Toyota recalls thousands of cars with air bag defects, reveals testing issues

Toyota has issued an immediate do-not-drive advisory for the 2003-2004 Corolla, Corolla Matrix and 2004-2005 RAV4 vehicles due to a defect in the cars’ Takata air bags that could “explode and shoot sharp metal fragments” and seriously injure or kill drivers and passengers, it said in a statement.

Toyota said it will repair or replace these air bags free of charge and that the recall would affect at least about 50,000 vehicles in the United States. In Canada, 7,300 vehicles are being recalled for the same reason, the Canada Broadcasting Corporation reported. Toyota representatives in North America could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Takata air bags have caused at least 27 deaths and 400 injuries, according to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The recall comes amid multiple woes for the Japanese carmaker. On Monday, it said it would halt shipment of nine models, after learning that an affiliate misled Japanese government officials during engine certification tests. Around 36,000 vehicles of these types are produced worldwide every month, Jean-Yves Jault, a Toyota spokesman, said in an email.

The models affected in that hiccup include Toyota Land Cruiser 300 models sold from August 2021 in Africa, Asia and Europe; the Toyota Hilux pickup truck sold from May 2020 in Africa, Asia and Europe; and the Toyota Innova sold from July 2020 in Asia.

Toyota Industries Corporation, the affiliate, used diesel engine components containing software different from those “used for mass production” during certification tests. That made the engines’ horsepower values “appear smoother with less variation” during the tests, Toyota said in a news release.

Toyota said there is no need to stop using the engines or vehicles because they still “meet engine performance output standards.”

Toyota chief Koji Sato bowed at a news conference this week to apologize.

The Japanese Transportation Ministry expressed deep regret about the findings, saying they “shake the foundation of the automobile certification system.” It will further investigate the matter and will take strict action, it added in a news release.

Toyota recalls 1.85 million RAV4s, citing fire risk

A different Toyota affiliate, Daihatsu Motor Co., said last month that it may have committed “irregularities” in more than two dozen certification tests. That revelation persuaded Daihatsu to suspend shipments of all of its models worldwide. Last week, Daihatsu announced a recall of Pixis Joy models sold by Toyota, saying a defect could cause all doors of the vehicle to lock during a collision and hamper rescue efforts. More than 34,000 vehicles were affected.

On Tuesday, Toyota reported sales worldwide of more than 10 million vehicles in 2023. Its affiliate Daihatsu said it sold more than 790,000 vehicles during the same year.

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