More vehicle recalls by Toyota in the U.S.

Toyota recalls 700,000 vehicles in US

Japanese carmaker to contact owners of selected Tacoma, Camry and Venza vehicles about potential manufacturing faults

Richard Wachman
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 8 March 2012 12.53 GMT
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/mar/08/toyota-recalls-tacoma-camry-venza

The Japanese carmaker Toyota is recalling nearly 700,000 vehicles in the US due to safety concerns, dealing another blow to its reputation following numerous recalls of faulty cars in recent years.

Thursday’s announcement adds to Toyota’s list of woes as it struggles to regain its poise after production was disrupted following last year’s earthquake in Japan, and again in October following floods in Thailand.

Pummelled by natural disasters, Toyota has lost market share and is no longer the largest carmaker in the world – a title it grabbed from General Motors in 2008. Germany’s Volkswagen also recently overtook it in Europe and GM has stormed back after its US government bailout.

Toyota’s carefully cultivated image as safe and reliable has taken a beating after the recall of around 12m vehicles since 2008. The setbacks have dented public confidence and left senior management reeling with embarrassment. There were 14 separate recalls involving Toyota vehicles in 2010 alone.

The firm said the latest recalls include about 495,000 Tacoma trucks made between 2005 and 2009 that need to have their steering wheel spiral cable assemblies replaced.

The Japanese company said friction may occur in some vehicles between the assembly’s spiral cable and the retainer, and over time, cut the connection to the driver’s airbag.

In addition, it is recalling about 70,500 Camry sedans made during 2009 and about 116,000 Venza crossovers made between 2009/11, to replace lamp switches.

Toyota fears that during installation of the switch on one of the North American assembly lines, silicon grease may have leaked inside the component. That could cause warning lights to illuminate, keep the vehicle from starting, or prevent it from shifting out of “park”.

In both recalls, Toyota said it was in the process of obtaining replacement parts. Once it does, it will notify the affected owners and replace the parts for free. Toyota said it was not aware of any accidents or injuries caused by these problems.

Despite its travails, Toyota has returned to normal production and seen a revival in its sales in the US, one of its biggest markets.

According to the latest data, Toyota’s US sales increased by 12% in February from a year earlier. Analysts said the upward trend was likely to continue in the coming months despite the latest recall.

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