Make us your home page
Instagram

Toyota recalls 7.43 million vehicles four years after learning of switch defect

WASHINGTON — Toyota first learned in 2008 about a defect in power-window switches that prompted it on Wednesday to recall 7.43 million vehicles worldwide for fire hazards, according to documents filed with U.S. regulators.

Toyota received a report in September 2008 from the United States about "an unusual smell" from the power-window master switch and "thermal damage" to the switch, the company said in a report posted Thursday on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.

The automaker sent the part to the supplier to investigate and no "root cause" was found. No other problems with the switch were reported until May 2010, when the company said it began sporadically receiving information about an abnormal smell or smoke coming from driver's side doors, according to the report.

"There was really no trend early on, and it took considerable time to diagnose what seemed to be an isolated problem and how it was occurring," John Hanson, a U.S.-based spokesman for Toyota, said in an email.

In 2009 and 2010, Toyota recalled a record number of vehicles worldwide for defects that may cause unintended acceleration. The company in April 2010 agreed to pay a record $16.4 million U.S. fine for failing to promptly report the flaws with vehicle accelerator pedals.

"I'm a little disappointed in that Toyota didn't act sooner, especially because of the debacle in 2010," said Rebecca Lindland, an analyst with IHS Automotive. "It's not surprising that they would delay, given their pattern of resisting recalls historically."

The U.S. auto-safety regulator opened an investigation into about 830,000 Camry cars and RAV4 crossover sport utility vehicles in February after receiving six reports of fires that started in the window switch. It has received reports of nine injuries and 161 fires, said Lynda Tran, an NHTSA spokeswoman.

With the increasing number of fire reports coming shortly after congressional hearings and market-share losses in the U.S., Toyota would have likely been reluctant to recall more vehicles then for another defect, Lindland said.

"The last thing they could really withstand at that point was another recall," she said. "I would guess the strategy may have been to address the 10 or 11 complaints and avoid doing a recall at all costs."

According to a report posted on NHTSA's website, the driver of a 2007 Camry reported noticing "black smoke throughout the car" that "immediately turned into flames, which caused poor visibility and complete panic" for the driver and three passengers in the car on Dec. 26, 2011. The flames burned the driver's coat and a passenger's hand as he tried to put it out.

The recall includes about 2.47 million vehicles in the U.S., a Toyota spokesman said.

The recall includes vehicles from model years 2007 to 2009 from models including the Camry, RAV4, Corolla, Tundra, Sequoia and Yaris.

Toyota recalls 7.43 million vehicles four years after learning of switch defect 10/11/12 [Last modified: Thursday, October 11, 2012 9:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Bloomberg News.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa is 15th-most popular city to move to with U-Haul

    Markets

    TAMPA —Tampa is undoubtedly a destination point, at least according to U-Haul.

    Tampa is the No. 15 destination for people moving with U-Haul trucks. | Times file photo
  2. Florida's economy growing faster than other big states and far better than U.S. overall

    Business

    When it comes to economic growth, Florida's running alongside the leading states and well ahead of the United States as a whole.

  3. Westshore Marina District project takes shape with another acquisition

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — One of Tampa Bay's prime waterfront areas took another major step toward redevelopment Friday as WCI Communities bought 2.35 acres in Westshore Marina District.

    WCI Communities, Lennar's high-end subsidiary,has paid $2.5 million for 2.35 acres in the Westshore Marina District for 35 townhomes. WCI is under contract  to buy an additional 9.5 acres.
[BTI Partners]
  4. Posh Guy Harvey RV park to open in Tampa Bay with $250,000 cottages

    Business

    HOLIDAY — Love those Guy Harvey T-shirts with the soaring marlins? In the not too distant future, you might be able to kick back in your own Guy Harvey cottage in the first-ever Guy Harvey RV park.

    Renderings of the clubhouse and an RV cottage site of the planned Guy Harvey Outpost Club & Resort Tarpon Springs.
[Guy Harvey Outpost Collection]
  5. Port Tampa Bay secures $9 million grant to deepen Big Bend Channel

    Business

    Port Tampa Bay has secured a $9 million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the widening and deepening of the Big Bend Channel in southern Hillsborough County.