Toyota Motor Corporation says it would recall about 690,000 Tacoma 4X4 and Tacoma pre-runner pickup trucks in the U.S. to fix issues with the vehicles' rear suspension system.
"The involved vehicles' rear suspension system contains leaf springs that are constructed of either three or four leaves. There is a possibility that a leaf could fracture due to stress and corrosion," Toyota said in a statement.
If the vehicle continues to be used, it could lead to the broken leaf coming in contact with surrounding components, including the fuel tank and causing a leak, the company said.
"In the presence of an ignition source, this could result in a fire," the car maker said.
Toyota said it was not aware of any injuries due to the potential defect. The vehicles belong to model years 2005-2011, the company said.
Meanwhile, U.S. investigators are looking into complaints by some owners of Toyota Corolla sedans who said the cars experienced unintended “low-speed surging,” similar to a flaw that led to a recall of 10 million Toyotas five years ago.
The preliminary investigation involves as many as 1.69 million cars made by Toyota from model years 2006 through 2010, according to a notice today from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
A Corolla owner whose car accelerated and crashed while attempting to park petitioned the agency for a defect investigation, saying there were 163 reports of similar incidents.
NHTSA typically begins a preliminary investigation or evaluation when consumer complaints or manufacturer service bulletins suggest there may be a harmful defect. Once that evaluation is complete, the agency either begins an engineering analysis or closes the inquiry. Based on the outcome of the engineering analysis, a vehicle may be recalled or the inquiry may be closed with no further action.
The complaints are reminiscent of unintended acceleration episodes that pushed the world’s largest automaker to recall millions of vehicles in 2009 and 2010. While those cases led to Toyota’s modifications to gas pedals and floor mats, NHTSA this time is focusing on Corollas equipped with an electronic throttle-control system called ETCS-i.
A U.S. spokesman for the Japanese automaker couldn’t immediately be reached to comment on NHTSA’s inquiry or the Corolla petitioner’s claims.
Safety Research and Strategies Inc., a Rehoboth, Mass., company that works on court cases alleging automotive defects, said the petitioners have evidence from their car’s electronic data recorder that the brakes were being applied while their Corolla surged.
In March, Toyota agreed to a $1.2 billion penalty, the largest ever for an automaker in the U.S., in a criminal probe by the Justice Department. The case found that company executives misled the public and government authorities over the causes for sudden-acceleration incidents in 2009 and 2010.