UPDATE 1-US denies request to probe Toyota Corolla airbags

Wed Aug 17, 2011 5:37pm EDT

* Second time this year U.S. review clears Corolla

* Corolla airbag complaints similar to other compacts (Adds Toyota comment, number of vehicles, crash test rating)

WASHINGTON Aug 17 (Reuters) - U.S. auto safety regulators have denied a request to formally investigate complaints alleging potential airbag failure in certain Toyota Motor Corp (TM.N)7293.T Corollas.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it had reviewed a petition by a Williamsburg, Virginia, couple and eight other complaints and concluded that further investigation of Corolla airbags would not likely turn up a defect.

The petition and other documents said the vehicle's front airbags did not deploy after the car struck a deer at 55 miles per hour in Pennsylvania in November 2009. Neither the driver nor the passenger suffered serious injuries.

Investigators found that the crash and point of impact did not sufficiently slow the car enough to activate the airbags.

"Based on the information available at the present time, NHTSA does not believe that a safety-related defect currently exists," it said.

The agency said it would continue to monitor any new complaints.

A formal investigation would have covered up to 170,000 vehicles.

Toyota said it was pleased with the government's decision.

Toyota ADRs closed down more than 1 percent at $74.66 on the New York Stock Exchange.

It was the second time this year regulators cleared the Corolla of possible mechanical problems. NHTSA investigated steering complaints in 2009 and 2010 Corollas before concluding in May that it had found no defects.

The compact sedan is a centerpiece of Toyota's lineup and behind only the Camry as the biggest in the U.S. market with 154,000 vehicles sold this year through July, company figures show.

Toyota was the subject of massive recalls, mainly in the United States, that peaked in 2010 for mechanical and equipment problems related to floormats that jammed accelerators and gas pedals that did not spring back as designed.

NHTSA also said its consumer complaint database includes similar reports of potential airbag failure in comparable compacts made by Ford Motor Co (F.N), Honda Motor Co (7267.T), Hyundai Motor (005380.KS) and General Motors Co (GM.N).

The agency said it found nothing remarkable in the complaint rate between the 2008 Corolla and the other vehicles.

In a frontal crash tests, the model 2005-2008 Corollas received the highest government safety rating in frontal crashes.

(Reporting by John Crawley; Editing by Dave Zimmerman and Richard Chang)

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