(LOS ANGELES, Feb. 10, 2010) – While Toyota was voluntarily recalling its 2010 Prius for braking issues, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation was reviewing complaints by drivers about steering problems in the 2009-10 Toyota Corolla.
The transportation safety agency is reviewing – not beginning a formal investigation – the Corolla’s alleged steering problems by looking at approximately 80 drivers’ concerns “as we do with all complaints,” said a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) spokesperson, which is under the U.S. Dept. of Transportation.
Also this week, the company that provides new Prius vehicles at the pre-Oscars party and during the Oscars, said it will use older Priuses at this year’s event in March. And Zipcar, a car-sharing company, that recently expanded its pilot program in Los Angeles, removed the recalled Prius from its fleet. The 2010 Prius makes up less than 1 percent of all Zipcars, according to the company.
These actions follow a decision by major car rental companies to remove recalled Toyota vehicles from their fleets as well.
Separately, Toyota will also conduct a voluntary safety recall on approximately 7,300 early production 2010 Camry vehicles equipped with a four-cylinder engine to inspect the power steering hose that may be in contact with a front brake tube. This contact could lead to a hole in the brake tube and cause a brake fluid leak, increased brake pedal stroke and greater vehicle stopping distance.
Owners of the involved 2010 Camry vehicles will be notified by mail starting in mid-February.
In the Midwest, a Toyota executive said at the Chicago Auto Show today that Toyota dealers are repairing about 50,000 accelerator pedals daily, and that 220,000 fixes have been finished in the 2.3 million Toyota vehicles that need a metal shim installed to prevent unintended acceleration.
In related automotive news, Honda Motor Company widened a previous recall to include more than 300,000 additional vehicles over issues with airbags that the automaker says could cause serious injury. The expanded recall follows a recall action in late 2008 for several thousand 2001 Accords and Civics where airbags deployed incorrectly with too much force.
The expanded recall includes approximately 370,000 vehicles – 2001 and 2002 Honda Accords, Civics, Odyssey’s, CR-Vs and some 2002 Acura TL vehicles.
Honda asked car owners “to take their vehicles to an authorized dealer as soon as they receive notification from Honda that their vehicle is affected,” in an official company statement. The company added that owners with affected cars will begin receiving letters about this recall later in the month.
As with nearly all Honda and Acura safety recalls, Honda said it originally brought the matter to the attention of NHTSA and has kept NHTSA apprised of its decision to include additional vehicles in the expanded recall.
Two U.S. House committees’ hearings into Toyota vehicle safety issues related to sudden acceleration are coming up this month. One hearing has been rescheduled due to blizzard conditions for 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Expected to testify at the hearing is Toyota’s North America Chairman Yoshi Inaba, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, NHTSA and two safety experts.
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. Also likely is for committee members to bring up today’s recall of the 2010 Prius and other hybrids over brake problems.
This session is in addition to the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Thursday, Feb. 25, hearing 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 recall news, Kelley Blue Book, http://www.kbb.com/
, an Irvine-based auto pricing data company, said that Toyota values have dropped 2.5% to 4.5%, or $300 to $750, in recent weeks. In Toyota showrooms, new Prius hybrids had a sales incentive of $1,000 attached to them. NADA Used Car Guide also said that prices for Toyotas have declined by just about 3%. Launched in 2000, NADA offers information to help people in the market to buy, sell, trade or shop for a vehicle.
The Auto Club reminds motorists that no Scion vehicles were affected by Toyota’s recalls. Also not affected by the recalls and still for sale are: Sienna, Solara, Yaris, 4Runner, FJ Cruiser, Land Cruiser and select Camry models, including Camry hybrids.