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From the "This story just keeps getting uglier" department comes a new bit of information concerning Toyota and its growing sticky pedal problem. The Detroit Free Press is reporting that Toyota and the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration were looking into the problem back in 2004, but an interesting twist led the investigation down a path that ultimately turned up nothing.
The Freep says that this early investigation was strictly limited to incidents of unintended acceleration lasting one second or less, which strikes us as odd considering prolonged periods unintended acceleration are a lot more dangerous than a blip of the throttle. And this is where the story gets a bit tricky. The Freep reports that a 2008 lawsuit stemming from an alleged unintended acceleration-related death of a woman driving a 2005 Camry says that the decision was made to limit the investigation right after a former NHTSA employee, Christopher Santucci, took a job with Toyota.

The lawsuit alleges that the new Toyota employee negotiated a deal with his former coworkers at NHTSA to limit the investigation of unintended acceleration claims to instances of one second or less. Santucci said in a deposition that the NHTSA investigation involved 2002 and 2003 Toyota Camry, Solaras and Lexus ES300 models. NHTSA had reportedly received 139 complaints in the 2004 investigation, but found no defects.

Now that Toyota has officially recalled millions of vehicles, the question remains whether these older models will eventually be recalled as well. The short answer is that we have no idea, but former NHTSA head Joan Claybrook feels that the government safety agency should have taken unintended acceleration claims more seriously in the past.

[Source: Detroit Free Press | Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty]


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  • 69 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Lol at the pigeon replying to every other comment.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Consumer reports chief editor's wife is Toyota executive

      I wonder why they love TOYLETA so much.
      I think Consumer Report morons are committing harakiri as we speak LOL

      • 5 Years Ago
      I hear the sweet banging of nails into a coffin...
        • 5 Years Ago
        A pony.......car in my garage.
        • 5 Years Ago
        My wish is coming true day by day. What's your wish?
        invisiblepigeon3
        • 5 Years Ago
        Wally you're too much of a dumbf*** to be real.

        Do you drive a bankruptcymobile? moron
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wow.. looks like I won't ever be buying a Toyota..

      OH WAIT! I forgot, I wouldn't buy one anyone because they're so incredibly boring I'd probably unintentionally accelerate it by falling asleep while driving anyway.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Doesn't anyone remember the unintended acceleration with the Audi 5000S back in the mid-1980's. It almost put them out of business. The Feds just about hung them up by their collective left nut.

      This reminds me of the parable Those who you step on, on the way up, are those who kick you on the way down" Toyota was never shy about their intentions to become the biggest automaker in the world; they succeeded and now that they have stumbled, everyone wants in on the butt-kicking contest.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Don't you read any of the preceding articles? A few of us have mentioned it about every time now. Key differences? Audi won the case in the end, Fed didn't hang them up by their left nut, a news segment did. Oh and dozens didn't die, hundreds weren't injured and thousands didn't file complaints (well that's what we know now, if this goes back to '04, expect all those numbers to be several magnitudes larger).

        I'll say it again, this is a lot more serious than the 5000 fiasco, but does, as you’re alluding to, and most of us have been for weeks, have the capacity to impact Toyota the same. Maybe. The audi storm was perfect timing, new german luxury brand in the us, finally almost on par with bmw, a few jingoistic rants and poof, gone.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @invisiblepigeon3 > what domestic cars are good?

        My Honda from Ohio is pretty good (and 80%+ US parts; pretty much just the transmission is Japanese.

        I like my Subaru from Indiana too. I forget the % breakdown on where the parts are from.

        ;-)
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wow.
      • 5 Years Ago
      @ Chris Shunk:

      You seem to have misquoted the former NHTSA official regarding who should have taken the reports more seriously. The quote from the Free Press article is:

      "Joan Claybrook, a former head of NHTSA, said the recalls suggest Toyota should have taken acceleration complaints more seriously."
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hey Pidgeon crap,

      I drive a domestic. A 1993 Pontiac Bonneville SE with 242,000 miles. Original engine and transmission, doesn't burn oil, I get compliments on the ride quality, and gets comparable gas mileage to a similar Honda or Toyota of similar size. All I had to do was replace the A/C compressor and a few gaskets due to age. Despite its age I know I can rely on it for long-distance travel over some crappy-ass Toyota with sludge problems and who knows what else.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Nobody is suppused to know about this!!! PLEASE STOP!!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      +1
      • 5 Years Ago
      While it seems like the end of the world for Toyota right now, I would certainly not count them out. Afterall, if they come through this with minimal damage it won't be the first time they have overcome such an embarrassing episode. This is the same company that put over 3 million engines on the market that were prone to engine sludge and after years of blaming the drivers for not changing their oil a class action lawsuit finally got them to step up to the plate. However, hundreds of thousands had already sold their cars after replacing the engines at their own cost and didn't get a dime out of that settlement. This time it was ABC News' threat of exposing the depth of the unintended acceleration issue that prompted them to stop selling the 8 models in question.

      Just like on the sludge issue, a loyal Toyotaist will ignore nagging issues such as out of control acceleration and will still fill out the quality survey as if nothings ever gone wrong. Back during the sludge days Toyota's quality surveys never faltered a bit. Look at all the people on here and elsewhere that are jumping to their defense even after being bent over by them time and time again. I suspect some the posters on here like being bent over but that's another issue. Toyota will be fine.
      • 5 Years Ago
      say it with me:
      GMuberalles Mis Uses Bad - Even (w)Retched - Acronyms Lulling Listeners & Effecting Sleep

        • 5 Years Ago
        Say it with me: You're A Douche
        • 5 Years Ago
        ^
        Bahahahahahahaha, winnAr!!!
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