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Toyota's Recalls May Not Cover Enough Models

Posted: Mar 05, 2010 10:18 a.m.

The latest chapter in Toyota’s recall saga has hundreds of people who own cars not covered under the recalls complaining about unintended acceleration.

According to the Detroit Free Press, “About 731 owners of Toyota vehicles not covered by two recent recalls have reported sudden acceleration complaints to U.S. auto safety regulators in the past six weeks, a Free Press analysis found.”

The Free Press used the RAV4 as an example. Only the 2009 and 2010 models built in Canada are covered under Toyota’s accelerator pedal recall. However, unintended acceleration problems have persisted beyond just those models. “The Free Press analysis shows NHTSA has had 77 complaints about sudden acceleration in all RAV4 models since Jan. 15. Of those, six were covered by the pedal recall. At least 59 were vehicles built in Japan.”

In three congressional hearings, Toyota executives have insisted that the accelerator pedal and floor mat recalls will solve the unintended acceleration problems. But complaints from owners continue to mount -- even from those who have already had their cars fixed under the recalls.

“A recurrence of unintended acceleration, even after sticky gas pedals and obtrusive floor mats have been addressed by dealers, would suggest there may be other causes of the loss of speed control in Toyota vehicles,” explains AutoWeek.

The Detroit News says five more people “have reported problems to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's complaint database, describing surges of speed that came without warning. That is on top of at least 15 similar cases found by an Associated Press review of the data on Wednesday.” Edmunds Inside Line says “at least 13 new complaints have been submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as of Thursday.”

It’s unclear what Toyota plans to do about the continuing complaints. CNN Money writes, “Cindy Knight, a Toyota spokeswoman, said the company is aware of the post-repair complaints and has asked NHTSA to help Toyota contact the customers in question.”

The recalls and their aftermath have certainly taken a toll on Toyota’s once unsullied reputation. A recent Consumer Reports survey “shows that the embattled automaker should expect more customers to jump ship in the short-term,” says Autoblog. They note that data from December 2009 shows 70 percent of Toyota owners were planning on buying a Toyota as their next new vehicle. However, “Just two months later and the number has dipped to 60 percent, dropping Toyota below Honda in overall consideration.”

Check out the latest Toyota recall news and information, including how the company's recent troubles affect our rankings. If you're in the market for a new car, check out the U.S. News rankings of this year's best cars as well as this month's best car deals.