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Former U.S. Attorney Monitoring Toyota’s Safety Efforts

Part of $1.2-billion settlement includes watchdog.

by on Aug.13, 2014

As part of the settlement reached by the Justice Department, led by Attorney General Eric Holder, in Toyota's unintended accretion case, former U.S. Attorney David Kelley was named as the monitor for Toyota's safety efforts going forward.

Nearly five months after Toyota Motor Corp. agreed to a $1.2-billion settlement with the U.S. Justice Department the two sides agreed on a monitor for the Japanese maker’s safety compliance efforts: former U.S. Attorney David Kelley.

In March, Toyota pleaded not guilty, but acknowledged wrongdoing in its handling of cases of unintended acceleration. The two sides reviewed more than a dozen possible candidates before settling on Kelley.

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A partner at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP in New York, Kelley role will have him reviewing Toyota’s safety policies and procedures as well as verifying the accuracy of its public statements. (more…)

New NHTSA Investigation Puts Spotlight on a Growing List of Airbag Problems

Feds probe airbag problems in 1.1 million more vehicles.

by on Jun.13, 2014

The 2003 Toyota Corolla is one of about 20 models covered by the latest recall related to defective Takata airbags.

With Toyota not only expanding a recall due to defective airbags but also bringing back some vehicles it had previously repaired, U.S. safety regulators have launched an investigation into the airbags produced by Japanese supplier Takata – a move that could impact not only Toyota but a number of other major manufacturers.

Credited with saving thousands of lives, airbags have also been implicated in a number of recent recalls and even blamed for causing some deaths and injuries. And industry observers caution that with the number of airbags found in the typical vehicle rising, the problem could become worse in the years ahead.

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Many, but not all, of the most recent problems have centered around the so-called supplementary inflatable restraints produced by Takata. The new investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration focuses on approximately 1.1 million vehicles sold by Toyota, Nissan, Chrysler, Honda and Mazda. Defective inflators could cause fires or even send debris shooting into the passenger compartment like shrapnel.

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Toyota Repeating, Expanding Earlier Airbag Problem

Maker “renotifying” owners about Airbag problem.

by on Jun.11, 2014

The 2003 Toyota Corolla is one of about 20 models covered by Toyota's expanded airbag recall.

A year after recalling about 2.1 million vehicles due to a faulty airbag system, Toyota says it will “renotify” some owners that they need bring their vehicles back to dealers for repair work. Meanwhile, the maker plans to add another 650,000 vehicles to the list of those impacted by the airbag problem.

Toyota is one of a number of manufacturers affected by a defective airbag inflator system produced by Japanese supplier Takata. The list also includes Honda and Nissan. There have been a number of problems involving airbags in recent years, including systems that could cause shrapnel to inadvertently fire into the passenger compartment when the safety devices inflate.

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The latest Toyota recall covers nearly two dozen models, including some Corolla sedans and Tundra pickups made in 2003 and 2004, as well as some Lexus SC 430 coupes produced between 2002 and 2004. The 650,000 vehicles being added to the list for the first time were all sold in Japan and were produced between 2000 and 2003.

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Toyota Makes it Three Recalls in One Day

Faulty airbag software added to list, along with defective brakes and spare tires that can fall off.

by on May.22, 2014

The new 2014 Toyota Highlander's airbags could misfire due to a software glitch.

Three’s a charm. Well, maybe not when it comes to recalls. Toyota has now added a third recall for the day, bringing to 430,500 the number of vehicles sold in the U.S. covered by the various safety actions which involve corrosion problems, faulty brakes and defective airbag software.

The latest actions mean the U.S. recall count is rapidly racing upwards towards an all-time record, with Toyota covering more individual vehicles than any other manufacturer but General Motors this year.

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The largest of the three new recalls covers 370,000 Toyota Sienna minivans sold between the 2004 and 2011 model-years and registered in colder climate states. The problem centers around corrosion that can be triggered by road salt and can cause the spare tire of the vans to fall off if their supporting cable rusts out.

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Toyota Announces Two Recalls Covering 380,000 Vehicles

Rust and brake pedal problems with minivans and luxury sedans.

by on May.22, 2014

The Toyota minivan is targeted for recall due to potential corrosion problems that could cause its spare tire to fall off.

The U.S. recall count continues nudging towards an all-time record, Toyota the latest maker to announce a large-scale safety-related callback. More precisely, two separate service actions impacting a total of 380,000 vehicles sold in the U.S.

The largest of the two new recalls covers 370,000 Toyota Sienna minivans sold between the 2004 and 2011 model-years and registered in colder climate states. The problem centers around corrosion that can be triggered by road salt and can cause the spare tire of the vans to fall off if their supporting cable rusts out.

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The tires are stored under the vehicle and a foam splash protector in front of the spare tire carrier may actually wind up allowing high concentrations of salt to build up and eventually corrode the spare tire carrier assembly.

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Toyota Recalling 6.4 Mil Vehicles Worldwide

Nearly 30 different models impacted by a variety of problems.

by on Apr.09, 2014

The Toyota Highlander is one of many vehicles covered by the Japanese maker's huge new recall.

