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Toyota expanded its massive sudden acceleration recall to include 2.3 million additional vehicles, bringing the total number of vehicles recalled to 6.5 million. Toyota did not initiate this expanded recall until an investigative report by ABC News was about to air. On the eve of the news report, Toyota expanded its recall to include more vehicles, including several 2010 model year vehicles.

Now, USA Today has reported that Toyota will continue selling these vehicles to the public despite the company’s own recall and acknowledgment of the critical safety defect.

Toyota says it’s still selling cars involved in Thursday’s recall of 2.3 million vehicles with throttles that could stick open.

Excuse me… what?!?

Toyota’s U.S. safety spokesman John Hanson said Friday that new vehicles with the potentially faulty accelerator pedal assemblies should be risk-free for awhile because the problem is caused by wear.

"It is something that happens over the use of the vehicle. Out of the box, the new vehicle works perfectly fine," he says.

So Toyota’s internal safety person says there’s not a problem… then why were these vehicles recalled? Either the vehicles have a safety defect or they do not.

In my experience, a car company will not recall a vehicle if it does not have to. In fact, Toyota has a well-documented history of covering up safety defects in order to avoid having a recall.

So, now we have Toyota issuing a safety recall, but selling the vehicles anyway because — trust Toyota now — the vehicles will not become unsafe for some time. What if Toyota is wrong?

Let’s review the time line here.

2004 – The Center for Auto Safety reported about sudden acceleration problems in 2002-03 Toyota Camrys and Solaras and the 2002-03 Lexus ES 300. The report identified the electronic throttle as the most likely culprit. Toyota dismissed the report and said sudden acceleration did not exist. Instead, Toyota blamed the problem on its own drivers. Toyota was wrong.

Fall 2009 – An off-duty California Highway Patrolman and his family were killed when a Lexus loaner vehicle supplied by a car dealer sped out of control. Toyota blamed the floor mats in the vehicle and said sudden acceleration could not occur without the floor mats. Toyota was wrong.

Fall 2009 – Toyota said that NHTSA had cleared it of any wrong-doing and cleared it of any safety-related defect that caused sudden acceleration. NHTSA issued a rare and strongly worded public rebuke saying that Toyota had made "inaccurate and misleading" statements and that its vehicles suffered from an underlying defect causing sudden acceleration. Toyota was wrong.

Fall 2009 – Toyota acknowledged that floor mats alone were not to blame and that a design problem in the foot-well could cause the gas pedal to stick open. Toyota continued to deny a defect in the electronic throttle controls. Safety experts continue to believe that the electronic controls and on-board computer are the most likely culprits. Toyota was wrong.

January 2010 – Now Toyota says there may be mechanical problems with the throttle body – not Toyota’s fault (of course – Toyota blames a parts supplier) – and that any wear should not occur for some time. What if Toyota is wrong again?

Toyota has identified a critical safety defect, but it continues to sell these cars. Toyota continues to put these cars on American roads and highways. Every day, unsuspecting Toyota owners place their families and children in the vehicles.

How does this happen? Why does Toyota get away with this conduct? Where is the public outrage?

I’ve said it before – if you or I continued to knowingly put people’s life in danger, we would be stopped and then we would be held accountable. Why doesn’t Toyota have to play by the same rules as everyone else?

You can learn more about Toyota’s dangerous sudden acceleration defect at our auto safety blog or by visiting our web site.

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4 Comments

  1. Gravatar for joethedumber

    Why the "help I've fallin, and I can't getup" dribble?

    Persons who operate a motor vehicle are REQUIRED to maintain control of that vehicle at ALL TIMES. This problem only affects people who shouldn't be driving in the first place. If you have no ability to handle your vehicle in an emergency situation, you should not be driving.

    Try it yourself. Find a road without traffic, step on the gas 100%, and while doing that - slip the gear shift into neutral. You will notice that even under full-throttle, there is NO RESISTANCE slipping the car into neutral.

    Same thing if you lost your brakes. Would you dial 911 and scream "help" or would you use the emergency brake?!?

    Definately Toyota has a problem, but the problem LEGALLY is that these people are 75% RESPONSIBLE for mitigating the situation via their ability to handle their own vehicle.

  2. Gravatar for Brett Emison

    Joe,

    Thank you for reading and offering your take. I both agree and disagree with your comment.

