Toyota’s marketing mantra claims: “Buy a Toyota and you’ll get much more than just a car. You’ll receive superior quality and the backing of a highly ethical corporation that’s totally dedicated to your safety, fuel economy, and overall happiness.”
But the reality is different.
As recent personal injuries suffered by Toyota drivers and passengers have showed, Toyota quality control has deteriorated and resulted in the largest recall in the history of the automotive industry.
Severe personal injuries and wrongful deaths, caused by cars that accelerate to 100 MPH while their terrified drivers try to stop them, vehicle rollovers, huge product recalls, failure to disclose engineering and design deficits problems, and outright lies are the ugly side of Toyota.
While the marketing department has been polishing the company’s image and bragging about vehicles with “zero defects”, management has been making decisions that have killed, injured, and endangered both Toyota’s own customers and everyone else on the road.
The latest example of Toyota’s threat to drivers’ safety is the recall of 2.3 million cars and trucks in the United States because of defective accelerator pedals that so not release when the driver lets off the gas. The recall covers 8 popular models, and it has expanded to China and Europe.
However, many automotive experts do not believe that gas pedals or floor mats are the primary cause of the Sudden Unintended Acceleration (SUA) that many drivers have experienced. SUA is a situation in which a vehicle accelerates wildly for no apparent reason, leaving drivers terrified and everyone on the road in mortal danger.
“The way the sudden-acceleration problems are occurring in reported incidents doesn’t comport with how this sticky pedal is described,” said Sean Kane, president of Safety Research & Strategies1. “We know this recall is a red herring.”
On January 29, Safety Research & Strategies released the results of its study of Toyota’s SUA incidents from 1999 to the present:
Total Incidents: 2262
A Los Angeles Times article of January 30, 2010 reported that only 5% of the 2000 SUA complaints from Toyota and Lexus drivers blamed a sticky gas pedal.
When Toyota made its announcement of the recall to replace the gas pedals, the company also said that it would not sell defective models that were still on dealers’ lots.
Sound like the right thing to do? It is also required by Part 573.11 of the Code of Federal Regulations, which prohibits the sale of defective new vehicles and components.
It’s understandable that Toyota was grasping for anything that might make it look good. The January recall followed a September announcement that Toyota would recall 3.8 million vehicles because of a problem with floor mats that could cause accelerator pedals to become stuck.
Toyota claims that a floor mat was the cause of a crash in San Diego that killed California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor and 3 members of his family when their Lexus accelerated wildly and crashed despite the officer’s vain efforts to stop it.
A similar crash happened in a Toyota Avalon in Dallas on the day after Christmas. Four people died, and the floor mats were in the trunk.
Here in San Jose in 2007, Guadalupe Gomez was driving on I-280 when his Camry went absolutely crazy. The car reached speeds above 100 MPH on the crowded highway as Mr. Gomez tried desperately to stop it. Before he could even slow the car, it crashed into a Honda Accord and caused the wrongful death of Edwin Johnson, the father of 5. Toyota subsequently reached a confidential settlement in excess of $1 million with Mr. Gomez.
In some Toyota SUA cases, drivers have been able to slow the cars without crashing and then take their cars to dealers for examination. On November 4, 2009, ABC News in New York told the story of Paul and Saskia McEan, who were driving through the Mojave Desert with their 2 children when their Highlander accelerated despite Paul’s efforts to slow it. He looked at the accelerator pedal and saw that nothing was holding it down.
He was eventually able to bring the car to a halt. The Toyota dealer who examined his car said that the problem was the result of the floor mat, but Paul McLean is certain that neither the floor mat nor the pedal was the cause of his frightening experience.
WAVE TV in Louisville, Kentucky reported that on January 29, 2010, a 2010 Camry, one of the models included in the massive recall, had accelerated as the driver, Todd Allen, was pulling into a parking spot. Allen pushed the brake with both feet but could not stop the car before it plunged over an embankment. He suffered a possible spinal cord injury and had no feeling in his legs.
These terrifying crashes spot light Toyota’s manufacturing problems and deceitful behavior, but the company has actually been doing everything within its power and its deep pockets to silence Toyota injury victims since at least 1988.
We know that in 1988 Toyota learned that its steering relay rod was vulnerable to failure that would leave a driver with no steering control.
At least 40 consumers reported that their rods had fractured and caused crashes, but Toyota didn’t recall the part until 2004, and then only in Japan.
In 2005, Toyota recalled almost a million SUVs because of a defect that could possibly affect the ability to steer the vehicle.
On November 24, 2009, Toyota announced a recall of 110,000 Tundra pickup trucks because of excessive corrosion that could lead to brake failure.
In the midst of all these recalls, a Toyota insider has provided evidence that cover-ups and denials have become integral parts of Toyota’s corporate culture.
Bimitrios P. Biller was an attorney for Toyota from 2003 to 2007. In July 2009, he filed a federal lawsuit in Los Angeles that accused Toyota of racketeering and obstructing justice by withholding evidence in hundreds of rollover cases. Mr. Biller’s concerns began in 2004 when he observed that Toyota officials routinely failed to present evidence to lawyers representing people who had suffered personal injuries or wrongful deaths in Toyota vehicles.
Toyota’s decisions have put everyone on the road in danger. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a Toyota, or if a defective Toyota has struck and injured you, contact us immediately.
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