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Toyota And Lexus Vehicles Are Unsafe

Timothy warned me about Toyotas several months ago, and this is his previous article with updates in the comments at the very end – scroll down. See also my previous article, M-m-m-my Toyota - featuring my first attempt at song writing, for my car of all things (thankfully not on the recall list!!).  It goes to the tune of My Sharona.  (Okay, I had some time on my hands.)

Timothy was subject to one of my interviews back in October, in case you missed it.  - Ilene   

Toyota And Lexus Vehicles Are Unsafe

toyotaCourtesy of Timothy D. Naegele[1]

All Toyota-produced vehicles sold in the U.S. today—including Toyota cars and trucks, and Lexus automobiles—are unsafe.  It will take years before new models roll off the company’s assembly lines that are completely safe.  Also, millions of Toyota vehicles are on American roads already that are unsafe to drive.  Any recent-vintage Toyota product, model years 2002[2] and later, potentially can turn into a runaway vehicle at a moment’s notice.  Driving one or being a passenger is like playing Russian roulette.  Query whether Americans, especially young families with small children, will trust their lives to Toyota?

Tragically and irresponsibly, the company has lied for years and it is lying now.  First, Toyota claimed it was a floor mat problem.  Next, the problems were related to the accelerator pedal[3]; and on and on the company’s lies go.  Toyota has had 10 years to investigate these issues, and determine and implement solutions, but its management has lied repeatedly and it is still doing it.  The runaway vehicle safety problems, which are confronting the giant automaker, are of a magnitude equal to or greater than those that brought down the storied Firestone tire brand, and the same thing may happen to Toyota.  Every American needs to read about runaway Toyota-produced vehicles.  The facts are sobering.

Toyota Suspends Sales And Production Of 8 Models Involved In Recall

After the sudden-acceleration problems surfaced in Toyota and Lexus vehicles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said “more motorists have died in Toyota vehicles associated with sudden acceleration in the last decade than in cars made by all other manufacturers combined.”[4] Consumer advocate Ralph Nader’s trail-blazing and Herculean efforts helped launch the automobile safety movement.  His speeches and writings on behalf of Americans (see, e.g., “Unsafe at Any Speed”) helped expose and remedy auto safety defects.  Today he believes: “[The NHTSA] is a broken agency that has to be rebuilt.”[5]

The Los Angeles Times’ fine investigative reporters have been shining light into the dark recesses of Toyota—notwithstanding the company’s massive cover-up that has spanned a decade so far.[6] Rather than attempt to distill the wisdom contained in the Times’ articles, the links to the most recent ones are set forth below.  I encourage you to read them carefully now and in the future, especially if you are a current Toyota or Lexus owner, or someone who may be considering the purchase of such vehicles in the future.  The life you save may be your own, or that of a friend or loved one, or even a total stranger who gets killed or injured by these vehicles.

The Times’ brilliant—and hopefully prize-winning—team members deserve enormous public praise and professional recognition by their peers for the courage and talent that they have exhibited consistently in ferreting out the facts and writing about these critical issues.  The newspaper’s editors must be congratulated too, for having the guts to encourage and support the “Times Investigation.”  One can barely imagine the staggering political, financial and other pressures that are being applied by Toyota to its critics in the media, in government, and in the private sector, as the company perpetuates its lies and massive cover-up[7]—despite the risks to Americans each and every day.[8]

  • “Toyota found to keep tight lid on potential safety problems,” by Ken Bensinger and Ralph Vartabedian (December 23, 2009)[9]
  • “Study: Toyota received most complaints about sudden acceleration,” by Ken Bensinger and Ralph Vartabedian (December 8, 2009)[10]
  • “Toyota’s acceleration issue,” editorial by the Los Angeles Times (December 5, 2009)[11]
  • “Report inconclusive on floor mat’s role in fatal Toyota crash,” by Ralph Vartabedian and Ken Bensinger (December 5, 2009)[12]
  • “Toyota vehicles in another federal safety probe,” by Ken Bensinger and Ralph Vartabedian (December 5, 2009)[13]
  • “Data point to Toyota’s throttles, not floor mats,” by Ken Bensinger and Ralph Vartabedian (November 29, 2009)[14]
  • “Toyota to fix ‘very dangerous’ gas pedal defects,” by Ken Bensinger and Ralph Vartabedian (November 26, 2009)[15]
  • “Recall another blow to Toyota’s reputation,” by Martin Zimmerman (November 26, 2009)[16]
  • “Runaway Toyota cases ignored,” by Ralph Vartabedian and Ken Bensinger (November 8, 2009)[17]
  • “Toyota’s runaway-car worries may not stop at floor mats,” by Ralph Vartabedian and Ken Bensinger (October 18, 2009)[18]

