By on July 20, 2010

So when you thought things at Toyota are getting back to normal, what with NHTSA backpedaling on their ghost in the machine busting attempts, here comes a biggie: A federal grand jury in New York served Toyota with a subpoena, seeking information relating to defects in its steering relay rods. Fancy lawyers call that a subpoena duces tecum, and charge more. The Washington Post reckons this might  “potentially widen an investigation that began with reports of sudden unintended acceleration.”

This is the second subpoena from a federal grand jury this year that landed on Toyota’s desk. Of course, Toyota “and its subsidiary are sincerely cooperating with authorities on the probe,” Toyota said in a statement. What else should they say?

According to the Post, this is most likely in conjunction with the NHTSA’s announcement in May that it was investigating whether Toyota had delayed telling authorities of a defect in their steering relay rods. It smells like another $16m ….

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24 Comments on “Toyota Is Being Served Again...”


  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    “It smells like another $16m…”

    And well it should…

  • avatar
    Geo. Levecque

    Another witch hunt I would think, makes Lawyers rich and the public not so safe reality wise!

    • 0 avatar
      Invisible

      Yeah, people and blogs love a good witch hunt. Some blogs will totally ignore recalls by GM and refuse to discuss them (autolies), even banning forum members that attempt to discuss a GM recall.

      But give them a good Toyota story, and they will blog and blog about that.

      Let’s get all the village idoits to grab their torches…..here is an idea, grab some signs and get the UAW to picket outside Toyota dealerships.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      Good stuff guys.. I figured three, maybe four comments before we saw “witch hunt” you guys did in two.

    • 0 avatar
      Stingray

      To the Toyota fanboys, get used to the idea that your beloved “deity” is just another carmaker, and so their cars have defects (are not perfect), use petrol or gas, pollute, are guzzlers (Tundra, 4Runner and Sequoia for example) and want to make money while doing so. Just like the rest.

    • 0 avatar
      Canuck129

      Just like the rest? What part of the way Toyota has been handled in the media in the past 6 months has been “just like the rest”?

  • avatar
    wmba

    What on earth is a steering relay rod anyway? Try going to a mechanic and asking for new ones! Must mean drag links, surely.

    Yup, I agree, this is another case of Toyota’s corporate culture being more important to them than following the law on recalls. They’re so conservative they won’t get out and fix something until they’re 100% sure there’s a problem. Not a socially friendly way of operating while their vehicles crash.

    Time to get those boys back into the limelight for a good telling off. Plus a huge fine to try to force some movement approximating life and interest in the safety of their customers.

    Otherwise, off with their heads, I say.

    The UA incidents may not be their fault, but the terribly slow response to real problems certainly is, and it’s just not good enough.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    From my reading on this issue, Toyota didn’t report what they needed to in time. If Toyota needs to get fined for not reporting its issues in a timely fashion, I have no problem with them getting fined, or any other auto manufacture as well.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      Consistency is key. Did GM wait to long to recall Cobalts/G5s with electric power-steering issues? I don’t know the answer to the question I’m just saying that all manufacturers need to be treated the same way.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      I completely agree. All manufactures should be treated the same. My understanding for this Toyota recall, Toyota waited about a year for a recall in the US when it recalled the same vehicle elsewhere.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Compared to the half billion dollar fine Goldman Sachs just agreed to for misleading customers, Toyota is getting off cheap.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    I guess how many of those recalls we are going to see this year.

    Someone with free time and Google can find gems like this one for example

    Cracked FJ Cruiser bodies. I saw the problem in person here (after having seen it in the interwebz like 2 years ago).

  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    I just find it amazing that when I reported a GM recall, everyone chose to fudge the issue by asking why TTAC was reporting on recalls.

    Yet, come a Toyota recall, we get everyone curiously sticking to the topic in hand with very little deviation….

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/gm-to-recall-1-3-million-cobaltg5s/

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Because the once strict “no recalls” rule has been rescinded apparently.

      I can see the need to either do or do not report on recalls, but I think the issue you’re posing is the lack of consistency in the rules.

      The Toyota SUA situation was so large, that it would be impossible to NOT report on that recall. There would be no way to maintain the reputation of the site without reporting on that. However, there seems to be a lack of consistency on what (recalls) to report on, but only the editorial staff can address that.

      Edit: I went back to see some of the older links, and in the one referenced by Cammy (about the Cobalt steering recall), Herr Niedermeyer stated that they would use editorial discretion (paraphrasing here) concerning recalls. Fair enough, it’s his right to do so.

      I guess my confusion stems from a posting long ago by RF stating that the site wouldn’t cover recalls unless it was something unusual (paraphrasing again).

