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Edmunds looks at Toyota Corolla, Chevy Cobalt steering complaints, calls out NHTSA

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Edmunds looks at Toyota Corolla, Chevy Cobalt steering complaints, calls out NHTSA

Through much of the recent deluge of recall announcements and ensuing media coverage, there have been large groups on either side of the issue, quick to criticize or to defend the automakers and the governing bodies involved in the investigations. While many media outlets have merely reported the news, others have weighed in to give their opinion on what's going on. The latest to take a side on the issue is Edmunds.com. The well-known consumer information site issued a press release calling out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), questioning what they see as Inconsistencies in the NHTSA's handling of Chevrolet Cobalt and Toyota Corolla steering complaints.

After reviewing the cases of these two cars and other complaints dating all the way back to 1990, Edmunds found "no clear pattern in terms of the number of consumer complaints that trigger an agency investigation." Edmunds.com Senior Analyst Michelle Krebs found that "as few as five complaints have triggered an investigation [while] other investigations haven't started until 1,500 complaints had accumulated."

In the case of the Chevy Cobalt there were 1,157 complaints about steering issues before the recall investigation was started, while the Toyota Corolla had registered just 84 complaints before that investigation was announced. Even more telling was the fact that NHTSA took an average of 262 days to conclude an investigation before launching a recall, but the range was curiously wide – from just 10 days to a full six years, according to the Edmunds.com report.

"Whether NHTSA's process works properly and quickly enough and whether it is transparent enough is highly questionable. Ultimately, this week's Congressional hearings may well reveal as many defects in NHTSA procedures as defects in Toyota vehicles," said Krebs. The hearings will likely be a chance to play to the cameras for everyone involved, but hopefully some real change can come out of it if the system is indeed shown to be flawed. The full statement from Edmunds.com is after the jump.



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