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Toyota Recalls Millions of Vehicles Due to Fire Hazard

Toyota

By Jim Donovan:   Toyota announced today its largest recall in the auto manufacturer’s 75-year history. 7.43 million cars, trucks and SUVs worldwide are being recalled to fix faulty power window switches that can cause fires. About 2.5 million of those recalled vehicles were sold in the United States.

The problem centers on the power window switch, which is inside the driver’s door and controls when a window is opened or closed. Toyota said grease wasn’t applied evenly to the switch during production, causing friction and sometimes smoke and fire.

The recall affects more than a dozen models produced from 2005 through 2010 around the world including the Camry, the top-selling car in the U.S. Recalled U.S. models include the 2007 to 2009 Camry, Tundra pickup and RAV4 small SUV; the 2007 and 2008 Yaris subcompact; the 2008 and 2009 Sequoia large SUV and Scion xD and xA small cars; the 2008 Highlander SUV; and the 2009 Corolla and Matrix compacts.

The recall covers only the master power window switch on the driver’s side, which controls all four windows. Switches inside the other doors are different, Toyota said.

Toyota said initially the window switch problem hasn’t caused any crashes or injuries. But documents filed by U.S. safety regulators show customers have reported 161 fires and nine injuries. No deaths have occurred.

Toyota said it quickly identified all the models using the problem switches and took action. “We want to make sure that we addressed this issue quickly and effectively, and I think we are doing that with this recall,” Hanson said.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began looking into window switch problems with two Toyota models in February after noticing a higher than normal number of complaints. Most fires caused by the window switch were minor, although a Camry was destroyed in one case. Several owners reported that they were afraid to drive their vehicles because of the threat of fires. NHTSA said Wednesday the investigation remains open pending a review of recall documents.

Toyota said Wednesday it has received more than 200 complaints about the switches in the U.S., and more from other countries including 39 in Japan. Most of the complaints were about a sticky feel to the switches while pushing the button to move the window up or down, but there also were complaints of the smell of smoke, company spokesman John Hanson said.

Toyota dealers will inspect the switches and apply a special grease to them. In some cases the switches and circuit boards could be replaced, Hanson said. Some repair shops might have used off-the-shelf greases to fix the problem, but those eventually will make it worse, he said.

Owners of vehicles covered by this safety recall are to receive a notification letter via first-class mail starting in late October. The repair will take approximately one hour depending on the dealer’s work schedule.

For more information visit:  http://www.toyota.com/recall/