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Not exactly a Honda story but since people have listed the Toyota 4Runner as a reliable used SUV/winter beater I though this story might be of interest:

Toyota Steering Recall

Los Angeles, CA. -- Nearly three years after the Japanese government refused to prosecute Toyota executives for concealing a steering rod relay defect until after a horrific accident occurred in Japan, O'Reilly & Danko has filed a Complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of the late Levi Stewart's parents. Levi Stewart died on September 15, 2007 when his Toyota truck's steering relay rod snapped and he crashed, due to the total loss of steering control. Levi was killed, and his friends were seriously injured.

The Stewarts contend that Toyota should have issued the recall in the mid-1990s when Toyota first learned that steering rod relays were snapping, causing injuries and accidents due to the loss of steering. Had the Toyota executives issued the recall then, the Stewarts believe that Levi Stewart would be alive today. The Stewarts never received notice of either the Japanese or the later U.S. recall.

In 2004, local police in Komamoto, Japan investigated a frightening accident when the steering relay rod in a Toyota Hilux Surf (4-Runner) snapped, causing it to cross a median and strike another vehicle head-on. The police learned that Toyota executives had known since the mid 1990s that the steering rods were defective, but had refused to issue a recall then. Only after the media storm from Komamoto did Toyota issue a recall, but only in Japan, and not any other country in which their vehicles were sold.

Toyota knew that it had installed this same part, the defective steering relay rod, into nearly 1 million vehicles in the United States. In 2004, Toyota told the U.S. government it "had received field information from the Japanese market but no similar information from the U.S. Market had been received." This was untrue. O'Reilly & Danko's investigation has uncovered multiple accidents caused by the defective relay rods, which had been reported to Toyota or their dealers before the Japanese recall. The lawsuit alleges that Toyota, in fact, had notice of steering rods failing in the United States, when they told NHTSA otherwise. O'Reilly & Danko's investigation continues at Toyota Steering Recall.

Toyota eventually issued a recall in the United States in 2005, but due to the lackadaisical effort by Toyota only approximately 32% of the trucks were repaired after a year and a half. The generally accepted pass/fail rate for automotive recalls is 70%. "32% may be acceptable for the Red Sox lead off hitter. For an automotive recall where drivers can lose steering, it's an utter failure," said their attorney, John P. Kristensen of O'Reilly & Danko.

Question: If you hadn't know about this, (assuming it's legit) does it change your opinion on the superior reliability and value of a Toyota product?
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