Washington, D.C. – The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened an investigation regarding a defect reported by Toyota in 2005 for its Tacoma compact pickup truck.

NHTSA is investigating whether Toyota notified the agency of a steering relay rod safety defect within five business days of learning of the defect’s existence, as is required by law.

In a statement, NHTSA said that in 2004, Toyota conducted a recall in Japan for its compact trucks, where they are called Hilux, with steering relay rods that were prone to fatiguing, cracking and possibly breaking, with a resulting loss of steering control. At the time, Toyota informed NHTSA that the safety defect was isolated to vehicles in Japan and that the company had not received similar field information within the United States. However, in 2005, Toyota informed NHTSA that the steering relay rod defect was present in several models sold in the U.S. and conducted a recall.

On Friday, May 7, NHTSA was alerted to a number of complaints filed with Toyota by U.S. consumers prior to the 2004 Hilux recall in Japan. As a result, NHTSA has decided to open an investigation into whether Toyota met its legal obligations to conduct a timely recall of vehicles with the defect in the United States.

In a statement, Toyota said that it has received and is reviewing the information request from NHTSA and will cooperate with the agency’s investigation.

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