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Toyota’s Latest Recall: 50,000 Sequoia SUVs

Maker says no “unreasonable risk,” but acts anyway.

by on Apr.28, 2010

No "unreasonable risk," but Toyota recalls its 2003 Sequoia anyway.

Seemingly unable to stay out of the headlines, Toyota has announced yet another recall, this one involving 50,000 of its Sequoia sport-utility vehicles due to concerns about potential rollover problems.

The move comes just weeks after Toyota was slammed by influential Consumer Reports magazine for a problem with the stability control system on its newly-updated 2010 Lexus GX460, which could lead to a rollover.  The maker responded by halting sales of that luxury SUV, and says it will fix the nearly 9,000 vehicles already in consumers’ hands.

The latest action comes 16 months after an investigation was launched by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in response to 50 consumer complaints – a figure Toyota says now has grown to nearly 100.  But in a 4-page letter, the maker stressed that while it decided to make repairs to the 2003 model-year Sequoia, it contends, “these vehicles do not present an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety.”

The maker also noted that there are no records of crashes, injuries or fatalities involving the 2003 Sequoia.  But there are some problems, it acknowledged, with the vehicle’s electronic controls, and will replace a skid-control unit.

Toyota has already made repairs to about half of the recalled vehicles.  The formal recall will begin late next month.

NHTSA investigators found that the defect could cause a 2003 Sequoia to slow suddenly, with “the driver los(ing) throttle control.”  At the same time, the brake lights do not come on, which could lead to an inadvertent rear-end collision.

Until now, the Sequoia had not been included in one of the many recent Toyota recalls, notably including the millions of vehicles involved in the maker’s problems with sudden acceleration.  But there have been a number of lawsuits, in recent years, involving a variety of Toyota products which plaintiffs claim to be prone to rollovers.

For its part, Consumer Reports issued a “Don’t Buy” warning on the 2010 Lexus GX460, prompting yet another investigation by federal regulators.  Meanwhile, Toyota has begun its own examination of its SUV products to see if there is a rollover risk.

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