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EUREKA, Calif. – The Eureka Times-Standard reported on a lawsuit brought by a Hoopa family against Toyota following a fatal single-car crash that occurred on Highway 299 on Christmas Eve in 1997. The fatality was an 18-month-old baby. The claim is that the family did not receive timely notice of the recall of a defective steering relay rod. It is alleged that this rod, which connects the two front wheels, failed causing the mother of the child to lose steering control, run off the road and hit a tree.

In a letter sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2005, Toyota’s North America subsidiary stated that 977,839 Toyota vehicles sold in the United States were involved. According to the letter, "under certain conditions where high steering effort and power assist are required . . . a fatigue crack may develop in the steering relay rod." The involved models included the Toyota 4Runner and Toyota Truck from 1989 to 1995, and the Toyota T100 from 1993 to 1998.

It is claimed that only 30 percent of the involved vehicles were recalled.

If you have one of these models and have not received a recall notice, we suggest that you immediately contact your authorized dealer to see if your vehicle is one of the recalled models. You may also want to have your mechanic check for any evidence of fatigue or compromise of the steering relay rod.

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