Toyota issues Lexus recall in Japan

TOKYO — Toyota Motor Corp. began a recall today of 4,509 Lexus cars in Japan because of a computer problem affecting the model’s steering system, with a similar recall to follow in the U.S.

The carmaker said Wednesday it would recall the cars in Japan, with another 7,000 affected in the U.S., China, Europe and other regions. The recall affects Toyota’s luxury Lexus “LS” line and involves a computerized system that oversees how the steering wheel controls the tires.

After being hit with a record $16.4 million fine in the U.S. for being slow to carry out an accelerator pedal recall and facing strong government criticism both at home and abroad for slow responses to safety problems, Toyota Motor Corp. is working to react more quickly to problems with its cars. The company on Tuesday paid the fine in the U.S. where it still faces hundreds of state and federal lawsuits.

A document posted today on the Transport Ministry’s website shows the latest recall covers Lexus vehicles manufactured from late August through mid-May. It said there have been 12 complaints about the issue, with no accidents reported.

A statement on Toyota’s website said preparations also were being made to launch a recall in the U.S. later today. There are about 4,000 affected Lexus cars in the U.S., according to company spokesman Paul Nolasco.

The fix requires a software update of the steering system.

Toyota has recalled more than 8 million vehicles worldwide for safety defects affecting some of its best-selling models. The U.S. Transportation Department is reviewing thousands of Toyota documents and could issue new penalties for the company’s handling of other safety recalls.

The recalls have prompted the first major review of U.S. auto safety laws in Congress since tire recalls by Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. in 2000.

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