Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling 6.39 million vehicles globally, including more than half a million in Canada, for a variety of problems spanning nearly 30 models in Japan, North America, Europe and other places.
Some vehicles were recalled for more than one problem. The recall cases total 6.76 million vehicles for 27 Toyota models, the Pontiac Vibe and the Subaru Trezia, produced from April 2004 through August 2013.
Toyota Canada issued two separate recall notices affecting a total of 513,401 vehicles on Wednesday as part of the global initiative. One of the recalls affects 360,963 cars and SUVs with a spiral cable assembly that can be damaged when the steering wheel is turned and then, potentially, prevent the driver’s airbag from deploying in a crash.
The spiral cable assembly is in a large range of models, including the Corolla, RAV4, Matrix, Yaris, Highlander, and Tacoma, that were from various model years.
No injuries or crashes have been reported related to the recalls announced Wednesday. But two reports of fires are linked to one of the problems, a defective engine starter that can keep the motor running. The engine starter wasn’t named in either of Toyota Canada’s recalls.
The Pontiac Vibe, which is a General Motors Co. model, is also involved because Toyota and GM made cars at the same plant in California and the recalled model is the same as the Toyota Matrix. It was recalled for a problem with a spiral cable attached to an airbag. It is unrelated to a separate GM recall over ignition switches linked to at least 13 deaths.
Subaru is partly owned by Toyota, and the model was the same as the Toyota Ractis.
Toyota’s global recall also reported problems with seat rails, the bracket holding the steering column in place, and the windshield-wiper motor.
In Canada, the company is recalling 152,438 vehicles for seat rails that may not click into position after an adjustment — increasing the risk of injury in a crash. Toyota Canada said that recall affects certain models of the Yaris hatchback, the Yaris sedan and the 2010 model of the Scion xD.
By region, the latest recall affects 2.3 million vehicles in North America, 1.09 million vehicles in Japan and 810,000 vehicles in Europe. Other regions affected by the recall include Africa, South America and the Middle East.
Toyota was embroiled in a massive recall crisis in the U.S. starting in late 2009 and continuing through 2010, covering a wide range of problems including faulty floor mats, sticky gas pedals and defective brakes. In response, it has become quicker to recall cars.
Last month, the Japanese automaker reached a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department to pay a $1.2 billion penalty for hiding information about defects in its cars. It earlier paid fines of more than $66 million for delays in reporting unintended acceleration problems.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration never found defects in electronics or software in Toyota cars, which had been targeted as a possible cause.
Toyota’s latest recalls were announced before the company even developed specific repairs. They come two weeks after the U.S. Justice Department skewered the Japanese automaker for covering up problems that caused unintended acceleration in some cars starting in 2009. Toyota agreed to pay $1.2 billion to settle that case, but federal prosecutors can resurrect a wire fraud charge if the company fails to comply with the terms of the settlement.
Toyota’s actions come as rival GM recalls 2.6 million small cars for defective ignition switches the company links to at least 13 deaths. Of those, 2.2 million are in the U.S. As that crisis unfolded, GM announced recalls of another 3.4 million U.S. vehicles.
GM is facing a Justice Department investigation, and last week its new CEO was grilled by Congress over its handling of the ignition recalls.
At a glance
A look at the 6.39 million vehicles Toyota is recalling globally for safety defects
Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday it’s recalling 6.39 million vehicles globally for various safety defects. The total rises to 6.76 million if vehicles with multiple recalls — like the Yaris subcompact — are counted for each recall.
No one has been injured due to the recalls, but the company says two fires have been linked to a defective engine starter.
This is a breakdown of the vehicles and defects involved.
PROBLEM: Electric connections can be damaged when the steering wheel is turned, which could deactivate the air bags.
VEHICLES INVOLVED: 3.5 million. Includes the RAV4, Vanguard, Corolla, Matrix, Yaris, Land Cruiser Prado, Highlander, Tacoma, Reiz, Camry, Hilux, Fortuner, Innova and Pontiac Vibe (which was developed for General Motors by Toyota). Vehicles were made between June 2004 and December 2010.
PLACES SOLD: Mostly North America, but also Japan, China, Europe, India and elsewhere.
PROBLEM: Spring in the front seat rails could break, so the seat may not lock into position.
VEHICLES INVOLVED: 2.32 million. Includes the Ist, Vitz, Belta, Ractis, Scion xD, Urban Cruiser and Yaris built between January 2005 and August 2010.
PLACES SOLD: Mostly Japan, but also North America, Europe, China and elsewhere.
PROBLEM: Weld that connects the steering column bracket to the instrument panel can break if the steering wheel is repeatedly turned with full force. The steering column may tilt out of position, but the driver can still control the car.
VEHICLES INVOLVED: 760,000. Includes the Ist, Vitz, Belta, Ractis, Scion xD, Urban Cruiser and Yaris built between September 2005 and February 2009.
PLACES SOLD: Mostly Europe, but also Japan.
PROBLEM: Faulty windshield wiper motors.
VEHICLES INVOLVED: 160,000. Includes the Ist, Vitz, Belta and Ractis built between September 2005 and February 2008.
PLACES SOLD: Japan.
PROBLEM: Metallic particles may accumulate in the engine starter’s circuitry, increasing the risk of a fire.
VEHICLES INVOLVED: 20,000. Includes the Porte, Spade, Corolla Axio, Corolla Fielder, Auris, Ractis and Subaru Trezia (developed by Toyota for Subaru). Vehicles were built between March 2012 and August 2013.
PLACES SOLD: Japan and Hong Kong.
Source: Toyota Motor Corp.