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Toyota agrees to pay government fine

Consumer Reports News: April 19, 2010 10:48 AM

Toyota has agreed to pay the $16.4 million fine imposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for failing to report the problems with the sticky accelerator pedals over the last four months, which led to recalling 2.3 million vehicles.

Toyota’s agreement to the settlement is not an admission of guilt. Instead, Toyota said they would pay the fine in order to avoid possible litigation and move forward to strengthen their operations. Toyota statement said “We regret that NHTSA tentatively concluded that they should seek a civil penalty. Toyota denies NHTSA’s allegation that it violated the Safety Act or its implementing regulations.”

Information supplied to NHTSA shows that Toyota knew about problems with the sticky pedals on September 29th 2009, and did not inform NHTSA as required. The vehicle recalls occurred four months later in January.

The fine is the largest civil penalty permitted by law. Consumers Union, the parent company of Consumer Reports, has recommended raising the maximum fine as a deterrent for future violations of the law.

NHTSA will continue their investigation of Toyota by reviewing statements and documents to determine whether the company has complied legally with all of its obligations such as the potential for floor-mat interference with the accelerators in Toyota and Lexus models that resulted in recalls last October. Further findings could result in additional fines.

--Liza Barth 

Be sure to follow Consumer Reports Cars blog (RSS) and Twitter (@CRcars) to keep up with the latest information and advice, also see our unintended acceleration guide.

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Unintended acceleration stories wanted
How to tell if your Toyota is affected by the recent recalls
How to stop a runaway car: Don’t pump the brakes

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