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Toyota Camry, Sedan
#845 of 1027 Re: Secretive Culture Led Toyota Astray [camry2k5]
Feb 09, 2010 (9:28 pm)
- - - power to force recalls and fine companies for providing misleading information or not providing safety information in a timely fashion.
Toyota for years has been one of the most difficult auto makers for regulators to deal with because it is resistant to being told what to do, said Joan Claybrook, a former NHTSA administrator who later became president of consumer-advocacy group Public Citizen until stepping down last year. But she also blamed the agency's collaborative approach for undermining its role. "They have tremendous power and authority but they don't tend to use it."
A Transportation Department spokeswoman disputes that, saying: "NHTSA has the most active defect investigation program in the world. In the last three years alone [it] resulted in 524 recalls involving 23.5 million vehicles."
By August 2007, NHTSA wanted Toyota to issue a Lexus and Camry recall to remove the floor mats Toyota blamed for the acceleration problems. "Toyota assured us that this would solve the problem," said Nicole Nason, then NHTSA's administrator.
In their probe, NHTSA investigators asked Toyota, "Are you sure it's not the gas pedal?" Ms. Nason said. "They assured us it's just the floor mat."
Toyota says that, at that time, it had no indication of problems with the pedal design.
Toyota ended up recalling Camrys and ES350s from 2007 and 2008 model years. Owners were told to bring the cars to dealerships to get new mats. The action involved 55,000 cars.
After the recall, reports continued trickling in that it may not have resolved the issue. One major case was 2008's spectacular fatal crash in Michigan. On April 19 that year, Guadalupe Alberto, 77 years old, was driving a 2005 Camry on Copeman Boulevard, a residential street in Flint. She was traveling about 25 mph when the car accelerated to 80, according a lawsuit against Toyota in Michigan. The car raced about a quarter mile before going airborne and colliding with a tree, killing Ms. Alberto, according to the suit, in Genesee County circuit court. The suit remains under way.
Floor mats couldn't have been the cause. Ms. Alberto had removed hers days before the accident, said one of the attorneys handling the case against Toyota. The accident was similar in some ways to the "long duration" type excluded from NHTSA's first probe in 2004.
A year later, NHTSA was asked to open a new probe by a Minnesota man who said his Lexus ES350 took off on a highway and raced for two miles before he regained control. Toyota filed a rebuttal, saying it believed a floor mat was the cause.
Separately, since December 2008 Toyota's European unit had been looking into a problem causing cars in Ireland and England to surge or fail to slow. After months of testing, Toyota found the culprit: a plastic part in the pedal mechanism also widely used in the U.S.
Toyota redesigned the pedals for new cars coming off the assembly line. But it didn't issue a recall in Europe or notify U.S. regulators. Nor did Toyota alert its U.S. unit to the situation in Europe, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Last month, Toyota's Mr. Sasaki said the company didn't alert U.S. regulators then because it didn't see in the U.S. specific consumer complaints about sticky pedals, although a few complaints started to come in by early autumn.
The Europe issue hasn't been linked to accidents and isn't related to sudden acceleration because it happens near idle speeds. Toyota says it's looking into other potential causes.
Toyota is still very much run by its Japan headquarters, despite being active in the U.S. since 1957. Top leadership doesn't include U.S. executives. The Toyota officials who run the recall process are in Japan.
For reasons like these, Toyota often reacted relatively slowly to safety issues raised by NHTSA, according to three people familiar with Toyota's inner workings.
"What has really happened is a breakdown in communications within Toyota" between its D.C. office and Japan headquarters, said one of these people. "The Washington office didn't have the information it needed to provide to the government."
In August 2009, another fatal accident in the U.S. put the problem in the spotlight. Mark Saylor, a California Highway Patrol officer, was driving a Lexus ES350 near San Diego when it accelerated to more than 100 mph. As the car careened out of control, one occupant called 911 to report the emergency. The call ended when the car crashed.
Everyone in the car died, including Mr. Saylor, his wife, daughter and brother-in-law. A tape of the 911 call drew attention to the acceleration issue.
The Lexus, a loaner from a dealer that Mr. Saylor was driving while his car was being serviced, did have the all-weather mats. And a previous driver of the loaner had told the dealer the mat had hit the pedal.
At NHTSA, patience was wearing thin. Its deputy, Ronald Medford, summoned Toyota officials to a Sept. 25 meeting in Washington, and told them they needed to act faster to more fully resolve the mat problem. Replacing mats wasn't enough, he said. Toyota also had to alter its gas pedals to make sure they couldn't get caught on mats.
