Toyota to Pay $1.2 Billion to Settle U.S. Criminal Probe

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Toyota has reached a $1.2 billion settlement — yes, with a "b" — with federal prosecutors over its handling of more than 4 million recalled cars because of unintended acceleration in 2009 and 2010. In the conclusion of a lengthy investigation, the automaker will admit that "it misled U.S. consumers by concealing and making deceptive statements" about safety issues related to unintended acceleration, the U.S. Justice Department announced Wednesday.

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Toyota will also have to submit to third-party monitoring of its safety policies. If the automaker pays the full fine and complies with the terms of the settlement, the government will defer prosecution and dismiss a criminal fraud charge against the automaker.

By Kelsey Mays | March 19, 2014 | Comments (11)

Recall Alert: 800,000 Toyota Vehicles

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Vehicles Affected: Approximately 803,000 model-year 2012-2013 Toyota Camry, Camry Hybrid, Avalon, Avalon Hybrid and Venza vehicles in the U.S.

The Problem: The affected vehicles have a problem with the air conditioner condenser unit housing. According to the automaker, water from the condenser unit housing could leak onto the airbag control module. This could cause a short circuit and if this happens, the airbag warning light will illuminate and the airbags will either become disabled or deploy inadvertently. Toyota also warns that, in "limited instances," the power steering assist function could also become inoperable, leading to increased steering effort.

The Fix: Dealers will apply sealant and install a cover to the air conditioning condenser unit housing for free.

What Owners Should Do: Toyota has not provided an owner notification schedule but will contact affected owners by mail. Owners can call Toyota at 800-331-4331 or visit www.toyota.com/recall for more information.

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By Jennifer Geiger | October 17, 2013 | Comments (6)

Toyota to Pay $29 Million Settlement in Unintended Acceleration Claims

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Toyota will pay $29 million in settlements to 29 states and one U.S. territory resulting from claims that the automaker concealed information about its unintended acceleration recalls in 2009 and 2010. New Jersey led the investigation, which began in 2010. The automaker will pay $5 million or more to reimburse owners for towing, taxi and rental-car costs as long as claims are filed with state or federal agencies within one year. The settlement also prohibits Toyota from advertising the safety of its vehicles without "sound engineering and scientific data to back such claims," the Detroit News reports.

"Toyota has committed to take steps to make vehicle information more easily accessible to consumers to help them operate their vehicles safely and make more informed choices," the automaker said Thursday in a statement. "Toyota also agreed to continue other customer-focused initiatives, including its rapid-response service teams, its expanded network of product quality field offices across the U.S. and a range of customer-care amenities for owners of vehicles subject to certain recalls."

The settlement marks the latest in a string of penalties for the world's largest automaker, whose unintended acceleration recalls involved around 12 million cars in 2009 and 2010.

By Kelsey Mays | February 15, 2013 | Comments (2)

Recall Alert: 2006-12 Lexus IS

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Toyota's luxury arm is voluntarily recalling around 270,000 model-year 2006-12 versions of the Lexus IS due to a problem with the windshield wipers, the automaker announced this morning. It's Toyota's second recall today after this morning's Corolla and Matrix announcement.

In the affected vehicles, the front wiper arm nuts may not have been sufficiently tightened. If snow builds up on the windshield, the extra weight may cause the wipers to fail, obscuring visibility and increasing the risk of a crash.

Toyota will notify owners "in the near future," according to a statement, and dealers will replace the affected parts for free. Owners can call Lexus at 800-255-3987 or visit www.lexus.com/recall for more info.

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By Jennifer Geiger | January 30, 2013 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2003-04 Toyota Corolla and Matrix

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Toyota is voluntarily recalling 752,000 model-year 2003-04 versions of the Corolla sedan and Matrix hatchback due to a faulty airbag control module, the automaker announced today.

In the affected vehicles, the airbag control module could have been manufactured with circuits that are susceptible to shorting. The resulting heat could damage the components and cause the airbags and/or seat belt pretensioners to malfunction, increasing the risk of injury.

