4-door short bed 4×4. Still suffered from a grandpa beltline which must have helped it blend in.

  • avatar
    eamiller

    This sounds similar to a problem with the media that I noticed concerning the GM Microheat washer fluid recall.

    GM had already recalled a portion of those vehicles in 2008 and ceased equipping vehicles with the Microheat system. The fix was an inline fuse in the harness to prevent overheating.

    Now it seems GM is recalling those vehicles plus another 900k-ish. Nobody in the media noticed this at all, yet when I put in “GM Microheat recall” into Google, it was one of the first articles listed. I’m assuming this means that GM did not recall enough of the vehicles earlier AND/OR that the recall fix didn’t work.

    I did submit this to TTAC, but nobody has gotten back with me.

  • avatar
    john.fritz

    Did that smashed bus say “Smash” on the side of it? Now that kind of irony will hurt ya.

  • avatar
    CyCarConsulting

    Half the price you pay for a car, goes to feeding lawyers.


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