Toyota to recall 270,000 vehicles

TOKYO — Toyota Motor Corp. will recall 270,000 Lexus and other vehicles worldwide to fix faulty engines in the latest quality lapse at the world’s No. 1 automaker.

Flaws in valve springs, a crucial engine component, could make the vehicle stall while it’s moving, Toyota spokesman Hideaki Homma said today in announcing the recall.

Lexus General Manager Mark Templin said contaminated materials had been used for valve springs during manufacturing.

Toyota has received about 200 complaints over faulty engines in Japan but no accidents were reported there or abroad, Homma said. Some drivers told Toyota that engines made a strange noise.

The global recall that starts Monday affects seven luxury Lexus sedan models as well as the popular Crown, Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco said. Of the 270,000 recalled cars, some 180,000 were sold overseas, including the United States, and 90,000 in Japan.

The automaker was already scrambling to repair its reputation after 8.5 million vehicles were recalled beginning in October because of problems with sticking accelerator pedals and other issues.

Toyota was slapped with a record $16.4 million fine in the United States for acting too slowly to recall vehicles with defects.

Japan’s major daily Asahi said Friday the latest recall of 270,000 vehicles could cost Toyota around 20 billion yen ($227 million). Toyota could not confirm the report, which gave no sources.

Toyota will inform Japan’s transport ministry of a recall of 90,000 vehicles on Monday. Nolasco said it was unclear how many vehicles would be recalled in the United States, and Toyota will take action for overseas markets as soon as next week.

Lexus said yesterday about 137,000 vehicles could be affected by the engine problem in the U.S.

Ryoichi Saito, an auto analyst from Mizuho Investors Securities Co. Ltd., said the latest recall was unlikely to hurt Toyota.

“It is clear that Toyota has learned a lesson from the recall disaster. The company has acted very swiftly to deal with problems,” Saito said.

Toyota dealers have repaired millions of vehicles following the massive global recalls, but the automaker still faces more than 200 lawsuits tied to accidents, the lower resale value of Toyota vehicles, and the drop in the company’s stock.

Toyota said last week it will recall 17,000 Lexus luxury hybrids after testing showed that fuel can spill during a rear-end crash.

U.S. regulators were working with scientists from NASA to investigate what caused some of Toyota’s vehicles to suddenly accelerate. That review is expected to be completed by late August.

Officials were also investigating whether Toyota waited nearly a year in 2005 to recall trucks and SUVs in the U.S. with defective steering rods, a case that could lead to additional fines.

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