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Toyota Secretly Bought Back Defective Cars, Claims Lawsuit

Maker denies it hid defects.

by on Oct.29, 2010

Revised lawsuit cites internal documents, including one in which a Toyota tech experienced unexplained problems with a 2009 Tacoma.

Toyota secretly repurchased vehicles from consumers when it found their cars had sudden acceleration problems, hoping to hide the defects from federal regulators, the media and the public, claims a revised lawsuit.

While it is not entirely uncommon for a maker to occasionally buy back vehicles that have problems, the revised lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, a Los Angeles suburb, claims the Japanese maker specifically targeted vehicles that it found did have problems with sudden acceleration.  And plaintiffs’ attorney Steve Berman contends that part of the repurchase agreement was a confidentiality agreement requiring owners to keep quiet and not sue the maker.

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Toyota largely denies the claims, saying only that on some occasions it did agree to repurchase vehicles from consumers, requiring that they then agree not to file a liability claim against the company.

The maker says it was, “unable to duplicate the condition (the claim of a sudden acceleration incident) and the vehicles were repurchased from the customers for further engineering analysis,” not to hide the defect.  It also says it reported the two vehicles in question to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA.