NHTSA Opens Investigation into Timeliness of 2005 Toyota Steering Relay Rod Recall

| Washington, DC

DOT 94-10
Monday, May 10, 2010
Contact: Olivia Alair
Tel.: (202) 366-4570

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today opened an investigation into whether, in 2005, Toyota Motor Corporation notified the agency of a steering relay rod safety defect within five business days of learning of the defect’s existence, as is required by law.
In 2004, Toyota conducted a recall in Japan for Hilux trucks with steering relay rods prone to fatiguing, cracking and possibly breaking, causing the vehicle to lose steering control. At that time, Toyota informed NHTSA that the safety defect was isolated to vehicles in Japan and that the company had not received similar field information within the United States. In 2005, however, Toyota informed NHTSA that the steering relay rod defect was present in several models sold in the U.S. and conducted a recall.
This past Friday afternoon, NHTSA was alerted to a number of complaints filed with Toyota by U.S. consumers prior to the 2004 Hilux recall in Japan. As a result, NHTSA has decided to open an investigation into whether Toyota met its legal obligation to conduct a timely recall of vehicles with the defect in the United States.
“Safety is our number one priority and we take our responsibility to protect U.S. consumers seriously,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “With new assurances from Toyota about their efforts to improve safety, I hope for their cooperation in getting to the bottom of what happened.”
NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said, “NHTSA has taken swift action since first receiving copies of these complaints on Friday. Our team is now working to obtain documents and information from Toyota to find out whether the manufacturer notified NHTSA within five business days of discovering a safety defect in U.S. vehicles.”