Three’s a charm. Well, maybe not when it comes to recalls. Toyota has now added a third recall for the day, bringing to 430,500 the number of vehicles sold in the U.S. covered by the various safety actions which involve corrosion problems, faulty brakes and defective airbag software.
The latest actions mean the U.S. recall count is rapidly racing upwards towards an all-time record, with Toyota covering more individual vehicles than any other manufacturer but General Motors this year.
The largest of the three new recalls covers 370,000 Toyota Sienna minivans sold between the 2004 and 2011 model-years and registered in colder climate states. The problem centers around corrosion that can be triggered by road salt and can cause the spare tire of the vans to fall off if their supporting cable rusts out.
The tires are stored under the vehicle and a foam splash protector in front of the spare tire carrier may actually wind up allowing high concentrations of salt to build up and eventually corrode the spare tire carrier assembly.
Toyota has had several large recalls related to excess corrosion in recent years, including actions targeting the Japanese giant’s Tacoma and Tundra pickups. Toyota also had previously recalled some of the Sienna minivans in April 2010 for a similar problem.
The second of today’s new recalls covers 50,000 Toyota Highlander and Highlander SUVs from the 2014 model-year. The Highlander uses a “smart” airbag system designed to distinguish between large adult males, small women and children. That can affect how fast the airbags inflate, if they inflate at all, depending on the severity of the collision. But a software glitch may result in the bags not inflating properly.
The third recalls covers 10,500 2013 Lexus GS350 sedans. A sensing switch designed to sense when a driver has applied pressure to the brake pedal may inadvertently activate on its own, without driver input. If that happens, the car could begin to decelerate unexpectedly, and without the brake lights coming on to warn other drivers. That could lead to a rear-end collision.
The maker says it knows of no accidents, injuries or fatalities connected to the problem, however.
Including those models sold outside the United States, the three new recalls cover a total of 516,000 vehicles.
(Click Here for details about GM’s four new recalls GM covering 2.4 million vehicles.)
Collectively, the U.S. auto industry has now recalled more than 20 million vehicles since the beginning of the year, exceeding the 2013 total and leading many analysts to forecast the industry will exceed the 30 million record set in 2004.
(GM struggles to salvage reputation amidst its recall crisis. Click Here for the story.)
General Motors alone has recalled more than 13 million vehicles this year, but Toyota is the second manufacturer in terms of total vehicles impacted by callbacks. It has led the recall list for five of the last six years, in fact, and was second only behind Honda in the other year.
Analysts such as Clarence Ditlow, head of the Washington-based Center for Automotive Safety, say Toyota appears to have become far more aggressive about handling safety-related issues since it ran into trouble in late 2009 and 2010 over delays in recalls related to so-called unintended acceleration.
The maker earlier this year agreed to pay a $1.2 billion fine to settle an ongoing investigation of those delays by the U.S. Justice Department. Toyota also agreed to three years of probation. It has separately spent billions of dollars to settle various legal claims related to the unintended acceleration problem.
(Chrysler CEO Marchionne orders review of the maker’s handling of recalls. Click Here for the story.)