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Toyota recalls 1.7 million vehicles, including Lexus cars sold in U.S.

Toyota is voluntarily recalling nearly 1.7 million vehicles globally, including more than 420,000 Lexus models, to address three defects.

Toyota Motor Corp. will recall about 1.7 million vehicles globally, including 423,000 of its high-end Lexus models in the U.S. to fix a potential fuel leak that could cause a fire.

Toyota discovered the fuel system problem after years of complaints about gasoline odors coming from the cars. The complaints started to filter up to Toyota in June 2010, but an inspection of the vehicles didn’t find any problems and could not pinpoint the source of the smell, Toyota spokesman John Hanson said.

Toyota investigators eventually noticed, however, that all the complaints involved cars produced after certain manufacturing dates going back to the 2006 model year. The vehicles all had fuel pipes in the engine compartment that were manufactured with a plating to protect against corrosion.

Gaskets on some of pipes could be prone to leaking, Toyota found, creating the gas smell and creating a fire hazard.

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Hanson said Toyota is not aware of any fires, crashes, injuries or fatalities caused by this condition.

In the U.S., Toyota will recall the following cars: 2007 through 2010 model year Lexus LS sedans; 2006 through 2011 model year GS; 2006 through 2011 model year IS; 2010 model year IS C; and 2008 through 2010 model year IS-F vehicles. It will recall another 320,000 of the vehicles in other markets.

In another big recall, Toyota will bring back 800,000 vehicles sold in Japan, China and other parts of Asia to fix a brake problem. The vehicles include the Toyota Crown, Crown Majesta, Noah and Voxy.

Earlier this year, Toyota agreed to pay a $1.2-billion fine to settle a four-year federal criminal investigation into whether it properly reported safety complaints about the sudden acceleration. It is the largest penalty of its kind ever imposed on an automotive company in the U.S.

Toyota was formally charged with one count of wire fraud, but the Justice Department will dismiss the charge after three years if the automaker abides by the settlement terms.

As part of the agreement, the Justice Department appointed David Kelley, a former U.S. attorney, to serve as the independent safety monitor at Toyota’s U.S. operations.

Automakers have recalled a record 50 million vehicles in the U.S. this year — about one out of every five cars on the road.
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