Posted On: April 18, 2010 by Christopher T. Hurley

Toyota conducts safety tests on all SUV models

After Consumer Reports placed a “do not buy” warning on the 2010 Lexus GX460 this week, “Toyota announced safety tests on all its sport-utility vehicle models in a sweeping effort Thursday to reassure buyers” (AP, 4/15, Y. Kageyama). This is the latest in what has become the Toyota debacle that began last fall.

Acting quickly in response to the Consumer Reports warning, Toyota suspended all sales of the SUV in North America on Tuesday, probably in an effort to avoid criticism about acting too slowly, which contributed to the 16.4 Million dollar fine that automaker received. On Thursday, the automaker said the sales block would be extended to all markets while the vehicle underwent further testing.

Consumer Reports is a popular source for interested buyers due to its reputation for thorough testing and as being unbiased. The issue with the GX 460, “occurred during tests on its track. In a standard test, the driver approached a turn unusually fast, then released the accelerator pedal to simulate the response of an alarmed driver. This caused the rear of the vehicle to slide outward. Under normal circumstances, the electronic stability control should quickly correct the loss of control and keep the SUV on its intended path. But with the GX 460, the stability control took too long to adjust, which could cause a rollover accident if one of the sliding wheels were to strike the curb or another obstacle.”

As a products liability lawyer in Chicago, I am pleased to see Toyota’s quick response to this latest issue with its vehicles. Toyota’s reputation for high quality and safe cars has been harmed over the last several months, and if they intend to regain their previous status, acting quickly and taking care of potential problems is the best approach. Safety is the most important feature on any vehicle, and I encourage all buyers to research safety thoroughly before buying a car.

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