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Old 02-17-2010, 09:05 AM   #1
banyan
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News Toyota probes Corolla steering, considers recall

Toyota probes Corolla steering, considers recall

By YURI KAGEYAMA, AP Business Writer Yuri Kageyama, Ap Business Writer

TOKYO – Toyota is considering a recall of its hot-selling Corolla subcompact after complaints about power steering problems — another blow to the world's largest automaker already reeling from a string of recalls for safety troubles.

Despite pressure from some lawmakers, President Akio Toyoda said he won't be attending the U.S. congressional hearing on the automaker's quality lapses, entrusting the job to U.S.-based executives — though would consider an appearance if the committee requests it. He said he wanted to focus on improving quality worldwide.

"I trust that our officials in the U.S. will amply answer the questions," Toyoda said Wednesday in his third news conference in two weeks. "We are sending the best people to the hearing, and I hope to back up the efforts from headquarters."

He said Yoshi Inaba, who heads Toyota Motor Corp.'s North American unit, was more familiar with the U.S. situation and was the best executive to deal with the hearing. Toyoda said he was still making plans to go to the U.S. and dates have yet to be set.

But in an alarming disclosure that could widen Toyota's recall crisis, the executive in charge of quality controls, Shinichi Sasaki, said Toyota was taking seriously the complaints about power-steering problems in the Corolla, the world's best-selling car.

Speaking at Toyota's Tokyo office, Sasaki said the company was putting customers first in a renewed effort to salvage its reputation and would do whatever is necessary if a Corolla fix is needed.

He said it was still uncertain if a Corolla recall would be necessary, but it is an option the automaker is considering.

He didn't disclose model years or regions that could be affected and said there have been fewer than 100 complaints. Toyota sold nearly 1.3 million Corolla cars worldwide last year.

Drivers may feel as though they were losing control over the steering, but it was unclear why, Sasaki said. He mentioned problems with the braking system or tires as possible underlying reasons for the steering problem.

U.S. federal safety officials have also said they are examining complaints from Corolla owners about steering problems.

Toyota has already recalled 8.5 million vehicles globally during the past four months because of problems with sticking gas pedals, floor mats trapping accelerators and faulty brake programming.

Its once pristine reputation for quality has been hammered, and Toyota's share of the critical North American market has nose-dived. Last month was the first time since February 1998 that Toyota's monthly U.S. sales fell below 100,000 vehicles, according to Ward's AutoInfoBank.

Koji Endo, managing director at Advanced Research Japan, said the Corolla problems, if they expand into a recall, would deal another major blow to Toyota.

"If Toyota has to recall Corollas, I wouldn't be surprised if they have to recall more than a million units again. It's going to be another big, big negative," said Endo.

But others said Toyota was sending a message it was going to be quick and thorough about maintaining quality.

"It really shows the company has learned its lesson from the recall debacle by starting to announce every investigation far more quickly," said Ryoichi Saito, auto analyst at Mizuho Investors Securities Co. in Tokyo.

Analysts had mixed views about Toyoda's reluctance to show up at Congress — some critical but others saying it was OK.

Unlike Western chief executives, Japanese presidents are not always expected to be an authoritative figure and play more of a team leader role in a culture that values harmony and consensus. That role is even more pronounced for Toyoda, the grandson of the company's founder who holds special significance for rank-and-file workers and dealers in Japan.

The U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is holding a hearing on Feb. 24 on Toyota's gas pedal problems. The House Energy and Commerce Committee has scheduled one the next day.

Inaba, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and NHTSA Administrator David Strickland are expected to testify at both meetings. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee has scheduled a March 2 hearing.

At Wednesday's news conference, a solemn Toyoda reiterated his promise beef up quality controls at the world's No. 1 automaker.

He promised a brake-override system in all future models worldwide that will add a safety measure against acceleration problems that are behind the recent massive recalls. The system is a mechanism that overrides the accelerator if the gas and brake pedals are pressed at the same time.

"We are not covering up anything, and we are not running away from anything," Toyoda said.

The automaker said it was also dealing with questions about whether the gas pedal flaw was electronic and reiterated its investigation has not found any electronic problems.

