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Toyota Settles Saylor Suit. Takes on LA Times

The horrific Lexus accident that killed a CHP officer and three family members is closed. Hundreds more lawsuits outstanding.

by on Sep.20, 2010

Toyota's product liability and personal injury woes from mats will continue for a long time.

Toyota Motor Corporation has settled a lawsuit with the Saylor and Lastrella families that resulted in four deaths in August of 2009. The accident called attention to floor mat entrapment, a safety issue that eventually led to recalls of millions of Toyota and Lexus products globally.

It also prompted multiple Congressional investigations and a record fine against Toyota imposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Hundreds of lawsuits alleging unintended acceleration or floor mat entrapment are now part of a huge class action matter in Southern California. Toyota has moved to dismiss all the claims alleging unintended acceleration, saying no evidence has been presented of an electronic problem. It’s a long-term strategy, which could save it millions upon millions in litigation.

On August 28, 2009, California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor and three members of his family died in a high speed accident on a highway near San Diego, California, while driving a 2009 Lexus ES350 lent to them by a local dealer. Saylor, 45; his wife, Cleofe, 45; and their 13-year-old daughter Mahala died, along with Cleofe Saylor’s brother, Chris Lastrella, 39, when Saylor was unable to stop the sedan.

In a statement released after a Los Angeles Times story on the settlement, Toyota said:

“Through mutual respect and cooperation, Toyota and the Saylor and Lastrella families reached an amicable agreement in mediation that fully resolves these claims without the need for litigation. We felt that was important for Toyota, the dealer and the families.”

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Toyota Expands Recall; Rental Firms Pull Toyotas

by on Jan.28, 2010

Yet another million vehicles added to recall list, while daily rental companies pull Toyotas from their fleets.

The blowback from Toyota’s recent spate of safety recalls keeps mounting – as does the actual number of vehicles involved.

The automaker has quietly revealed that the recall it first announced last October is expanding by another 1.1 million cars, trucks and crossovers.  At the time, Toyota said it would need to make safety-related repairs to 3.8 million vehicles in which it determined floor mats might inadvertently “entrap” accelerator pedals, leading to a loss of control.  That number was previously increased to 4.2 million and now stands at 5.3 million Toyota products.

Meanwhile, a number of major car rental chains have announced they will be removing Toyota products from their fleets in a move one firm described as “an abundance of caution.

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Why Not Now?

“It’s bad,” said Dave Sargent, head of automotive research for J.D. Power and Associates.  “Their image and their success has been based on building high-quality, safe and reliable products.”

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Toyota Recalling Another 2.3 Million Vehicles

Japanese automaker also raises number of vehicles involved in earlier recall to 4.2 million.

by on Jan.21, 2010

The 2010 Toyota RAV4 is one of eight different models the maker is recalling as part of its latest safety campaign.

Already in the midst of recalling 4.2 million vehicles for a “floor mat entrapment” issue, Toyota will call back yet another 2.3 million cars, trucks and crossover vehicles to repair sticking accelerator pedals.

The majority of the products impacted by the latest recall will also be covered by the earlier, larger callback, according to a Toyota spokesman.  But this new issue alone poses potential image problems for a maker, long known for bulletproof quality, that has had to acknowledge a raft of safety-related reliability issues, in recent months.

Though he described the latest prolem as “a rare issue,” likely to actually involve a relatively small number of Toyota Division products, spoesman John Hanson acknowledged the automaker is well aware of the concerns about “sudden acceleration” involving its products.  That, he said, “was enough for us to decide to act quickly.”

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Consumer Reports Shows Toyota Dominates Sudden Acceleration Complaints

Ford also on list, says non-profit group, but Toyota stands out.

by on Dec.08, 2009

Toyota accounted for a disproportionate share of complaints to federal regulators about sudden acceleration.

Toyota accounted for a disproportionate amount of complaints about sudden acceleration.

Since problems with the Audi 5000 first put the term, “sudden acceleration,” in the public lexicon, consumers have filed complaints about virtually every automaker on the market.  But a study of federal safety records from 2008 show that an overwhelming number of those complaints target a single manufacturer: Toyota.

A search of 5,916 complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last year shows that Toyota and its luxury brand, Lexus, account for 41% of all those incidents that appear to involve unintended acceleration, according to an extensive study conducted by Consumer Reports.

Automotive News You Can Use!

Auto News You Can Use!

In October, Toyota announced that it would recall 3.8 million vehicles which it said could have driver floor mats jam the accelerator pedal – creating a situation like sudden acceleration.  The recall was triggered by the growing body of complaints filed with NHTSA – and news reports of an accident in which a California state trooper and three members of his family were killed in the fiery crash of a Lexus ES350.

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Toyota Will Replace Gas Pedals on 3.8 Million Vehicles

Additional steps needed on some to prevent runaway cars.

by on Nov.25, 2009

Toyota will replace the accelerator pedals on 3.8 million cars, including this 2010 Camry, and install brake override systems on many of them in an effort to prevent runaway acceleration.

