Toyota Resumes Sales of Recalled Lexus SUV

Following Consumer Reports magazine’s “don’t buy” and “unacceptable” warnings earlier this month, Toyota is resuming sales of its Lexus GX 460 SUV, said USA Today. The rare warning was issued on April 13 over problems with the stability control and followed with an April 19 recall.

The carmaker says it now knows how to reprogram the stability control so that the skids that led to the Consumer Reports warning are prevented, said USA Today. Lexus owners were contacted by dealers starting Wednesday and were asked to bring in the vehicles for the needed programming changes, explained USA Today.

The recall also included the Land Cruiser Prado, which is sold overseas. A total of 34,000 vehicles were recalled worldwide, 9,400 of which are in the U.S.

According to a prior report issued by Toyota, the repair should take about an hour and loaner cars will be available for owners of Lexus GX 460 SUVs who don’t want to drive their vehicle while they wait for the fix.

Consumer Reports issued the rare “not acceptable” rating after its tests determined that the GX 460 SUV was prone to slide when driven in sweeping turns. According to the report, this could cause rollover accidents resulting in serious injury or death. Ideally, the vehicle’s electronic stability control system would stop such a slide. The publication advised consumers not to buy the Lexus GX 460. The “not acceptable” rating is extremely rare. In fact, the last time Consumer Reports concluded that a vehicle was “not acceptable” for consumers to buy was in 2001.

Hours after news of the Consumer Reports rating broke, Toyota announced it was suspending sales of the Lexus GX 460, which could not come at a worse time for Toyota. Since last fall it has recalled more than nine million cars worldwide because of faulty floor mats, sticking accelerator pedals, brake issues, and other problems.

Most recently, the company issued a recall to fix a spare tire carrier cable on 600,000 Sienna minivans and also just agreed to pay a record $16.375 million fine levied by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for concealing information related to a January recall of 2.3 million vehicles for sticky accelerator pedals. Automakers are required to inform U.S. safety regulators within five days if they determine a safety defect exists. However, according to an April 5 letter from the NHTSA to Toyota, documents obtained from Toyota show that the company knew of the sticky pedal defect since at least September 29, 2009.

The $16.375 million fine was the largest ever levied against an automaker by the U.S. government. In a statement, Toyota said it disagreed with the fine, but decided to pay it to avoid litigation with the government.

Meanwhile, yesterday we wrote that Toyota was adding 50,000 more cars to its ever-growing list of recalls, this time 50,000 2003-model year Sequoia SUVs were being recalled to correct a traction control problem in which the controls switch on, slowing down the vehicle, said FreeP.com. While this particular problem has not been associated with injury or crash reports, it does concern defects in the vehicle’s electronic control sensors, explained FreeP.com, a “key point of contention” in Toyota’s ongoing sudden acceleration scandal that has involved thousands of cases.

The NHTSA has been investigating the issues with Toyota for the past two years, having received 68 complaints last year from Sequoia owners over unexpected deceleration issues, said FreeP.com, noting that the problems often occurred in traffic.

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