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Ford, Toyota, GM: Comparing the Fines

Another automaker to keep an eye on right now is Nissan (NSANY), Edmunds.com analyst Jessica Caldwell said. Kyodo News on April 6 reported that Nissan is set to recall 25,024 passenger cars in five models sold in Japan because of defects in their gas pedals.

Caldwell said that if regulators discover "one root cause" of safety problems in the auto sector as a whole, they would have to "levy similar penalties among other automakers. That would only be fair."

Though Toyota remains the poster child of vehicle safety problems, Caldwell said that judging by Toyota's March sales of 166,644 vehicles, "It's hard to say a lot of people don't think their vehicles are safe."

The automaker recorded a 35.3% rise in March U.S. sales compared to the previous year amid aggressive customer incentives.

Consumer complaints of unintended acceleration have been filed against Ford (F - Get Report), Chrysler, General Motors, Honda (HMC - Get Report), Nissan with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Caldwell notes that the $16.38 million fine against Toyota, while significant, isn't the biggest of its financial worries right now. Pending litigation and class-action law suits, on the other hand, pose the most significant risks.

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