August 23, 2006


According to a July 24 report in Automotive News, Toyota Motor Corp. has embarked on a strenuous campaign to "defend its reputation." The company, shaken by a series of recent safety recalls and a criminal investigation in Japan, is "reorganizing, reviewing its quality processes, stepping up its review of aging vehicles' service records and urging customers to report any problems to their dealers.
As a symbolic first step, Toyota executives are apologizing repeatedly."

Lately, the dealer publication said, "customers have had cause to doubt Toyota's quality. Last week, the company recalled 418,570 cars worldwide, all made in 2001. That includes 34,700 Priuses, Echos and other cars sold in the United States. The problem is a faulty crankshaft position sensor that can stall the engine. The engine then cannot be restarted." In the U.S., the carmaker recently recalled 170,000 Priuses because a portion of the steering shaft assembly could become loose or crack. NHTSA is investigating Toyota's Scion tC coupe for problems of shattering glass sunroofs. And Toyota is recalling 367,600 Toyota Highlander and Lexus RX SUVs due to a defective carpet clip that can interfere with the accelerator. In Japan, Toyota has recalled 1.1 million vehicles this year through Thursday, July 20.

"One particular recall now haunts Toyota," Automotive News said. "It involves a defect in the steering assembly of 4Runner SUVs and T100 and Tacoma pickups, built between 1988 and 1996. That problem caused a Hilux Surf, the Japan market's name for the 4Runner, to swerve and strike a car in the prefecture of Kumamoto in 2004. Five passengers in the other vehicle were injured. Toyota had investigated the steering assembly in 1996. It altered the assembly for future vehicles but decided no recall was necessary. After more complaints surfaced in 2004, Toyota reopened its investigation and issued a recall that year. The company recalled similar vehicles in the United States last September.

"On Friday, July 21, Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation ordered Toyota to report by Aug. 1 on steps it is taking to improve its monitoring of defects… Separately, though, Kumamoto police have asked prosecutors to issue warrants against the managers involved in the 1996 investigation."

Posted by MVHAP at August 23, 2006 09:35 PM