Toyota Subpoenaed by Federal Grand Jury over Steering Problems

Toyota Motor (TM) said Tuesday it has received its second subpoena this year from a federal grand jury -- this time related to steering problems in some vehicles. The subpoena, which names Toyota's U.S. subsidiary, seeks documents related to "malfunctions of steering relay rods," Toyota said in a Japanese-language statement.

"The company and its affiliates will sincerely cooperate with the investigation," Toyota said, without elaborating.

The subpoena, issued June 29 by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of New York, didn't specify the models or years involved, a Toyota spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal. But it differs from a subpoena issued in February related to unintended acceleration and braking problems, she said.

Five years ago, Toyota recalled nearly 1 million pickup trucks in the U.S. to replace steering relay rods. That followed an earlier recall of pickup trucks in Japan after a broken steering linkage caused injuries, the Journal said.

"[The subpoena] may lead to another recall with other models, and if lawsuits start taking place, it will affect the company's earnings performance," Satoru Takada, an analyst in Tokyo at TIW, told Bloomberg News. "It could impact its performance and share price."

Toyota shares were down about 2% in pre-market activity Tuesday on Wall Street. The stock ended Monday's trading up fractionally to $71.22.

Beleaguered Toyota has recalled some 10 million cars worldwide since late last year, mostly in response to complaints about sudden acceleration. But there have been other problems as well, including a recall in February involving the latest version of its popular Prius hybrid for braking problems.

More recently, the automaker has recalled some 270,000 Lexus vehicles, including 138,000 in the U.S., to replace faulty engine valve springs.

Toyota dealers have repaired millions of vehicles, but the automaker still faces more than 200 lawsuits tied to accidents, the lower resale value of Toyota vehicles and the drop in the company's stock.

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