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The unintended acceleration issue has reached critical mass for Toyota, but is it an isolated incident for an automaker with an otherwise stellar record for being frank with its customers? A recent investigation by the Los Angeles Times shows that Toyota may have concealed safety issues on several occasions in an effort to keep its name clean. The newspaper is reporting that it uncovered several incidents in which Toyota concealed defects or delayed recalls even after several complaints were made.

For instance, there was an issue with a plastic panel that could be dislodged, potentially leading to unintended acceleration issues in some 2003 model Toyota Sienna minivans. Engineers reportedly discovered the problem and fixed the issue after 26,000 units were made. Toyota didn't announce a recall until six years later. Then there was a steering issue with 2004 Toyota 4Runner models. Toyota recalled the vehicles in Japan but insisted that no recall was necessary in the U.S. even after there were dozens of complaints that showed the problem was real. The Japanese automaker finally recalled the SUVs in 2005. More recent was a suit filed by Dimitrios Biller; the ex-Toyota lawyer who alleges that his former employer hid safety data and evidence in rollover cases.

And that's not nearly all. Click past the break to keep reading about more possible safety defects the LA Times suggests may have been concealed by Toyota.

Of all Toyota's recent problems, the unintended acceleration issue looms largest of all. There have been as many as 19 deaths that have been attributed to the issue, more than all other automakers combined. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told the Times that there have been eight previous Toyota acceleration-related recalls; more than any other automaker.

The newspaper points out several incidences where owners went to court over unintended acceleration issues only to settle the issue out of court after the plaintiff signs a non-disclosure agreement. Others claim that Toyota sent out a representative to run diagnostics on their vehicle. When the customers asked for a copy of the diagnostic test results Toyota denied the request. In fact, Toyota told the Times that it only has one black box reader in the U.S. and that the device was a prototype. And since the device, which requires two passwords to operate, is a prototype, private citizens and their attorneys have been denied requests to see the data. Dealers have bought back vehicles of customers who complained of unintended acceleration issues and the LA Times says some of those vehicles were then sold to other customers.

The recall of 4.25 million vehicles finally came after a family of four, with an off-duty police officer behind the wheel, was killed in California because the Lexus in question reportedly accelerated on its own. When Toyota announced the recall, it blamed the problem on floor mats and intimated that there was no defect. That led to a rebuke by the NHTSA. The government safety organization called the statements "inaccurate and misleading."

Has Toyota been concealing safety issues? The LA Times makes a pretty compelling argument. Head over to the investigative article by clicking on the read link below and tell us what you think in the comments section after the jump.

[Source: LA Times]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      poor quality toyota. toyota always kill people, and they hiding its problem.

      Toyota always pushing ‘cutting cost’ to their supplier. Because of this, Supplier should use cheap components.

      Toyota is no better than Chinese or India auto makers.

      The Toyota Urban Cruiser, the European version of the Scion xD, received a poor overall rating of 3 stars from the European New Car Assessment Programme.
      The reason for the three star rating was the poor score of 58% for adult occupant protection

      Toyota to recall 43,000 cars in China

      TOKYO — Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling about 43,000 cars in China due to a defect that may cause engine oil to leak, a company spokesman said Friday.

      The recall affects four models, the Lexus ES 350, the Lexus RX 350, the Highlander sports utility vehicle and the Previa minivan, said the spokesman, Yuta Kaga.

      It comes just months after Toyota announced its biggest ever recall in China, affecting about 688,000 vehicles, due to a defect in the electric window system.

      Toyota’s reputation for quality has been dented recently by a series of recalls or safety issues, including a fatal accident in California involving an accelerator pedal that jammed under the floor ma

      • 5 Years Ago
      Just wondering:

      How many of these Toyotas in question were made in Japan, and how many were made in America? I know the design itself is almost always from Japan, but I have the hunch that the greater percentage of defective cars are ones built in America than its equivalent built in Japan.

      That would leave two serious problems:
      1) the head officers in Japan don't care much for what's going on in America or abroad.
      2) There is some serious mismanagement going on in the US branch, that even they don't want to communicate the seriousness of it to the head office in Japan.

      I've been living in Japan for 3 years now, and the thing that I've noticed is that all the things they themselves make (like heaters, machines, cars, electronics that don't leave the country) are rock-solid. I look back at Microsoft's Xbox 360 fiasco in that they knowingly manufactured and sold defective machines, kept it quiet, denied its faults, for the purpose of being #1 in the market, meanwhile its competitor, Sony, built a quality rock-solid machine, DELAYED ITS RELEASE for quality reasons and kept it at an uncompetitive price point.

