Reports indicate Toyota and NHTSA knew about unintended acceleration problems as early as 2004 |

Thing’s are going from bad, to worse, to catastrophic for Toyota these days, as not only did it issue a huge recall for both North America and Europe, but it was also forced to suspend sales of the recalled models, over the unintended acceleration claims.

Things might take a turn in an even uglier direction, as two new reports indicate that Toyota knew about such problems as early as 2004. First, the Detroit Free Press reveals that the NHTSA had investigated short (one second or less) acceleration issues that year, after receiving quite a lot of complaints from owners of Camry, Solara or Lexus ES300 models. The inquiry however didn’t result in any recalls or such things.

Why you ask? Well according to a 2008 lawsuit filed after the death of a woman from a car accident with a 2005 Camry, it seems that around that time, a former NHTSA employee, Christopher Santucci, found a job at Toyota, and according to the claims of the lawsuit, negotiated with his former buddies at the NHTSA so that no recalls would be issued. If such a thing is true, things can get pretty ugly for the Japanese carmaker.

But we’re not done yet, as another report from the Wall Street Journal reveals that the carmaker was plagued with such issues as unintended acceleration stemming from the gas pedal, as early as 2007. The first problems appeared with the Tundra pick-up, which had faulty throttle sensors, then in 2008 on the right-hand drive Aygo and Yaris compact cars, which was caused by a heat source causing friction to the pedal.

All in all, Toyota seems to have had problems with its accelerator pedals for quite some time. Whether these claims are true or not is still unclear, but will no doubt raise an even bigger question mark over Toyota’s quality brand image.

Source: The Detroit Free Press via Autoblog, Wall Street Journal via Automarket

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Post tags : nhtsa, Toyota