Lawsuit Alleges Toyota Secretly Repurchased Faulty Cars

A recently revised lawsuit brought against Toyota alleges that the car company attempted to hide unintended acceleration problems in their vehicles by secretly repurchasing them back from complaining customers and having them sign confidentiality agreements.

Additionally, the expanded suit claims that internal company documents prove that Toyota has replicated speed-control problems — unrelated to either loose floormats or “sticky” gas pedals — like those reported by some customers.

In response to the repurchasing allegations, Toyota said in a statement that it has indeed bought back vehicles from customers but that the purpose of the purchases was to conduct “further engineering analysis” and not to conceal problems from the public, media or regulators.

Furthermore, a Toyota rep said that the “settlement agreement” signed by customers involved in the repurchases did include a release from liability for the car maker but did not include a requirement of confidentiality for the the customer.

The expanded lawsuit does not currently contain any physical evidence of these agreements.

Toyota also says it has never been able to replicate the “acceleration concerns nor found any related issues or conditions in these vehicles.”

Toyota secretly bought problem cars, lawsuit says [Reuters]

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  1. Macgyver says:

    Toyota also says is has never been able to replicate the “acceleration concerns nor found any related issues or conditions in these vehicles.”
    You know why, cause most of those people probably stepped on the gas instead of the brakes. Also some people couldn’t afford their cars anymore, so they were just copying everyone else and blaming Toyota, so they won’t have to pay anymore. Maybe some of those care were faulty, but not all.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      It’s already been pretty documented that some of the claims were legitimate, and some were false. So the problem, in fact, exists.

      • Doubts42 says:

        Not to doubt you, but i can’t recall any of the sudden acceleration cases being legit. i can’t find any examples in a quick google search either, Link?

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          Well, family who died when their car careened off the interstate during a family road trip.

          Sorry I can’t provide a link, but there’s instances buried in the Consumerist archives.

          • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

            Well, we know they drove off the Interstate. We don’t know WHY.

            I suspect a lot of those cases were either driver error or floormats. The “sticky pedal” problem was unlikely to cause anything more than mild acceleration.

          • Panoptic says:

            While unfortunate, I still don’t understand why the driver didn’t think to put the transmission into neutral. There isn’t a lock between drive and neutral for a reason on automatic transmissions. Yeah, you could argue that he was panicked, but he seemed coherent enough on the phone. Plus, if I recall correctly, the man driving was an officer of some sort; this is something he should have known.

            Either way, all manufacturers have reports of unintended acceleration (especially since the switch to drive by wire throttle control). It’s just that the Toyota case got blown out of proportion.

            • KyBash says:

              Shifting into neutral doesn’t always work on those vehicles — the shift level is merely a switch which tells the computer what you want. The computer then decides whether or not to actually change gears. When the computer is blue-screening, it ignores your choice.

              • MrEvil says:

                It’s not just that, lots of PCM’s in vehicles won’t shift to neutral when the throttle is wide open in order to prevent the engine from over-revving. Best option is to just yank the key. You should be able to steer enough to get onto the shoulder. Also, when an engine is at WOT it isn’t generating vacuum so your power brakes won’t work either unless you have hydraulic assist.

                On a passenger sedan losing power steering isn’t a really big deal. Now on a large truck it would be.

        • doughrama says:

          Maybe “some of the claims were legitimate” means “some of the claims haven’t been proven false.”

          • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

            And maybe some of the ones “proven” false were actually true.

            Second guessing changes nothing.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:
          • malraux says:

            But that’s an example of the floormat trapping the gas pedal. Lots of people were claiming that the computer was glitching and accelerating even though the brake was pressed. There’s never been a proven legit case beyond the floormat thing, which toyota has already addressed.

            • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

              Toyota has also not been able to prove every case wrong. There are too many cases to assume that every one of them is someone just trying to get money.

            • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

              From the Article:

              “And it says the company’s confirmation of at least one clear-cut case of sudden unintended acceleration was concealed rather than reported to federal auto safety regulators.”

              So at least one “clear-cut case” exists.

              You’ve been RTFA’d!

        • DataRaider says:

          Did you even bother to read the second paragraph??? (the one that says they found internal documents stating Toyota was able to recreate the problem without floor mats or sticky gas pedals)

    • craptastico says:

      if you RTFA you’d see that Toyota directly contradicts the nonsense you’re selling.”the company’s confirmation of at least one clear-cut case of sudden unintended acceleration was concealed rather than reported to federal auto safety regulators.”

      good job of sticking to your preconceived notions regardless of evidence though, the real MacGyver would never be so close minded

  2. mythago says:

    Consumerist…please…your legal reporting hurts us, yes it does. “The expanded lawsuit does not currently contain any physical evidence of these agreements” – dude, what are you talking about? They’re not going to attach floormats to the complaint and file it at the courthouse.

    What this is, is an amended COMPLAINT. Meaning that the plaintiffs’ lawyers write up a document saying ‘these are what we believe the facts of the case are, these are the legal theories we think mean Toyota did certain wrong things and should be liable’.

    • Chris Morran says:

      Because I’m not talking about floormats. As I wrote, there is no physical evidence of the AGREEMENTS, i.e., the so-called confidentiality agreements mentioned in the amended suit. The lawyers say they don’t actually have any copies of the agreement, only that they’ve been told of their existence.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Yeah, I thought it was pretty clear. I don’t know what he’s talking about.

      • mythago says:

        Again, that’s not a problem at this stage of the game. What the article you linked to seems to say is that the plaintiffs have filed an amended complaint. A complaint just says ‘here’s what the facts are, here is how we think that the facts mean Toyota is liable to us’. Even if they HAD the agreements in hand, they wouldn’t likely attach it to the actual complaint and file that with the court; they’d say something like “On or about June 1, 1995, Toyota sent a ‘Letter of Confidentiality’ to Mr. Moran, offering to buy his Toyota and threatening to kill his parrot if it were disclosed.”

        To be fair to you here, Chris, it’s not like the original article you cite is a stunning piece of legal journalism.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          Based on interviews with previous owners, these agreements exist, and thus the complaint was amended to reflect that. His point of mentioning that the agreements aren’t attached is that that readers understand that currently no physical evidence exists of the complaints of which you speak.

          Readers… except for you.

    • dr_drift says:

      Oh, snap! You’ve just been Morraned!

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Wow. Reading comprehension fail. You quoted the word “agreements” and then decided that meant floormats.

      You’ve been RTFA’d!

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Amended reading compehension fail. The very beginning of the actually article saw it’s a LAWSUIT, not a complaint. So stop yelling it our like it means you uncovered some factual inaccuracies.

      You’ve been RTFA’d!

  3. sir_eccles says:

    Weird how the almost daily reporting of old people pressing the wrong pedal stopped so suddenly.

  4. Olivia Neutron-Bomb says:

    So… the allegations in the headline are debunked by the article. But you got me to read it, which I guess was the goal.

  5. blinky says:

    Funny how all the complaints have disappeared, though.

  6. Scamazon says:

    This is a common practice by a lot of auto manufacturers to keep known issues out of the limelight, not just Toyota…