Nightly News   |  February 17, 2010

Toyota stalled in breakdown lane

Toyota said Wednesday it is investigating complaints of power steering problems with its popular Corolla compact and considering yet another recall. CNBC's Phil LeBeau reports.

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>>> heard it all, there is a new issue with the steering on a model that sells any more than any other, the toyota corolla . cnbc's phil lebeau reports tonight from illinois.

>> reporter: already fixing more than 8 million cars and trucks and spending close to $2 billion to do it, toyota 's facing new questions about its reliability. the federal government will open an investigation into complaints that the corolla's power steering is not responsive, looking at nearly 500,0002009 and 2010 corollas.

>> they had such a great name, but it seems like every day there is another issue.

>> reporter: today in japan, toyota 's president once again admitted his company faltered. but akio toyoda will not testify at congressional hearings looking into toyota 's recalls.

>> translator: i'm not saying i'm not going to america. i am making preparations to go at the appropriate time.

>> reporter: that may not be enough for federal highway safety officials who launched a wide-ranging investigation into what toyota brands knew and when they knew it. in the last six months, toyota recalled 5.7 million vehicles to prevent floor mats from entrapping gas pedals, 4.5 million to fix accelerators that may stick and 437,000 hybrids that may slip. a list of problems so great congress is calling for more answers on how quickly automakers announce recalls.

>> we are going to insist there be a new level of transparency from all the auto companies who want to sell in america.

>> reporter: for toyota dealers, business has become tougher. sales slipped 16% last month and the value of toyota 's is falling. corolla's down 3%. the eight recalled models have also dropped as has the price of the once-hot prius falling $1,500.

>> the longer the human cry is out about toyota , the more pressure it's going to put on their values and that will change consideration for a lot of customers.

>> reporter: to help buyers get over any doubts of buying a new toyota , the company is planning a major marketing campaign for early next month. expect rebates and incentives far greater than anything we've seen from toyota in the past. phil lebeau, cnbc, illinois.