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 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.

Share This Photo X