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Number of Toyota complaints keeps climbing

By Chavon Sutton, staff reporter

NEW YORK(CNNMoney.com) -- A government agency said Monday that there has been a spike in consumer complaints about Toyota cars and trucks in recent weeks, following the carmaker's recall of millions of vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it is investigating the allegations, which have yet to be verified, and that a jump in complaints isn't unusual after a recall.

NHTSA said that it has received nine new complaints alleging fatal crashes caused by sudden acceleration in Toyota cars since Jan. 27. The accidents occurred between 2005 and 2010 and involved 13 fatalities and 10 injuries, according to NHTSA.

In the prior 10 years, between 2000 and 2009, the agency said it received a total of 17 complaints involving 21 deaths. That's a total of 34 Toyota complaints alleging fatalities since 2000, according to the NHTSA.

In addition, complaints specifically about the Toyota Prius have also increased in recent weeks. As of Feb. 3, when NHTSA launched its investigation into problems with the hybrid vehicle, the agency had 124 complaints on file. But by Feb. 11, another 996 complains about the Prius had poured in, bringing the total to 1,120.

"It is normal for NHTSA to receive an increase in consumer complaints after a recall is announced and the public learns of a safety defect," Olivia Alair, a NHTSA spokeswoman, told CNN. "The agency is quickly gathering more data on all of these additional complaints to help guide our examination of sudden acceleration, the Prius braking system, as well as other safety issues."

Cindy Knight, a Toyota spokeswoman said the company is responding "more aggressively and more quickly" to customer complaints.

"At Toyota we take all customer reports seriously," said Knight. "We are taking steps to implement more stringent quality controls, investigate customer complaints more aggressively, keep open lines of communication with safety agencies and respond more quickly to safety issues we identify."

Since November, Toyota has recalled more than 8 million vehicles, including 8,000 Tacoma trucks and over 400,000 of the popular Prius hybrids, for problems ranging from brakes and acceleration issues to faulty manufacturing in other areas.

-- With reporting by CNN's Mythili Rao To top of page

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