But it has commissioned an independent research organization to test its electronic throttle system, and will release the findings as they become available.

Scrutiny of Toyota is growing. The U.S. Transportation Department has demanded Toyota hand over documents related to its massive recalls. The department wants to know how long the automaker knew of safety defects before taking action.

Reports of deaths in the U.S. connected to sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles have surged in recent weeks, with the alleged death toll reaching 34 since 2000, according to new consumer data gathered by the U.S. government.

Toyota told NHTSA in January that the problem appeared in Europe beginning in December 2008. Toyota has said it began fixes on that in August 2009, but the company failed to link that with gas pedal problems in the U.S., which surfaced in October 2009.

Toyota took full-page ads in major Japanese newspapers Wednesday to apologize for the recalls in Japan, which affect the flagship Prius hybrid and two other hybrid models.

"We apologize from the bottom of our hearts for the great inconvenience and worries that we have caused you all," the black-and-white ads say.
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Old 02-17-2010, 09:47 AM   #2
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I wouldn't be surprised if the steering problem is just a little torque steer and ignorant drivers.
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Old 02-17-2010, 09:59 AM   #3
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I wouldn't be surprised if the steering problem is just a little torque steer and ignorant drivers.
either you are totally ignorant or you think the executives @ toyota are morons... why would anyone decide to recall so many cars if its just torque steer? if thats the case then they should recall the v6 camry first.
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Old 02-17-2010, 10:04 AM   #4
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They should just recall everything and start over. This is what you get for being number 1, a huge target on your back.
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Old 02-17-2010, 10:09 AM   #5
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either you are totally ignorant or you think the executives @ toyota are morons... why would anyone decide to recall so many cars if its just torque steer? if thats the case then they should recall the v6 camry first.
They aren't recalling it, and there have only been 100 complaints out of millions of Corollas sold. Torque steer has more to do with the transmission and axles than the power put into it.

At this point Toyota has to look into every single complaint made about their cars because they are under a massive microscope.
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Old 02-17-2010, 03:46 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Tim-H View Post
They aren't recalling it, and there have only been 100 complaints out of millions of Corollas sold. Torque steer has more to do with the transmission and axles than the power put into it.

At this point Toyota has to look into every single complaint made about their cars because they are under a massive microscope.
The last point is very true. But this would not have been a problem without the prior screwups. In otherwords it isn't simply b/c they are biggest. It is b/c they sold for more b/c of their "quality" and they did have real dangerous problems. Now every little thing is getting ridiculous scrutiny.
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Old 02-17-2010, 05:02 PM   #7
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I love how every small incident for Toyota is now becoming an instant recall and massive safety issue. Its just a witch hunt at this point in time.
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Old 02-17-2010, 06:05 PM   #8
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I love how every small incident for Toyota is now becoming an instant recall and massive safety issue. Its just a witch hunt at this point in time.
No one seems to care that there have been 2000+ similar complaints about Cobalt steering (out of only 900,000 vehicles).
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Old 02-18-2010, 07:16 AM   #9
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No one seems to care that there have been 2000+ similar complaints about Cobalt steering (out of only 900,000 vehicles).
And no one seems to care about this
http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/Runawa...ory?id=9840930
Quote:
An arbitrator has ruled that Dimitrios Biller, a former top in-house lawyer for Toyota, cannot make public thousands of confidential documents that he says prove the automaker regularly hid evidence of safety defects from consumers in hundreds of court cases. ...
A lawsuit Biller has filed against Toyota alleges the company "engaged in improper and illegal activities, including concealing and destroying evidence, perjury, violation of court orders, obstructing justice, mail fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit crimes." Toyota has also sued Biller, claiming that he had violated a non-disclosure agreement he made when he left the company....
According to retired judge Gary Taylor, the ruling will "preserve the status quo" until a ruling on the merits of the case is decided at a later hearing. An earlier California Superior Court ruling had granted Toyota's motion that the documents remain confidential.
If the case had no merit then Toyota should let him show the documents then they would get the monkey off their back. If they were guilty then it seems perhaps they should quit breaking the law.
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Old 02-18-2010, 03:11 PM   #10
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It was a matter of time before someone pointed out a GM vehicle complaint

This is the never ending story with you guys! It's time to get off the Toyota strap and admit that it sucks being them right now. But this is the price you pay to do whatever means necessary to make it to the top, even at the expense of safety.

