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Toyota Says Corolla, Matrix Stalling Problem Not a Safety Risk

Mar 18, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP

It looks like Toyota has another vehicle defect on its hands.  According to the Detroit Free Press, the automaker is trying to determine how to correct stalling problems on more than 1 million Corolla and Matrix vehicles.  But Toyota insists the stalls don't pose a safety risk.

Obviously, this is the last thing Toyota needs.  Since last fall, Toyota has recalled more than 8 million vehicles worldwide for problems involving sudden acceleration. Toyota has blamed the speed control issues on defective floor mats and faulty accelerator pedals, but some experts suspect that problems with the vehicles’ electronic throttle control system could really be behind the problems. Such suspicions have increased recently, as dozens of Toyota owners whose vehicles underwent recall repairs have recently complained that their vehicles are still experiencing problems with unintended acceleration.

Apparently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been investigating stalling problems with 2006 Corolla and Matrix models since last November. According to the Free Press, at that time the agency had received 26 reports of engine stalls. In some, owners reported that stalls happened without warning and in some cases the engine was hard to restart or kept stalling. None of those reports were linked to any injuries or crashes.

By the beginning of March, the NHTSA had received a total of 76 such reports. According to the Free Press, one of these incidents involved a fire, and some of the stalls occurred while vehicles were going through intersections or merging onto highways.

According to Toyota, the stalling problem affects 2005 through 2007 model year Corolla and Matrix vehicles. The automaker blamed the problem on physical faults in the production of the vehicles’ engine control units, caused by mistakes at two suppliers. In a letter to the NHTSA, Toyota said it “does not believe that the alleged defect creates an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety.”  According to the Free Press, if the NHTSA agrees with Toyota that the stalling problem doesn’t pose a safety risk, Toyota would be free to take any number of steps to correct it, short of an official recall.


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