The Department of Transportation (DOT) hit Toyota with a record-setting $16.4 million civil penalty Monday over delays in reporting the "sticky pedal" defect that led to acceleration problems in its vehicles.
Documents show Toyota knew of the pedal defect at least as early as September 29, 2009, but failed to notify the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the defect for at least four months, according to a DOT statement. Car manufacturers must notify NHTSA of safety defects within five business days of discovering them.
"We now have proof that Toyota failed to live up to its legal obligations," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement. "Worse yet, they knowingly hid a dangerous defect for months from U.S. officials and did not take action to protect millions of drivers and their families. For those reasons, we are seeking the maximum penalty possible under current laws."
Toyota has two weeks to decide if it will pay or contest the fine.
Read the full release at the DOT Web site.