© 2010, Timothy D. Naegele


11 responses
6 01 2010
naegeleblog

By way of full disclosure, I do not represent any auto manufacturers at this time; I have never represented Toyota; I am not involved in litigation against Toyota; I do not contemplate being involved with such litigation; and I do not handle personal injury litigation. My interests are a matter of sound public policy and auto safety.

When I worked as a young attorney with the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, I remember Ralph Nader testifying before the committee. He was the only person of any stature who was speaking out on behalf of the American consumer.

I was very impressed with his efforts then, and I still am. He accomplished a great deal to make the cars that we drive much safer. I salute his efforts.

 
18 01 2010
naegeleblog

Toyota’s lies continue unabated, as well as the staggering risks to any American who drives or is a passenger in, or who is in the path of a runaway Toyota-produced product, model years 2002 and later (e.g., Toyota cars and trucks, Lexus automobiles).

See, e.g., http://www.leftlanenews.com/toyota-avalon-displays-unintended-acceleration-without-floor-mat.html and http://www.safetyresearch.net/toyota-sudden-unintended-acceleration/

Perhaps some day Toyota will stop lying and produce safe vehicles. Until then, no one should drive or be a passenger in one of its cars or trucks. To do so puts one at risk of dying or being severely injured.

 
21 01 2010
naegeleblog

Here is another recall by Toyota, as well as the latest article from the Los Angeles Times’ Ken Bensinger: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-nutoyota-recall22-2010jan22,0,5921414,full.story (“This situation is slowly spiraling out of control”)

However, none of Toyota’s recalls address a major potential cause of its runaway vehicle problems: the electronic throttles that have replaced mechanical systems in recent years.

Toyota’s lies and cover-ups continue, while the lives of Americans (e.g., drivers of Toyota-produced vehicles, passengers in those vehicles, innocent third parties who might be struck by those vehicles) are put at risk each and every day.

What Toyota has been doing is criminal!

 
23 01 2010
naegeleblog

More from Ralph Vartabedian and Ken Bensinger at the Los Angeles Times: “Safety of cars’ keyless entry and ignition systems questioned.” See http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-carkeys24-2010jan24,0,6794000,full.story

However, the principal issue remaining to be addressed—which Toyota is doing nothing about with its new and existing vehicles—is that the electronic throttles have replaced mechanical systems in recent years.

Again, driving a Toyota-produced vehicle or being a passenger in one is like playing Russian roulette. Why would Americans, especially young families with small children, trust their lives to Toyota until ALL of these problems are fixed completely, which may be many years from now?

There is no question that the opening sentence of this article—which might stun some readers, at least initially—is true:

All Toyota-produced vehicles sold in the U.S. today—including Toyota cars and trucks, and Lexus automobiles—are unsafe.

If Toyota’s runaway vehicle issues spiral out of control, and its actions and inactions can be shown to be criminal, query when such issues will reach a critical mass and be beyond the company’s ability to address and resolve them? What happened to the storied Firestone tire brand may be instructive and provide guidance; however, Toyota’s problems may be deeper, more systemic and insoluble. After all, it is Toyota’s reputation for producing safe and reliable vehicles, and not lying about them, which is at stake!

25 01 2010
naegeleblog

Toyota lies and lies and lies; and its lies just keep getting worse.

