• Jul 6th 2010 at 1:01PM
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Defective Lexus valve spring – Click above for high-res image gallery

According to Bloomberg, Toyota has known about issues with valve springs in its V8 and V6 engines since 2007. The news confirms the information we received from an anonymous source within the company. Toyota says that the earliest complaints came from customers in Japan, but the company felt that the issue was fairly rare and didn't order a recall. Now that it has become clear that the issue isn't a fluke, the automaker has issued a recall in Japan and will notify the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration of the problem this week.

Toyota says that the defect is caused by the presence of contaminates within the spring material. The company has since addressed the problem by building the valve springs thicker than what was originally specified, and so far, the fix seems to be working.

Toyota says that around 270,000 vehicles are affected by the faulty springs, and of those, around 138,000 Lexus models are in the US.



[Source: Bloomberg]


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  • 50 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      So many of quality perception down the drain.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm no particular Toyota fan, although primarily just because they make soulless appliances, but let's step back and think about this for a second.

      How many incidences of valve spring breakage becomes the tipping point at which you explore a recall, whether silent or formal? Three? One tenth of one per cent?

      Whether it's hardware or software, if it's complex, and if you are producing a very large number of them (or have a very large number of customers/users for software), it's pretty much expected that there will be some unexpected failures. The first time it appears, it's hard to rule out simple reasons or one-off variability. If you see more instances, you have to question the process, but what is that threshold?

      I'm also not arguing that ALL the manufacturers try to avoid the hassles and expense of recalls, but I don't want them trying to issue recalls the very first time something fails. There's probably not enough real data available for them to figure out why the failure occurred and how to prevent it from happening again.

      Clearly, Toyota has at least a perceived problem in setting the threshold too high, but that doesn't necessarily mean they start off with evil intentions.
      • 5 Years Ago
      So, lets see....

      The unions and government joined forces to create a secret underworld whereby they could get the spring manufacturers to nick the valve springs, then get them past Toyota QA, installed into specific vehicles, made sure via Vulcan Mind Meld that the springs broke so they could then send out the black helicopters to make sure the owners filed reports...all as part of the Master Plan to get unions into TMC manufacturing facilities?

      If you REALLY believe that-and they are that good, maybe we do need them in power?
      We could have an election, but I am guessing they have already hatched a plan to thwart that by swimming 3000 meters under the sea and destroy an oil rig off the coast, so that we won't have fuel to drive to an election site.....
      • 5 Years Ago
      "LEXUS, the relentless pursuit of perfection". Relentless, yes relentless d^%$ you! Perfection, yes perfection! heehee...
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is the problem with Toyota, they know of these certain safety issues years ago , but ignore them and putting the life's of the people who are unfortunate enough to be stuck in these Toyota's/Lexus's . I am sure after accidents resulting from this, those people will never buy Toyota/Lexus junk again !

      I think Nada needs to lower again the resales of Toyota and Lexus automobiles values more , as these are nothing but junk and the price should reflex the cheapness of these unsafe unreliable cars from Toyota./Lexus!

      Toyota/lexus needs to wake up and stop ignoring saftey on teir auto's..Toyota motor company is without a doubt the GM of the 80's...I know TMC has it loyal buyers but their getting older and you don't see many young people looking at TMC auto's because in this information age one can find the truth about how unsafe toyotas really are, even scion sales are slipping from what they were before at the beginning of it;s lifes and scion cars are ugly and outdated looking as well
      • 5 Years Ago
      Please stop saying "National Highway Transportation Safety Administration" in all these posts. It's "TRAFFIC Safety Administration," and it's beginning to look unprofessional.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Another day, another sneak attack cover-up by Toyota. And, yet again, it's a critical part that affects the safety and/or reliability of the vehicle. If this does not prove that the Toyota Production Method must employ cheat and sneak to save some Yen, what does?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Just do what I do, I change my springs every other oil change just to be safe.

      It's so easy, why wouldn't you?

      : P

      If you commented on this story you need a life.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Berl,

      No, as much evil and greed that the UAW goons stand for, they did not do this to Toyota. This is an example of when the bean-counters decided to prioritize market-share over safety and reliability (not that Toyota was particularly distinguished in either quality to begin with).

      Even Consumer Reports cannot ignore the sinking ship that is Toyota. What will it take for you to see the same?
      • 5 Years Ago
      "...the earliest complaints came from customers in Japan, but the company felt that the issue was fairly rare and didn't order a recall."

      It still is an extremely rare occurrence - even those with the affected valve springs may never experience any issues, but they are trying to keep on top of things by issuing a recall.
      • 5 Years Ago
      yep now toyota is no worse than anyone... whereas before the lemmings claimed they were above reproach.

      Yet another example of this POS company ignoring defects while funneling foreign money home to the empire... lmao.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I don't see how doing a full recall on 270,000 cars is "ignoring" the problem. The cars were under warranty anyways since the models affected were new cars-model year 2006-2008 cars. So even the oldest affected car would only be 4 years old. Their power train warranty (which covers the engine) is 6 years and 72,000 miles so almost every single car would have already been covered by Lexus. And maybe the one unlucky guy who managed to put more than 72,000 miles on a 3 year old car will get reimbursed anyways-in a pretty brief period of time too since it's very unlikely that anybody put more than 72,000 miles on one of the recalled cars until recently.
        Basically they covered everything under warranty, and now that the warranty will start running out for more people they're doing a full recall since they've determined that the failure rate is high enough that a recall should be done. How is that ignoring the problem? They studied the failure rate data and examined the broken springs over the last few years to figure out what was going on and now they're fixing it. Would it have been nicer if there was never a recall? Of course, but the spring issue doesn't even usually make the cars undriveable unless you ignore the fact that your motor is running rough instead of taking it in for a warranty repair.
        Toyota is stepping up and fixing the problem instead of ignoring it like a lot of other manufacturers do.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "while funneling foreign money home" Exactly.

        So these lemmings should not complain when the US economy stays in the toilet, gov't funding dries up, taxes rise, services fall, standard of living falls. Keep driving your Toyotas and Hondas, but then you give up your right to complain.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Contaminated valve spring material is the bane of high performance springs...this is well known to automakers and high performance engine builders. As is surface preparation. Clumsy assembly (clown drops spring on concrete floor...nicks spring...spring breaks due to fatigue failure after 30K cycles).

      You simply MUST have a reliable source of ultrapure material to make valve springs.
      And thicker isn't necessarily better...it lowers the valve train resonance (that's valve float to you) frequency or rpm limit and doesn't necessarily extend the fatigue life significantly...as Toyota has found out!!

      Stupid is as stupid does.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The redline is conservative as is, and presumably remains conservative with the thicker springs. And given the lives of these Lexus engines, I wouldn't be too concerned of them operating at high engine loads and high engine speeds. Surely, it's not ideal, but it's probably not so bad.
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