Chicago readers no doubt remember the Toyota recall scandal of 2009-2010. The automaker once enjoyed a reputation for building some of the safest and most durable vehicles on the road, but Toyota's credibility was severely tarnished after dragging its feet on recalls related to sticky accelerator pedals, "sudden unintended acceleration," and other potentially fatal defects.
In addition to product liability and wrongful death lawsuits stemming from car accidents, Toyota has also faced legal action from 29 states, including Illinois. Last week, a settlement was reached between the group of states and the automaker to the tune of $29 million. In addition to paying the settlement money, Toyota has agreed to implement a number of measures to strengthen consumer protection and increase company transparency.
Some of these consumer protection measures include:
- The creation of a new online database allowing owners to input their vehicle identification number to see if their Toyota vehicle is subject to a recall
- An agreement not to resell vehicles with identified safety defects until such defects have been fixed and the potential consumer has been informed of this information
- An agreement not to put a "Toyota Certified Used Vehicles" label on used vehicles obtained through any states' "lemon laws"
In addition to the settlement money, Toyota will also earmark $5 million for consumer reimbursement for 2009-2010 recall-related expenses. Consumers can seek compensation for replacement transportation during that time, including things like the cost of taxi rides and rental car fees.
Hopefully, this settlement and other recent actions by the auto manufacturer will help rebuild the company's image and improve consumer confidence. An attorney representing Toyota recently said: "Resolving this inquiry is another step we are taking to turn the page on legacy issues from Toyota's past recalls in a way that benefits our customers."
Source: USA Today, "Toyota recall nightmare results in deal with 29 states," Chris Woodyard, Feb. 14, 2013