April 5th, 2010
04:31 PM ET

Agency seeking $16 million penalty against Toyota

[Updated at 4:29 p.m.] Under federal regulations, automakers are required to inform the agency within five days of determining that a safety defect exists in one of its products. NHTSA learned, through documents obtained from Toyota, that the automaker knew of sticky gas pedal problems since at least September, 2009, the agency said in an press release.

"We now have proof that Toyota failed to live up to its legal obligations," said Secretary LaHood. "Worse yet, they knowingly hid a dangerous defect for months from U.S. officials and did not take action to protect millions of drivers and their families. For those reasons, we are seeking the maximum penalty possible under current laws."

NHTSA is still investigating to see if Toyota committed any additional violations that may warrant more penalties, the agency said. Under federal regulations, $16.4 million is the most an automaker can be fined for a single violation.

Toyota cars and trucks have been the subject of at least three separate major recalls in the past year. One was for the "sticky pedal" situation in which gas pedals, as they age, begin to stick in a partially depressed position. Another was for gas pedals that can stick on some floor mats and a third was for braking problems on Toyota Prius hybrid cars. Toyota was not immediately able to respond to a request for comment.

[Posted at 4:08 p.m.] National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is seeking the maximum civil penalty of $16.375 million against Toyota Motor Corp. for failing to notify the agency of its cars' dangerous "sticky pedal" defect for at least four months, despite knowing of the potential risk to consumers, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced Monday.

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  1. ELH

    It would be interesting to see all the fines levied against all the car manufacturers and compare the 'worth' of each against the infraction that triggered the fine.

    As I recall, Ford never told anyone about the extreme fire risk posed by the failing cruise control switches until they were 'caught' by the feds. Back in the mid 60's, Dodge light truck power steering problems landed many folks in the ditch and there never was a recall or a fine.

    While I agree that Toyota was and is still playing dumb about the acceleration problem, it strikes me that there is more than a bit of 'Toyota bashing' involved here.

    April 5, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ed In Virginia

    $16 million. Big deal. That's a rounding error on their financials. That won't even get their attention! The lawsuits will.

    April 5, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sunil

    Multibillion dollar company. A few million dollar penalty and a billion or two in future lawsuits....but possibly less because Toyota "only became aware" of the sticky pedal issue in September 2009. Just another issue of reward outwaying risks. Had it with the banks. Had it Pfizer. Too bad the individual can't form a shell company like Pfizer to take the blame or can they?

    April 5, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rick

    Nice. So, one of Toyota's main competitors, Government Motors, is levying a fine against Toyota? This is the problem with having a State-run company – the rules of fair competition are thrown out the window....

    April 5, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Shocked In Sarasota

    Now that the Goverment owns GM they are getting ride of their compitition...Big Brother Chicago Style

    April 6, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. KS67

    Don't complain about your vehicle going out of control, or that Toyota failed.....they will sue you.

    Look it up, that's what they do.

    April 6, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. KS67

    Shocked in Sarasota: Yea, and they are doing it by making the brakes of their competition to fail as the gas pedal malfunctions and kills the driver along with passengers. Conspiracy theorist much?

    April 6, 2010 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Camila Perry

    i already upgraded my family car to Hybrid to help the environment.;:;

    May 19, 2010 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Audrey Phillips

    i like hybrid cars because they are more energy efficient compared to petrol engines;*-

    September 9, 2010 at 6:57 am | Report abuse |
  10. Compatible Ink

    hybrid cars would be the best thing because they are less polluting to the environment ;-`

    December 16, 2010 at 1:48 am | Report abuse |
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