Dec. 30, 2009, Toyota's 1st in safety recalls for 1st time
Automaker struggles as acceleration problem lingers
BY JUSTIN HYDE, DETROIT FREE PRESS WASHINGTON STAFF
WASHINGTON -- In a first, Toyota led the U.S. auto industry in recalled vehicles this year, thanks to its largest safety-related problem since it began selling vehicles in the United States.The Japanese automaker has struggled with the fallout from the recall of 4.3 million Toyota and Lexus models for unintended acceleration linked to fatal crashes. Toyota told federal officials earlier this month it would start fixing the vehicles now, but some repairs would not be ready until March. According to a Free Press analysis of federal data, automakers recalled 15.2 million vehicles in 2009, a sharp jump from 8.6 million in 2008.
Recalls tied to variety of safety woes: From misplaced labels and faulty seat-belt reminder buzzers to engine fires and broken wheels, the 117 recalls from automakers in 2009 covered a vast range of safety-related problems. Such problems are as close as the federal government comes to tracking the quality of cars and trucks, and in years past have mirrored the quality scores from outlets such as Consumer Reports.
Acceleration isn't only problem: While Toyota's accelerator problem accounted for most of the nearly 4.9 million vehicles it recalled in 2009, the automaker issued eight other recalls for problems ranging from missing safety labels to corroded pickup frames that pushed it to its top spot.
GM issues most recalls General Motors recalled 2.3 million vehicles, the third-highest total, but had the most recalls issued among automakers with 17.
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