Toyota will replace the accelerator pedals on millions of cars, including this 2010 Camry, and install brake override systems on many of them to prevent runaway acceleration.

Just weeks after it began advising 3.8 million owners that their cars would be called back due to floor mats that can jam the accelerator, Toyota now says it will also replace gas pedals in vehicles that could experience sudden, uncontrolled acceleration.

The automaker initially said that loose or poorly installed floor mats could become jammed under the accelerator making it difficult to slow the vehicle.  The maker now plans to shorten existing pedals and will install entirely new pedals when they become available next April.

Your Braking News Source!

Your Braking News Source!

“The safety of our owners and the public is our utmost concern and Toyota has and will continue to thoroughly investigate and take appropriate measures to address any defect trends that are identified,” the company said.

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Toyota Facing Yet Another Recall

110,000 Tundra pickups cited for excess rust that could cause brakes to fail and spare tires to fall off.

by on Nov.25, 2009

Excessive corrosion could cause brakes to fail and spare tires to fall off on Toyota Tundra pickups sold between 2000 and 2003.

Excessive corrosion could cause brakes to fail and spare tires to fall off on Toyota Tundra pickups sold between 2000 and 2003.

Only weeks after notifying 3.8 million customers that deadly floor mats could cause accelerators to jam wide open, Toyota is set to launch yet another recall.

By comparison, the numbers are more modest, with just 110,000 vehicles involved, but government regulators stepped in when they realized excess rust on Tundra pickups sold during the 2000 through 2003 model-years could lead brakes to fail and spare tires to fall off.

The recall is focused on 20 states, as well as the District of Columbia, where road salts and chemical de-icers are used, during winter months, to clear roadways.  They can cause “excessive corrosion,” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Recall Central

Recall Central

That, in turn, can lead to brake system failures or rust away the mounts holding spare tires underneath the vehicle.  If tires break loose, the government said, that could create a road hazard for other vehicles.  The NHTSA is recommending that until repairs can be made, motorists remove spare tires and store them in the vehicle bed.

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Ongoing Safety Investigation Could Shatter Toyota, Lexus Image

Government investigators cite floor mat problem, but also look at floor pan design.

by on Nov.19, 2009

The Prius is just one of many Toyota vehicles facing a recall - and questions about possible further safety problems allegedly causing "runaway cars."

The Prius is just one of many Toyota vehicles facing a recall - and questions about possible further safety problems allegedly causing "runaway cars."

With legal pressures mounting, Toyota is working with federal safety regulators to see if another problem may be contributing to what some are dubbing “runaway cars,” a problem that recently spurred the Japanese maker to recall 3.8 million vehicles, including some popular models like the Camry and Prius.

A senior Toyota official, earlier this month, insisted that the problem is caused by floor mats that can be wedged, inadvertently, under the gas pedal.  Bob Carter, general manager of the Toyota division, asserted that discussions of other problems are just, “unwarranted speculation.”  But federal regulators are now looking at other options, notably including a potentially defective floor plan design.  And others involved in the matter continue to point to possibly faulty electronic systems, including vehicle sensors.

The ongoing investigation — and debate — is proving worrisome for Toyota, which has carefully cultivated an image of being the safest, most reliable and most consumer-focused of automotive brands.  While company officials insist they are being open with the public, and government investigators, they worry the issue could start tarnishing the brand if it isn’t resolved soon.

Your Auto News Source!

Your Auto News Source!

“My only fear, now, it timing,” said Mark Templin, general manager of Toyota’s premium division, Lexus.  “I have full confidence in our cars, but it’s a matter of getting a vehicle-based resolution before people get overly concerned.”

But despite earlier comments by Toyota officials that the government investigation has clearly shown the floor mats to be the cause of the problem, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, cautions the case is not closed.  NHTSA openly confirms that it is looking at floor pan design as well as carpet mats, which can come loose if not carefully remounted, for example, after a Toyota product is cleaned at a car wash.

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Toyota Facing Class Action Lawsuit Over Recall

California firm cites claims of runaway vehicles.

by on Nov.09, 2009

The plaintiff in a new class-action lawsuit against Toyota owned a 2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser, similar to this, and one of many vehicles the automaker is recalling.

The plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit against Toyota owned a 2008 FJ Cruiser, similar to this, one of many vehicles the automaker is recalling.

Citing 16 deaths and hundreds of injuries allegedly caused by a defect that can cause “runaway” vehicles, a California law firm has filed a national class action suit against Toyota.

The lawsuit is the latest twist in a story the Japanese maker had hoped would go away when it announced, earlier this autumn, plans to recall nearly 4 million vehicles for a potential safety defect.

The automaker has put the blame on the design of its floor mats which, it has said, can be improperly installed and snag the accelerator pedal, making it difficult for a driver to stop the vehicle.

More than just headlines!

More Than Headlines!

The problem is only caused by “out-of-position and inappropriate floor mats,” Bob Carter, head of the flagship Toyota division, said during an appearance in Detroit, last week.  The executive insisted that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had ruled out other potential causes, such as electronic interference with Toyota’s engine control computers, labeling talk about other possible causes “unwarranted speculation.”

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