Last week, Toyota Motor Corp. said it was recalling close to 550,000 vehicles globally, mostly in the U.S., for problems that could make the vehicle more difficult to steer. The company has received a total of 79 reports about the defect dating back to 2007. Luckily, there have been no reports of wrecks or injuries attributed to the defective product.
The Toyota reputation has been in a decline over the last two years due to several recalls that have affected up to 14 million vehicles over that time. One of the most rememberable recalls occurred last year which included millions of cars being recalled for acceleration problems. Toyota faces several damage lawsuits and has a growing reputation in the U.S. for not being reliable.
To exacerbate the current problems the company is struggling with, its July-September profits slid 18.5 percent to $1 billion. The company faces plunging sales caused by parts shortages from the tsunami disaster in northeastern Japan and uncertainties from flooding in Thailand, where it has many suppliers and three assembly plants.
This recent Toyota recall is due to a defect in the steering wheel that could make it difficult to turn. According to official reports, there is a chance that the outer ring of the engine’s crankshaft pulley may become misaligned with the inner ring and cause noise or a warning signal to light up. If the problem isn’t corrected, the belt for the power steering pump may become detached from the pulley and make it hard to turn the steering wheel all of the sudden.
In the U.S., the company is recalling 283,200 Toyota brand cars, including the 2004 and 2005 Camry, Highlander, Sienna and Solara, the 2004 Avalon and the 2006 Highlander HV. Its recall of 137,000 Lexus vehicles includes the 2004 and 2005 ES330 and RX330 and 2006 RX400h. Starting in January, once replacement parts have been produced in sufficient quantities, Toyota will contact owners by mailing a notification to make an appointment with an authorized dealer to have their car inspected. If any parts need to be replaced, the company’s American sales unit said there will not be a charge.
In the meantime, all Toyota owners need to be aware of this potential problem. If any unusual sounds are heard, it is best to get the car to a Toyota or Lexus dealer and have the car checked for this condition.