Toyota recalls top 1 million

By Liz Dobson

Airbags in Corollas and wipers on Lexus IS need fixing

In New Zealand, 16 Toyota Voltz vehicles are affected.  Photo / Supplied
In New Zealand, 16 Toyota Voltz vehicles are affected. Photo / Supplied

Toyota is recalling over one million cars around the world for faulty air bags and defective windshield wipers though only a few New Zealand vehicles are affected.

The company is recalling 907,000 cars, mostly Corollas, because of air bags that can improperly inflate when the vehicle's electronic signals damage a chip in the part that controls the bags.

It is also recalling 385,000 Lexus IS luxury cars with wipers that can get stuck if there is heavy snowfall.

As part of the air bag recall, Toyota is recalling some 752,000 Corolla and Corolla Matrix cars in the US, about 141,000 vehicles in Canada and thousands of similar vehicles in Japan and Mexico that were manufactured between December 2001 and May 2004. The part will be corrected to be able to block damaging signals.

But the recall does not affect any vehicles sold new in New Zealand and applied to just 16 used Toyota Voltz vehicles, imported by Toyota New Zealand.

It may also apply to a small number of used vehicles imported by other parties.

Toyota New Zealand general manager of customer services, Spencer Morris says, "Owners of known vehicles affected will be contacted by mail. Toyota will install a sub wire harness with diode to the airbag control module to remedy the problem."

In the affected units the front airbag could inadvertently deploy because of low resistance to electrical noise in the airbag control module.

Morris advises vehicle owners the remedial action will take about one hour and will be free.

In Japan, the company said there were no accidents related to either problem, but spokesman Naoto Fuse said that two crashes were reported in the US related to the air bag problem. Toyota had not been able to confirm them and Fuse said it is unclear whether anyone was injured in the two crashes.

Toyota has confirmed 18 cases in the US of abrasion-type injuries from the air bag problem, he said.

In total, the carmaker has received 46 reports of problems involving the air bags from North America, and one from Japan, and 25 reports of problems related to the windshield wipers.

The problem wipers affect three kinds of Lexus IS models, manufactured from May 2005 to October 2011, including 270,000 vehicles in the US and nearly 17,000 vehicles in Canada.

The recall also affects the Lexus IS sold in Europe, the Middle East and China, Toyota said.

No New Zealand new Lexus IS models are affected by the recall.

Toyota's reputation for top quality has been undermined in the past few years by massive recalls for a spate of problems, including bad brakes, accelerator pedals and floor mats, mostly in the US.

Executives have promised to beef up quality controls to repair Toyota's image.Toyota has announced some recalls recently, but they have been relatively minor, such as floor mats, and generally affect vehicles manufactured before its latest efforts to regain sterling quality.

Last month, Toyota agreed to pay more than US$1 billion ($1.2 billion) in America to settle lawsuits where vehicle owners said the value of their vehicles fell after the company recalled millions of vehicles because of sudden-acceleration issues.

-Additional reporting AP

- NZ Herald

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