In 2004, Toyota recalled Japanese market pickup trucks and 4Runners, built between 1989 and 1998, for a potentially dangerous problem with the steering linkage. Under the right conditions, such as those caused by repeated close-quarter maneuvering common to driving in Japan, the steering rods were prone to snapping, which would leave a driver with no steering control whatsoever.
Nearly one year later, in September of 2005, Toyota issued a similar recall in the United States for compact pickups, T100 pickups and 4Runner SUVs built between 1989 and 1998. The delay, Toyota alleged, was because driving conditions differ in the United States and because they hadn’t received complaints of steering failure on U.S. vehicles.
On Friday, May 7, the NHTSA learned of 41 complaints of steering failure in Toyota trucks filed by U.S. drivers prior to Toyota’s Japanese-market-only recall of 2004. They’ve requested additional information from Toyota, but it’s likely that this is just another formality. If the NHTSA can prove that Toyota covered up the steering rod defect in the U.S., expect them to slap another $16.4 million fine on the automaker.
Chances are that this won’t be the last fine, either, since the NHTSA is putting some serious effort into proving that the floor-mat-pedal-entrapment and CTS-sticking-accelerator-pedal recalls were two different issues. Once the agency has it’s reports finalized, Toyota can expect a third $16.4 million invoice from the NHTSA.
Source: The Washington Post