Toyota recalling millions of cars to fix fire hazard
Toyota will recall 2.5 million vehicles sold in the U.S. to fix a faulty power window switch linked to several hundred reports of smoke and fires and at least nine injuries.
The automaker said it is not aware of any crashes resulting from the problem.
The move by Toyota follows a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration probe into the problem and is part of a global recall of nearly 7.5 million vehicles.
The U.S. recall includes the 2007 to 2008 Yaris, the 2007 to 2009 RAV4, the 2007 to 2009 Tundra, the 2007 to 2009 Camry, the 2007 to 2009 Camry Hybrid, the 2008 to 2009 Scion xD, the 2008 to 2009 Scion xA, the 2008 to 2009 Sequoia, the 2008 Highlander, the 2008 Highlander Hybrid, the 2009 Corolla and the 2009 Matrix.
The recall comes at a crucial time for Toyota, which has made large market-share gains in the U.S. after seeing its position slide because of a series of massive recalls in 2010 followed by inventory problems caused by last year’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Through the first nine months of this year, the Toyota brand has accounted for U.S. sales of almost 1.6 million vehicles for parent company Toyota Motor Sales USA, a gain of almost 32% from the same period a year earlier. The Toyota brand’s market share has jumped to 14.4%, from 12.5%, during the same period.
“While the number of recalled vehicles is staggering, it doesn’t have the panicked safety concerns like the acceleration issues in 2010,” said Jessica Caldwell, an analyst with auto information company Edmunds.com. “It doesn’t seem like it will deal a huge blow to the company’s U.S. market share. Right now, increased competition and China should pose greater threats for the company.”
Toyota has seen sales plunge in China because of a politically motivated boycott by consumers who are avoiding Japanese goods in connection with a territorial dispute over islands claimed by both Japan and China.
In reporting the latest recall, Toyota said the driver’s side power window switch on the affected vehicles may experience a notchy or sticky feel during operation. Depending on what grease is applied to the switch to reduce the stickiness and how it is applied -- including when it was assembled at the factory -- the switch could melt, smoke and start a fire.
Toyota plans to disassemble the switches, inspect them and apply a special fluorine grease that it says will solve the problem.
Owners of vehicles covered by this safety recall are to receive a notification letter via first-class mail starting in late October. The repair will take approximately one hour depending on the dealer’s work schedule.