Toyota to recall 136,000 cars over steering fault

Toyota on Thursday announced a recall of almost 136,000 compact cars in Japan and Europe to fix a steering problem, the latest in a series of issues that have tarnished its once-stellar reputation.

The world's largest automaker, which was battered by a global safety crisis earlier this year, said it will recall 65,000 compact iQ and Passo cars in Japan and about 70,800 in Europe, all of them built between 2008 and 2010.

The recall was made after it was found that power steering sensors could malfunction when driving over bumps, making steering more heavy, a spokesman said, adding there had been no reports of accidents related to the issue.

The company said it would fix the necessary software on all cars.

The latest vehicles to be pulled by the auto giant follow a series of mass recalls of more than 10 million units worldwide announced in late 2009 and early 2010 that have undermined the company's image for safety.

The crisis prompted US congressional investigations as Toyota was hit with a record 16.4 million dollar fine to settle claims it had hidden accelerator pedal defects blamed for dozens of deaths.

Last month Toyota announced a global safety recall of about 1.5 million vehicles to fix a brake fluid leak that it warned can gradually diminish braking performance.

Analysts say Toyota has become more aggressive in catching possible defects as part of a campaign to improve its consumer image, but warn that continued frequent recalls continue to damage its branding as a quality carmaker.

Toyota in October said it had completed more than five million repairs on US vehicles affected by the series of recalls.

The automaker said about 80 percent of the 2.3 million US vehicles affected by the accelerator defect had been repaired while 86 percent of the 148,000 Prius and Lexus vehicles recalled for braking problems had also been fixed.

However, the fall-out from the crisis continues to affect the auto giant.

Lawyers of clients suing the automaker in the US said last month that Toyota secretly bought back some of the faulty vehicles it sold on the market in a bid to hide their defects from the public.

It has also been alleged that Toyota deliberately withheld information about claims its cars were prone to unintended acceleration from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and from its testimony at congressional hearings.

Last week rival Japanese automaker Nissan said it was recalling more than 2.1 million cars globally due to a faulty engine control system, in one of its biggest ever single recalls.

 

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