2 New Steering-related Toyota Recalls

Well, it would appear that Toyota isn’t out of the recall woods yet.  The automaker is recalling a total of 412,000 vehicles built between 2000 and 2007.  Most of the recalled vehicles are Toyota Avalons, but about 10% of them are Lexus LX 470s.  The issues are different between the two vehicles, but both can lead to loss of vehicle direction control.  Toyota says that neither problem has caused any accidents.  Continue reading for more details.  If this reminds you of a recent event involving the Corolla, you’re correct, although Toyota says it wasn’t a defect, but will fix Corolla owners’ issues anyway.

2004 Toyota Avalon

The lion’s share of the two recalls is for 373,000 examples of the 2000-2004 Toyota Avalon sedan.  It involves improper production of the “steering bar,” which is used as part of the locking mechanism that keeps the steering wheel from turning when the vehicle is parked.  Due to improper casting of the part, a crack can develop and over time get worse.  This may result in the bar moving while the car is in motion, and certain steering angles line up a hole in the steering column with this steering bar, meaning the steering could be locked at a certain angle while the car is in motion.  If this issue pops up while the car is parked, it could make it impossible to unlock the steering wheel, in effect disabling the car.

Definitely not good, this shows another quality control failure on Toyota’s part, albeit one that is hard to spot when the car is being built.  Perhaps if Toyota had spent more time with pre-production Avalons, they could have avoided this issue?

Toyota will begin notifying owners of affected vehicles in late August, and will be replacing the steering column bracket at no charge to customers.

2007 Lexus LX 470

The smaller of the two recalls, for 39,000 Lexus LX 470 SUVs, involves those built between 2003 and 2007.  Apparently, a large enough impact to the front wheels, say hitting a deep pothole, can cause a snap ring to come off.  This ring holds two parts of the steering column together, so once it’s dislodged, using the steering can cause the two parts to work themselves free, causing complete loss of control over vehicle direction.  While Toyota says they have no reports of accidents due to this problem, I can see how it would easily result in LX 470s running off the road or into oncoming traffic.

Toyota will be notifying affected Lexus owners starting in mid-August, and their vehicles will be receiving a new snap ring and another component designed to prevent separation of the steering shaft.


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