TOKYO (AP) - A company official says Toyota knew about the engine problem in the Lexus and Crown vehicles two years ago but didn't think a recall was warranted at the time.
The official says the company changed the spring part to correct the problem. A global recall is now under way to repair some 270,000 vehicles to replace engine components that could cause stalling.
A spokesman tells The Associated Press that the world's top automaker previously thought the problem was caused by a foreign substance entering during manufacturing of the valve springs, and beefed up checks so that wouldn't happen.
The spokesman says the complaints started climbing, and Toyota decided recently there was a design defect.
Toyota had promised to recall problem cars more quickly after its reputation was tattered after recalls ballooned to more than 8.5 million since October.