updated 5/10/2010 5:18:44 PM ET 2010-05-10T21:18:44

The government is investigating whether Toyota delayed a 2005 recall in the U.S. over defective steering rods in trucks and SUVs, despite issuing a similar recall in Japan nearly a year earlier.

The Transportation Department said Monday it was conducting a new review into the gap between the Japanese and U.S. recalls. Automakers must notify the government of a safety defect within five business days of learning of the problem.

Toyota claimed initially after the 2004 Japanese recall that it had little evidence of a U.S. problem. But an investigation by The Associated Press has found the automaker had received at least 52 reports from U.S. drivers.

The automaker could face another fine of up to $16.4 million.

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