• Jul 29th 2010 at 8:25AM
  • 74
2003 Toyota Avalon XLS – click above for high-res image gallery

Toyota Motor Corporation's recall woes have resurfaced today with official word that the company will recall some 373,000 second-generation Toyota Avalon models built between the 2000 and 2004 model years.

According to the Japanese automaker, the full-size sedans' steering lock bars can crack, eventually leading to a break. If that failure occurs, the steering column interlock system can become difficult to unlock when parked, potentially disabling the vehicle. Worse, if the driver is in a right-hand turn with "sufficient lateral acceleration," under very specific conditions, the damaged lock bar can actually engage, locking the steering wheel and disabling steering control of the vehicle, a condition that increases the likelihood of an accident.

For its part, Toyota says it is unaware of any crashes stemming from the Avalon's steering interlock issue, and it will replace the steering column bracket in affected vehicles for free. The complete press release is available after the jump.

[Source: Toyota]

Show full PR text
Toyota Announces Intent to Voluntarily Recall Certain Toyota Avalons to Replace Steering Column Bracket

TORRANCE, Calif., July 29, 2010 -- Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., today announced that it intends to conduct a voluntary safety recall involving approximately 373,000 2000-2004 Model Year Toyota Avalons sold in the United States to address the possibility that the vehicle's steering lock bar could break under certain conditions. No other Toyota or Lexus vehicles are involved in this recall.

This action follows an announcement made by Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan on July 29, 2010.

Because of improper casting of the steering lock bar, which is a component of the steering interlock system, there is a possibility that a minute crack may develop on the surface. Such a crack may expand over a long period of repeated lock and unlock operations, and eventually the lock bar could break. If this occurs, the interlock system may become difficult to unlock when stationary.

If the vehicle while being driven is steered to the right with sufficient lateral acceleration, a broken and loose lock bar may move toward the steering shaft. If the engagement hole in the shaft happens to line up at the specific time the broken lock bar has moved, this could cause the steering wheel lock bar to engage, locking the steering wheel, and increasing the risk of a crash.

Steve St. Angelo, Toyota chief quality officer for North America, said, "Toyota is continuing to work diligently to address safety issues wherever they arise and to strengthen our global quality assurance operations so that Toyota owners can be confident in the safety of their vehicles."

As part of the recall, Toyota will replace the steering column bracket on involved vehicles, a procedure that takes about two hours to complete depending on the dealer's schedule. Toyota will notify owners by first class mail beginning in late August 2010 to bring their vehicles to their local Toyota dealer for replacement of the steering column bracket at no charge to the customer.

Detailed information and answers to questions are available to customers at www.toyota.com/recall and at the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      AARP is not going to like this one.

      Tsk tsk tsk
        • 5 Years Ago
        but...wouldn't this mean that - finally - they're correct to be driving for miles with their turn signal on?
      • 5 Years Ago
      driv... i mean buyer's fault!
      • 5 Years Ago
      A car that wants to make a permanent right turn.

      Toyota is the anti-NASCAR!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      12:29AM (7/30/2010)
      How often does anybody actually lock their steering wheel anyway? Seriously, who turns their steering wheel after parking nowadays?!
      1) Nobody does. The car does it automatically when you pull the key out. Been doing it for decades.
      2) Again, you don't. The article said the steering lock could engage during a hard right turn WHILE DRIVING.

