Toyota recalls 1.5 million vehicles for brake fluid problem
Thursday, October 21, 2010; 4:09 PM
After months of bad publicity involving cars that can accelerate out of control, Toyota announced Thursday a recall of another sort: It said that hundreds of thousands of cars in the United States might not be able to quickly come to a stop.
Drivers may "begin to notice a spongy or soft brake pedal feel and braking performance may gradually decline," the company said in announcing the recall.
About 740,000 cars - Lexuses, Avalons and Highlanders - are being recalled in the United States. About 1.53 million are being recalled globally for the problem. Toyota also announced it is recalling 165,000 vehicles in Japan for fuel-pump problems.
"We made commitments earlier this year to be more responsive and attentive to our customers," said Brian Lyons, safety and communications spokesman for Toyota. "We are viewing this recall as a continuation of that commitment."
In the United States, the vehicles are being recalled because "a small amount of the brake fluid could slowly leak from the brake master cylinder, resulting in illumination of the brake warning lamp."
If the driver does not heed the warning and the vehicle continues to be operated without replenishing the brake fluid, the driver will notice that the brakes begin to feel soft, the company said.
Toyota said the problem in the United States involves 2005 through 2006 Avalons; 2004 through 2006 non-hybrid Highlanders; 2004 through 2006 Lexus RX330s; and 2006 Lexus GS300, IS250 and IS350 vehicles.
The world's largest automaker has recalled more than 10 million vehicles worldwide over the past year, most notably for faulty gas pedals and floor mats that can trap accelerators. Both problems were blamed for the phenomenon of unwanted acceleration. In August, Toyota also recalled 1.3 million Corolla sedans and Matrix hatchbacks for problems related to engine stalling.
Analysts said the company is striving to counter the perception that it was slow to admit quality problems.
"Given the dramatic recall story that unfolded early this year, Toyota and other automakers are getting out in front of quality issues with recalls earlier in the process, not wanting to be accused of foot-dragging again," said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at Edmunds.com.