Toyota Investigated for Hiding Steering Problems

Automaker, Toyota has been out of the limelight lately, following a series of recalls for runaway vehicles, but a New York grand jury has put troubled Toyota back in the news, according to a Consumer Affairs article.

Toyota has disclosed that it’s received a subpoena related to flaws with the steering system in some vehicles. This concerns auto product liability attorneys in Florida and throughout the United States. The subpoena related to a recall initiated by the company in 2005 for a faulty relay rod on pickup trucks and SUVs that could cause a loss of control in 1989 to 1996 vehicle model years.

The recall may have been five years ago, but in May, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced it was looking into whether Toyota had promptly informed the regulatory agency about the steering problems within five days of understanding the problem as required by law. This would not be surprising as Toyota has already paid a record $16.4 million fine for failing for four months to alert regulators about its sudden acceleration problem.

The reason NHTSA may doubt Toyota’s version of the facts, is that when the company conducted a recall in 2004 for Hilux trucks with steering relay rod problems in Japan, Toyota told NHTSA the problem was isolated to Japanese vehicles. Toyota insisted it did not know about similar problems in the U.S.

By 2005, Toyota changed its mind and agreed that several models sold in the U.S. did have the steering problem, which could cause a vehicle to lose control. The company then issued a U.S. recall.

For years, NHTSA has failed to show it has any teeth when it comes to regulating the auto industry and now it appears the agency wants to make up for lost time. Toyota is the target now, and this marks the first time Toyota has faced a grand jury in the U.S. and criminal charges could be next.