Toyota mega-recall follows on heels of GM recall mess

Globally, Toyota is recalling 6.4 million vehicles

Published: April 09, 2014 12:00 PM

Photo: Toyota

Toyota is rolling out a mega-recall of about 6.4 million vehicles that addresses problems that include air bags and seat rails. In a sharp contrast to how General Motors put off and mishandled corrections to an ignition switch in small cars over the last decade, Toyota appears to be far more responsive—perhaps motivated by the $1.2 billion penalty recently levied against the company for concealing information related to unintended acceleration risks.

The largest campaign in this series for the U.S. market involves 1.3 million vehicles with a potential air bag cable problem, affecting: 2009-2010 Corolla, 2008-2010 Highlander, 2009-2010 Matrix, 2006-2008 RAV4, 2009-2010 Tacoma, and 2006-2010 Yaris vehicles.  

The concern involves the spiral cable assembly (also known as a clock spring) that connects the driver’s air bag module in the steering wheel. Toyota has determined that the electric connections between the spiral cable and the control module can become damaged. This could cause the air bag warning light to illuminate and the air bag may malfunction.

In January, the automaker asked its dealers to report air bag performance concerns among all Toyotas, including unintended deployment. Clearly, the company was collecting data to aid its assessment. Despite the scale of the investigation, this recall focuses on just a small portion of the total Toyota population.

Toyota is also recalling 472,500 2006-2010 Yaris and 2008-2010 Scion xD cars to address the potential for the spring in the seat-lock mechanism for front seats to break. The concern is that a break could lead the seat moving freely on the seat rail in the event of a crash, thereby increasing injury risk.

The other three recalls—steering column, windshield wiper motors, and starter motors—are strictly for other markets.

Owners will be notified once corrections have been prepared.

Jeff Bartlett

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