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.
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.