The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has ruled that Toyota must recall nearly 160,000 Tundra pickups built between 2003 and 2005 in order to deactivate the front-seat passenger air bag cut-off switch in each truck. The Tundras fail to meet an NHTSA regulation that requires vehicles equipped with air bag cut-off switches to also have LATCH (lower anchorages and tethers for children) systems. Deactivating the cut-off switches was deemed less expensive than retrofitting the Tundras with the LATCH system.

Toyota had petitioned the NHTSA to waive the regulation in this case, but on June 28th the administration denied its request. The voluntary recall will begin in September after Toyota engineers the parts necessary to deactivate the cut-off switch. With the switch deactivated, the Tundra's front-seat passenger air bag will always deploy and it will not be safe to place a child seat there from now on. 2006 model year Tundras come with their air bag cut-off switches deactivated from the factory.

While we don't know what the cost of the parts used in the recall will be, there will be two hours of labor per vehicle involved. At $100 per hour, a figure quoted by The Detroit News, the recall will cost Toyota at least $16 million.

[Source: The Detroit News]