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Toyota recall of RAV4s, Lexuses? Yes, but not yet.

Toyota recall will involve 760,000 RAV4s and 18,000 Lexus HS 250h vehicles because of the potential for rear-suspension arms to fail. But before the Toyota recall, the automaker has to figure out how to fix them.

By Business editor / August 2, 2012

In this 2006 file photo, unsold 2007 RAV4 sports-utility vehicles are shown on the lot of a Toyota agency in Aurora, Colo. The potential failure of rear suspension arms in the RAV4 and the Lexus HS 250h will trigger a Toyota recall as soon as the company comes up with a remedy.

David Zalubowski/AP/File

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Toyota is going to recall some 778,000 vehicles sold in the United States because of a rear-suspension failure. But not just yet. First, it has to figure out how to fix the problem.

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Business Editor

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The challenge is rust. In at least four cases, corrosion has caused a rear-suspension arm to fail, putting a wheel severely out of alignment and causing the driver to lose control of their vehicle temporarily. No injuries or fatalities have been reported as a result. 

Toyota says it is working on a remedy and will notify owners by mail when it has one.

The Toyota recall involves:

  • Approximately 760,000 Toyota RAV4 models from 2006 to early 2011
  • Approximately 18,000 Lexus HS 250h from the 2010 model year

The problem involves suspension arms – or tie rods – at the rear of the vehicles. Earlier this summer, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began investigating the problem after receiving seven complaints about RAV4s from the 2006 through 2008 model years. In four cases, a tie rod failed while drivers were going 35 miles per hour or more, causing a temporary loss of control. 

Toyota's investigation suggests that the rust collects if nuts are incorrectly reinstalled after a rear-end alignment.

"If the nuts on the rear suspension arm are not tightened following the proper procedure and torque specification during a rear wheel alignment service, excessive play may occur at the threaded portion of the arm, followed by rust formation," the company says in a release. "If this were to occur, the threaded portion of the rear suspension arm may wear and cause the arm to separate."

So far, however, the automaker doesn't have a solution.

In the meantime, Lexus and RAV4 owners can find out if they're affected by the recall by visiting the Toyota recall website and punching in their vehicle identification number.

The automaker has not suggested that drivers involved in the recall should stop using their cars. But "if a driver hears an abnormal noise from the rear of the vehicle, the driver should contact any authorized Toyota dealer for diagnosis," says a Toyota spokeswoman in an e-mail.

Owners with any questions should call Toyota at 800-331-4331 or Lexus at 800-255-3987.

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