Massive Toyota recall: 7.4 million cars and trucks

Bubba Gump Trout Strategies
October 10, 2012
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October 12, 2012

It seems like only yesterday (in fact, it was only a couple days ago) that I reported that the latest wave of recalls seemed larger than usual, driven by the Honda CR-V action for a window switch that might cause fires.

This new worldwide Toyota seems to be for a similar problem, but I have been unable to find out if it is for exactly the same issue. Vehicle manufacturers often use the same suppliers leading to a crossover effect on recalls, and this might be one of those – although the model years for Honda and Toyota vehicles do not overlap.

First, and most important, here is a list of the vehicles for which the recall applies:

2007 – 2009  Camry, Camry Hybrid, Tundra pickup, RAV4

2007 -2008  Yaris

2008 – 2009  Sequoia, Scion xD, Scion B

2008  Highlander, Highlander Hybrid

2009   Corolla, Matrix

Because the model years’ for these vehicles are at least four years ago, with some as long as six, it is very probable that many of these trucks and cars are NOT currently owned by their original owners, and have been sold on the secondary market.  This means that, when Toyota sends its recall notices, people who have bought their vehicles used will NOT receive a recall notice.  Contact Toyota at 800-331-4331 for more information.  In the U.S., about 2.5 million vehicles are affected.

This is a voluntary recall by Toyota but was precipitated by an investigation by the NHTSA eight months ago when there were reports of smoke and fire coming from the driver’s side door of Camrys.  There turned out to be reports of 161 fires, including 9 which caused injury.

The company said that it has traced the fire hazard to the master switch that controls the windows on the driver’s side.  The switches were not evenly greased by the supplier causing a “notchy” or “sticky” feel.  If “commercially-available lubricants are used to fix the problem the switch could melt and lead to a fire under some circumstances.  The Camry fire history was not mentioned in the Toyota press release.

The fix calls for a technician to inspect, dissassemble and apply a special grease to the switch free of charge.  On the Toyota web site it indicated that the technician would come out to do this repair, but I have seen that information no where else.

2005 – 2009 Toyota Tacoma Recall from March/April 2012

In my research on the latest mass recall, I also found a March/April 2012 recall for 2005 – 2009 Tacoma pickups, affecting 495,000 units.  This recall has received much less attention, I think, but it, too, could save lives.  Again, because many of these vehicles are not still owned by original owners, it is important to call Toyota at 800-331-4331.  If you have not received a recall notice and own one of these pickups, you probably won’t receive one — call Toyota to make sure.

In this case, the steering wheel spiral cable can be affected by friction and cause a loss of conductivity to the driver’s side airbag module deactivitating the airbag.  Pretty serious in the case of a crash where the airbag should be expected to deploy.

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