Toyota Gets Federal Grand Jury Subpoena For Steering Rod Documents

1997 Toyota 4Runner

A 1997 Toyota 4Runner. Photo: AutoPhoto

The hits keep coming for Toyota, but  this latest round was hardly unexpected.  Back on May 7, the NHTSA began an investigation into Toyota for covering up steering defects in 4Runner, compact pickup and T100 models built between 1989 and 1998.  The models, which were found to have a defective steering rod, were recalled in Japan in 2004.  Despite 41 documented complaints from U.S. customers, the same recall wasn’t initiated on these shores until the third quarter of 2005, nearly one full year later.  According to Autoblog, a federal grand jury in New York has subpoenaed Toyota for any and all documents relating to this steering rod recall.

Toyota’s original explanation for the delay centered on the difference between driving in the United States and driving in Japan.  Japanese drivers are harder on steering components, thanks to narrow roads and tighter corners.  Toyota also claimed to be unaware of the 41 complaints about steering defects filed with the NHTSA.

The current maximum fine from the NHTSA is $6,000 per vehicle affected, so the question becomes, “How many trucks did Toyota sell in the U.S. between 1989 and 1998?”  Multiply that number times $6,000, and you have the amount of the next check Toyota will be writing to the NHTSA.