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Toyota will Review Electronic Throttle Systems, Issues Another Recall

Feb 15, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP

NEWS UPDATE: Washington Post, Tuesday, February 16th, 2010 - Toyota hit by new surge of reported fatalities in vehicles (Click to view page)

Toyota will be conducting a review of the electronic throttle control system used on many of its vehicles in an effort to quell speculation that the system is behind the unintended acceleration problems that have sparked the recall of millions of Toyota and Lexus vehicles.  Meanwhile, Toyota's safety woes continued over the weekend, with the automaker recalling 8,000 2010 Tacoma Trucks to fix a problem with the front drive shaft that could cause the vehicle to lose control.

Since January 2010, Toyota has recalled 5.3 million vehicles in the U.S. because of problems with unintended acceleration. The recalls started in September, when Toyota announced it was recalling and replacing floor mats on approximately 4.2 million vehicles which were allegedly causing accelerator pedals in the vehicles to become stuck in the depressed position, leading to uncontrollable and rapid acceleration of the vehicle. On January 21, Toyota recalled 2.3 million vehicles due to accelerator pedals on those vehicles becoming stuck in a depressed position, causing unexpected and unsafe acceleration. Toyota accelerator-related problems have been linked to crashes that killed at least 19 people.

Attorneys for some people involved in Toyota unintended acceleration lawsuits have blamed the electronic throttle control system for the problems. They point out that unintended acceleration complaints began to increase significantly in 2002, when Toyota began installing such systems in a broad range of its vehicle lines.

Last week, Toyota told the U.S. Congress that it did not believe problems with the electronic control system were responsible for unintended acceleration problems.   Now, Japanese media are reporting that Toyota will announce a new review of the system later this month.  External experts will be used to conduct the review, and the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) may also participate.

The Tacoma recall  involves 4-wheel drive Tacomas that were built from mid-December 2009 to early February 2010.  According to the Associated Press, a crack could develop that could lead to the front driveshaft separating and falling from the truck.  A Toyota spokesperson told the Associated Press that most of the Tacomas affected by the recall are on dealer lots or in the distribution chain.

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