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Engine failures in MR2 Spyders

6/11/2014 - Updated the original post by entering direct links to reference material, and added remarks about the legal issues involved with...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Is Akio the Prince... or the Godfather?

"Toyota President Akio Toyoda, known as 'the prince' in Japan..."

Prince or Godfather? The jury - federal grand - is still out on that one, but I'm leanin' toward the latter. As the death count increases, evidence points to hundreds of millions of dollars worth of sweetheart deals between Toyota and NHTSA, revolving doors resulting in blocked safety investigations, and the intentional witholding of stuff Toyota was legally required to release in accordance with lawsuits filed against them by crash victims. Big stuff.  Stuff about vehicle design and testing, complete with out of court settlements motivated by a desire to keep incriminating information quiet. And just for good measure, the Securities and Exchange Commission has jumped into the fray, demanding to know more about what Toyota has been tellin' investors. Whew. That's enough to raise anyone's eyebrows.

Equally alarming - now that a few investigations are under way - it seems we're gettin' a daily dose of heretofore unheard of defects, along with downright unnerving accounts of NHTSA's response to consumer complaints. Even Apple's Steve Wozniak got the cold shoulder when he complained about sudden unintended acceleration in his Prius.

With sales a sufferin', Toyota is comin' up with better offers for customers affected by current recalls, and plans to offer some spectacular incentives to attract buyers. Okay. But somehow, this whole thing reminds me of a movie I once saw about a family run business that got its way by makin' offers people just couldn't refuse...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hey, NHTSA: oil sludge IS a safety issue...

Toyota continues to stonewall customers whose engines have been damaged by oil sludge, and over 3,000 have signed a petition in protest.  Many engines have suddenly seized up in traffic, some on the Interstate.  Yet the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration doesn't consider sludged engines to be a safety hazard.  How come? 

As the relationship between Toyota and the NHTSA raises alarming questions of political influence - along with a criminal investigation - it's way past time to bring the oil sludge problem front and center.  Not only is there an obvious safety issue, there's also compelling evidence that certain models were unduly excluded when Toyota was successfully sued in a class action years ago.

Anytime an outrageous number of engines conk out, its not the customers' fault.  And if any car company now has a reputation for blaming customers when things go wrong, its Toyota.  Wouldn't it be nice if the taxpayin' public had recourse to a government agency that looks out for consumers instead of corporations?  C'mon, NHTSA.  Do your job.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Unintended acceleration: NHTSA knew in 2003

Revolving doors twixt NHTSA and Toyota, deals cut with so-called safety regulators savin' Toyota 'bout $100 million, and the wash gets dirtier by the day. Now, State Farm has changed its story regarding when they alerted NHTSA regarding unintended acceleration. Seems it was 2004 instead of 2007. Not to be outdone, ol' NHTSA has fired back that it started looking into things December of '03. Okay...

Question is, after they knew, what did they do? Well for one thing, they slammed the brakes on an investigation into consumer complaints of unintended acceleration in Toyota's 2006 and 2007 Tacoma trucks. And Apple's Steve Wozniak says he didn't get all that warm a reception either when he tried to alert NHTSA to unintended acceleration in his Prius. Actually, there have been horror stories galore from drivers of Toyota's little wonder car, and other models are also accused of takin' off the wrong way. After NHTSA was alerted to the problem, it denied at least four petitions from owners alleging unintended acceleration.

Heckuva job, Nitsuh.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Corolla (!) spotlighted for steering problems

If you drive a 2009 or 2010 Corolla, look out. There have been a barrage of complaints about the steering, of all things.

Frankly, given the news regarding safety defects in various Toyota vehicles, I wouldn't trust any of Toyota's stuff. The Corolla? Say it ain't so. Toyota can't even get it right regarding its best seller?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tacoma picks up unintended acceleration

For the kinda pick up you don't want, visit a Toyota dealership. Turns out the Tacoma has had complaints of unintended acceleration. The NHTSA says resources weren't available to investigate a couple of years ago, but they might take a look now. Their willingness to reconsider coincides with highly publicized allegations claimin' political influence within the NHTSA has been protectin' Toyota from all kinds o' stuff. The Tacoma is named after Tacoma, Washington, and that makes for a nice touch, 'cause now the Tacoma brings to mind yet another Washington.