    You are correct that driving experts recommend that drivers who experience a sudden acceleration event shift into neutral in order slow and stop the vehicle. Without shifting into neutral, it is nearly impossible to stop (or even slow) the vehicle. You can learn more about stopping an out-of-control vehicle here http://kansascity.injuryboard.com/automobile-accidents/toyota-sudden-acceleration-what-to-do-if-it-happens-to-you.aspx?googleid=274116 .

    However, many otherwise excellent drivers are not aware of the procedure; are shocked and panicked enough to not think of the procedure; or do not have enough time to execute the procedure. If it were common knowledge, then Consumer Reports, the Associate Press, ABC News and CBS News would not have spent so much time publicizing the procedure to the public.

    For example, the driver of the Lexus vehicle that crashed in Callifornia was an off-duty California Highway Patrolman. That patrolman had extensive driving training, but could not stop the out-of-control vehicle carrying his wife and child.

    Even for those who know what to do, there may not be enough time. Near Kansas City, a sudden acceleration event happened in the parking lot of a car wash. The Toyota took off, traveled a matter of feet and struck a park bench. That crash killed one woman sitting on the bench and injured another. There was simply not enough time and not enough distance for the driver to react quickly enough to even try to shift into neutral.

    Toyota has a duty to design and produce safe vehicles - vehicles that do not have a deadly malfunction. For instance, all Toyota had to do was utilize the "smart brake" system that many other car makers use that overrides the throttle when the brake is applied. This system would have prevented every sudden acceleration crash. Instead, Toyota ignored the problem, then lied about it to the public and to federal safety inspectors.

    The problem legally is that Toyota knowingly put a defective and unreasonably dangerous vehicle -- millions of vehicles, in fact -- on American roads and highways when they knew their cars were killing people. That makes Toyota responsible in my book.

    Thanks again for reading.

  3. Gravatar for Steve

    Joe,

    I think you meant to use the word "drivel" - as in "Why the I've fallen and I can't getup drivel?" You misspelled "get up" and "definitely" too, but I won't hold it against you (so to speak).

    I agree that drivers should be in control of their vehicles at all times, and that if they can't control it they shouldn't be driving that car. I subscribe to the notion that "the means to purchase a Ferrari does not a racecar driver make." However, I seriously doubt that anyone bought a Toyota Avalon expecting the car had more performance than they had driving skill.

    I would bet that most Toyota drivers can handle their cars with minimal difficulty under normal circumstances; however I'd say that a hung-throttle is far from a normal circumstance. I don't know if you follow NASCAR, but several years ago there a couple of driver deaths attributed to this phenomenon (Adam Petty and Kenny Irwin). Do you suppose they were incompetent drivers? I doubt they'd have been paid millions to drive racecars if they were... Furthermore, in response to this phenomenon, NASCAR mandated engine "kill switches" on the steering wheel of each car to mitigate the hazard.

    The fact is that, like NASCAR, many manufacturers have safety devices that guard against this very situation. Why has Toyota not incorporated a similar (or different) fix?! If you're out on the highway and some "incompetent driver" has a runaway Toyota that hits and kills you, is your "they should not be driving" mentality going to bring you back to life? Or would it be better that Toyota figured out the problem and fixed it so it doesn't happen to anybody else? To be clear, I don't wish you (or anyone else) harm, but your attitude is wrong. It is incumbent upon Toyota to figure out this problem and to make our streets, roads and even our parking lots safer.

  4. Gravatar for Bo

    This is a sad shame.. Our family just bought a new 2010 Camry.. If we had waited a couple more weeks we would have gotten a MUCH better deal and much lower than MSRP..

    I have instructed all my family members on the proper emergency procedures IF this kind of thing happens to our Toyota. Though I realize the odds of this happening is like winning the lottery, IF it does happen knowing and being prepared is the difference between life and death in those few seconds..

    Now I'm just scared of sitting in other people's Toyota's or getting hit by someone else in a runaway car.. We live in DFW area and that recent story of the four people that died in that Camry incident really hits close to home..

    Toyota is still trying to cover up.. This is nothing to do with mats and very little to do with accelerator getting stuck.. Obviously this is a computer/hardware/software glitch in the drive-by-wire system..

    Looks like until they solve the root of the problem this will be ongoing thing..

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