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Nation & World

Toyota recalls 1 million of its Corollas and Lexus IS sport sedans

Toyota Motor Corp. has announced recalls of 1 million vehicles, including some models of its popular Toyota Corolla and its Lexus IS sports sedan.

About 752,000 Corolla and Corolla Matrix vehicles are being recalled to fix an airbag control module that is susceptible to short-circuiting that could eventually cause the front airbags and seat belt pretensioners to deploy when they shouldn’t.

The recall affects Corollas from the 2003 and 2004 model years. There have been two reported accidents and 18 injuries linked to the problem, said Brian Lyons, a Toyota spokesman.

For years, the Corolla has played a key role in Toyota’s sales success in the U.S. It was the second-best-selling compact car nationally last year with sales of 291,000 vehicles, second only to the Honda Civic, which sold about 318,000.

The Corolla was last redesigned in 2009. Toyota introduced a concept version of what is expected to become the new Corolla at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this month.

Toyota also said it will recall 270,000 IS sport sedans sold by its luxury Lexus division because a nut on the front windshield wiper arms could be insufficiently tight. If movement of the wipers is restricted by an external load, such as a buildup of heavy snow on the windshield, one or both of the wipers could stop working.

The recall includes vehicles from the 2006 model year through the beginning of the 2013 model year. There have been 25 reports of wipers not functioning correctly, but no reports of accidents as a result.

Toyota plans to roll out a new generation of the IS line this year.

Owners of vehicles covered by these safety recalls will be notified by mail. Dealers will fix the problems at no cost to the vehicle owner.

Toyota has had a series a large recalls in recent years and has paid record federal fines for not recalling its vehicles fast enough. But that doesn’t seem to bother buyers.

Toyota’s share of U.S. auto sales rose to 14.4 percent last year from 12.9 percent the year before. Globally, it recaptured the position as the world’s biggest auto seller last year, knocking General Motors from the No. 1 spot.

“Despite the flood of recalls, buyers continue to be extremely loyal to Toyota,” said George Cook, professor at the Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester. “Toyota is keenly aware of post-recall challenges and continues to be extremely proactive about announcing even the smallest of problems to ensure a positive consumer response.”


©2013 Los Angeles Times

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