Toyota recall investigation reports cars are 'safe'
Toyota recall of cars with 'sticky' gas peddles is not due to an electronic cause, government says after 10-month investigation.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration's investigation into Toyota safety problems found no electronic flaws to account for reports of sudden, unintentional acceleration and other safety problems. Government investigators said Tuesday the only known cause of the problems are mechanical defects that were fixed in previous recalls.Skip to next paragraph
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The Transportation Department, assisted by engineers with NASA, said its 10-month study of Toyota vehicles concluded there was no electronic cause of unintended high-speed acceleration in Toyotas. The study, which was launched at the request of Congress, responded to consumer complaints that flawed electronics could be the culprit behind Toyota's spate of recalls.
"We feel that Toyota vehicles are safe to drive," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said they reviewed consumer complaints and warranty data in detail and found that many of the complaints involved cases in which the vehicle accelerated after it was stationary or at very low speeds.
NHTSA Deputy Administrator Ron Medford said that in many cases when a driver complained that the brakes were ineffective, the most likely cause was "pedal misapplication," in which the driver stepped on the accelerator instead of the brakes.
Toyota has recalled more than 12 million vehicles globally since fall 2009 to address sticking accelerator pedals, gas pedals that became trapped in floor mats, and other safety issues. The recalls have posed a major challenge for the world's No. 1 automaker, which has scrambled to protect its reputation for safety and reliability.
Toyota did not immediately comment on the report. Shares of the automaker climbed on the New York Stock Exchange following the news. Toyota shares were up more than 4 percent, to 89.00 in mid-afternoon trading.
Toyota paid the U.S. government a record $48.8 million in fines for its handling of three recalls. The company has said it has not found any flaws in its electronic throttle control systems and said the previously announced recalls have addressed the safety concerns.
LaHood said NASA engineers "rigorously examined" nine Toyotas driven by consumers who complained of unintended acceleration. NASA reviewed 280,000 lines of software code to look for flaws that could cause the acceleration. Investigators tested mechanical components in Toyotas that could lead to the problem and bombarded vehicles with electro-magnetic radiation to see whether it could make the electronics cause the cars to speed up.