Toyota to recall 2.7 million cars worldwide

Toyota is recalling nearly three million vehicles worldwide because of problems with the steering and water pump systems

Toyota has said it will recall 2.7 million cars worldwide because of problems with the steering wheel and water pump system.

The recall affects nine models, including the Toyota Corolla and the second-generation Prius.

It comes four weeks after the firm recalled more than seven million vehicles worldwide, including some Corolla and Camry models, over faulty window switches.

Toyota is Japan's biggest carmaker.

Joichi Tachikawa, a spokesman for Toyota, told the BBC that the problem with the steering wheel was to do with "insufficient hardness of the steering shaft".

He explained that due to this, the splines which connect the extension shaft to the gearbox may deform if the steering wheel is "frequently and forcefully turned to the full lock position while driving at a very slow speed".

"This may create an increased backlash and the splines may eventually wear out over time, which could result in loss of steering ability," he added.

However, Mr Tachikawa said that no accidents due to this fault had been reported so far.

'Nobody is perfect'

Analysis

Toyota's latest announcement pushes the number of recalls this year to more than 10 million, not far short of the number recalled in 2009 and 2010 over floormat and accelerator pedal issues.

At that time, Toyota's reputation and sales suffered badly, largely because the problems in question were claimed to be linked to deadly accidents.

This year's recalls are precautionary. There have been no accidents. The consumer response should be less severe.

But Toyota's image as a producer of high quality cars has nevertheless been dented once again.

The latest recall, which includes nearly 75,000 vehicles in the UK, is the latest in a spate of such moves in recent years.

Toyota's reputation was damaged in 2009 by a recall that ended up involving 12 million vehicles and fines from US regulators.

The Japanese carmaker is still trying to rebuild its reputation and regain customer trust after that fiasco, which saw the firm's head apologising to consumers.

Its efforts to do so have been dealt a blow over the past few weeks, as it has announced recalls totalling nearly 10 million vehicles.

However, some analysts said that while the latest recalls, which are voluntary, were a setback, they might not cause as much damage to its reputation as the ones in 2009.

"Nobody is perfect. Vehicles nowadays are very complicated," said Koichi Sugimoto, an auto analyst with BNP Paribas in Tokyo.

"The company is taking appropriate measures to fix the problems, so I don't think this will cause significant damage to Toyota's reputation."

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