Toyota plans recall of 270,000 vehicles worldwide over engine flaw

FILE - In this file photo made June 27, 2010, unsold 2010 Toyota Highlanders are seen at a dealership in the west Denver suburb of Lakewood, Colo. Forecasters expect U.S. sales of cars and light trucks to slow in June after months of improvement. It's another sign that people are beginning to doubt the economic recovery with unemployment still high. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
FILE - In this file photo made June 27, 2010, unsold 2010 Toyota Highlanders are seen at a dealership in the west Denver suburb of Lakewood, Colo. Forecasters expect U.S. sales of cars and light trucks to slow in June after months of improvement. It's another sign that people are beginning to doubt the economic recovery with unemployment still high. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File) (David Zalubowski - AP)
By Shino Yuasa
Friday, July 2, 2010

TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp. will recall 270,000 Lexus and other vehicles worldwide to fix faulty engines, the company said Friday, in the latest quality lapse by the world's largest automaker.

Flaws in valve springs, a crucial engine component, could make the vehicle stall while it's moving, Toyota spokesman Hideaki Homma said Friday in announcing the recall.

Lexus General Manager Mark Templin said that contaminated materials had been used in manufacturing valve springs.

Toyota has received about 200 complaints over faulty engines in Japan, but no accidents were reported there or abroad, Homma said. Some drivers told Toyota that engines made a strange noise.

The global recall that starts Monday affects seven luxury Lexus sedan models as well as the popular Crown, Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco said. Of the 270,000 recalled cars, about 180,000 were sold overseas, including the United States, and 90,000 in Japan.

The automaker was already scrambling to repair its reputation after 8.5 million vehicles were recalled beginning in October because of problems with sticking accelerator pedals and other issues.

U.S. regulators fined Toyota a record $16.4 million for acting too slowly to recall vehicles with defects.

Toyota will inform Japan's transportation ministry of a recall of 90,000 vehicles on Monday. Nolasco said it was unclear how many vehicles would be recalled in the United States.

Lexus said Thursday about 137,000 vehicles in the United States could be affected by the engine problem.

Ryoichi Saito, an auto analyst from Mizuho Investors Securities, said the latest recall was unlikely to hurt Toyota.

"It is clear that Toyota has learned a lesson from the recall disaster," Saito said. "The company has acted very swiftly to deal with problems."

Toyota dealers have repaired millions of vehicles following the massive global recalls, but the automaker still faces more than 200 lawsuits tied to accidents, the lower resale value of Toyota vehicles, and the drop in the company's stock price.

Toyota said last week it will recall 17,000 Lexus luxury hybrids after testing showed that fuel can spill during a rear-end crash.

U.S. regulators were working with scientists from NASA to investigate what caused some of Toyota's vehicles to suddenly accelerate. That review is expected to be completed by late next month.

Officials were also investigating whether Toyota waited nearly a year in 2005 to recall trucks and SUVs in the United States with defective steering rods, a case that could lead to additional fines.

In the aftermath of the recalls, U.S. lawmakers are considering changing auto safety laws to toughen potential penalties against automakers, give the government more power to demand a recall and push car companies to meet new safety standards.

-- Associated Press


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