Japanese carmaker says latest recall affects nine models, including Avensis, Corolla and Prius
Toyota’s recall problems have struck again after the Japanese car maker called back 2.8m cars to fix faulty steering columns and water pumps , just a month after raising the alarm over more than 7m vehicles with faulty window switches.
The manufacturer, which is on track to regain the crown of world’s largest car maker this year, said the latest embarrassment affected nine models globally, including the Avensis, Corolla and Prius. About 75,000 cars will be recalled in the UK, 496,000 across Europe, 670,000 in the United States and 1.5m in Japan.
Toyota said it had not received any reports of crashes or injuries resulting from the faults. It said the steering problem was caused by “insufficient hardness” of the steering shaft, which could be damaged if the wheel is turned forcefully at slow speed, affecting control of the car in extreme cases.
The company said some of its Prius models also had a fault with a water pump in the cooling system, which could blow a fuse in the electricity power circuit and stall the vehicle.
Toyota drivers are being directed to the company’s website where they can enter their registration number to learn if their car is affected. It will also contact the owners of all affected vehicles within six weeks to advise them to take their car to the nearest Toyota dealer. It said most problems could be fixed within an hour and a half.
Toyota had been trying to improve its reputation after a series of recalls of 14m vehicles over the past few years, mostly in the US, affecting faulty floor mats, braking and gas pedals.
Just last month it recalled 7.4m cars after discovering faulty window switches in 12 models – the biggest single recall since Ford took 8m vehicles off the road in 1996.
Analysts said they did not expect the latest recall to cause substantial damage to the Toyota brand, if only because it still pales in comparison with the impact of the recall crisis in 2009 and 2010, when more than 12m Toyota cars and trucks were affected by problems including faulty accelerator pedals. It led to Toyota’s chief executive, Akio Toyoda, testifying before Congress and saying that he was “deeply sorry” for his company’s handling of the furore.
Neil King, automotive analyst at Euromonitor International, said: “Any long-term damage to the Toyota brand probably already happened with previous recalls. Any Toyota customers that are sensitive to recalls have surely defected long ago. Nevertheless, with this latest recall, they are clearly trying to address the situation before it even has the chance to escalate.”
The fresh product recall comes on top of another difficult year for Toyota, in the wake of the 2011 Japan earthquake that disrupted production, followed by flooding in Thailand that affected manufacturing in one of its biggest overseas bases. This year, Japanese car makers led by Toyota, Nissan and Honda, have been affected by a Chinese consumer boycott in the wake of a diplomatic dispute between China and Japan over a group of uninhabited islands. “Overall, they have had such a run of bad luck … that their luck must change soon,” King said.
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