Toyota has recalled 6 million cars in the United States over concerns about sudden acceleration. But an analysis of government documents shows that many Toyota Camrys built before 2007, which were not subject to recalls, have been linked to a comparable number of speed-control problems as recalled Camrys.
While owners of all makes of vehicles have filed complaints with the government about speed control problems, the analysis — based on a review of 12,700 complaint records in the United States over the last decade by The New York Times — reveals that Toyota had more complaints involving crashes than any other carmaker.
Many of the complaints were about vehicles not covered by recalls.
The 2002 Camry, for example, had about 175 speed-control complaints. Roughly half of those involved crashes.
By comparison, the 2007 Camry, which was recalled, was the subject of about 200 speed-control complaints, with fewer than a quarter of those resulting in accidents.
In all, federal safety regulators said they had received complaints alleging that unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles caused 34 deaths.
In his congressional testimony last week , James E. Lentz III, the president of Toyota Motor Sales USA, noted that other auto manufacturers had had complaints of sudden acceleration.
Of the 12,700 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration consumer complaints analyzed by The Times, the Ford Motor Co. had the most, about 3,500.
Toyota ranked second, with about 3,000 complaints, but those were linked to far more accidents — 1,000 — compared to 450 crashes for Ford.
All told, from 2000 through 2009, Toyota had one speed-control crash complaint per 20,454 vehicles sold in the United States. Ford had one complaint per 64,679 vehicles. Honda had one per 70,112 and GM one per 179,821.
Asked about The Times’ findings, a Toyota spokesman said on Monday that pre-2007 Camrys had been investigated and cleared of defects in three previous inquiries by the safety agency.
“At the conclusion of these investigations, no specific evidence of a trend regarding safety issues was found,” said Brian Lyons, the spokesman.
A separate examination by The Times of Transport Ministry records in Japan revealed a similar finding. In reports since 2001, Toyota vehicles have been cited with a greater frequency in complaints of sudden acceleration than those of other major carmakers.
The Times’ analysis of complaints in the United States covered those filed since 2000 involving all makes and models of cars manufactured this decade. A complaint about speed control may indicate that the vehicle accelerated excessively or inadequately.
The single largest source of these complaints was the 2007 model Camry.