Toyota announced a new recall on Thursday involving some 412,000 Avalons and Lexuses in the United States for steering problems. The recall is the second announced this month by the Japanese automaker.
Some 373,000 of the recalled cars are 2000-2004 model year Toyota Avalons. The vehicles' steering interlock system can develop a crack which can expand, making it hard to unlock the steering system when the cars are parked. In rarer cases, the steering wheel can become locked when the cars are moving.
In addition, 39,000 Lexus luxury LX 470s from model years 2003 to 2007 are being recalled because of a different steering problem. If the car hits a pothole or other large bump and then makes a hard turn, there’s a risk that over time the steering column will become disengaged, making the car unsteerable.
Toyota says it's aware of six reports of steering problems with Avalons, including three unconfirmed minor accidents and no injuries. Lexus says it is aware of one report of a steering problem and no related accidents.
"If [customers] have any concerns they should take their car to the dealer or call the customer experience center," says Brian Lyons, a spokesman for Toyota.
All affected Avalon and Lexus owners will be mailed recall letters in mid- to late-August. The Japanese automaker says it will replace the steering column bracket on all affected Avalons, and install a new component to keep the steering column in place on all Lexuses free of charge.
For more information, Avalon customers should contact Toyota at 800-331-4331 or visit the company's recall website. Lexus owners can call 800-255-3987 or visit the Lexus website for details about the recall.
On July 2, Toyota announced that it would recall some 138,000 Lexus vehicles in the US due to a valve problem in the cars’ engines that, according to reports, the company had been aware of for almost two years. That announcement came the same week that Toyota said it would expand the number of product-quality field offices in the US and add four months to its product development time, allowing for increased quality control.
In mid-July, Toyota acknowledged for the first time that sticking accelerator pedals and faulty floor mats were involved in a small number of the sudden acceleration problems that led to recalls involving some 8.5 million vehicles earlier this year. But the carmaker said it was not close to drawing firm conclusions from its investigation of 2,000 affected vehicles. An investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is ongoing.
The Japanese automaker paid a record $16.4 million fine to the commission in April for failing to inform the agency of the pedal problems for four months.