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Another blow for Toyota as it recalls six million cars

Toyota, the world's biggest car maker, has launched its second-biggest recall on record, admitting that 6.4 million of its vehicles need to be returned to garages and throwing doubt over its ability to restore its smashed reputation for reliability.

The Japanese giant admitted that five separate production faults were the cause, taking the number of Toyota recalls beyond 25 million over the past two and a half years.

Some 3.5 million vehicles are being recalled to replace a spiral cable that could mean the airbag fails to activate in a crash. Another 2.32 million models might have faulty seat rails, causing the car seat to slide forward in a crash. Other problems affect the wiring, engine starters and windscreen wipers.

Toyota said it was not aware of any crashes or injuries caused by these glitches, which affect 27 of its models. Some 2.3 million of the affected vehicles are in the US, and another 1.4 million in Japan.

Some 35,000 UK cars are being recalled. These are the RAV4 and Hilux models bought between June 2004 and December 2010 and some Yaris and Urban Cruisers built between January 2005 and August 2010.

Just two months ago Toyota called 1.9 million of its most advanced Prius cars back to garages over a computer glitch in its hybrid power system.

Another 7 million Toyota vehicles were recalled in 2012 due to a fire risk connected to faulty window switches.

In 2009 the car maker faced serious safety questions after it was found that floor mats could trap the accelerator pedal of models including the RAV4 and Corolla, causing accidents that allegedly led to dozens of deaths around the world.

That recall battered the car giant's reputation and culminated in a record $1.2bn (£717m) fine from US prosecutors, agreed only last month. More private lawsuits are pending.

The latest news sent shares in Toyota down nearly 5 per cent, and comes as rival General Motors is being investigated for failing to act on a known ignition-switch defect linked to a dozen deaths. GM has recalled 1.6 million vehicles over the issue.