While the BP oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico may have shifted the media spotlight away from from Toyota's recall problems over the last several months, that doesn't mean the crisis has ended. One of two new recalls announced by the automaker today covers 373,000 second-generation Toyota Avalon models built between the 2000 and 2004 model years. The other concerns 39,000 Lexus LX 470 SUVs built between the 2003 and 2007 model years.
According to the Japanese automaker, the Avalon's 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.jQuery191042640364707548806_1392569193999 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.
Toyota also claims that no accidents have resulted from the problem with the Lexus LX 470. According to Toyota, a snap ring that retains two sections of the SUV's steering column can get dislodged following a heavy impact on the front wheels of SUV, such as hitting a severe pothole. Without the snap ring in place, using the steering can result in the column working itself free. Toyota says a redesigned snap ring will keep the part where it belongs. LX owners can expect to see notifications in their mailbox starting in about two weeks.