Toyota Recalls Vehicles for Steering Issue

Toyota Motor Corporation announced yet another recall; this time, for about 550,000 vehicles, most in the United States and all over a steering issue.

Toyota recalled 447,000 vehicles in the United States, 38,000 in Japan, and 25,000 in Australia and New Zealand, according to Dion Corbett, Toyota spokesman, said The Associated Press (AP), which added that 14,000 vehicles in Europe, 10,000 in the Middle East, and 14,000 in Asia, outside of Japan, are also being recalled.

The carmaker reported it received 79 reports concerning the defect since 2007, said Corbett; no accidents or injuries have been reported in relation to the defect that concerns the potential for the engine’ crankshaft pulley’s outer ring to misalign with its inner ring, said the AP. This malfunction can cause a noise or for the warning signal light to become engaged, said Toyota’s sales unit in a press release, wrote the AP. If left uncorrected, the power steering pump belt could detach from the pulley, which will make it “suddenly more difficult to turn the steering wheel,” explained the AP.

The recalled cars in the U.S. include 283,200 Toyota brand cars: the 2004 and 2005 Camry, Highlander, Sienna and Solara; the 2004 Avalon; and the 2006 Highlander HV. Another 137,000 Lexus vehicles are involved: the 2004 and 2005 ES330 and RX330 and the 2006 RX400h, said the AP. Certain Alphard, Highlander, Highlander hybrid, and Lexus models outside of the U.S. are also involved, said Corbett.

The recall notification process differs by country, but in the U.S., Toyota will be mailing a notification to vehicle owners to make an appointment with an authorized dealer to have the recalled vehicle inspected when replacement parts are produced in quantities to satisfy recalled vehicle numbers, explained the AP. Notifications will mail in January and, if replacement parts are needed, there will be no cost to consumers, said the AP. Should consumers hear an unusual noise from the engine compartment, vehicle owners should make an appointment with any Toyota or Lexus dealer for vehicle inspection, said Toyota’s release, according to the AP.

In June, the auto giant recalled about 82,200 hybrid SUVs in the U.S. over computer boards with potentially faulty wiring. Highlander and Lexus-brand hybrid SUVs from Toyota’s 2006 and 2007 model year lines were affected. Toyota issued recalls in 2009 and 2010 over complaints of sticky gas pedals and doormats that had the potential to jam gas pedals. “Toyota City” paid an historic $48.8 million in fines for how some recalls were carried out; some of its key officials, including its president, were called to Congress.

Previously, NASA, the U.S. space agency, said it found no electronic issues that would cause the acceleration; however, Sean Kane, president of Safety Research & Strategies and a member of the panel, said the report showed “deficiencies” in Toyota’s vehicle electronics. “NASA identified numerous failures in Toyota electronics that could lead to unwanted acceleration,” Kane said in an emailed statement.

Nearly two years ago, <"">Toyota recalled millions of vehicles for unintended acceleration issues and later announced it was recalling 2.17 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles sold in the U.S. for flaws that could jam gas pedals, leading to instances of unintended acceleration. Worldwide, 14 million Toyota vehicles have been recalled over unintended acceleration issues.

Toyota was assessed $32 million in fines following Department of Transportation (DOT) investigations into how it handled two recalls concerning sudden acceleration and steering problem and is facing hundreds of personal-injury, death, and economic-damage lawsuits in state and federal courts related to unintended acceleration of its vehicles.

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