Toyota will notify owners "in the near future," according to a statement, and dealers will replace the affected parts for free. Owners can call Toyota at 800-331-4331 or visit www.toyota.com/recall for more info.

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By Jennifer Geiger | January 30, 2013 | Comments (5)

Recall Alert: 3,235 2009-13 Toyotas

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Southeast Toyota Distributors is recalling 3,235 vehicles spanning model-years 2009-13 due to problems with the occupant sensing system, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The affected vehicles were modified by Southeast Toyota Distributors to include accessories such as leather seat covers, seat heaters or head-restraint DVD system. During the installation process, the passenger seat occupant sensing system may not have been tested. This could cause the airbags to not deploy or to deploy inappropriately for the passenger's size, increasing the risk of injury. 

By Jennifer Geiger | January 28, 2013 | Comments (2)

Toyota Settles Wrongful Death Lawsuit


Toyota has settled the first wrongful death lawsuit  over unintended acceleration, involving two people killed in a Toyota Camry, the Associated Press has reported. It was the first of hundreds of lawsuits over fatalities and injuries arising from claims of unintended acceleration. In December 2012, the automaker settled a $1.1 billion class-action lawsuit brought by Toyota owners who claimed their car's value was hurt by the acceleration issue dating back to 2010. 
 
"We sympathize with anyone in an accident involving one of our vehicles" and "we continue to stand fully behind the safety and integrity of Toyota's Electronic Throttle Control System, which multiple independent evaluations have confirmed as safe," Toyota said in a statement.

By Joe Bruzek | January 21, 2013 | Comments (1)

Toyota Slapped With $17.35 Million Recall Fine

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Toyota started recalling vehicles for floormat-related unintended acceleration problems in summer 2009. Fast forward two years — it waited until June 2012 to add the Lexus RX crossover to the list — and the automaker is now paying a hefty price for the delay. 

The automaker has agreed to pay $17.35 million to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, settling claims related to the timeliness of the recall that affected 2010 RX 350 and 450h vehicles. Under federal law, automakers have five days to notify NHTSA after finding a safety defect.

According to a NHTSA statement, it's the maximum fine allowed by the law and "represents the single highest civil penalty amount ever paid to NHTSA for violations stemming from a recall."

By Jennifer Geiger | December 18, 2012 | Comments (4)

Steering, Coolant Issues Trigger Massive Toyota Prius Recall

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Steering and water pump problems in Toyota's popular Prius have caused the automaker to issue two recalls affecting 670,000 of the hybrids in the U.S. and 2.8 million worldwide.

Faulty steering components in certain Prius vehicles from the 2004 to 2009 model years could lead to a loss of steering control in 670,000 hybrids. According to Toyota, if the steering wheel is frequently and forcefully turned to the full left or full right while driving at slow speeds, the splines that connect the extension shaft to the steering gearbox are prone to deform.  

About 350,000 of those same vehicles could be affected by a separate recall to replace the hybrid system's electric water pump. The pump could stop circulating coolant, possibly causing the hybrid system to shut down while the vehicle is being driven.

By Jennifer Geiger | November 14, 2012 | Comments (2)

Toyota Recalls 2.5 Million Vehicles

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Toyota is recalling 2.5 million vehicles to address a faulty driver-side power window switch. It's one of the biggest recalls in history, and it's the automaker's largest since recalling millions of vehicles for unintended-acceleration issues in 2009 and 2010.

In today's recall, an irregular application of window-switch lubricant could cause components to wear unevenly during operation and deteriorate. Owners will notice a notchy or sticky feeling in the switch operation, Toyota reports. If owners attempt to use a commercial lubricant to fix the issue, the switch assembly could melt, leading to a possible fire. "We are not aware of any vehicle crashes for this condition," the automaker said in a statement.

By Jennifer Geiger | October 10, 2012 | Comments (9)

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