Toyota recalls 803,000 cars for airbag defect
Automaker's third major recall in little more than a month.
Toyota Motor Co. is recalling 803,000 vehicles in the United States, the latest in a series of major safety-related actions this time caused by electrical problems that could prevent airbags from deploying in the event of a collision. Within the past month, Toyota has recalled nearly 1.5 million other vehicles due to a mix of additional problems.
According to Toyota, the recall was caused by a potential short circuit that could cause airbag warning lights to turn on and, in some cases, to disable the airbags themselves so that they might not deploy in an accident. In some instances, however, the airbags could also deploy inadvertently.
Toyota said the problem is due to water leaking from the air conditioning condenser unit onto the airbag control module. The leak could also result in additional problems, potentially causing a short circuit that would disable the power-steering system. In this case, it could become difficult to turn a vehicle, especially at lower speeds.
The maker will directly notify owners in the weeks ahead and dealers will make repairs at no charge. The fix requires the application of sealant and a new cover to prevent water from leaking onto the airbag control module.
The world's best-selling automaker, Toyota has faced an unprecedented series of recalls in recent years, including a number of service actions related to so-called unintended acceleration, in which vehicles allegedly have raced out of control without driver input. A total of more than 10 million vehicles have been called back over the last four years due to that problem. And Toyota has paid out several billion dollars to settle lawsuits related to the problem.
A California jury last week ruled in the maker's favor in one critical case that could influence how other unintended acceleration suits move forward.
In an interview this past week, Toyota's top North American executive Jim Lentz said he thought the maker had gotten through the worst of the runaway car crisis. But while generally known for high quality, Toyota has had some serious recall headaches. It has, in fact, had more vehicles recalled in the U.S. than any other manufacturer for four of the last five years and is in a dubious race for first this year as well.
In early September, the maker announced luxury and hybrid models would be recalled due to a pair of safety defects. Less than a week later it recalled another 1 million vehicles worldwide to correct a faulty, earlier recall that attempted to address serious corrosion issues that could lead to a crash.
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