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Toyota to recall 138,000 Lexus vehicles in US

WASHINGTON (AP) - Toyota Motor Corp. 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.
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.
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 e-mail
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."
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.
---
Associated Press writer Shino Yuasa in Tokyo contributed to this
report.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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