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Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES - Toyota Motor Corp. has stopped all sales of its 2010 Lexus HS 250h hybrid after government tests showed it could leak fuel in a rear-end collision.

The Japanese automaker said it was also recalling roughly 13,000 HS sedans that have already been sold and 4,000 that are still on dealership lots.

A remedy for the problem has not yet been determined, Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons said.

Lyons said Toyota was not aware of any incidents or accidents resulting from the defect in the HS, a model that was introduced late last summer.

The new Lexus recall is the latest in a string of safety and quality problems that have confronted Toyota since last September, when it announced a massive recall to deal with sudden acceleration. The issues have led to multiple congressional hearings, hundreds of lawsuits and a public apology from company president Akio Toyoda.

And although a recall of 17,000 sedans is small in comparison with the more than 10 million recall notices issued by Toyota since September, it is notable because it was ordered by NHTSA after the regulator spotted a defect that Toyota did not find in its own testing.

Lyons said that Toyota conducted tests to verify that the Lexus hybrid was in compliance with federal safety standards before releasing the vehicle, and that no problems with the fuel tank were found.

But a crash test conducted for NHTSA by a contractor, Calspan Corp. of Buffalo, N.Y., found that after an impact from a barrier at 80 kilometers per hour, or about 50 mph, fuel leaked from the vehicle.

Because more than 142 grams of fuel spilled, the maximum allowed under federal safety rules, NHTSA notified Toyota that it was out of compliance, triggering the stop sale and recall.

The total amount of fuel spilled was not reported by NHTSA or Toyota.