Last week, Lexus announced a recall of several models due to problems with engine stalling. Today, reports have surfaced that indicate the company may have known about the problem three years ago.
A Chicago Tribune article cites a Reuters piece that claims that Toyota received a report from the Japanese market about a car experiencing unusual noises and engine shaking. The problem was blamed on a broken valve spring.
Toyota reported this in its notice to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The notice states that the valve springs can deteriorate over time, possibly causing failure.
Toyota strengthened the springs after that first report, doing so again in August of 2008 and September of 2009 as more reports came in of broken valve springs. The number of reports continued to increase after October 2009.
Even if Toyota had legitimate reasons for not recalling the affected models sooner--perhaps the company felt the scope of the problem was limited--it certainly does not look good for a company that built its reputation on safety and quality, only to see that reputation dinged by a steady string of recalls over the past few months.