Manufacturing AUTOMATION

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Toyota expands recalls, halts production


February 16, 2010
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

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The latest: The list of Toyota vehicle components that require fixes now includes floormats, anti-lock braking systems, pedals and drive shafts.

It has been impossible not to notice the bad month Toyota has had after originally recalling and suspending sales of eight of its best-selling vehicles and halting production at six facilities — including those in Woodstock and Cambridge, Ont. — over a potentially dangerous problem caused by gas pedals several weeks ago. They have since restarted production — but its troubles are far from over.

“The front shaft in these vehicles may include a component that contains cracks that developed during the manufacturing process.”

At the end of last week, Toyota Canada announced a voluntary safety recall on certain 2010 Tacoma pickup trucks. “The front shaft in these vehicles may include a component that contains cracks that developed during the manufacturing process,” the company said in a statement. “As those vehicles are used, the cracks may eventually lead to the separation of the drive shaft at the joint portion.”

The condition involves only two specific drive shaft production lot numbers, installed in certain 2010 Tacoma 4WD vehicles. News reports says dealers will inspect the vehicles to identify the numbers located on the drive shaft and, if necessary, replace the shaft. Toyota will notify owners by first-class mail starting in mid-March.

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In other recall news, the company has expanded its floor mat recall to include certain Corolla, Matrix and Highlander vehicles.

Toyota restarted production of all originally affected models last week, but early this week, the company announced it will temporarily halt production at two U.S. factories after sales were hit hard by the string of safety problems, according to AFP. It will suspend output at its Kentucky plant producing Camry and Avalon sedans for four days. It will also suspend production of Tundra pickup trucks at its Texas plant for a total of 10 days in March and April, the newspaper said.

To read about the original recall and the pedal’s Canadian manufacturing connection — and what the APMA says about the situation — click here.

Stephen Beatty, managing director of Toyota Canada, also did damage control, going on CBC News last week to remind Canadian consumers not to confuse widespread recall problems in the U.S. with the situation in Canada. He asked automotive journalists to get the word out that Toyota’s floormat problems only affected about 270,000 cars in Canada. About 4.2 million cars were recalled globally.

This was on the heels of an another recall of nearly a half a million of its hybrid vehicles last Tuesday, including the latest version of its popular Prius model, after an issue arose with the anti-lock braking systems in the vehicles. In Canada, the recall will affect nearly 3,300 of the newest Priuses, and 309 Lexus HS 250h models, the company said. Letters will be mailed the affected owners in the next few weeks to let them know when they can bring their vehicles in to update software in the vehicle’s anti-lock brake system.

Separately, Toyota said Tuesday it will also conduct a voluntary safety recall on 393 early-production 2010 Camry vehicles in Canada to inspect for a power steering hose that may be in contact with a front-brake tube and cause it to leak.

Manufacturing AUTOMATION Lean manufacturing expert Dr. Timothy Hill weights in on Toyota’s troubles and how the company is dealing with being hit by "a perfect storm" in an online exclusive.