NHTSA released some documents last month that are extremely damaging to Toyota’s claims that it has never hidden anything from the federal government concerning its safety issues. Letters sent by Toyota to NHTSA in 2004 and 2005 were made public. These letters raised questions from both federal investigators and victims’ lawyers about whether the company was hiding safety defects and misleading regulators.
NHTSA opened an investigation into whether Toyota gave the agency timely notification of steering problems with nearly 1 million 4Runner SUVs, T100 pickups and Toyota trucks before starting a September 2005 recall in the U.S. Toyota had received 41 complaints from U.S. customers about fatigue cracks in the steering relay rods before October 2004. That’s the month the company began its Japan recall of comparable Hilux and Hilux Surf vehicles for similar reasons. It’s evident that Toyota knew of several dozen U.S. complaints at least 10½ months before beginning a U.S. recall. Automakers are required by law to notify NHTSA within five business days of safety defects. Here is what Toyota (TMC) told NHTSA in its 2004-05 letters:
Both letters were signed by Toyota Motor North America Vice President Chris Tinto, who previously had worked for NHTSA. The Toyota letters were obtained in litigation against the automobile maker and turned over to NHTSA. A lawyer involved in a lawsuit against Toyota made a request to NHTSA, calling for an investigation into “the wide chronological gaps and apparent falsehoods Toyota has provided.” Now NHTSA’s document request to Toyota includes all consumer complaints, field reports, and crash reports before both recalls. No one should be surprised if Mr. Tinto and a number of his subordinates find themselves in front of a Congressional panel again before long. This company has a history of safety issues, and also it now appears to have a history of hiding what it had to know from NHTSA as well as from the public.
Source: Automotive News
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.