April 1, 2023

Wheels Blog: Toyota Issues Sweeping Global Recall

2007 Toyota Camry, one of the models identified in the recall.Toyota Motor Sales 2007 Toyota Camry, one of the models identified in the recall.

1:11 p.m. | Updated

Eight months after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into reports of smoke and fire coming from driver’s side doors, Toyota announced it would recall about 2.5 million vehicles in the United States, including just over a million Camrys.

Globally, the action affects roughly 7.4 million vehicles.

N.H.T.S.A. elevated its initial investigation (PDF) in June. During the course of its probe, the safety agency collected reports of 161 fires, including 129 from the automaker, and of nine injuries of undefined severity (PDF).

Toyota traced the fire hazard to the master switch controlling the power windows in the driver’s door. Some of those switches may have a “notchy” or “sticky” feeling because the switch supplier did not evenly apply grease. In a statement released early Wednesday, Toyota said the lubricant may break down and carbonize, potentially allowing the switch assembly to melt.

There were no crashes related to the recall, but the automaker did not mention fires or injuries. The public statement also failed to mention the federal investigation that preceded the recall.

In a report to the agency, Toyota noted that it originally wanted to conduct a “customer satisfaction campaign,” but “after discussion and consultation” with the agency, it decided to pursue the recall. A customer satisfaction campaign can be as simple as an extended warranty, whereas a recall is far more expensive and demanding, requiring all vehicles to be repaired even if a problem is not evident.

These are the affected vehicles identified by Toyota:

• 2007-8 Yaris (covers about 110,300 vehicles)
• 2007-9 RAV4 (covers about 336,400 vehicles)
• 2007-9 Tundra (about 337,100 vehicles)
• 2007-9 Camry (about 938,100 vehicles)
• 2007-9 Camry Hybrid (about 116,800 vehicles)
• 2008-9 Scion xD (about 34,400 vehicles)
• 2008-9 Scion xA (about 77,500 vehicles )
• 2008-9 Sequoia (about 38,500 vehicles)
• 2008 Highlander (covers about 135,400 vehicles)
• 2008 Highlander Hybrid (covers about 23,200 vehicles)
• 2009 Corolla (about 270,900 vehicles)
• 2009 Matrix (about 53,800 vehicles)

Toyota said if “commercially available lubricants” were used to fix the problem, the switch could melt “and lead to a fire under some circumstances.”

To remedy the issue, Toyota said it would begin notifying owners by mail of the recall at the end of the month. Technicians would inspect, disassemble and apply grease to the switch free of charge. The action would take an hour, the automaker said.

The action follows the recall of 269,000 Honda CR-V crossovers from the 2002-6 model years for a similar problem. In its report to the safety agency last weekend, Honda said liquids may seep into the driver’s door and reach the master power switch for the electric windows. This can cause an increase in electrical resistance in the switch, leading to overheating and possibly a fire.

Toyota described the recall as voluntary, but under federal regulations once a manufacturer learns of a safety problem it must, within five business days, inform the safety agency of its plan for a recall, or face a civil fine.

Article source: http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/10/toyota-recalls-2-5-million-vehicles-including-1-million-camrys-for-fire-hazard/?partner=rss&emc=rss