Sen. Chuck Grassley is asking the NHTSA to look into additional questions about unintended acceleration of Toyota cars.
Editor's note: Tune in tonight at 8 and 10 p.m. ET for Drew Griffin's update on the investigation.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is asking the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to look into additional questions about unintended acceleration of Toyota cars.
Citing unidentified whistle-blowers critical of "too narrow" federal investigations, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee asked the NHTSA in a letter to look into the phenomenon of "tin whiskers" - or crystalline structures of tin - that theoretically could lead to the unintended acceleration.
The whistle-blowers also provided Grassley with documentation about the investigations by NHTSA and NASA into the Toyota vehicles, including one NASA report that stated: "Because proof that the (electronic throttle-control systems) caused the reported (unintended accelerations) was not found does not mean it could not occur."
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/13/t1.2010lexusgx460.jpg width=300 height=169]Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer
Still stinging from the recall of more than 8 million vehicles worldwide due to safety issues, Toyota is now dealing with yet another blow to its once-stellar reputation.
Consumer Reports has issued a safety warning on Toyota's 2010 Lexus GX 460 SUV because of an increased rollover risk during a turn.
The magazine says it uncovered the problem during routine tests, and is urging car shoppers not to buy the GX 460 until this problem has been remedied.
The special designation given to the GX 460 by Consumer Reports - "Don't Buy: Safety Risk" - is rarely given by the magazine. The last time it was used was in 2001, on the Mitsubishi Montero Limited.
Baseball legend and master of malapropisms Yogi Berra famously said, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”
Who knew Yogi was an economist?
The panel of economists responsible for identifying changes in the U.S. business cycle said Monday that it is “premature” to say whether the recession that began in 2007 has ended.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/15/toyoda.jpg caption="Akio Toyoda, president of Japan's auto giant Toyota Motor, delivers a speech to employees and suppliers." width=292 height=320]
Editor's note: Rik Paul is automotive editor of Consumer Reports.
Special to CNN
Watching the Toyota recall crisis unfold over the past few months has been like watching a wildfire on a windy day. Just when it would appear that the flames might be contained, another powerful gust sweeps through, stirring them up and blowing them still higher.
True, Toyota has acted as its own arsonist at times. If it had attacked the floor-mat entrapment problem as aggressively in 2007 as it is doing now, then perhaps the current crisis could have been avoided. And if the company had been acting as a better switchboard operator between Europe and North America, it could have more quickly connected the sticking accelerator problems in some European cars with the fact that the same pedal assembly was used in eight U.S. models. And it might possibly have avoided the recent stop-sale on those models.
But some of the gusts have been whipped up by the news media. The software glitch in the antilock braking system of the 2010 Toyota Prius and Lexus HS 250h, which causes a momentary loss of braking capability, is serious enough that it should be fixed. But on an overall scale of recalled problems, it's relatively minor. Yet, it continues to grab headlines in this Toyota-sensitized environment.
A torrent of high-profile recalls and safety concerns has tarnished the once stellar reputation of Toyota, which in 2008 overtook General Motors as the biggest car manufacturer in the world.
A series of safety problems on high-profile vehicles has overshadowed the company's reputation for quality. A recent study found that the automaker actually gets fewer customer complaints per car than the majority of its competitors.
Follow complete coverage of Toyota at CNNMoney.com, and at CNN.com's special report on the latest manufacturer recalls.
Brian Todd | BIO
Toyota's recent recall of millions of vehicles for sticking accelerator pedals may get drivers wondering: What should you do if a vehicle is accelerating uncontrollably?
Accelerator pedals in the 2.3 million vehicles that Toyota recalled may, in rare circumstances, become stuck after the pedal mechanisms become worn, the automaker has said.
Toyota says it is shipping reinforcement parts to dealers, and that dealers will start repairs as soon as this weekend. The U.S. Transportation Department urges owners of the recalled vehicles to arrange fixes as soon as possible, though Toyota says the sticking problem is rare and happens gradually, and if no sticking is noticed in a vehicle, it should be safe to drive.