Associated Press | Toyota said Wednesday it will recall 4,500
Lexus vehicles in Japan to fix a computerized steering problem, with
another 7,000 vehicles overseas also likely affected.
The world’s biggest automaker has received 12 complaints about the
problem within Japan, but knows of no accidents that it has caused
worldwide, according to spokesman Paul Nolasco.
After being hit with a record $16.4 million fine in the U.S. and facing
strong government criticism both at home and abroad for slow responses
to safety problems, Toyota Motor Corp. is working to react more
quickly. The company on Tuesday paid the fine in the U.S., where it
still faces hundreds of state and federal lawsuits.
The latest issue affects Toyota’s luxury Lexus “LS” line, and involves
a computerized system that oversees how the steering wheel controls the
tires. The Lexus line is Toyota’s top-priced luxury sedan brand, and
includes the “LS 600h” hybrid.
In addition to the 4,500 cars sold in Japan, about 7,000 have been sold
abroad, including about 3,800 in the U.S., 150 in Europe and 800 in
China, with others sold in areas such as the Middle East, Southeast
Asia and Australia.
The steering system comes as standard in Japanese models, but is
optional in some other regions. It varies the amount that the steering
wheel turns the tires on a car , allowing drivers to turn the wheel
less at low speeds when attempting to navigate or park in tight spots
and providing finer control at high speeds.
The system can take “a few seconds” to return the steering to normal
after it has been adjusted, which led to complaints from drivers,
He said Toyota was preparing to conduct a recall in Japan soon, but wasn’t sure of the exact timing.
The company is looking to demonstrate it can respond rapidly to
problems in its cars. Toyota is currently facing a new investigation by
authorities in the U.S. because it waited a year to recall vehicles
there after a similar recall in Japan, despite dozens of reports of
problems from American drivers.
Toyota quickly recalled about 10,000 Lexus SUVs in April in the U.S.
after Consumer Reports magazine put a “Don’t Buy” recommendation on
them for failing an emergency handling test. The magazine lifted the
warning after the recall, which applied to about 34,000 vehicles
Toyota has recalled more than 8 million vehicles worldwide for safety
defects affecting some of its best-selling models. The U.S.
Transportation Department is reviewing thousands of Toyota documents
and could issue new penalties for the company’s handling of other
The recalls have prompted the first major review of U.S. auto safety
laws in Congress since tire recalls by Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. in