After having begun with (1) floor mat problems, and then (2) the size of gas pedals in its vehicles, it is talking now about (3) “sticky-throttle problems.” No mention is made of its management’s decade-old cover-up, or the fact that there are problems with (4) the safety of its vehicles’ keyless entry and ignition systems, or that (5) electronic throttles have replaced mechanical systems in recent years.

See, e.g., http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2010-01-25-toyotalong_st_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip

As Toyota’s latest excuses come forth, it is becoming increasingly clear that the company’s runaway vehicle issues are spiraling out of control, and that its actions and inactions are criminal!

 
27 01 2010
naegeleblog

Toyota has announced that it was instructing its dealers to suspend sales of eight models because of sticking accelerator pedals. The Los Angeles Times’ Ken Bensinger and Ralph Vartabedian write: “Industry experts could not recall any time in recent history when a carmaker had stopped both production and sales of so many models at once.” They add: “[A] Toyota spokesman said [the sales freeze] is its most extensive in more than five decades selling cars in the U.S.”

See http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-toyota-sales27-2010jan27,0,5888108,full.story; see also http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2010-01-26-toyota_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip and http://www.gminsidenews.com/forums/f37/toyota-suspends-sales-several-models-88375/

Also, Bensinger and Vartabedian write:

“What I smell is desperation from a company that is trying to get a situation under control that already is out of control,” said Sean Kane, president of Safety Research & Strategies, an auto safety consulting firm.

He and other experts believe that while stuck pedals and floor mats may cause some incidents of unintended acceleration, the majority of the cases are linked to the computer-driven electronic throttle systems used on all Toyota and Lexus vehicles.

Those systems, known as drive-by-wire, replace steel cables with electronic relays and computer logic.

“I don’t see this effort addressing the full scope of the problem,” Kane said.

The Times reported Nov. 29 that complaints of sudden acceleration in Toyota and Lexus vehicles soared after the automaker began adopting electronic throttle systems starting with 2002 model year cars.

See http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-toyota-sales27-2010jan27,0,5888108,full.story

And Toyota’s massive cover-up continues!

 
27 01 2010
Mark

Come on Tim. Don’t you think that with Toyota stopping sales and production of 8 of its’s most popular models they are moving in the right direction? Maybe it’s time to stop calling them a bunch of criminals and give Toyota a little credit. You would never see GM, Chrysler or Ford make such a big move as to suspend sales and production like that. Not sure why you would say “and the cover up continues!” when they make such a bold move as that. I currently own a Tundra that is on the list of vehicles, and I can honestly say I am less worried about my throttle sticking than I am about some idiot trying to text while driving. Anyway, I have enjoyed reading your blog and have a nice day.

 
27 01 2010
naegeleblog

Thanks for your fine comments, Mark. First, as stated above (e.g., in the LA Times’ articles), Toyota has known about these issues for about a decade, and done nothing about them. Hence, they are not “boy scouts” by any means. Second, a company that engages in a massive cover-up like this one (e.g., please read my article and its footnotes and the articles mentioned therein carefully) does not deserve any credit, or so I believe. They have consistently put the lives of innocent American men, women and children at risk; and my guess is they have engaged in criminal behavior that might justify and/or result in prosecution of their management. Third, their suspension of sales and production was not done altruistically. We can be certain of that. It was a calculated decision by the company’s management to prevent the runaway vehicle problems from spiraling out of control. Whether it works or not, only the future will tell. Fourth, yes, I have to smile at your texting analogy. I know how you feel. However, any Toyota-produced vehicle, 2002 and later—including those coming off its assembly lines until these issues are resolved completely—is potentially a risk. What are the odds of a deadly accident happening? Perhaps not great. However, it can happen in an instant; and why take any risks whatsoever when there are other automakers, from which to buy your vehicle (e.g., Ford).

 
27 01 2010
J. Lewis

I bought a new 2009 Toyota Matrix last year after trading in a 2002 Dodge Dakota pickup truck. After reading the articles about Toyota’s lies concerning this problem, I have become very concerned for not only my safety, but for my passengers and others who may be on the road. What rights exists, if any, do the owners of these vehicles have? I really don’t want to be driving something that can be considered unsafe and life threatening.

