Toyota Announces More Voluntary Recalls; Corolla and Matrix Steering Examined; NHTSA Seeks Recall Documents

(LOS ANGELES, Feb. 24, 2010) –   Toyota Motor Sales has announced that it’s conducting a voluntary safety recall to inspect the front drive shaft of some 2010 Toyota Tacoma 4WD trucks. 
The front drive shaft in approximately 8,000 vehicles may include a cracked component that developed during the manufacturing process.  As the vehicles are used, the cracks may eventually lead to the separation of the drive shaft at the joint, according to a Toyota announcement. 
Toyota will notify these vehicle owners about this voluntary recall by first class mail beginning next month.  Consumers should note that no other Toyota or Lexus vehicles are involved.
“Dealers will be directed to perform an inspection to identify the specific lot numbers located on the front drive shaft,” Toyota said in its announcement.  Based on the dealer’s inspection, which Toyota says will take just 10 minutes, the front drive shaft may need to be replaced.
The inspections and any replacement will be free to the vehicle owner, said Toyota.
More information about the voluntary recall of the 2010 Tacoma 4WD trucks is available at and the Toyota customer phone line at 1-800-331-4331.
In related news, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched a formal investigation into the steering problems that have been reported in the 2009 and 2010 Toyota Corolla and Toyota Matrix models, which number about 500,000 in the U.S. The auto safety agency said it has received 168 complaints of steering issues in the vehicles.  Eight of those incidents resulted in a crash, the drivers told NHTSA, and there were 11 injuries and no deaths. Drivers reported “steering drift” as if cars were being pushed in windy driving conditions.
NHTSA also has requested documents from Toyota to determine if the automaker conducted its recent recalls in a timely manner for consumers.  Auto manufacturers are required under federal law to notify NHTSA within five days of determining that a safety defect exists and promptly conduct a recall.
NHTSA is requiring under its statutory authority that Toyota provide documents showing when and how it learned of the defects affecting approximately 6 million vehicles in the U.S. The auto safety agency is trying to determine how the second-largest U.S. car maker learned about the defects, such as through consumer complaints or factory testing, according to a NHTSA announcement. 
The safety agency also is checking whether Toyota has covered all affected models in its recent recalls to ensure the automaker did not overlook problems, the announcement said.
Toyota has recalled more than 8 million vehicles worldwide since the fall for a variety of problems, including floor mats, sticky gas pedals, steering and components.  Toyota drivers may go online to find information regarding Toyota’s recalls at, call Toyota at 1-800-331-4331, or the Lexus Customer Assistance Center at 1-800-255-3987.  Toyota information is at and
Consumers may also call the NHTSA vehicle safety hotline 1-888-327-4236 or file an online safety complaint with NHTSA
Two U.S. House committees’ hearings into Toyota vehicle safety issues related to sudden acceleration are coming up this month. One hearing -- rescheduled due to blizzard conditions – is set for 10 a.m. Wednesday (today) before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Expected to testify at the hearing is the head of Toyota Motor Corp. Akio Toyoda, president of the company and grandson of its founder.  Others from Toyota, NHTSA representatives and outside safety experts are expected to attend and/or testify as well.  
The hearing is expected to examine the federal government’s response to Toyota’s recall of millions of vehicles after reports of malfunctioning gas pedals. Lawmakers will also probe the causes of the sudden acceleration problem and discuss solutions for the issue.  This session is in addition to the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s hearing Thursday (tomorrow) to delve into consumer complaints related to Toyota vehicles. The committee chairman also has said that the energy committee would be examining NHTSA’s role in Toyota safety issues.
In related news, company president Toyoda also is heading up a new global quality control committee.  That panel’s first meeting is scheduled for late March.

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