Toyota Faces New Probe, Production Cuts - TheStreet

TORRANCE, Calif. (

TheStreet

) -- With

Toyota

(TM) - Get Report

mired in crisis, regulators said Tuesday they will step up their probe of whether the automaker ordered its recalls promptly enough.

Meanwhile, Toyota announced production cuts at plants in Georgetown, Ky., and San Antonio. The Georgetown plant will halt production on Feb. 26, and possibly on three additional days in March and April. The San Antonio plant has scheduled weeklong production breaks starting on March 15 and April 12.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Tuesday it is seeking documents from Toyota as it reviews whether the automaker conducted three recent recalls in a timely manner. Federal law requires automakers to notify the agency within five days of determining that a safety defect exists, and to promptly conduct a recall. The NHTSA wants to know "when and how (Toyota) learned of the defects affecting approximately 6 million vehicles in the U.S," it said, in a prepared statement.

Slideshow: Toyota Recalls

The three recalls involve various Toyota and Lexus products. Two recalls in 2007 and 2009 are related to the entrapment of gas pedals by floor mats. The third one, in January, involves sticking gas pedals.

The agency also said Tuesday that it is investigating hundreds of new complaints about recalled Toyotas. It said it has received complaints alleging that sticking accelerators in Toyota vehicles have been responsible for 34 deaths since 2000.

As the crush of bad news continued, Toyota stock was lagging. At mid-afternoon, the

S&P 500

was up about 1.4%, but Toyota shares were trading at $75.95, down $1.10. With worldwide recalls of nearly 9 million vehicles, the automaker is awaiting a chance to remake its image in two congressional hearings next week. The company said Friday that more than 500,000 recalled vehicles have been repaired.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

.