Toyota announced today that it is recalling 54,217 vehicles sold in Japan that could possibly catch fire if parked and left running. The recall affects two models, the Harrier SUV and Windom sedan (known as the Lexus RX and ES, respecitvely, in North America). Apparently there's a possible defect in each vehicle's computer control system that could cause it to malfunction and catch fire. Two vehicles have reportedly went up in flames on account of this defect and 26 complaints about the vehicles have been filed. The units being recalled were produced between December 1997 and November 2000, and Toyota insists none were exported for sale.

The Big T has been blasted in the media this year for performing a higher than normal number of recalls yet still maintaining an image of impeccable quality throughout its brands. One wonders at what point that image will begin to fade if the recalls continue. Toyota's announcement today further justifies Ford's decision yesterday to delay the delivery of Edge and MKX crossovers to dealers until problems with the manufacturing process could be ironed out. It's always best to deal with issues in the factory rather than shifting them over to the owner's driveway.

[Source: International Herald Tribune, Associated Press]
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