More safety issues for Toyota: The automaker has announced two recalls today. One recall involves 39,000 Lexus LX 470 SUVs ('03 -'07 models) over the steering shaft. The other recall involves 373,000 Avalon sedans ('00 - '04') models because of a problem with the steering column.
Toyota says that there is a chance that under certain conditions, the improper casting of the Avalon's steering lock bar might cause the bar to break. In the event that the luxury vehicle is steered to the right while going at a high enough speed, a loose or broken lock bar could jam the steering wheel.
Toyota says that this problem took years to develop, which is why it is only now becoming an issue. A spokesperson for the automaker says that there have been only six incidents involving this auto defect in the US. Three minor auto accidents resulted and, fortunately, no one was reportedly hurt.
Toyota will fix the problem by replacing the steering column bracket on the affected vehicle. The repair is expected to take approximately two hours.
Lexus is recalling its LX470 sport utility vehicles because of the possibility that a steering shaft component might disengage during occasions when the SUV's front wheels are experiencing major impact, such as when the auto is driving over a large pothole. Over time, the steering shaft can become disengaged. Lexus says it has only received one report of the safety issue arising and that no one was hurt.
These recalls are just the latest problems plaguing Toyota, who has had to recall millions of vehicles over the last nine months because of different safety issues, including those involving brake problems, ill-fitting floor mats, and sudden acceleration. Less than two weeks ago a federal grand jury subpoenaed Toyota over its vehicle steering rod defects that resulted in the recall of 977,839 Toyota vehicles in 2005. The government wants to know whether the automaker waited too long after finding out about the auto defect to issue the recall.
One California auto products liability lawsuit, filed by the family of Michael Levi Stewart, is seeking wrongful death damages over this very defect. Stewart died in 2007 after the steering rod in his 1991 Toyota pickup truck snapped, causing his vehicle to go off the road and roll over. Although Toyota's recall over the steering rod defect was announced in 2005, not all of the vehicles had been repaired. The family's wrongful death lawyers claim that Toyota received repeated warnings that the steering rods could be a danger to motorists.
Toyota recall: Avalons, Lexuses have steering problems, The Christian Science Monitor, July 29, 2010
Toyota recalling Avalon sedans, Lexus SUVs, The Orange County Register, July 29, 2010
Federal grand jury seeks details on Toyota steering flaw, The Washington Post, July 21, 2010
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Toyota Motor Corporation
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