Engine Trouble: Toyota Recalls 138,000 U.S. Lexus Vehicles

Toyota is recalling 138,000 Lexus vehicles in the U.S. as part of its 270,000-car recall for faulty engines.Toyota Motor (TM) said Friday it intends to recall 138,000 Lexus vehicles in the United States to fix faulty engines in the latest quality problem to afflict the world's No. 1 automaker.

The Japanese automaker said flaws in valve springs, a crucial engine component, could make the vehicle stall while in motion. Toyota confirmed in a statement it plans to file paperwork with the government on the recall next week.

The recall affects certain GS, IS and LS vehicles from the 2006-2008 model years powered by 4.6 and 5.0 liter V8 engines and 3.5 liter V6 engines. No accidents or injuries have been reported. Vehicles from the 2009 and 2010 model years are not affected.

Toyota had announced in Japan that it would recall 270,000 Lexus vehicles around the world to address the engine stalling problems. The global recall affects seven luxury Lexus sedan models as well as the popular Crown sedan, sold primarily in Japan. Of the 270,000 recalled cars, some 180,000 were sold overseas, including the United States, and 90,000 in Japan.

Complaints, But No Accidents

The company has received about 200 complaints in Japan but no accidents were reported there or abroad, said Toyota spokesman Hideaki Homma. Some drivers told Toyota that engines made a strange noise.

The automaker was already scrambling to repair its reputation after 8.5 million vehicles were recalled beginning in October because of problems with sticking accelerator pedals and other issues. Toyota was slapped with a record $16.4 million fine in the United States for acting too slowly to recall vehicles with defects.

Japan's major daily Asahi said Friday the latest recall of 270,000 vehicles could cost Toyota around 20 billion yen ($227 million). Toyota could not confirm the report, which gave no sources.

Recall Report on the Way

Toyota will inform Japan's transport ministry of the recall on Monday. The company said it would file its recall report in the U.S. next week. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it had not received official notification of the recall.

Some of the vehicle models covered under the recall include: 2007-2008 GS350 and GS450h; 2008 GS460; 2006-2008 IS350; 2007-2008 LS460 and LS460L; and 2008 LS600hL.

Toyota said owners will be notified of the recall by mail and dealers will repair the engine's valve springs at no charge. The company said owners can continue to drive their vehicles. If they notice vibration, unusual engine sounds or rough idling, they should bring the car to a dealer for service.

Lexus general manager Mark Templin told dealers in an email that "we understand the frustration and embarrassment these recalls cause and appreciate your reassuring Lexus owners that there is nothing more important to us than their safety, satisfaction with our products and confidence in you and the brand."

Lawsuits and Other Costs

Toyota dealers have repaired millions of vehicles following the massive global recalls, but the automaker still faces more than 200 lawsuits tied to accidents, the lower resale value of Toyota vehicles, and the drop in the company's stock.

Toyota said last week it will recall 17,000 Lexus luxury hybrids after testing showed that fuel can spill during a rear-end crash.

U.S. regulators were working with scientists from NASA to investigate what caused some of Toyota's vehicles to suddenly accelerate. That review is expected to be completed by late August.

Officials were also investigating whether Toyota waited nearly a year in 2005 to recall trucks and SUVs in the U.S. with defective steering rods, a case that could lead to additional fines.


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