Sometimes it's better to quietly work your way to the top without ridiculing those that are at the top (Toyota ----> GM). Yeah well, no sympathy here. Anyone who can't respect the efforts of making it anywhere in the industry and surviving doesn't deserve any sympathy.

Maybe they can learn a lesson or two from Hyundai!
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Old 02-18-2010, 04:00 PM   #11
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I love how Toyota starts to become Hyundai of late 1990's
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Old 02-18-2010, 04:05 PM   #12
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I foresee Hyundai in the top dog spot in the next 10-15 years.
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Old 02-18-2010, 04:05 PM   #13
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This issue sounds questionable. In this country in particular if the steering is not as buttery-smooth as a '73 Plymouth Fury then it is broken and now, with all the anti-Toyota hype, dangerous. The focal point of safety should be the driver.

As an ancillary point, LaHood is a ****ing moron.
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Old 02-18-2010, 05:56 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by sxotty View Post
And no one seems to care about this
http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/Runawa...ory?id=9840930


If the case had no merit then Toyota should let him show the documents then they would get the monkey off their back. If they were guilty then it seems perhaps they should quit breaking the law.
You should read up about that lawyer. He is apparently a piece of work... and by piece of work I mean completely off his rocker.

Elm - I only brought it up because it is essentially the same issue and has a much higher failure rate. I don't care that it is GM. Toyota is so paranoid about their reputation being completely ruined that they are airing any quality issues ASAP but still manage to get crucified for it.

Last edited by quentinberg007; 02-18-2010 at 06:04 PM.
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Old 02-18-2010, 06:10 PM   #15
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I foresee Hyundai in the top dog spot in the next 10-15 years.
If Subaru could make a more appealing 15-20k car I easily see them on top.

I'm Korean and I love Hyundai, but they need to stop making 35,000 dollar S550 copies and G37 look alikes and make their own car.
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Old 02-18-2010, 10:01 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by quentinberg007 View Post
You should read up about that lawyer. He is apparently a piece of work... and by piece of work I mean completely off his rocker.

Elm - I only brought it up because it is essentially the same issue and has a much higher failure rate. I don't care that it is GM. Toyota is so paranoid about their reputation being completely ruined that they are airing any quality issues ASAP but still manage to get crucified for it.
Ok then...

In response to Toyota airing their quality issues, why didn't they address this before the stink hit the fan? I mean, there have been issues they recklessly denied, now they want to get it in the open as to say, NOW all these issues are being reported and looked into? If that's not a load of crap handed to the public, I don't know what is then. They should get crucified! Heck, Mitsu got slammed by their own governement for hiding/ridding complaints, and some that were serious safety concerns.

Yes, I strongly believe that Toyota should have what's coming to them, it's well deserved. Absolutely no one should be excused for such practices.
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Old 02-19-2010, 03:29 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Tim-H View Post
I wouldn't be surprised if the steering problem is just a little torque steer and ignorant drivers.
Sounds more like an electronic problem:

Quote:
NHTSA fielding complaints about 2009-10 Toyota Corolla steering

Agency may open probe after reports of unintended veering

Neil Roland

WASHINGTON -- Toyota Motor Corp. faces yet another possible federal investigation, this time of the electric power steering in 2009 and 2010 Corollas.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is considering a formal investigation of alleged defects reported in the compact car, agency spokeswoman Karen Aldana said.

Automotive News found that the Corolla has been the subject of 83 power-steering complaints since April 2008, 76 of which have reported that the vehicle unexpectedly veers to the left or right at 40 miles an hour and up.

Complainants have compared the movement to being buffeted by strong winds, sliding on black ice, or hydroplaning. They said that after trying to straighten the car, it can overcorrect -- requiring the driver to use a tight, persistent, two-handed grip on the wheel to travel in a straight line.
http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dl...100209863/1290
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Old 02-19-2010, 06:41 AM   #18
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You should read up about that lawyer. He is apparently a piece of work... and by piece of work I mean completely off his rocker.