      (be sure brain is engaged before putting keyboard in gear)
        • 5 Years Ago
        The car prepares the steering lock but the steering lock isn't actually engaged unless you turn your steering wheel AFTER putting it in park and pulling the keys out. It's pretty ridiculous for you to try and correct me on this when you apparently don't know how the steering lock works in a Toyota.
        And secondly, I fully understand that the risk is that the lock will engage during a hard right turn. If you had read the article you'd see that you need a lot of lateral G forces, and for that matter the lock is really only engagable if you turn the steering wheel quite far. Which is why I pointed out that the reason why it hasn't actually happened even though there are 373,000 cars affected is that nobody who owns an Avalon would whip the steering wheel all the way to the right at high speed-nobody drives an Avalon like that, and frankly if you do drive like that the steering wheel lock will be the least of your problems since you'll be flying off the road into the trees.
        Making it sound like it's some deadly recall that'll kill you if you in your sleep is absurd. Nobody's gotten in an accident, nobody's died, but the Toyota haters are on board making it sound like it's doomsday. Meanwhile over 900,000 friggin' Ford minivans, carrying families with little kids can completely lose steering function-but for the Ford minivans half the autoblog commenters make idiotic claims that it's all the owners fault for not "maintaining" their cars right-since when was making sure that your steering components weren't about to explode part of regular maintenance? Or they claim that it's because the cars are "too old" so Ford shouldn't have to recall them. Except those minivans are almost the exact same age as these Avalons (1999-2003 vs 2000-2004). So why the hilariously bad double standard?
        If you don't like Toyota for whatever reason that's one thing, but to go around typing up crazed claims about recalls that haven't hurt anyone, while pretending like the other car manufacturers don't have problems just as bad is just lying to yourself about why you don't like Toyota. Their cars are no less safe than other brands, and if you look at actual death statistics you'd know that you're much less likely to die in a Toyota than in most other car brands.
        Here's a 2007 study on death rates by vehicle:
        Of the 10 vehicles you're least likely to die in, six of them are Toyotas. Of the 10 vehicles you're most likely to die in? Zero. And you were THIRTY THREE times as likely to end up dead driving a Chevy Blazer than a 4Runner.

        You know what makes these statistics even more impressive for Toyota? The fact that their cars are also driven by some seriously elderly people, who are much more easily fatally injured in car crashes. But even though the ES330 is obviously a geriatric-mobile, almost nobody manages to die in them.

        Recalls or not, the real numbers don't lie-you don't get to having six of your cars on the 10 safest list by building death traps. Real world crashes actually involve even more factors than what crash tests will reveal-not all accidents are exactly 50% offset frontal crashes, not all accidents are the precise 90 degree side impacts that you get in the crash tests. Toyota engineers for real world accidents, and it shows. So you can hate on Toyota all you want, but at least try to find a real reason for it instead of trying to make it sound like a recall that's caused zero accidents makes Toyotas less safe to drive, when in reality you're much less likely to die in a Toyota than most other cars.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Damn, these guys can't build anything right!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Ok...we're in the year 2000 for the recall. I'm getting a little nervous now. I have a 1997 Toyota Camry with 265,000 miles on it and going strong. Does anyone know any reason why my 1997 Camry might come up on the endangered car list?
      • 5 Years Ago
      lol @ Toyota
        • 5 Years Ago
        How often does anybody actually lock their steering wheel anyway? Seriously, who turns their steering wheel after parking nowadays?!
        • 5 Years Ago
        If he bows down any further he's gonna be in the same position as his shareholders.

        • 5 Years Ago
        The two funniest replies to a post this month. I almost dropped my coffee.

        This is the problem with sweeping everything under the carpet. Sooner or later you are going to have to clean up the mess all at once. People have become so desensitized to the Toyota recall stories that it doesn't matter anyway.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If he bows any further Toyoda is going to fall over.
      Dale Holly
      • 5 Years Ago
      REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR!!! They lied to us then; they've lied to us since!!
      • 1 Year Ago
      I just experienced a gas surge while breaking to a stop while parking my 2003 Toyota Avalon.. The car leaped forward at great speed. My foot was not on the gas as it was on the break and slowing to a complete stop. I've been told that the gas pedal/floor mat has been a problem resulting in accidents and a recall of the 2004 models. I've not been able to locate any information on this recall. The only problem I've seen for recall is regarding the steering wheel. I would like to access any information about the gas pedal recall. Thanks
      • 5 Years Ago
      Turdyoda..............lol. could not have happened to a better car company..... say how's those brakes working for ya.......... best quality..... yea.... RIGHT. I key them when ever the chance is there................lol.........over 200 keyed and counting... love to do it to a turd on wheels..... ha ha ha.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "the damaged lock bar can actually engage, locking the steering wheel and disabling steering control of the vehicle, a condition that increases the likelihood of an accident."

      That's a subtle way of saying you're going to crash.
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