N.H.T.S.A. Investigates 460,000 Toyota RAV4s After Reports of Suspension Failures

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating whether about 460,000 Toyota RAV4s from the 2006-8 model years should be recalled because of suspension failures.

In a document posted on Friday to its Web site, the agency said the investigation was prompted by seven complaints from owners about “corrosion-related failure of the left or right rear suspension arm assembly.”

Four of the owners reported failures that occurred at 35 miles an hour or faster, resulting in “temporary loss of vehicle control.” There were no reports of crashes.

One owner, who wrote to the agency in February, asserted a failure occurred “while I was driving with my wife and our 1-year-old son in the vehicle. Thankfully, we had just made a turn onto the on-ramp of the Garden State Parkway and were moving at a relatively low speed.”

Brian Lyons, a spokesman for Toyota, wrote in an e-mail that the automaker would fully cooperate with the safety agency.
In an unrelated safety action, Kia announced this week that it would recall almost 22,000 of its 2009 Borrego crossovers because the brake pedal may break off in a low-impact crash.

In its report to the agency, Kia said the recall only affected vehicles built without adjustable pedals. The vehicles were equipped with a brake pedal that was designed to break in a severe crash to reduce the chance of the driver suffering a leg injury, the automaker said. A problem with the fiberglass mount, however, has led the pedal to break off in less severe crashes, before the vehicle has come to a stop.

“The driver would then be required to stop the vehicle with the parking brake or experience a possible second impact, which could result in personal injury,” the automaker said.

In its report Kia said it received the first report of a problem in October 2009, which prompted it to begin an investigation. The automaker did not conclude that a recall would be necessary until late last month.

Kia described the recall as voluntary, but under federal regulations once an automaker is aware of a safety problem it has no choice but to notify the N.H.T.S.A. within five days of its plan for a recall.