Toyota to recall 6.4 million vehicles

Toyota Camry car The Toyota Camry is among the models affected by the latest recall

Toyota is recalling 6.4 million vehicles globally, including 35,124 in the UK, over five separate issues.

Some 3.5 million vehicles are being recalled to replace a spiral cable attached to the driver's side airbag.

It may be damaged when the steering wheel is turned and result in the airbag not being deployed in a crash.

Other issues include problems with seat rails, steering columns, windscreen wipers and a glitch with the engine starters that poses a fire risk.

Toyota said it was not aware of any vehicle crashes, injuries or fatalities caused by these conditions.

However, it said it had received two reports of fires in connection with the engine starter problem.

The carmaker said that "due to inefficiencies in the design of the starter motor relays, metallic particles might accumulate on the contacts within the relay".

It said that if the relays continued to be used, the particles could come off and enter the relay's circuitry and in the "worst case, this could lead to the starter relays catching fire".

Approximately 20,000 vehicles involving six Toyota models and the Subaru Trezia are being recalled to replace both engine starter relays and the engine starter motor.

Other recalls include:

  • Approximately 2.32 million vehicles over problems with the seat rails
  • Some 760,000 vehicles because of a potential defect with the steering column bracket
  • Nearly 160,000 vehicles to replace the windshield wiper motors
Toyota Rav4 Toyota's RAV4 sports utility vehicle (SUV) is also impacted by the latest recall
Reputation risk

The latest recall, which affects 27 different models, is the fifth major one that the company has issued in recent months.

Analysis

Recalls are not uncommon in the industry. General Motors has recalled millions of vehicles in recent weeks as well.

And while it is an inconvenience, customers have also started to realise that it is something that is in their best interest.

It is now seen as a way of the carmakers saying, "We will try and get it right, but if sometimes we don't we will fix it for you."

But in the case of Toyota, the latest recall comes as it has been trying to rebuild its reputation as a maker of reliable and high-quality vehicles - which was key to its success over the past decades.

These recalls are likely to make that task more difficult. It has recalled more than 25 million vehicles over two-and-half years. To put that in context, it has sold just over 21 million during the same period.

In February, it called back 1.9 million of its top-selling Prius hybrid cars because of a software fault that might cause the vehicle to slow down suddenly.

In the latter half of last year, it issued separate recalls affecting more than 2.2 million vehicles.

Overall, the company has recalled more than 25 million vehicles over the past two-and-a-half years.

That is far more than the number it called back in 2009 and 2010 - widely seen as the worst years in terms of damage to its reputation.

Toyota's sales had suffered in the aftermath of those recalls, which were prompted by problems with accelerator pedals becoming trapped under floor mats.

The recalls had also triggered a criminal investigation against the carmaker in the US.

Earlier this year, the firm agreed a $1.2bn (£720m) settlement with US regulators after a four-year inquiry into its reporting of safety issues.

Recalls are not uncommon in the industry. For example, General Motors is in the middle of recalling millions of vehicles as well.

However, there are concerns that Toyota's current troubles may hurt its efforts to rebuild its reputation, which was damaged by the 2010 recall fiasco.

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