Letter: Toyota hasn't verified safety defect - WSMV News 4

Letter: Toyota hasn't verified safety defect

Posted: Updated: October 5, 2009

Toyota Motor North America, Inc., is moving forward with its safety recall of 3.8 million vehicles without stating that its vehicles have a safety defect, according to a letter obtained by the Channel 4 I-Team.

The letter was sent Monday from Toyota to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The letter stated, "Although Toyota is willing to identify this campaign as a safety recall in the owner communication about the campaign, Toyota has not determined that the vehicles ... contain a 'safety-related' defect' within the meaning of the federal vehicle safety laws."

This is the first official step by Toyota in what is its largest-ever U.S. recall.

For two years, the I-Team has been reporting on cases of sudden acceleration in the 2007 Toyota Tacoma pickup trucks. In October 2007, the I-Team first broadcast an investigation where federal investigators suspected a floor mat problem in the trucks was causing the sudden acceleration.

Last month, a family of four in California died in a crash while driving a rented Lexus, a vehicle also made by Toyota. A passenger in the Lexus indicated in a 911 call that the vehicle had accelerated and would not stop.

Toyota is investigating if the floor mats become jammed under the gas pedal in the vehicles, causing the sudden acceleration.

Toyota has acknowledged the California crash sparked the recall and the warning for drivers of several Toyota vehicles to remove the floor mats from their vehicles. A spokesman for Toyota confirmed the sudden acceleration cases investigated by the I-Team also helped make their decision.

Drivers of the Toyota vehicles affected by the recall should receive a letter from Toyota by December, telling them to remove their floor mats. Toyota indicated in the letter to NHTSA that there will be a secondary notification to owners about the availability of a free remedy, but that was not further clarification of that second procedure in the letter.

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