Toyota waited nearly a year in 2005 to recall trucks and SUVs in the United States with defective steering rods, despite issuing a similar recall in Japan and receiving dozens of reports from American motorists about rods that snapped without warning, according to documents recently obtained by the Associated Press. The lengthy gap between the Japanese and U.S. recalls – strikingly similar to Toyota’s handling of the recent recall for sudden acceleration problems – triggered a new investigation in May by NHTSA.
It isn’t clear whether NHTSA will order a timeliness investigation. An automaker is required to notify NHTSA about a defect within five days of determining that one exists. I’m not sure what more NHTSA needs. NHTSA now has linked 16 crashes, three deaths and seven injuries to the steering rod defect. When a steering rod snaps, the driver cannot control the vehicle because the front wheels will not turn.
After the 2004 Japanese recall, Toyota claimed initially that it had very little evidence of a steering rod problem among U.S. trucks and SUVs. But the AP found that the automaker had received at least 52 reports from U.S. drivers about the defect before vehicles were recalled in Japan. It’s interesting – and perhaps telling – that the Associated Press seems to be doing a better job than NHTSA.
Source: Associated Press
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