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The 2003 Toyota Sequoia (Toyota).

Toyota Motor Company announced Wednesday that it would issue a safety recall for some 2003 Toyota Sequoia SUVs in order to upgrade software in the Sequoia’s Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system. The recall affects approximately 50,000 vehicles.

According to a Toyota press release, the present VSC system in the Sequoia could activate while traveling at low speeds, around 9 MPH, after accelerating from a stop. When the VSC activates, the vehicle may not accelerate as quickly as it should. The updated programming should cure the problem.

“Toyota is committed to investigating customer complaints more aggressively and to responding quickly to issues we identify in our vehicles,” said the statement from Steve St. Angelo, the Chief Quality Officer for Toyota in North America.

The language used here betrays Toyota’s concern in improving the way it handles safety issues and recalls. The company was fined over $16 million by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration earlier this month for failing to disclose a known defect.

Toyota will begin mailing letters to all 2003 model year Sequoia owners in late May to inform them of the recall. For more information, Sequoia owners can contact Toyota at www.toyota.com/recall or call 800-331-4331.

SUV Testing

The Sequoia recall comes at a curious time, shortly after Toyota announced it would be retesting all its SUV and Crossover models in the wake of safety concerns. The new safety tests were launched in response to Consumer Reports discovery of a defect in the VSC of the Lexus GX 460, which led to a recall on that model. According to Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons, however, the problem with the Sequoia was discovered as a result of customer complaints, independently from the safety testing.

The problem with the Lexus GX 460 was that the VSC system was not sensitive enough. Consumer Reports reported that the vehicle’s traction control did not deploy rapidly enough during some high-speed maneuvers, allowing the rear end to slide out, thus creating the possibility of a rollover accident. Toyota later confirmed that it had verified the report. The problem with the Sequoia, however, is that the VSC has proved to be too sensitive and has kicked in at low speeds.

According to Lyons, Toyota has completed the safety testing and found no problems with any other Toyota SUV or Crossover model.

“They were all fine,” he said.

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      • 4 Months Ago
      We still need to drill our own and stop depending on foreign oil, lafm2005!! alternative fuels also, but EVERYTHING together!!
      • 4 Months Ago
      What will the "drill baby dril" crowd say when the beaches in Florida, from Panama to Naples become awash in oil?
      • 4 Months Ago
      Once upon a time, as I was about to drive my new 2003 Sequoia from the dealership, the VSC system lights spontaneously illuminated. I turned around and, much to my dismay, made the first of many visits to the Service Department. A new VSC 'sensor' was ordered and installed. Eight years and 165,000+ miles later, this system has yet to operate as intended. Despite regular/routine maintenance and diligent automotive upkeep, this vehicle has presented me with 'one problem after another.' Within the first 5,000 miles, the entire electrical system had to be replaced. The state-of-the-art DVD player (installed by the Toyota dealership) quit working after less than two years. The factory 6-CD changer lasted less than three years. I've replaced door locks, door handles, electric window motors, the lock on the console compartment, the parking brake, numerous wheel bearings, several drive belts, and it's been nearly five years since I was able to lower the rear window. Currently, the rear-door lever is broken--the handle (outside the vehicle) broke from the apparatus that unlocks the door (inside the vehicle). The latter is a significant safety issue for passengers in the 'third row' seats: The rear-door lever is the ONLY way to open the rear door--there is no emergency release for the rear door. This long-time, loyal Toyota customer will not purchase another; I will be shopping elsewhere....