March 4, 2010 in Business

Toyota woes persist

Owners of repaired vehicles say problems continue
Ken Thomas And Tom Krisher Associated Press
 

Numbers at a glance

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has linked 52 deaths to crashes allegedly caused by Toyota’s acceleration problems. Toyota has said it has fixed about 1 million recalled vehicles..

WASHINGTON – Some Toyota owners say they’re still having trouble with unintended acceleration after their recalled cars were repaired, and the Transportation Department said Wednesday it is looking into their complaints.

The complaints raise new questions about whether Toyota’s remedy will solve the problem. David Strickland, the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said in a statement the agency is reaching out to consumers about the complaints “to get to the bottom of the problem and to make sure Toyota is doing everything possible to make its vehicles safe.”

“If Toyota owners are still experiencing sudden acceleration incidents after taking their cars to the dealership, we want to know about it,” Strickland said.

The government has received a limited number of acceleration reports from Toyota owners whose floor mats or gas pedals have been fixed. Toyota and the government are investigating potential electrical problems as part of the Japanese automaker’s recall of more than 8 million vehicles worldwide.

NHTSA has linked 52 deaths to crashes allegedly caused by Toyota’s acceleration problems. The company has blamed mechanical causes or drivers pressing the wrong pedal and repaired about 1 million vehicles, but has said it is looking into electronics as a potential cause.

Toyota did not immediately comment on the new complaints.

The recalls have prompted three congressional hearings, hurt Toyota’s safety and quality reputation and generated death and injury lawsuits.

Federal prosecutors in New York are conducting a criminal investigation into the recalls and the Securities and Exchange Commission is probing what the automaker told investors.

Toyota on Tuesday said its U.S. sales fell 9 percent in February but it would offer repeat buyers two years of free maintenance to help rebuild customer loyalty.

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