 
27 01 2010
naegeleblog

You are wise to get rid of it. Again, driving it or being a passenger is equivalent to playing Russian roulette. Sure, it may not become a runaway vehicle; however, if it does, the life you save may be your own or that of a friend or loved one.

Take it back to the dealership and demand your money back in full. Tell them you want to rescind your contract. Raise enough of a stink or ruckus and they may comply without the need for legal action. If it is required, invoke every theory possible, including State “lemon laws” and the like.

Good luck!

 
27 01 2010
Frankie Pintado

“Toyota has not yet determined how it will fix the sticking-pedal problem, and in the interim it is asking drivers who experience the issue to halt the car with “firm and steady application of the brakes” and to notify a Toyota dealer immediately.”

I am a student in Automotive technology. I have just passed my test for ASE certification in Automotive brakes, among other things.
If this is what Toyota is telling people to do, they had better brace themselves for more lawsuits. It seems very obvious to me that this did not work for those four dead people in San Diego.
That tactic might work if the vehicle is traveling under 25mph, but at highway speeds it will not work, period. The brakes are not designed to stop a car at highway speeds under “wide open throttle” conditions. The Brakes will overheat very quickly, causing a condition known as “brake fade”. They will be completely ineffective at stopping or even slowing the vehicle 

***** 

[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass), the first black senator since Reconstruction after the U.S. Civil War.  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates (www.naegele.com).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years.  See, e.g., www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles

[2] See, e.g., http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-toyota-throttle29-2009nov29,0,1231630,full.story

[3] See, e.g., http://www.latimes.com/business/la-112609-fi-toyota_inside-g,0,6391652.graphic 

[4] See http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-highway-regulators31-2009dec31,0,3601262,full.story 

[5] See id.

[6] See, e.g., http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-toyota24-2009dec24,0,110267.story (“A lawyer who sought to reopen 17 rollover claims says he cannot prove his case after reviewing documents allegedly showing that Toyota had hidden key evidence”); see id. (A former Toyota lawyer, Dimitrios P. Biller—who headed the automaker’s rollover litigation work for four and a half years—filed suit in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles against the automaker last summer, alleging that “it had engaged in a calculated scheme to hide evidence in product liability and personal injury cases,” and that “Toyota hid or destroyed evidence in roughly 300 rollover cases.”); http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-toyota-secrecy23-2009dec23,0,557792,full.story 

[7] See, e.g., http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-highway-regulators31-2009dec31,0,3601262,full.story (“When attorney Edgar Heiskell went to a Washington law office this month to depose a Toyota Motor Corp. executive, he said he was met by a virtual NHTSA alumni club now working for Toyota.  It included at least two former agency attorneys and former defects investigator Christopher Santucci.”)

[8] See also http://www.leftlanenews.com/nhtsa-reviewing-third-generation-toyota-prius-braking.html; http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/money_co/2009/12/top-stories-new-toyota-probe-airbus-takes-on-boeing-airport-kiosks-go-high-tech.html

[9] See http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-toyota-secrecy23-2009dec23,0,557792,full.story 

[10] See http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-toyota-recall8-2009dec08,0,371465.story

[11] See http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-toyota5-2009dec05,0,1844374.story (“To turn off [an engine with a keyless ignition system] while moving, drivers must press the ‘on’ button for three seconds—a task that’s neither intuitive nor easy in a runaway vehicle”)

[12] See http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-fi-toyota-recall6-2009dec06,0,2913588.story

[13] See http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-toyota-recall5-2009dec05,0,6012156.story 

[14] See http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-toyota-throttle29-2009nov29,0,1231630,full.story (“[A]ccounts from motorists . . . , interviews with auto safety experts and a Times review of thousands of federal traffic safety incident reports all point to another potential cause: the electronic throttles that have replaced mechanical systems in recent years”)

[15] See http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-toyota-recall26-2009nov26,0,7792141,full.story

[16] See http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-toyota-cost26-2009nov26,0,6652707,full.story

[17] See http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-fi-toyota-recall8-2009nov08,0,2472257,full.story

[18] See http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-toyota-recall18-2009oct18,0,2352642,full.story  


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