Toyota recall of 6.4M vehicles for steering, airbag defects is its second-largest ever

Toyota recall of nearly 6.4 million vehicles includes almost 30 models mostly sold in North America, Europe, and Japan. The latest Toyota recall comes just weeks after the automaker paid a $1.2 billion fine for failing to disclose earlier safety problems in its cars. 

Stefan Wermuth/Reuters/File
A Toyota RAV4 is on display at the Geneva motor show in Geneva, Switzerland. Japanese carmaker Toyota Motor Corp. announced a global Toyota recall of nearly 6.4 million vehicles Wednesday to fix suspected steering and seat defects, in the latest of a spate of safety failures that have shaken major auto brands.

With one giant bout of recalls settled, it didn't take long for the world's largest automaker to announce another. Toyota is recalling approximately 6.4 million vehicles for a wide variety of problems affecting 29 models in across the globe, the Tokyo-based company said early Wednesday. In the United States, 1.77 million vehicles are affected.

The largest of the recalls is for a spiral cable assembly problem in 3.5 million cars worldwide and 1.3 million cars in the United States. Affected models include certain model year 2009 and 2010 Corolla, 2009 and 2010 Matrix, 2008 through 2010 Highlander, 2009 and 2010 Tacoma, 2006 through 2008 RAV4, and 2006 through 2010 Yaris vehicles.  

“The driver’s airbag module in the involved vehicles is attached to a spiral cable assembly with electrical connections that could become damaged when the steering wheel is turned,” a Wednesday statement from Toyota USA reads. “If this occurs, the air bag warning lamp will illuminate.  In addition, the driver’s air bag could become deactivated, causing it to not deploy in the event of a crash.”

Also in the US, approximately 472,500 vehicles are being recalled for a possible defect with a passenger side seat rail lock, which could break. That notice includes about 158,000 model year 2006 through 2010 Yaris hatchbacks; 250,000 model year 2007 through 2010 Yaris sedans; and about 64,000 model year 2008-2010 Scion xD hatchback subcompacts. 

Toyota also announced problems with Pontiac Vibe and Subaru Trezia hatchbacks with model years between 2004 and 2013. Neither are technically Toyota models. But the automaker is a partial owner of Subaru, and the affected model is the same as Toyota’s Ractis subcompact, which is sold primarily in Japan. The Pontiac Vibe is a General Motors vehicle, but it was manufactured in the same California plant as Toyota’s Matrix and has the same spiral cable issue.

Other affected vehicles across the globe include the Corolla, RAV4, Highlander, and Tacoma, were recalled for issues with steering column stability, windshield wiper motors, engine starters, and a cable attached to an airbag module. So far, no accidents or injuries have been reported in connection to the five recalls announced Wednesday, but two fires were reported in vehicles sold in Japan with the engine starter problem.

In total, the recalls include 2.3 million vehicles in North America, 1.09 million in Japan, and 810,000 in Europe. Some recalled cars were also sold in Africa, South America, and the Middle East. It's the automaker's second-largest recall ever, according to Reuters

The announcement comes just as Toyota had put a cap on its biggest recall crisis, and at a time when automakers face increased pressure to be forthright about potential safety problems. In March, the automaker agreed with the US Justice Department to pay a $1.2 billion penalty for withholding information about defects in its vehicles, including acceleration problems that led to at least 21 deaths worldwide. Currently, General Motors is under federal investigation for its failure to notify drivers of an ignition switch defect that eventually led to a widespread recall and was linked to at least 13 deaths.

In the US, Toyota will notify customers affected by the current recalls by mail. Repairs will be made at no charge by Toyota dealerships.

Customers who want more information on the US recalls can call Toyota’s customer service line at 1 800-331-4331 or visit the recall announcements here and here.

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