Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Toyota recalls 310,000 SUVs for seatbelt problem

Toyota recalls 310,000 SUVs for seatbelt problem
Paul A. Eisenstein , The Detroit Bureau – 6 days

Toyota is recalling about 310,000 of its distinctive FJ Cruiser SUVs, the majority of which were sold in the United States, dues to a seatbelt problem.

The announcement is the latest in a series of safety-related problems for the maker which topped the list among manufacturers in terms of the number of vehicles it recalled in the U.S. for three of the last four years.

According to Toyota, the problem involves seatbelts that could fail because of excess wear.

"The seatbelt retractors for the driver and front passenger seat belts are mounted on the rear doors of the vehicles," Toyota explained in a press statement. "Due to insufficient strength of the rear door panel, cracks may develop over an extended period of time if the rear door is repeatedly and forcefully closed."

A total of 310,000 of the brawny vehicles are involved in the latest recall which covers the 2007 through 2013 model-years. Of those, 209,000 were sold in the U.S., while another 52,000 were in the Middle East. Other countries involved in the recall are Canada, Australia, China and various parts of Latin America and Oceania.

The automaker says it will notify owners once it comes up with a specific solution for the problem, and repairs will be made at no cost. Owners can find out more at www.toyota.com/recall or by calling 1-800-331-4331.

The newest recall comes less than two months after the maker called back more than 1 million vehicles sold by its Toyota and Lexus brands due to problems including defective airbags and faulty windshield wipers.

While the various Toyota brands continue to top most charts in terms of initial quality and longer-term reliability, Toyota has had an ongoing problem when it comes to safety-related recalls. The maker was stung by a series of issues related to so-called unintended acceleration in 2009 and 2010 and has been forced to recall more vehicles than any other manufacturer during three of the last four years. In 2012, that involved 3.9 million vehicles.

The maker has also been repeatedly fined for failing to meet federal recall guidelines and recently agreed to take steps to improve its response when safety issues are discovered.

With the latest service action, Toyota’s recall count for 2013 is already over 1.2 million in the U.S. alone.

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