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Toyota Issued Subpoena by Federal Grand Jury

Jul 20, 2010

A federal grand jury in New York has issued a subpoena for Toyota Motor Company records. This is the third subpoena for the manufacturer which is under scrutiny for the recent spate of Toyota recalls and the company's response to other reported issues with its products.

The New York Times reports, “In a short filing Tuesday with the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Toyota said the subpoena, received by subsidiaries in the United States on June 29, had demanded documents about steering relay rod defects in the company’s cars.”

This issue goes back before Toyota’s recent woes. In 2005 Toyota issued a massive recall for 977,000 affected vehicles which “involved a problem with the steering-relay rod on Toyota 4Runner SUVs, Toyota T100 pickups and Toyota pickups affecting some 1989 through 1998 models. The rod, which connects the steering wheel to the wheels, can break after wear and tear and cause drivers to lose control,” says The Washington Post.

Yet, the issue wasn’t only confined to the U.S. “Investigators in Japan have charged that Toyota engineers discovered in 1996 that crucial steering rods could fracture in the 4Runner, sold as the Hilux Surf in Japan, and started installing a stronger version on new models later that year,” says The New York Times. “But it took Toyota eight years to start recalling the vehicles built before 1996, after a 2004 accident involving an out-of-control Hilux Surf in Japan prompted a police investigation.”

The company, which Automotive News describes as, “once a benchmark for the industry [in quality],” already has two other subpoenas; “one from a grand jury in February for documents related to sudden acceleration and braking, and one from the Michigan attorney general in March for information on recalls,” according to The New York Times.

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