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Corolla May Be Next on Toyota Recall List

Maker preparing fix for unexpected stalling problem.

by on Mar.18, 2010

This 2006 Corolla sedan could be the next model on Toyota's recall list, here for stalling issues.

Toyota’s nascent attempt to overcome image problems regarding the safety of its vehicles could be in for another setback, with the automaker telling U.S. regulators it is considering ways to prevent the unexpected stalling in the world’s most popular nameplate.

In a letter to the National Highway Safety Administration, the embattled automaker insisted the problem does not pose “an unreasonable risk,” but is nonetheless looking at ways to prevent stalling, which it has traced to engine control modules provided by two of its suppliers.

Critics of course have said that Toyota – and all automakers – do not properly test software, and that the safeguards used by other industries are not in place. Worse, NHTSA has only one software engineer on staff, and its regulations were developed before the onset of the widespread use of electronics in vehicles, including drive by wire systems that are now ubiquitous.

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NHTSA reports it has so far received 76 complaints involving 2005 through 2007 versions of the Corolla and Matrix models involving stalls that have occurred unexpectedly, sometimes at high speeds.

The problem is, ironically, believed to be related to a fix for a previous problem with those two vehicles.

“Based upon its analysis, Toyota does not believe that the alleged defect creates an unreasonable risk to … safety,” the maker said in a letter to federal regulators that was obtained by the Detroit Free Press, adding that it estimated the problem will occur in less than 1% of those vehicles and would always trigger a warning light.

Exactly what Toyota might plan to do to fix the problem and when, the automaker has declined to say, however.  Any recall would almost certainly involve the 2006 Pontiac Vibe, a crossover sold by General Motors that was built in small numbers at the same California plant as the Matrix, and with which it shares virtually all of its components.

Toyota has faced an avalanche of problems, in recent months, many of them spreading beyond U.S. borders.  It has now recalled more than 8 million vehicles for so-called “sudden acceleration” problems worldwide, along with more than 400,000 copies of the 2010 Prius hybrid, which has a problem with its brakes.  Over 100,000 Tundra pickups were recalled because of severe corrosion problems.  And several other problems remain under federal investigation, including complaints about steering with 2009-10 versions of the Corolla and Matrix.

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