Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

NHTSA: Toyota may have withheld recall info

By Peter Valdes-Dapena, senior writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is launching an investigation into whether Toyota Motor Co. delayed telling investigators in 2005 that a known defect on compact trucks in Japan was also a problem in the United States.

Toyota (TM) later recalled the trucks in the U.S. for a steering relay rod that was prone to cracking.

The automaker had recalled trucks in Japan for the problem in 2004, according to the current probe. As required by law, the company reported the action to NHTSA. But in that notice, according to the agency, Toyota informed NHTSA that it had received no complaints of the problem in the U.S. and that differences between trucks sold in Japan and the U.S. -- as well as different operating conditions -- meant the issue wasn't a problem here.

On Friday afternoon, NHTSA received internal Toyota documents unearthed through a private lawsuit, a NHTSA official said, that showed Toyota actually had received complaints about the same problem with some trucks and SUVs in the U.S. -- complaints that the automaker allegedly had not shared with NHTSA.

In 2005 Toyota recalled some compact trucks and 4Runner SUVs in the U.S. for the same problem.

"Safety is our number one priority and we take our responsibility to protect U.S. consumers seriously," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. "With new assurances from Toyota about their efforts to improve safety, I hope for their cooperation in getting to the bottom of what happened."

LaHood had met with Toyota chief executive Akio Toyoda earlier Monday in Japan.

"Toyota has received an Information Request from NHTSA in regard to this issue," Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons said in an email. "We will cooperate with the agency's investigation."

Under federal regulations, automakers are required to inform the agency within five days of determining that a safety defect exists in one of its products. Failure to abide by reporting rules carries a maximum fine of $16.4 million.

Toyota recently paid one such fine for allegedly failing to report problems with gas pedals in some of its cars in a timely manner. Although Toyota agreed to pay the fine in that case, the automaker did not admit any wrongdoing. To top of page

Find Your Next Car
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,472.37 200.36 1.23%
Nasdaq 4,707.78 80.69 1.74%
S&P 500 1,951.36 27.54 1.43%
Treasuries 1.99 -0.05 -2.60%
Data as of 1:23pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 15.38 -0.17 -1.09%
Apple Inc 110.38 0.80 0.73%
Micron Technology In... 15.91 1.14 7.72%
General Electric Co 25.47 0.28 1.11%
Microsoft Corp 45.57 0.96 2.15%
Data as of Oct 2


The NFL is the world's richest sports league and by far the most popular sport in the U.S. But it has struggled to attract overseas fans. More

After years of talks, negotiators for the United States and 11 other nations are trying to hash out final terms of a controversial free-trade agreement. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, would make trade easier across many areas of business. More

Smarties, a Halloween candy staple, have been around for 66 years. Three Millennial women are revolutionizing it. More

Spending more than you make is bad for your finances, but other not-so-obvious money habits will hurt your long-term savings. More