      I'm not Japanese, and I have no reason to defend them, but I have full confidence in what they build and how they go about doing it far more than something built by own neighbour in America. It's just a gut feeling, I know, but it's still sad, but true.
        • 5 Years Ago
        PS3 is not rock solid. Stop drinking the water.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Regardless of where the wrench was turned, or who supplied the parts...
        Toyota approved the designs
        Toyota PPAP'ed & FMEA'ed the manufacturing and assembly processes
        Toyota built the cars and put their names on them
        Toyota sold them
        Toyota is responsible for correcting the problems with their cars, and it's becoming clear they were manipulative with the facts is a way that put their customers at risk.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Dreams die hard, and so do fantasies. The first fantasy was that Toyota builds the most reliable cars. That fantasy may finally be exposed to the light. The second fantasy is that Honda is, in any way, superior to Hyundai. That delusion should be on DOA within two years...except amongst those that simply can't keep up.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Toyota initially tried to hide the sludge problems they had a few years back, telling dealers to blame the customer for improper maintenance.
        • 5 Years Ago

        Thanks so much for your insight. Now I definitely will not buy a Toyota. I wouldn't want my dash to fall out that's for sure.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Knew someone who got told that line. A few years later after the Sludge problem was addressed he took Toyota and the Dealership to court and won :D mind you there was issues that forced his hand beyond having to pay for a new engine like..... entire dash falling into his lap before he even left the lot, A/C issues, electrical issues.. but yeah at times denial of a issue can come back to haunt a company.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I guess Toyota is going to be the Tiger Woods of the auto world.
        • 5 Years Ago
        • 5 Years Ago
        naw, but automotive blogs seem to get enjoyment on reporting negative downfall of Toyota, much like Tiger Woods news.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I don't think Tiger Woods banging a hooker is going to cause the death of anyone.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Naw, No Way, Not Toyota.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Try: Naw, No Way, Not .

        It seems like the press is trying to make up for not holding feet to the fire like they should have been equally for all car makers.

        I do think we've come a long way in the last decades with automakers being more forthcoming with the recalls and silent recalls....less of a stain on the brand and seen as being more proactive.

        • 5 Years Ago
        haha, it tagged my -insert random auto maker- right out of there when I used html tag brackets. ;)

        So, replace Toyo w/ random auto maker trying to cover things up, and have a merry christmas!
        • 5 Years Ago
        What else you can expect from Japanese?, Secrecy and lies.
        Screw Toyleta
      • 5 Years Ago
      I was gonna heartily recommend the new Sienna, but this is making me reconsider after all...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Worst part about that pic, its not even the f'n floor mat that comes with toyota's. nope, its the same b.s. that the media just wants to flog Toyota around because of it's good reputation. That floor mat pictured btw looks to be aftermarket for one because what comes in with the cars is the carpeted ones. the official toyota carpeted and all weather mats come with holes pre-drilled in them for proper installation. so even if that WAS toyota branded, it's not in right, wasn't installed right. How do I know? Im a toyota tech and i cant tell you how much time I waste every f'n day because of stupid b.s. like that pic that's shown because all the sheeple who see that crap assume it applies to them without using basic common sense most the time when these cars come in it's because of people who put the crap in themselves and break or dont put back in the clips that hold the dam things in the first place. Of course, the typical american thing is dont blame themselves for their stupidity, blame an inanimate object. Btw, I'm not saying toyota is innocent in the other recall's. I'm saying in this particular one, this is a fault of the driver not making sure their vehicals are safe to operate. oh, and one last thing on one ecu reprogramming, NHTSA bombarded the ecu controlled accelerator pedal with interference and noise and got NOTHING. this isn't a problem with the vehicle, these are people looking to get something for nothing.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Your lack of intelligence is amazing. Anyone smarter than a common housefly could look at that picture and assume that the pedal is a design flaw. If Toyota should be judged by the morons like you working on them and the morons that designed the pedal and the morons blaming every fault of Toyota's doing on the consumer then I say Toyota should be run out of the US on a rail.
      • 5 Years Ago
      screw japan, screw domestic. this is why I drive euro
        • 5 Years Ago
        Don't kid yourself, they have their problems too.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Toyota is dangerously close to becoming the new GM...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Correction Venom...Old GM ;)
      • 5 Years Ago
      and down goes Toyota, up goes Ford.

      next decade prediction? Ford becomes the hottest brand, Toyota slips into the shadows.

      gotta love trends, something new every decade.
        • 5 Years Ago
        how would you like your shoe?
        Rare,Medium or Well Done Smelly?
        • 5 Years Ago
        if that happens i'll eat my own shoe.
        i wonder how much Ford paid to win COTY from Motor Trend???
      • 5 Years Ago
      How much evidence do you rice loving car junkies need? Cash for clunker bias,hidden safety issues and tacomas rust while you sleep in your driveways !!! Keep up the GREAT work toyota !!!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Even after all this, I still want a FT-86 or whatever it'll be called.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Just another AB post that has brought out all the domestic lovin idiots. Merry Christmas you ignoramous fools. Autoblog gave you the best gift you could ask for, an opportunity to band together like a bunch of women to bitch. Keep drivin your domestic s*** in your little world of denial. Yea, Toyota sucks. Morons.
        • 5 Years Ago
        and what is wrong with rice you jackass hillbilly redneck prck
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