NATIONAL – Toyota Motor Corp. has agreed to pay an additional $32.425 million in civil penalties as the result of two separate federal investigations into the automaker’s handling of auto recalls..
Toyota will pay the maximum fines allowable under the law – $16.375 million in one case and $16.050 million in the other – in response to the Transportation Department’s assertion that it failed to comply with the requirements of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act for reporting safety defects to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The second investigation resulted in a $16.050 million fine. In that case, NHTSA investigated whether Toyota properly notified the agency of a safety defect in several Toyota models that could result in the loss of steering control. In 2004, Toyota conducted a recall in Japan for Hilux trucks with steering relay rods prone to fatigue cracking and breaking, causing the vehicle to lose steering control. At that time, Toyota informed NHTSA that the safety defect was isolated to vehicles in Japan and that the company had not received similar field information within the United States. In 2005, however, Toyota informed NHTSA that the steering relay rod defect was present in several models sold in the U.S. and conducted a recall for nearly one million vehicles. Then, in May 2010, NHTSA was alerted to additional information, including complaints from U.S. consumers, that Toyota had not disclosed when Toyota initially notified NHTSA that a U.S. recall was unnecessary.
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