U.S. digs deeper into stalling Toyotas

2007_toyota_matrix.top.jpgCorolla and Matrix engines could stall and not restart on 1.2 million models. by Peter Valdes-Dapena, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is upgrading its investigation into possible stalling problems in nearly 1.2 million Toyota Corolla and Matrix cars.

The issue, as described by NHTSA, is that the "engine can stall at any speed without warning and not restart."

The agency had opened a "preliminary investigation" into the problem at the end of November. At the time, the investigation involved only model year 2006 Corolla and Matrix vehicles. (The Matrix is essentially a wagon version of the Corolla.) That matter has now been upgraded to an "engineering analysis," a more detailed and thorough type of investigation.

The investigation now involves model years 2005 though 2007. Together, NHTSA and Toyota have received as many as 1,100 complaints of engine stalling, including six cases that involved crashes or fires, according to NHTSA documents.

By the time NHTSA opened its preliminary investigation, Toyota had already found two possible causes for the engine problems, according to NHTSA documents, both involving manufacturing problems with the engines' electronic control units.

"Based on its analysis, Toyota does not believe the alleged defect creates an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety," Toyota said in a letter to NHTSA dated March 2, 2010.

The automaker believes that, when there are problems with the electronic control unit, engine stalling is preferable to allowing the engine to run, risking a possible "catastrophic failure" or fire, Toyota said in the letter.

The letter, which was written in response to NHTSA's request for information, also provides details of some steps Toyota had already taken to deal with engine problems relating to the electronic engine control units on the Toyota models in question.

Toyota spokespeople were not immediately able to respond to a request for comment on the matter. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Find Your Next Car
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,042.90 -28.32 -0.17%
Nasdaq 4,493.39 -12.46 -0.28%
S&P 500 1,972.29 -5.51 -0.28%
Treasuries 2.51 0.02 0.68%
Data as of 12:15am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Ford Motor Co 14.79 -0.32 -2.12%
Bank of America Corp... 17.05 0.04 0.24%
eBay Inc 56.63 3.97 7.54%
Apple Inc 100.75 0.64 0.64%
General Electric Co 25.62 0.20 0.79%
Data as of Sep 30

Sections

CNNMoney's Italian-American investing correspondents did a taste test of Olive Garden's food. They agree with hedge fund Starboard: It's not very appetizing. More

Even limited air operations could cost up to $4 billion a year, says a think tank, while large ground forces could cost $1.8 billion a month. More

Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong are using FireChat to improve communication and organize. More

On Wednesday, 17% of First Green Bank's 66 employees will get a raise under the company's new "living wage" program. The guarantee: At least about $30,000 a year. More

This mom of four only makes $29,000 a year and is losing $400 a month because the state is garnishing her paycheck over a debt. Now she is about to be evicted from her apartment. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.