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Toyota Recalls 480,000 Vehicles for Steering Fix

Source: WSJ

Posted on 29 Jul 2010

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Toyota Motor Corp. is voluntarily recalling about 480,000 vehicles world-wide, mostly Avalon large sedans in the U.S., for steering -system flaws that could develop over time and lead to a loss of control.

Toyota is recalling about 400,000 Avalons—373,000 in the U.S.—from model-year 2000-2004. The remaining vehicles are spread through Japan, Canada and Saudi Arabia. In a separate recall, the auto maker said it would fix 80,000 Lexus LX 470 or LC 100 SUVs outside North America from model years 2003-2007. About 39,000 of the Lexus models are in the U.S., 8,000 in Europe, 16,000 in the Middle East, 5,000 in Australia, 1,000 in China and 10,000 in Japan, said Brian Lyons, a Toyota spokesman.

Both vehicles could develop steering problems over time after an initial problem, though the issues are different in the vehicles. There were three unconfirmed reports of accidents involving the Avalons and no known accidents involving the LX 470s, the company said.

The auto maker, chastened after being fined $16.4 million earlier this year by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for failing to recall sticky pedals in a timely manner, has been making nearly regular recall announcements in the past several months. Earlier this month, Toyota recalled 270,000 Lexus vehicles globally for an engine problem that could lead to stalling over time.

The auto maker recalled more than 8 million vehicles globally to makes fixes to prevent floor mat entrapment and sticky pedals.

"Toyota is continuing to work diligently to address safety issues wherever they arise and to strengthen our global quality assurance operations so that

Toyota owners can be confident in the safety of their vehicles," said Steven St. Angelo, Toyota chief quality officer for North America, in a statement.

In the Avalon, an improperly casted steering column bracket could crack and the crack could widen over time and break, making it difficult to get a stationary car out of a steering lock.

In the Lexus, a ring on the steering shaft could crack during a jarring hit, such running over a deep pothole. Over time, the ring could fail and the steering shaft to disengage.