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Toyota set to recall Lexus flagship

Another one: Toyota keeps the recalls coming, this time with its Lexus LS luxury leader.

Lexus LS limo added to recall list as variable steering ratio bug surfaces in Japan

Lexus logo20 May 2010

By RON HAMMERTON

TOYOTA’S safety recall woes have again dented its flagship Lexus LS range, with a steering problem forcing a global recall of about 11,500 LS460 and LS600h limousines - vehicles hailed as a benchmark in automotive quality.

The latest issue comes on top of a Lexus LS recall for fuel-line corrosion from ethanol fuels in the United States early last year.

Details of the new recall are still sketchy, as Toyota has released only brief statements in various markets ahead of a full announcement on the arrangements for the fix and exact numbers in each market tomorrow.

Lexus Australia told GoAuto today that it was still investigating to see if any affected vehicles had been sold in Australia, but said it had no reports of the fault occurring in this market.

The problem surfaced with 10 Japanese customers who complained of a problem with the variable gear ratio steering system that electronically adjusts the steering ratio for easier low-speed maneuvering and greater stability at highway velocities.

According to Toyota, the problem occurs only at low speeds when the front wheels are turned to full lock and then the steering wheel is returned fast to straight ahead.

“This could lead to a steering wheel off-centre condition, even though the driving wheels would be straight,” the Toyota statement said.

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“This phenomenon will be resolved automatically in a few seconds and the driver may notice this correction as the steering wheel centre moves slowly by itself to the centre position when driving straight during the correction operation.

“The driver remains in control of the vehicle as the steering wheel self-corrects.”

Globally, Toyota is contacting authorities in affected markets to advise that a recall notice will be issued.

Of the 11,500 affected vehicles, 7000 are said to have been sold in overseas markets, with about half of those in the hands of American customers.

Last month in the US, Lexus recalled its GX460 SUV to update its stability software after US magazine Consumer Reports labeled the vehicle a safety risk.

In January 2009, Lexus also recalled 214,500 GS and LS vehicles in the US because of potential fuel line leaks due to corrosion from ethanol-blend fuels that are prevalent in some states.

So far, Toyota has recalled more than eight million vehicles globally for various remedies since it became ensnared in floor-mat-induced unintended acceleration claims last year.

So far, the only recall that has extended to Australia has been for the hybrid Prius to fix an issue with braking feel caused by the vehicle’s regenerative braking system.

The Lexus LS460 went on sale in Australia on April 2007, and was updated with a mid-model facelift last December.

The hybrid version, the LS600hL, debuted in November 2007, before being given a new look in March this year.

Year to date, Lexus has sold 19 LS vehicles, with three finding homes last month.

GoAuto has been unable to determine how many of these vehicles – if any – are fitted with the variable steering ratio system.

Toyota in Japan said it has started investigating the Lexus LS issue in March.

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