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Toyota set to recall 270,000 Lexus cars

Contaminated: The Lexus LS600h flagship is one of the top Toyota's brand's models that is set to be recalled to fix an engine valve spring problem.

Toyota to recall Lexus models worldwide to fix engine valve spring problem

2 Jul 2010

TOYOTA’S premium division Lexus has become embroiled in another global quality problem, with the Japanese auto giant set to recall an estimated 270,000 vehicles – including around 1100 in Australia – to correct an engine fault that could cause the luxury cars to stall unexpectedly.

A Toyota Australia spokesman told GoAuto today that Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan is planning to lodge a recall notice with the Japanese government on Monday, which would affect four models across its LS limousine and GS executive line sold in Australia: the flagship $243,900 LS600hL hybrid, the LS460, GS460 and GS450h hybrid.

The company revealed earlier this week that faulty valve springs have been discovered in certain V6 (3.5-litre) and V8 (4.6 and 5.0-litre) engines used in at least six models worldwide.

Other affected models include the IS350, which is due for release in Australia in the final quarter, and the GS350, which is not sold here.

Toyota has admitted that foreign material may have contaminated the valve springs of the engines in question during the manufacturing process, resulting in potential breakage.

“There is a small possibility that abnormal engine noise or unstable idling may occur, and what we understand is that in very rare instances there is a chance that the engine may stop while driving,” the spokesman told GoAuto.

“There have been no reports of engines stopping in Australia.

“We are now aware that Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan are planning to issue a notice to the Japanese government for a recall, and they are expected to do this on Monday.

“We are still awaiting final confirmation from Toyota in Japan as to what activities will occur in Australia.” The engine problem could require long durations at the dealer for repair or replacement, potentially creating havoc for car owners and dealers alike, and is bound to be an extremely expensive exercise for the company.

 center imageFrom top: Lexus GS450h, Lexus GS450h engine, Lexus GS460 engine, Lexus LS460.

Of the circa-270,000 vehicles affected worldwide – which represents around 85 per cent of Toyota’s total 2009 Lexus production – around 137,000 are in the US. The company built just over 255,000 cars in Japan last year, and around 64,000 in North America.

General manager of the US Lexus division, Mark Templin, said: “In the meantime, we sincerely apologise to our customers for any inconvenience and request that they contact their nearest Lexus dealer if they believe there is a problem with their vehicle.” Lexus Australia has not contacted customers or issued a similar statement, preferring to wait until it receives specific advice from head office.

“Should any action be required, as usual we will personally contact the customers in line with the Lexus customer philosophy,” the spokesman said, adding that the company was working to ensure its brand image remained strong in light of this, and other, recalls.

“We have a major focus that’s both in Toyota Japan and also in Australia to continue to challenge ourselves to make sure that we deliver the highest quality cars that we can to our customers.” Lexus has been increasingly caught up in Toyota’s ongoing global recall and quality crisis, which has affected around 10 million vehicles across all brands combined since last year.

The valve spring problem comes a week after Toyota issued a recall of up to 17,000 2010 model year Lexus HS250h vehicles in the US after tests showed that fuel could spill in a rear-end crash.

The LS limousine was also subject to a global recall in May, when it was found that around 11,500 LS460 and LS600h vehicles – including 14 in Australia – could experience a problem with their variable gear ratio steering system in which the steering wheel was positioned off-centre when the wheels were in fact straight.

Earlier this year, Lexus recalled more than 214,000 vehicles in the US because of potential fuel hose leaks caused by ethanol fuels, while around 9500 examples of the LandCruiser Prado-based GX460 were also recalled to adjust their electronic stability control system after a US magazine experienced problems with the vehicle’s handling.

None of these involved vehicles sold in Australia, and a subsequent global recall of almost 60,000 SUVs that have the same underpinnings as the GX460 also did not extend to Australia.

Toyota Australia has, however, issued a recall notice this week for the LandCruiser 200 Series for a problem that could prevent the front seatbelt buckles from engaging.

According to a notice filed with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, “there is a possibility that the front seatbelt buckles may have been damaged during manufacture”.

Toyota Australia has confirmed details of the recall, which affects 18 diesel-powered GXL LandCruiser vehicles built from May 6-25, 2010, with VIN numbers VDJ200JTMHV09J #05011921 to #05012235.

Although the involved vehicles are within the above VIN ranges, not all vehicles in these ranges were sold in Australia.

All owners of affected vehicles will be contacted to arrange for the front seatbelt buckles to be replaced at their nearest dealer.

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