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Toyota and Volkswagen announce auto recalls

From Beacon Journal wire services

Amid the continuing controversy within General Motors over an ignition switch failure problem, two other world automakers announced recalls Wednesday.

Toyota said it is recalling nearly 1.8 million vehicles in the United States for various safety problems, including air bags that may fail to deploy.

Separately, Volkswagen said it is telling U.S. dealers to stop selling its most popular cars until transmission fluid leaks can be fixed.

The order covers about 25,000 Jetta, Passat, Beetle and Beetle convertible models equipped with 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engines and automatic transmissions, spokesman Scott Vazin said Wednesday. They were built after Feb. 1.

The Toyota announcement was part of a broader recall of 6.39 million vehicles — and 27 Toyota models — globally.

In the United States, the Toyota recall includes:

• 1.3 million vehicles with faulty electrical connections that could cause the air bags to deactivate. Included are the 2009-2010 Corolla, 2009-2010 Matrix, 2008-2010 Highlander, 2009-2010 Tacoma, 2006-2008 RAV4, 2006-2010 Yaris and 2009-2010 Pontiac Vibe. If the air bags deactivate, they could fail to deploy after a crash.

• 472,500 small cars with defective springs in the front seat rails, which could prevent the seats from locking in place. Included are the 2006-2010 Yaris hatchback, 2007-2010 Yaris sedan and the 2008-2010 Scion XD.

Toyota said it is working on remedies for the problems. Dealers will replace the defective parts for free when replacement parts are available.

The Pontiac Vibe, made by General Motors, is included in the recall because Toyota designed and engineered it for GM when the two companies shared a factory in California. GM says 40,500 Vibes will be recalled, and says GM dealers will make repairs when Toyota sends them the parts.

The air bag issue is unrelated to a separate GM recall of 2.6 million vehicles for an ignition switch defect that can also deactivate the air bags. The Vibe isn’t included in that recall.

Toyota said no injuries or crashes have been reported related to the recalls.

By region, the recall affects 2.3 million vehicles in North America, 1.09 million vehicles in Japan and 810,000 vehicles in Europe. Other regions affected by the recall include Africa, South America and the Middle East.

The recall is one of Toyota’s largest since 2009 and 2010, when the company issued a series of recalls totaling more than 10 million vehicles for various problems including faulty brakes, sticky gas pedals and ill-fitting floor mats.

Toyota is under pressure to announce recalls quickly after a U.S. government investigation found it hid information about past defects. Last month, the company agreed to pay $1.2 billion to settle that investigation. It also paid fines totaling $66 million to the U.S. government for delays in reporting unintended acceleration problems.

The company says it has “made fundamental changes to become a more responsive and customer-focused organization, and we are committed to continued improvements.”

At Volkswagen, an “O-ring” that links a transmission fluid line to a cooler can fail and cause leaks, potentially causing a fire. Spokesman Vazin said no fires or crashes have been reported. VW plans to replace the defective parts.

About half the cars remain on dealer lots. Vazin says VW is working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on how to fix the cars that have been sold.

He says owners with questions about their cars should contact their dealers.

Vazin expects parts to be available to make the repairs in two weeks or less. The simple repairs should take about a half-hour, Vazin said.

The stop-sale order was first reported by the publication Automotive News.



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