157,000 vehicles recalled by Toyota Canada to fix airbags, wipers
The Toyota Motor Corp. logo is seen on a tire wheel of an Avensis sedan at Toyota's headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, Aug. 2, 2011. (AP / Shizuo Kambayashi)
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, January 30, 2013 6:15AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 30, 2013 9:19AM EST
TORONTO -- Toyota Canada said Wednesday it is recalling more than 157,000 vehicles to fix airbags and window wipers.
They include more than 140,000 Corolla and Matrix cars from 2003 and 2004 and almost 17,000 Lexus IS models from 2006 through 2012.
The Corolla and Matrix cars are being recalled because of concerns their airbags could be deployed inadvertently due to a possible short circuit in the control module.
The automaker also said the wiper arms of the Lexus vehicles may not be sufficiently tight and may stop working if their movement is restricted, by a buildup of snow for example.
Owners of the vehicles covered by these voluntary recalls will receive a letter via mail starting next month, it said.
It is part of a global recall of more than 1.3 million vehicles, including 752,000 in the United States.
Toyota Motor Corp. spokesman Naoto Fuse said two crashes were reported in the U.S. related to the air bag problem, but Toyota had not been able to confirm them. Fuse said it was unclear whether anyone had been injured in the two crashes. Toyota has confirmed 18 cases in the U.S. of abrasion-type injuries from the air bag problem, he said.
Initially, the Japanese automaker had said there were no accidents related to either problem. In total, it received 46 reports of problems involving the air bags from North America, and one from Japan, and 25 reports of problems related to the windshield wipers.
Toyota's reputation for top quality was undermined in the past few years by massive recalls for a spate of problems, including bad brakes, gas pedals and floor mats, mostly in the United States.
Executives have repeatedly promised to beef up quality controls and be quicker with recalls to repair Toyota's image.
Toyota's production was hit by the quake and tsunami in northeastern Japan in 2011, where key suppliers were located, but it has since recovered, seeing sales grow not only in the U.S. but also in Asia.
Earlier this week, Toyota released its tally for global vehicle sales last year at a record 9.75 million vehicles, regaining its spot as the world's No. 1 automaker from U.S. rival General Motors Co.
Toyota has announced some recalls in recent months, but they have been relatively minor, such as floor mats, and generally affect vehicles manufactured before its latest efforts to regain sterling quality.
Last month, Toyota agreed to pay more than $1 billion in the U.S. to settle lawsuits where vehicle owners said the value of their cars and SUVs plummeted after the company recalled millions of vehicles because of sudden-acceleration issues.
Executives say they are not admitting fault. But they acknowledge the company is eager to put the recall crisis behind it, and move ahead with sales growth in Asia as well as in the U.S.