I'll take my taco with a little mustard...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Money talks, Congress listens...

And if you ain't got millions and millions of dollars - BILLIONS are even better - well, Bunky, its gonna be kinda hard gettin' heard. Congressional hearings into Toyota? Anyone who thinks Congress has any interest in correcting consumer rip offs involving Toyota and/or the NHTSA better think again.  Instead, it seems our dear elected officials have more of an interest in protecting these two culprits. Its becoming clearer by the minute exactly how Toyota has been able to get away with ignoring most any defect imaginable, including continuing problems with oil sludged engines. No wonder the recent lawsuit filed against Toyota in West Virginia complains that political influence within the NHTSA has been lookin' out for Toyota. Next thing you know, the public is gonna suspect that Toyota's reputation for quality is all mixed up with some pretty rotten stuff.

Did I say political influence?  I thought it kinda strange that several members of Congress were so anxious to hold hearings into Toyota's defective products, its relationship with the NHTSA, etc., and now I realize that "kinda strange" is an understatement. Turns out the politicians conducting the "hearings" have more ties to Toyota and the NHTSA than you could shake the ol' proverbial stick at.

I guess you could say actions - such as slatherin' grease on the right palms - do indeed speak louder than words. Yessir, a big enough glob of that ol' filthy lucre even tends to drown out those screams recorded on a 911 tape of four innocent people, including a 13-year-old girl, as they headed for fiery deaths at 120 mph in a runaway Lexus.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Consumers: NHTSA = No Help To Solve Anything

The public is finally getting a first hand look at the way government has been protecting Toyota (and no tellin' who else) instead of Toyota's ripped off customers. A class action lawsuit filed against Toyota a couple of months ago in West Virginia reveals shocking evidence of politically inspired chicanery within the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and challenges Toyota's "fixes" for unintended acceleration. Another class action suit has just been filed in Ohio accusing Toyota of fraud.

NHTSA has become little more than a front for corporate interests, and this latest Toyota mess is only the tip of an iceberg. To name a few examples, its a disgrace when over three thousand Toyota customers resort to signing an online petition seeking relief because of oil sludged engines. Its a disgrace when a carmaker is allowed to exclude obviously defective models from recalls, and its a disgrace when the government agency charged with traffic safety turns a deaf ear to a major car club's carefully documented complaints. The list goes on and on ad nauseum, but the NHTSA's negligence regarding unintended acceleration may turn out to be the straw that broke the camel's back. It brings to light one simple question. How many people have been seriously injured or killed because of political influence within the NHTSA?

Here's the real shame of it all. Toyota would still be doing business as usual except for the deaths of four people (including a 13-year-old girl) in a highly publicized 120 mph crash documented on tape when an occupant in an out of control Lexus made a frantic call to 911.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Lawsuit links unintended acceleration, electronics

There are comments all over the Internet alleging that Toyota's "fix" for sudden acceleration does not address the cause. Actually, a lawsuit was filed months ago revealing evidence of a malfunction in Toyota's electronics. The suit also gives the public good reason to believe that political influence within the NHTSA has kept things quiet for Toyota.

This lawsuit may force some meaningful answers out of Toyota, along  with an explanation as to why certain models have been exempted from recalls. Customers say that exempting certain models from recalls is a tactic that goes back to Toyota's oil sludge problems. Toyota must be gettin' help from somebody. Thousands of customers have signed an online petition complaining of abuse, and at least one lawsuit is being planned to force Toyota to comply with the terms of the oil sludge settlement.

Unintended acceleration linked to electronics? Political influence at the NHTSA? Why hasn't this lawsuit made headlines on the evening news?