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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is intensifying its investigation into stalling Toyota Corolla models. According to the Associated Press, the agency has opened what it calls an engineering analysis into 1.8 million Corolla and Matrix models sold between 2005 and 2007. So far, NHTSA has received around 163 complaints about stalling in those vehicles, and the government seems to believe the problem may be due to a faulty coating on the vehicle's circuit boards. It's also possibl

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It's Monday afternoon and you know what that means. It's time to submit your questions for this week's podcast. We've got a list of topics to discuss below, starting with a supercar question to get our resident curmudgeon warmed up. Got a question for our intrepid team of podcasters? Now's the time to ask away. Don't forget to vote on which questions deserve our attention the most, though we'll try to get to as many as we can. Discussion topics for Autoblog Podcast #187, which we'll record tonig

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2009 Toyota Corolla XRS – Click above for high-res image gallery

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After receiving more than 3,000 reports of sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles, the U.S. Department of Transportation has concluded that driver error was actually at fault. According to The Wall Street Journal, investigators analyzing different data recorders from Toyota vehicles found that at the time of these sudden acceleration crashes, the throttles were wide open rather and the brakes were not depressed. Thus, they have reason to believe that drivers were mistakenly stomping on the accel

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Battered yet again by a series of embarrassing recalls, accusations of a cover-up and its collapse in a widely-watched quality survey, Toyota is taking an unusual step it hopes will bring things back under control.

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Behind the Scenes at Toyota's R&D Center – Click above for high-res image gallery

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Behind the scenes at Toyota's R&D center – Click above for high-res image gallery

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As part of its efforts to improve its responsiveness to customer complaints, Toyota is adding six new product quality field offices (PQFO) around North America starting this month. The new offices are to be co-located with Toyota Motor Sales regional offices and focus on investigating and addressing customer issues like reports of unintended acceleration.

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Failed Lexus IS350 valve spring – Click above for high-res image gallery

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As investigations into how Toyota handled faulty steering relay rods in the company's pickup trucks and SUVs continue, critics suggest that it's quickly becoming clear that the company has mishandled repair and recall efforts. According to a USA Today article, Toyota had repaired vehicles with the defect for over 11 years in the U.S. before deciding to initiate a recall in Japan, and a recall for the 977,000 affected American vehicles didn't occur until one year later.

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2010 Lexus LS steering fault – Click above to watch video after the jump

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Somehow, we're guessing that the "any publicity is good publicity" cliche isn't ringing particularly true with Toyota these days. That said, we do have to give some props to the automaker for being open about the current state of its recent recall woes. According to Toyota, roughly 3.2 million of its many recall notices have been fulfilled.

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Japan Transport Minister Seiji Maehara stopped by Washington D.C. late last week to discuss several issues with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, including Toyota and the future of high speed rail here in the States. The Detroit News reports that Maehara admitted the Japanese automaker made some mistakes in handling its recall issues, adding "Toyota has on its own recognized that it had been slow." Maehara and LaHood further agreed that the Toyota situation shouldn't disrupt the relation

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According to a report from Automotive News, BMW has managed to replace Toyota as the world's most valuable car marque, even though the German automaker saw its brand's worth decline last year. The article sites a study by Millward Brown called the BrandZ Top 100. On the heels of Toyota's recent recall troubles, the company's value declined by 27 percent to a shade under $21.8 billion. Meanwhile, the BMW drop was much less at just nine percent, putting its total value at $21.8 billion even.

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The moment Lexus GX owners have been waiting for since Consumer Reports first blacklisted the SUV last week has finally arrived – Toyota has recalled the vehicle. According to The Detroit News, the Japanese manufacturer will announce the move later this afternoon, and the recall is expected to cover around 5,000 vehicles currently on the road. As expected, Lexus dealers will install new traction control software to correct potentially dangerous handling characteristics.

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According to Reuters, a federal judge has consolidated the majority of lawsuits filed against Toyota involving unintended acceleration. Over 100 such suits have been bundled together by U.S. District Judge James Selna, and temporary lead counsel has been chosen for both sides of the case. Expect a star-studded cast to show up for this one, including lawyers formerly involved with everything from Big Tobacco legislation to the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

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On Monday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced it was fining Toyota $16.4 million for failing to recall vehicles due to faulty accelerator pedals in a timely fashion. Toyota has two weeks to either contest or pay the fine, but an e-mail obtained by the Detroit Free Press shows that it may be best for the Japanese automaker to quickly pay the fine and move on.

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If there's one thing we'll miss when Bob Lutz finally packs up and heads out to pasture, it'll be the guy's role as General Motors' resident quote machine. Take this latest gem, for example. According to BusinessWeek, Lutz has been quoted as saying, "Toyota's God-like status will never be reclaimed." He was speaking to reporters at the New York Auto Show about post-bankruptcy GM, and happened to take a swing at the company's biggest rival at the same time.

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