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Toyota Recalls 138,000 Lexus Cars in U.S.

Engine valve springs are defective in latest snafu.

by on Jul.03, 2010

Another global recall from Toyota with half the affected Lexus cars in the U.S.

Toyota executives in Japan have directed the Lexus division of Toyota Motor Sales, USA, to prepare for a recall on 138,000 Lexus vehicles powered by 4.6- and 5.0-liter V8 engines and 3.5-liter V6 engines.

The safety related recall will cover 2006, 2007 and 2008 GS, IS and LS models sold in the U.S. This is part of a larger global recall due to Toyota quality problems, this time affecting 270,000 vehicles.

The formal defect report to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will be filed during the week of July 5, according to a statement released late Friday afternoon by TMS in a classic attempt to limit news coverage of the latest manufacturing quality problem.

NHTSA has imposed record fines on Toyota this year for its previous failure to report a safety related defect regarding sticking gas pedals, and recently discovered during compliance testing that the Lexus HS 250h leaks an illegal amount of fuel during a rear crash. A “stop sale” is now in place. (See Another Toyota Recall Coming on Lexus Hybrids and Toyota to Recall 270,000 Lexus Models for Stalling) Whether Lexus failed to inform NHTSA on time about this latest defect remains to be seen.

In the defective Lexus engines, a quality control failure in the manufacturing process allowed “foreign material” to contaminate a “small number of the valve springs.” If a Lexus is affected, there is the possibility that abnormal engine noise or idling may occur.

Recalls and More Recalls!

“In extremely rare instances, the engine may stop” while the Lexus is in operation, according to the statement from the U.S. sales division, which does not have the authority to order a recall, as that power resides in Japan with Japanese executives.


Another Toyota Recall on Lexus Coming Friday

Lexus sedans have faulty steering that sticks off center.

by on May.20, 2010

2010 Lexus LS 600h L

Do not turn the steering wheel too far, too fast. It might stick or slowly return to center?

Toyota Motor Sales in the U.S. will announce tomorrow that Japanese executives will order the recall of the most expensive 2010 model LS 460, 460L, LS 600h L  Lexus sedans because of defective power steering.

This latest electronic calibration or control defect is being announced as James E. Lentz, President and Chief Operating Officer, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., today told the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations that  “Toyota’s ETCS-i (electronic engine control computer) has been subjected to comprehensive testing over more than a decade without a single unintended acceleration event. Toyota has never discovered or been provided with any evidence that the ETCS-i can cause unintended acceleration in a real world scenario.”

U.S. sales executives do not have the authority to order a recall, and previous illegal delays in fixing a known safety defect by the offshore Japanese in charge of Toyota engineering  and manufacturing resulted in a record fine of more than $16 million from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Other Toyota safety recall delays are still under investigation at NHTSA. Both civil and criminal penalties are possible.

On the Lexus sedans in question with optional Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS), the steering wheel may stick 90-degrees off center during aggressive maneuvering. It is the latest of a growing list of quality and safety defects at the Japanese sales leader.

This safety related defect occurs after driving from a tight turn where the steering was at the end of its travel (full lock to the left or right). VGRS “automatically” corrects the steering wheel off-center condition as the vehicle is driven within one to three seconds. Toyota said, “The driver may notice this condition as the steering wheel slowly moves to the center position while driving straight during the VGRS correction.”

A trend is emerging at Toyota and other makers: The electronic controls and the computer programs that now run everything from engine speed and output, transmission shift points, electronic stability controls and antilock brakes, among other systems, are not defect free.

While this is probably not new, what has changed is increased scrutiny from NHTSA; an agency that critics say ignored numerous Toyota safety problems, but is now being more diligent.

Toyota will replace the control computer on  the affected vehicles. The problem occurred after it changed the programming on 2010 models.