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I think the difference is that TTAC is reporting on the subpoena and not the recall. If Toyota has a problem with regulatory compliance, then, well, fair game.

      Where TTAC deviates from other sites is that the discussion hasn’t devolved to the “Hur, hur, TOY-yota, hurrr…” level.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @psar: “Where TTAC deviates from other sites is that the discussion hasn’t devolved to the “Hur, hur, TOY-yota, hurrr…” level.”

      Not yet. But it will.

      While this has never been an entirely philosophical-debate level type of website, there are some posters here with a definite pathology. Depending upon the subject, the usual suspects show up (myself included).

      All I’m saying, is we need to police ourselves, or fall into the trap of the other sites…

      Edit: Crap, this is what I get for posting from work… I missed a complete thought before my last sentence…

      Some posters have been especially bad, and I don’t seem to recall such a level of posting in the past. As the site gets more exposure, the community on this site will change and unless we take care of it ourselves, it will likely degenerate.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Depending upon the subject, the usual suspects show up (myself included).

      I’ll agree, and I’m just as guilty. I think there’s a distinction, though, between whipping out our respective ideological battle-axes periodically and the knuckle-dragging you see elsewhere.

      Personally, I don’t mind the segues into politics; I think it’s fair and part of the site’s character, but I see your point about the occasional devolution of discussion. I think it’s plateaued, though, and the current level reflects the masthead’s tolerance levels.

      It’s part of why I don’t agree with the “keep politics out of it” sentiment. Exclude the politics, or allow the political discussion to get stuck at Shrub/Obozo levels, and I think it abets the problem. Keep it high-brow and ignore the chaff and I think it polices itself.

      More or less.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @psar: I’m not really referring to the political views; I’m not really a fan of them, but it’s not enough to make me leave.

      I’ve recently seen a number of wordy posts (more like rants) that remind me of the type of posts you’d see on some of the other blogs. Of course, I have no idea how you would (as site owner or admin) police this kind of thing.

      But I have noticed a difference in the level of posting lately.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Honestly, my personal opinion was that the GM recall was only reported here because of the Toyota SUA incidents and debating which one was worse. Again, my personal opinion of why that one was reported.

      But, the question is, what makes a recall noteworthy? There have been recalls about cables not holding spare tires in place, but no mention of it here. I think it is interesting that the manufacture who is handling this recall seems to be releasing the recalls for this part separately by model, which keeps it from being a very large recall, going with a few smaller recalls.

      My question is, and remains to be, what makes a recall worthy of reporting? Don’t forget, the heated washer fluid GM recall was also reported.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    NHTSA paperwork glitches are not the same as design flaws.

    Toyota will dodge this bullet. Their buying demographic is more research based than others and their resale values kill the competition.

    Also, they’ve got more money than god to protect the Toyota brand. Which they do well. Remember, there never was a “Bill Heard” Toyota.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I would agree that there are few dealers as notorious as Bill Heard was, but that does not mean that the existing dealers are not some variation on the Bill Heard model.

      I would suggest speaking to Toyota owners about their dealer experiences, I find that many people like the cars, but detest the dealers.

      The odd thing is, I find the same thing with the salespeople.

      An acquaintance of mine worked for the local PBG store before spending a couple of years at the local Toyota store. When he came back to the PBG store, we compared notes. Sadly, little has changed in the ~20 years I’ve been away from selling directly (I’m no longer involved in the auto industry directly), his complaints about the way the sales staff was treated were the same as mine. (I should note, we worked for entirely different dealers, different parts of the US and almost 20 years apart).

      I spoke to him recently, even with the loss of the Pontiac, he’s still claims he’s happier selling Buicks and GMCs than he ever was selling Toyotas.

      Your mileage may vary.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I would suggest speaking to Toyota owners about their dealer experiences, I find that many people like the cars, but detest the dealers.

      I believe Mr. Karesh made similar points in a recent editorial.

      Most people know that it’s testament to Saturn that they had customer satisfaction scores exceeding Lexus’ while selling some pretty poor product. The flip-side is Toyota, whose product allowed them to get away with some pretty mediocre dealers.

      I’m surprised that no one else (especially Toyota via Scion) in the commodity vehicle market has chosen to follow the Saturn model. It failed because the cars sucked and because GM hamstrung it; that it took so long to fail was because of the dealership experience.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      “NHTSA paperwork glitches are not the same as design flaws. Toyota will dodge this bullet.”

      Speaking only of the relay rods: When did failed metallurgy, manufacturing, quality, and responsibility for timely reaction (i.e. reporting and actual recall) become just another “paperwork glitch”?

    • 0 avatar
      Canuck129

      Robert.Walter

      When has the latter ever not been manipulated…. by NHTSA or any car company?


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