In one of the largest announcements in several years of major safety-related news, Toyota Motor Co. is recalling nearly 6.4 million vehicles for a variety of problems worldwide.

Some of the vehicles are actually covered by more than one recall, and the announcement also impacts products sold by two other makers – Subaru and General Motors — that were produced by Toyota. Adding the Subaru Trezia and Pontiac Vibe to the list brings the total number of vehicles involved in the recall to 6.76 million worldwide.

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Toyota says it has no reports of crashes or injuries related to any of the recalls – though it did note two fires linked to one problem, a defective engine starter that can keep a motor running even if the motorist wants to shut the vehicle off.  That is not related to the defective engine switch problem that has led GM to recall more than 2.5 million vehicles since mid-February.

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Justice Dept. Confirms Toyota Settlement – Maker Will Take $1.2 Bil Hit

“Car owners have a right to expect that their vehicle is safe.”

by on Mar.19, 2014

Motorists "have a right to expect their vehicle is safe," said Attorney General Holder, adding that Toyota intentionally misled the public.

Declaring that “car owners …have a right to expect that their vehicle is safe,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder today announced a settlement of a long-running investigation into Toyota’s handling of a series of problems linked to a number of deaths and injuries and the eventual recall of more than 10 million vehicles.

The maker has agreed to pay $1.2 billion to settle the criminal investigation and will follow up on a number of steps it has already taken to ensure that it no longer delays responding to possible safety problems. That includes setting up rapid-response teams to quickly investigate customer concerns.

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The settlement comes just as the Justice Department begins an investigation into General Motors’ handling of a recall involving defective ignition switches that have been linked to at least 12 deaths.

“When car owners get behind the wheel, they have a right to expect that their vehicle is safe,” said Holder, during a news conference in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday morning. “Toyota violated that basic compact.”

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Toyota Set to Pay $1 Bil to Settle With US Justice Dept.

Feds end one criminal probe as they launch another targeting GM.

by on Mar.19, 2014

Toyota recalled over 10 million vehicles due to potential unintended acceleration problems.

Toyota is expected to pay $1 billion to settle a criminal investigation launched by the U.S. Justice Department into how the maker handled recalls linked to its problems with unintended acceleration nearly five years ago.

Both the Justice Dept. and the FBI had been looking to see whether the Japanese giant had intentionally misled federal safety regulators after it began receiving complaints that some of its vehicles could surge out of control unexpectedly. The automaker eventually recalled more than 10 million vehicles in the U.S. and millions more worldwide. It has also spent billions more to settle various lawsuits and to repair those vehicles.

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The settlement comes just as the Justice Dept. ramps up a preliminary investigation into how General Motors has handled the recall of 1.6 million vehicles equipped with faulty ignition switches. That service action – now linked to at least 12 deaths – was announced just last month, but an internal GM timeline indicates the maker first saw indications of the problem as early as 2001.

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Despite Pressure from Public, Lawmakers, Are Unsafe Cars Still Sidestepping Recall Process?

GM ignition switch scandal could lead to crackdown.

by on Mar.17, 2014

A Jeep Grand Cherokee fire. The maker long fought a recall - but critics aren't happy with the final settlement.

Things were supposed to change a decade ago.  After an estimated 270 people were killed in rollover accidents involving Ford Explorer SUVs and Firestone tires, Congress passed the so-called TREAD Act.  Short for the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act, it was intended to create a new process by which manufacturers had to reveal known safety-related issues – while encouraging motorists to report their own complaints.

But while federal safety regulators and automotive industry officials alike insist the new process is working, there are plenty of skeptics – all the more in the wake of the recent revelations that General Motors may have known for more than a decade that many of its compact cars were equipped with faulty ignition switches that could inadvertently shut the vehicles off and disable their airbag systems – a problem that last month led to the recall of 1.6 million vehicles and which has been linked to at least 12 deaths.

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What some are dubbing “Switch-gate” has already spawned a series of investigations – including hearings on both sides of Capitol Hill, a preliminary Justice Dept. criminal probe, a query by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and a new internal investigation at GM itself ordered by the maker’s new CEO Mary Barra.

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Toyota Recalling 1.9 Mil Prius Hybrids

Maker cites faulty software.

by on Feb.12, 2014

About 700,000 Prius hybrids sold in the U.S. are covered by the maker's latest recall.

Toyota is recalling 1.9 million Prius Hybrid sedans sold around the world between 2009 and 2014 due to faulty software that could cause the vehicle to stop unexpectedly.

More than a third of the vehicles, 713,000 in all, were sold in the United States, where the Prius has long been the best-selling hybrid in the market. Nearly half, or 917,000 will be recalled in Japan where the Prius has routinely been the best-selling vehicle of all kinds.  The rest of the cars affected by the recall were sold in Europe and other parts of the world.

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Toyota says it has received no reports of injuries or accidents related to the problem. But the risk is that an accident could occur if one of the hybrids were to unexpectedly stall while on the road.

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