Consumer Fraud

Toyota recalls 82,000 hybrid SUVs for potential control-system defect

Toyota announced Wednesday it will recall about 82,000 hybrid Highlander and Lexus SUVs with faulty computer-board wiring that could cause the vehicles to lose power.

This latest safety recall encompasses model-year 2006-2007 Highlander and Lexus SUV hybrids that were sold in the United States. Toyota said the recall includes about 45,500 Highlander Hybrids and 36,700 Lexus Rx 400h vehicles. No other vehicles are affected.

According to Toyota certain transistors on the control board inside the affected vehicles have inadequate soldering that could become heat-damaged from high currents during “high-load” driving.

“If this were to occur, various warning lamps will illuminate on the instrument panel. In most cases the vehicle will enter a fail-safe driving mode, resulting in reduced power in which the vehicle can still be driven for short distances,” Toyota said in a statement. In other instances, the company warned, a damaged transistor could cause the power supply circuit fuse to blow, which would shut down the hybrid system and make the vehicle “coast to a stop.”

The recall is the latest setback for the Japanese automaker, which currently faces hundreds of personal-injury, wrongful death, and economic-loss lawsuits in the United States over defects that cause many models to accelerate unintentionally or lurch forward unexpectedly.

Toyota is also recovering from earthquakes and tsunamis that devastated parts of Japan and interrupted Toyota’s supply line. The ensuing lack of parts forced the automaker to scale back production in most of its plants worldwide.

On top of these woes, most of the company’s vehicles are made in Japan, where the Yen is stronger than most other international currencies. The strength of the Yen has eroded the company’s profits and is triggering production cost-cutting measures as high as 20 percent.

Toyota has recalled more than 14 million vehicles globally in about 20 recalls since November 2009, catapulting it over other carmakers in number of safety recalls.