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Toyota Recalling 370,000 Hybrids, Luxury Models

Vehicles could unexpectedly stall in traffic.

by on Sep.04, 2013

The Lexus RX 400h was previously covered by an unintended acceleration recall.

Toyota is recalling about 370,000 hybrids and other vehicles due a pair of safety-related problems, the maker announced, the vast majority of them sold here in the United States.

Roughly half of the affected vehicles are hybrids, including the Lexus RX400h produced between 2006 and 2008 and the Toyota Highlander Hybrid sold between the 2006 and 2010 model-years.

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According to Toyota, a defective circuit in the hybrid electronic control system can overheat.  That can trigger a warning system though, in some instances, the problem can result in the vehicles suddenly and unexpectedly stopping, a potentially risky situation while driving in traffic.

The Lexus GS 350's engine can suddenly stall.

In all, the recall impacts about 141,000 hybrids sold in the U.S. – where the RX has traditionally been the best-selling model for the Lexus brand. Another 15,000 Harrier and Kluger hybrids sold by Toyota in Japan are covered by the safety service action.

(Ford recalls 370,00o rear-drive sedans. Click Here for details.)

The second recall covers a range of Toyota’s premium models, including the Lexus GS350 and IS350 lines. They also can come to an unexpected halt due to bolts that can loosen on their engines’ variable valve timing control system.

A total of 106,000 of the Lexus models are covered by the service action in the U.S., as are another 59,000 Toyota Crown and Mark X models sold in Japan.

The world’s largest automaker, Toyota says it will notify owners of affected vehicles directly and begin repairs shortly afterwards at no cost to consumers.

(New federal database will make it easier for owners to check if their vehicles were recalled, repaired. Click Here to learn more.)

Toyota has been stung by a series of recalls this year covering a wide range of safety-related issues including faulty airbags, loose seatbelts and defective wipers. All told, several million vehicles have been impacted in the U.S., Japan and other markets.

The maker was stung by a fiasco involving so-called unintended acceleration several years ago, and while several investigations have determined the maker’s products didn’t suffer from unknown electronic gremlins it nonetheless faced major fines for delaying recalls involving sticky accelerators and loose floor mats.

That has led the company to redouble its focus on quality control, especially in the U.S., according to Toyota brand chief Bill Fay.  In many cases, the maker it contends, it is ordering recalls where less severe technical service bulletins might have been called for in years past.

Whatever the reason, Toyota has had more vehicles recalled in the U.S. in three of the last four years than any other manufacturer.  It is on track to be one of the top three makers in that dubious list this year, according to a preliminary analysis of federal recall data, along with Honda and Chrysler – the latter recalling about 1.5 million Jeeps earlier this summer due to a potential fire hazard.

(NHTSA considers bringing back the ignition/seatbelt interlock. For more on that controversial proposal, Click Here.)

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