Elm - I only brought it up because it is essentially the same issue and has a much higher failure rate. I don't care that it is GM. Toyota is so paranoid about their reputation being completely ruined that they are airing any quality issues ASAP but still manage to get crucified for it.
Look he has boxes of documents he claims prove they conducted illegal activity. If he was just off his rocker then it would be best to get them out in a trial and it would show Toyota did not hide evidence. The very fact that they are suppressing the release of the documents makes it seem they are guilty. The fact that they paid him millions to not talk about them makes them seem guilty. They just don't come off well no matter what. If you want to provide some links to the character assassination pieces you think are relevant feel free though.

Toyota's edge in quality has definitely been blunted whatever way a person wants to look at this.
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Old 02-19-2010, 07:13 AM   #19
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Ok then...

In response to Toyota airing their quality issues, why didn't they address this before the stink hit the fan? I mean, there have been issues they recklessly denied, now they want to get it in the open as to say, NOW all these issues are being reported and looked into? If that's not a load of crap handed to the public, I don't know what is then. They should get crucified! Heck, Mitsu got slammed by their own governement for hiding/ridding complaints, and some that were serious safety concerns.

Yes, I strongly believe that Toyota should have what's coming to them, it's well deserved. Absolutely no one should be excused for such practices.
Could it be that they didn't get the complaints until every Toyota owner was told that their car was a rolling death trap? These issues are normally dealt with by every company without issuing press releases, especially if they are just starting an investigation. The only reason Toyota is issuing press releases for every damn thing is because they are under a microscope. If GM, Ford, Honda, Nissan, etc were under the same microscope, you'd see press releases for the same slew of quality issues being investigated. All the other makes are doing investigations, just without press releases.

Are you going to be here saying the same thing when GM publicly addresses their Cobalt steering issue? I have my doubts.

sxotty - No time, gotta head to work. As an engineer, there is no way in hell I'd want all my designs and work aired publicly because you've now just made everything I've done free to be copied. The methodology for designing their vehicles for crash tests may be included in these docs. The chinese automakers would certainly love that. You truly cannot understand why you wouldn't want your internal design and testing documents released to the public?

Last edited by quentinberg007; 02-19-2010 at 07:33 AM.
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Old 02-19-2010, 07:53 AM   #20
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sxotty - No time, gotta head to work. As an engineer, there is no way in hell I'd want all my designs and work aired publicly because you've now just made everything I've done free to be copied. The methodology for designing their vehicles for crash tests may be included in these docs. The chinese automakers would certainly love that. You truly cannot understand why you wouldn't want your internal design and testing documents released to the public?
Of course I can understand, but that doesn't change anything in this case. Normally you don't have to pay people not to share secrets b/c you can sue them if they do share them. The only time you can't is when they are a whistle blower. In that case they are covered. I don't believe it will help much since the Chinese can get what they want anyway (at least the evidence certainly points to that IMO). When you have a situation of people dying you usually end up with your designs getting public airing.

I.E. the thing they use for an example in undergrad
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyatt_R...lkway_collapse
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Old 02-19-2010, 12:06 PM   #21
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Could it be that they didn't get the complaints until every Toyota owner was told that their car was a rolling death trap? These issues are normally dealt with by every company without issuing press releases, especially if they are just starting an investigation. The only reason Toyota is issuing press releases for every damn thing is because they are under a microscope. If GM, Ford, Honda, Nissan, etc were under the same microscope, you'd see press releases for the same slew of quality issues being investigated. All the other makes are doing investigations, just without press releases.

Are you going to be here saying the same thing when GM publicly addresses their Cobalt steering issue? I have my doubts.
I highly doubt that... Toyota has been doing some strong recalls since 2008; these are serious safety concern recalls mind you. I believe in the process they did not acknowledge all the issues that surfaced until now that they are getting hammered. If there is one thing I agree with what our government did was make Toyota stop selling until this gets resolved to the fullest.

If this was GM or any other car manufacturer, I'd slam them too. One thing is to be loyal to a brand another thing is to cloud your loyalty with ignorance. I'm loyal to no one. Hence after 15 yrs I'm back in a domestic vehicle. When there is poor business practice, you get what you deserve. I said the same thing about GM; now its Toyota's turn.
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