Some Say Toyota Fix Isn’t Working
Ten Toyota owners have told federal safety officials that the recall repairs didn't work and that their cars still accelerate when they're not supposed to.
That's enough to trigger a robust response from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which was bashed in congressional hearings for not moving faster on years of Toyota unintended acceleration complaints.
"NHTSA has already started contacting consumers about these complaints to get to the bottom of the problem and to make sure Toyota is doing everything possible to make its vehicles safe," NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said in a statement Wednesday.
"Toyota is aware of the complaints filed with NHTSA and has been working to obtain access to the vehicles," said Brian Lyons, Toyota's spokesman.
Federal law would allow NHTSA to make Toyota replace or buy back the models if it can't repair them. The agency can give an automaker several chances to make repairs, says former NHTSA enforcement chief Bill Boehly.
But NHTSA also could decide "that choice is off the table" after just one failed repair attempt, he says.
In one notable case, Nissan in 1994 bought back any of its 33,000 1987 to 1990 minivans still in use after four recalls failed to fix an engine cooling-hose problem that could lead to fires.
One of the new complaints is from the owner of a 2010 Camry who had the gas pedal replaced and a brake-override system installed as part of the recall. But she said the car surged in the dealership parking lot, climbing a snow bank while she had both feet on the brake pedal. NHTSA records don't list the names of the people who file complaints.
"The whole event took 5-6 seconds before the car suddenly stopped," the owner said. "The fix done by Toyota is not the fix for the acceleration problem."
Toyota has recalled 5.4 million U.S cars because floor mats can jam gas pedals and 2.3 million for sticky pedals.
Toyota executives told a Senate hearing Tuesday that the recalls fix all known causes of unwanted acceleration. The executives said electronic glitches cannot cause unintended acceleration, and that the brake-override system would prevent unwanted acceleration, no matter the cause.