Toyota announced Wednesday that it will begin recalling nearly 700,000 vehicles next month to repair potential safety problems.
One recall encompasses about 495,000 Tacoma pickup trucks made in models years 2005 through 2009 and will involve replacing the steering wheel spiral cable assembly. According to Toyota, friction between the spiral cable and the retainer in the steering wheel spiral cable assembly may occur in some of the vehicles, possibly resulting in “loss of connectivity to the driver’s air bag module.” Should the electrical connection be interrupted, the driver’s airbag may be deactivated and fail to deploy during a crash. The air bag warning light on the instrument panel may also remain illuminated when operating the vehicle.
Drivers of the affected vehicles will be notified by first-class mail in early April to inform them of the recall. Another mailing will notify the same owners when the replacement parts are available and what to do if they experience this condition.
Toyota is also recalling about 70,500 model-year 2009 Camry sedans and 116,000 Venza crossover vehicles made in the model years 2009 through 2011 for potential problems involving the stop lamp switch.
Toyota says the problem originates in one of its North American assembly lines, where silicone grease may have seeped inside the switch, causing an increase in electrical resistance. The problem could potentially cause the instrument panel’s warning lights to remain illuminated, prevent the vehicle from starting, or prevent the shift lever from shifting beyond the “park” position. In some cases the vehicle stop lamps may stop working.
Toyota is currently obtaining the necessary replacement parts. Once the replacement parts have been produced, it will send a notification by first class mail advising owners to make an appointment with an authorized Toyota dealer to replace the stop lamp switch at no charge. The repair will take approximately 30 minutes depending upon the dealer’s work schedule.
Toyota has launched dozens of safety recalls in recent years, the largest of which involved millions of Toyota and Lexus vehicles for problems that could potentially cause sudden unintended acceleration – a situation in which the driver experiences an abrupt and unexpected increase in speed. Toyota began recalling vehicles under the sudden acceleration recall in 2009, claiming driver’s side floor mats could interfere with the gas pedal, jamming it in open throttle. In January 2010, Toyota announced another sudden unintended acceleration recall for throttle assemblies it claimed could stick and become slow to respond, a condition that could potentially cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles.