Govt: 60 complaints from drivers after Toyota fix
Associated Press Writers
WASHINGTON (AP) – The government said Thursday it has received more than 60 complaints from Toyota drivers who say their cars have sped up by themselves even after being fixed to correct the problem.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it is contacting every owner to learn more about the consumer reports. The complaints, which are submitted online or through a NHTSA hot line, have not been independently verified.
“We are determined to get to the bottom of this,” NHTSA administrator David Strickland said in a statement.
The new complaints, while small in number compared to Toyota’s population of recalled vehicles, raise questions about whether Toyota’s repairs will prevent reports of sudden unintended acceleration or if there could be electronic causes behind the safety issues. The world’s No. 1 automaker has recalled more than 8 million vehicles worldwide to address gas pedals that can become sticky or trapped under floor mats, prompting scrutiny from Congress and federal prosecutors over the safety of its vehicles.
NHTSA has linked 52 deaths to crashes allegedly caused by Toyota’s acceleration problems.
Toyota dealers have been installing a metal piece the size of a postage stamp and shortening gas pedals to address the problems. But the government said if the remedy provided by Toyota is not addressing the issue, NHTSA could order Toyota to provide a different solution.
Toyota spokeswoman Martha Voss said the company has “rigorously tested the solutions for our recent recalls and we are confident that with the repairs our dealerships are making, Toyota vehicles are among the safest on the road today. We are equally determined to get to the bottom of these reports and we are making it a top priority to quickly investigate any complaints.”
The driver of a 2008 Camry, which received fixes under two Toyota recalls, wrote in a complaint that the sedan speeds up when it is started. “I can drive up to 30 miles an hour without applying the gas,” the driver wrote.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told a Senate appropriations subcommittee Thursday that drivers who are still having problems after the fixes should take their cars or trucks back to the dealer.
During three congressional hearings, Toyota executives said all new models sold in the United States will have the override system by 2011 and many recalled vehicles will be retrofitted with the brake override as a precaution. Toyota said it has fixed about 1 million recalled vehicles.
A panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that deals with consumer protection told lawmakers Thursday it plans to hold a March 11 hearing to look at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The hearing was titled, “NHTSA Oversight: The Road Ahead.”