Toyota Motor Corp. announced it is recalling 420,000 Toyota and Lexus vehicles in the United States and an additional 130,000 globally over a flaw that could result in difficulty steering if not corrected.
According to Toyota, the outer ring of the crankshaft pulley could become misaligned with the inner ring, creating noise and/or illuminating the vehicle’s discharge warning light. Left uncorrected, the power steering pump’s belt may become detached from the pulley, in which case the driver would notice a sudden increase in steering effort. Toyota says no reports of accidents or injuries related to this problem have been reported.
The recall encompasses 283,200 Toyota vehicles and 137,000 Lexus vehicles with V6 engines. So far, these include:
- 2004 Avalon
- 2004 and 2005 Camry, Highlander, Sienna, and Solara
- 2006 Highlander HV
- 2004 and 2005 ES330 and RX330
- And 2006 RX400h
Any of these models with a four-cylinder engine are not affected by the recall.
Toyota says that it is working on obtaining the necessary replacement parts. Once enough of the parts have been produced, the automaker will mail notify owners of affected models by first-class mail, advising them to make an appointment with an authorized Toyota or Lexus dealer to have the crankshaft pulley inspected. Toyota will replace ay defective crankshaft pulleys free of charge. Toyota said that it will begin notifying owners in January 2012.
This latest recall brings the number of vehicles Toyota has recalled in 2011 up to about 3 million in the U.S. alone. More than 15 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles have been recalled in the U.S. since 2009, most of them for problems that could potentially cause sudden, unintended acceleration. None of the model year vehicles in this latest recall overlap with the sudden-acceleration recalls, which encompassed more than 8 million cars, trucks, and SUVs.
Toyota has been struggling to restore its reputation for quality and safety since the 2009-2010 sudden-acceleration recalls, but it hasn’t been an easy journey. The devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami interrupted the company’s supply lines and slowed production to a standstill in its factories worldwide. Then, in early October, flooding in Bangkok and other parts of Thailand forced Toyota to close all of its Thai factories. Toyota’s Thai plants were closed Oct. 10 and will reopen on Nov. 21.