US regulators found out that Toyota knows about the power-window switches since 2008, but only now decided to make the recall.
Last week Toyota announced it recalls 7.43 million vehicles due to power-window switches issues. The US regulators found out that in September 2008 Toyota received a complaint from an American customer regarding ‘thermal damage’ to the switch and ‘an unusual smell’ from the power-window master switch. Toyota sent the part to the supplier which investigated the issue but found ‘no root cause.’
No other reports were received until May 2010 when the automaker began to sporadically receive complaints regarding an abnormal smell and even smoke coming from driver’s side door.
“There was really no trend early on and it took considerable time to diagnose what seemed to be an isolated problem and how it was occurring,” John Hanson, a U.S.-based spokesman for Toyota, said in an e-mail.
In 2009-2010 Toyota recalled a record number of vehicles for unintended acceleration, agreeing to pay a $16.4 million U.S. fine in April 2010 for not reporting promptly the issues with vehicle accelerator pedals. A NHTSA spokewoman said that the company has received until now reports of 9 injuries and 161 fires that started in the window switch.
“I’m a little disappointed in that Toyota didn’t act sooner especially because of the debacle in 2010 and, more importantly, the tragedy in 2010,” said Rebecca Lindland, an analyst with IHS Automotive.