On Oct. 5, Toyota recalled 3.8 million vehicles to fix the floor-mat issue, its largest ever recall.
But tensions kept rising. On Nov. 3, Toyota put out a statement saying NHTSA had concluded that "no defect exists" in the recalled vehicles. A day later, in an unusually public rebuke, NHTSA released its own statement calling Toyota's "inaccurate and misleading."
Around the same time, the two were at odds again over a completely different issue. Toyota recalled Tundra pickup trucks for a corrosion problem that could lead to the spare tire falling off. But the recall hadn't come as quickly as NHTSA wanted, according to people familiar with the matter. Toyota had also been reluctant to include corrosion issues affecting the fuel tank, one person said.
On Jan. 8, Toyota amended its original recall to include the fuel-tank corrosion issue. In a letter to NHTSA. it stressed that it didn't consider the issue "a safety related defect."
Amid the clashes, NHTSA's Mr. Medford and other officials flew to Japan. On Dec. 15 they stood before about 100 Toyota executives and engineers and explained Toyota's obligation to comply with the U.S.'s defect-recall process, a Transportation Department official said.
Later, Mr. Medford met with a smaller group of Toyota executives. According to the official, Mr. Medford told them bluntly: Toyota was taking too long to respond to safety issues. He reminded them that Toyota is obligated under U.S. law to find and report defects promptly.
Mr. Sasaki, Toyota's quality chief, said the meeting included a "debate" in which NHTSA objected to Toyota's view that users needed to install the mats properly. NHTSA's response, he said, was Toyota couldn't expect that from every consumer. "NHTSA people expressed disbelief ov
#846 of 1027 Re: Secretive Culture Led Toyota Astray [camry2k5]
Feb 09, 2010 (9:34 pm)
- - - disbelief over Toyota's view, and we received some harsh words from them," he said.
On Jan. 4, NHTSA's new chief, Mr. Strickland, was sworn in. His first crisis walked in the door Jan. 19, when two Toyota executives told him that Toyota's Japan headquarters had known there was a flaw in the pedals, according to a person familiar with the situation.
A few days later, Toyota had the details of a 2.3-millon-vehicle recall worked out. But there was a hitch: Toyota didn't have enough parts in hand to make repairs immediately.
At times, NHTSA gives car makers extra time to get replacement parts ready before recall notices go out. This time, it was too late. And regulators told Toyota it would have to stop selling cars. On Jan. 26, that's what Toyota did.
_Original article from WSJ thru this link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704820904575055733096312238.html?m- od=WSJ_hpp_LEADNewsCollection#printMode
#847 of 1027 Re: Secretive Culture Led Toyota Astray [camry2k5]
Feb 10, 2010 (9:59 am)
"..and robbed arm-chair mechanics of the thrills of tinkering in the garage.."
"Shade-tree" in my case, but..
Robbed....?? No way...!!
Even get to teach the dealer service techs how things work, or "not".
#848 of 1027 New Camry - Pedals
Feb 12, 2010 (8:39 am)
Hey my neighbour has struck a deal with his local dealer. He will lease a vehicle if they swap out the pedals getting shut of the CTS assembly and they agreed.
He would not do a deal with shims and stuck to his demand.
Just listened to Toyota dealer on CNN called this 'shim' a reinforcing bar !!!!
#849 of 1027 Re: New Camry - Pedals [dturr]
Feb 12, 2010 (8:53 am)
He will lease a vehicle if they swap out the pedals getting shut of the CTS assembly and they agreed.
I would also want the brake override firmware upgrade if not already installed. More important IMO.
Feb 12, 2010 (4:13 pm)
Giving my opinion to any of you folks that are considering the purchase of a 'fixed' Toyota - DO NOT DO IT.
If some accident was to take place you would have some serious problems.
#851 of 1027 Re: Toyota [legalman]
Feb 12, 2010 (6:23 pm)
You're more likely to be hit by a bus than have a crash in a Toyota due to the faulty pedal. Actual statistic.
I don't drive a Toyota, don't want to, but the media and the lawyers have made this fiasco bigger than it really is.
Feb 14, 2010 (1:40 pm)
#853 of 1027 Re: Toyota [thegraduate]
Feb 17, 2010 (11:53 pm)
Doubt the relatives of the dead victims care about the statistics.
#854 of 1027 Re: Toyota [pixshooter]
Feb 18, 2010 (5:52 am)
Doubt the relatives of the dead victims care about the statistics.