Just when Toyota had almost stopped making headlines after a few years
of nonstop exposure due to claims blaming sudden unintended acceleration
accidents involving its vehicles for injuries and deaths and the recalls
of millions of vehicles, the automaker recently found itself among the
day’s top stories once again. CNN recently revealed that it had
seen a “confidential” document from 2006 noting that Toyota
engineers noticed an electronic software issue in one of its test vehicles
that caused the vehicle to accelerate suddenly and unintentionally. Toyota,
which is defending itself in scores of auto products liability lawsuits
and wrongful death claims, denied that the document is evidence of such
a safety issue.
Also, last week, the automaker announced another recall. The vehicles included this time are about 682,000 Venza, Camry, and Tacoma vehicles There are a number of Venza (’09 – ’11 models) and Camry (’09 models) vehicles that may have gotten silicon grease into the stop-lamp switch while they were at the factory. Toyota says this could lead to greater electrical resistance that may activate warning lights on the engine, stop the transmission from being able to shift out of park, prevent the engine from starting, or keep the stop lights from working. A number of Tacoma trucks (’05 – early ’09 models) are part of the recall because unless their steering wheel spiral cable assembly is replaced, an airbag could become disabled if the cable rubs against the retainer.
Also announcing a big recall is Chrysler. Nearly 210,000 Jeep Liberty SUV’s (’04-05 models) are involved over concerns that rust might cause a rear suspension part to break. The car manufacturer knows of 83 reports of such failures but is not aware of any related car crashes at this time. This recall, however, is not national and it is taking place in just 20 states. (According to the New York Times, consumer advocates typically are not fans of what is known as a regional recall because the owners of autos are known to move to another region, which means the driver of a vehicle involved might not know about the recall or able to avail of a free safety repair.)
One other automaker that may have to announce its own recall is Ford Motor Corp. According to the NHTSA, the traffic safety agency has received 14 complaints from motorists who claim they have a hard time getting their auto to stop when after the throttles got stuck in the open position the vehicle accelerated.
Investigators are examining the cruise control cables that allegedly came off in some Ford Tauruses (’05 and ’06 models). Some of the drivers have said that in order to get the autos to stop, they not only had to step on the breaks but also the vehicle’s gear had to be shifted into neutral or stop. (In certain incidents, after the vehicle was placed in neutral or stop its engine revved to up to 4,000 revolutions a minute. Some 360, 000 Ford vehicles may be involved. NHTSA says it will decide whether a recall is necessary after it finishes its probe.
Chrysler Recalls 210,000 Jeep Liberty S.U.V.’s for Rust-Prone Suspension,
The New York Times, March 7, 2012
Toyota Recall: How A Hiccup Became A Big Headache, Forbes, March 8, 2012
U.S. investigates Ford Tauruses for stuck throttles, CNN, March 12, 2012
Auto defects are serious safety issues that can cause personal injury or death. Unfortunately, many people are too scared to sue a large automaker for damages. That is where our auto products liability law firm comes in. We represent clients throughout the US in their products liability claims and wrongful death lawsuits against the manufacturers of vehicles and their auto parts.