Toyota Has Pattern of Slow Response on Safety Issues

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Toyota’s recalls and disclosures in recent months are part of a lengthy pattern in which the automaker has often reacted slowly to safety concerns, in some instances making design changes without telling customers about problems with vehicles already on the road, an examination of its record shows.

Toyota received complaints from customers in Europe about sticking accelerator pedals as early as December 2008 and started installing redesigned pedals on new vehicles there last August. Months later, in January, similar concerns in the United States led to a pedal recall of 2.3 million vehicles. The European cars have now been recalled, too.

In a Congressional committee meeting on Jan. 27, Toyota officials said they first learned of this problem through reports of sticking pedals in vehicles in England and Ireland in the spring of 2009. But Toyota later acknowledged it had received reports there as early as December 2008.

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