NHTSA Examining 163 New Complaints Of Unintended Acceleration In Toyota Vehicles

Just six months after it was announced that Toyota would pay $1.2 billion to close a case involving the unintended acceleration in a number of vehicles, the car manufacture is facing a federal probe over the same issue.

According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notice [PDF], a consumer petitioned the regulator for an investigation into low-speed surging in nearly 1.7 million model year 2006 to 2010 Corollas.

The unintended acceleration may cause the vehicle’s brakes to fail, resulting in the car not stopping in time to prevent a crash.

The petitioner alleges experiencing multiple low-speed surge events while driving a 2010 Corolla; the last incident resulted in a collision with a parked vehicle in June.

NHTSA reports receiving 163 reports in which the driver of a Corolla experienced a surge at low-speed or no speed. Regulators will examine the reports to determine if a formal safety investigation is necessary.

Many of the complaints referenced by NHTSA include consumers’ unstoppable acceleration while trying to park.

“My wife was pulling into a parking spot in front of a bagel shop and the car just lost control accelerating,” one complaint reads. “Not stopping until it crashed into a pillar, causing extreme damage to the car.”

“I was leaving the drive thru to park my car and wait for my food to come out,” another complaint states. “I made an immediate left followed by an immediate left to park in a handicap spot. I pressed the brakes and my car didn’t slow down at all. I kept pressing and nothing happened. My car went over the concrete block in front of the handicap thru [sic] bushes and finally stopped when I hit the corner of the building I pulled the car in reverse and pulled the e-brake.”

Officials with Toyota tell the Los Angeles Times that they will “cooperate fully with any inquiry.”

Toyota’s previous acceleration issues came to light in 2009 following the tragic death of an off-duty California Highway Patrolman and his family in a Lexus. The vehicle went off the road at around 120 mph, but not before someone in the car called 9-1-1 urgently seeking help because they could not get the car to slow down.

This incident and other reports led to the recall of millions of Toyota vehicles, along with hundreds of civil lawsuits, some of which have been settled and some that continue to linger in the legal system.

NHTSA tied the sudden acceleration problems to five deaths. However, the root cause of the problem has been a much-disputed topic. Some have claimed it was a problem with the vehicles’ electrical systems, while Toyota blamed it on unsecured floor mats that became trapped under the accelerator or brake pedals, making it difficult or impossible to control the speed of the cars.

Back in March, it was reported that federal prosecutors found evidence that Toyota made misleading statements about safety problems that were revealed by its own internal audits, and that the company made misleading statements to the government and to the public about those safety issues.

In addition to the millions Toyota has already paid out in customer lawsuits, it has paid a total of $66.2 million to NHTSA for four recent claims that the carmaker failed to report safety defects to the government.

NHTSA reviewing new Toyota Corolla unintended-acceleration claims [The Los Angeles Times]

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