Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Toyota recalls 940 Prius hybrid cars in Canada for possible steering problems

June 6, 2011
By The Canadian Press with files from The Associated Press

Toyota Canada says that it is recalling about 940 first-generation Prius hybrid cars across the country for faulty steering caused by a nut that may come loose.

The automaker says the recall affects Prius vehicles from the 2001 through 2003 model years.

The move is part of a global recall of 106,000 Prius hybrids.

The single minor accident suspected of being related to the problem was reported in the United States, according to Toyota Motor Corp.

The latest recall from Toyota, which has taken a hit to its reputation from massive recalls worldwide, affects 48,000 Prius vehicles in Japan, starting with the first Prius models that went on sale in 1997, and those manufactured through 2003.

It also affects 58,000 vehicles sold abroad, including 52,000 Prius cars sold from 2001 through 2003 in the U.S., some 1,200 in Great Britain, and 800 in Germany, company spokesman Paul Nolasco said.

Toyota says loose nuts in the electric-power steering can cause the vehicle, if operated over a long time, to steer with too much force.

The problem can be fixed by putting in better nuts, and will take about four hours, it said.

In Japan, Toyota also recalled 21,600 iQ small-cars for braking problems, caused by a valve that became faulty during manufacturing, possibly causing braking power to decline.

Twenty-one complaints were received that may be caused by the problem, but there were no accidents, the automaker said.

In the U.S. and Canada, Toyota recalled 34 Venza and 16 Sienna 2011 model vehicles to replace an insufficiently treated driveshaft. The driveshaft could break, causing the vehicle to stall, according to Toyota.

Over the last two years, Toyota has announced massive recalls ballooning to more than 14 million vehicles.

Its once sterling reputation has come under scrutiny. It faces damage lawsuits and lingering doubts in the U.S. on whether it had been transparent enough about the recall woes.

Toyota has been trying to communicate better with customers and empower regions outside of Japan to make safety decisions.

U.S. government testing has indicated the problems of runaway cars weren’t caused by electronics or software, but most likely by ill-fitting floor mats or driver error.

Toyota faces a new problem since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan destroyed key parts suppliers.

The maker of the Lexus luxury car and Camry sedan said recently that it expects to be back to 90 percent of pre-disaster production in Japan in June, faster than initially expected.

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