UPDATE 1-U.S. reviews Toyota recalls for timeliness

* Regulators seek information from Toyota

* Review covers floor mat, “sticky pedal” recalls

* Congress also investigating, hearings set for next week

WASHINGTON, Feb 16 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. regulators opened an
investigation on Tuesday to see whether recent recalls of
Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T: ) (TM.N: ) vehicles were carried out in
a timely manner, the Transportation Department said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
requested production data, consumer complaints and other
documents showing how and when Toyota learned of problems
affecting about 6 million vehicles in the United States.

The three recalls involve Toyota and Lexus models.

Two of them — in 2007 and 2009 – relate to loose floor
mats that can become trapped by the accelerator. The third, in
January, covers gas pedals that do not spring back as

The NHTSA review could lay the groundwork for
transportation officials to eventually fine Toyota if they
determine the manufacturer violated its legal obligations.
Fines are capped at $16.4 million.

Officials are checking to see if the manufacturer has
covered all models in recent recalls of Toyota and Lexus
vehicles to ensure the company “did not miss any problems.”

Federal law requires auto manufacturers to notify NHTSA
within five days of identifying a safety defect and promptly
conducting a recall.

Congressional investigators are also looking into Toyota
recalls as well as the handling of those matters by NHTSA over
the years. Two hearings are set for next week and a third the
week after.

Safety advocates have criticized NHTSA for not being
aggressive enough in responding to consumer complaints alleging
safety problems.

Of the three voluntary recalls in question, only the
“sticky pedal” case involved a defect, which the automaker is

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(Reporting by John Crawley, editing by Maureen Bavdek)

UPDATE 1-U.S. reviews Toyota recalls for timeliness