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Toyota halts sale of Lexus LS sedans

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Toyota halts sale of Lexus LS sedans

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington -- Toyota Motor Corp. will stop selling its Lexus LS sedans for about three weeks as it works to develop a fix for its steering system, the company said today.

On Friday, Toyota issued a recall affecting about 3,800 late 2009 model and some 2010 model year Lexus LS 460 and LS 600h L vehicles to address an issue with the steering system; the steering wheel can become off-centered. Toyota will install a new steering computer to address the problem.

Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons said the company was suspending sale of the vehicles on dealer lots until it comes up with repair parts, which likely won't be completed until late June.

But Toyota has fixed the problem in Japan, where the vehicles are assembled, and will be sending upgraded Lexus LS sedans that dealers can sell. Dealers should receive them by mid-June, Lyons said.

"If the steering wheel is fully turned in one direction to the end of its travel (full lock position) and then very quickly turned in the opposite direction, the driver may observe that the center position of the steering wheel is temporarily off-centered," Toyota said Friday in explaining the problem. The system corrects itself in about five seconds.

Toyota reacted after getting just one complaint, and has received no reports of injuries or accidents. Slammed by a series of problems, the company has been working to recall vehicles much faster and to be more responsive to consumer and regulator concerns.

Toyota also said it is recalling 4,500 vehicles in Japan for the same issue. It also is issuing recalls in other countries for the vehicles.

Toyota has sold roughly 4,000 LS sedans in the United States in 2010.

To avoid the condition, Toyota advised drivers against quickly turning the steering wheel in the opposite direction, especially if the steering wheel was turned to the full lock position.



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To avoid the condition, Toyota advised drivers against quickly turning the steering wheel in the opposite direction, especially if the steering wheel was turned to the full lock position.



Hey Mr. Consumer:

I know you're trying to avoid hitting the guardrail at 70mph since 0.25 seconds ago a drunk driver sideswiped you but can you please refrain from any sudden, unexpected movements with the steering wheel...? Actually try not to use the brakes either as it may cause some "sudden acceleration".

Thank you, Toyopet Inc.

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Toyota puts Lexus LS sales on hold during recall

By Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY

Toyota has stopped selling its flagship Lexus, the plush LS sedan, while it waits for parts to reach dealers so the recalled cars can be fixed.

A recall notice was issued on the LS on Friday to fix a steering deficiency. If a driver makes a sharp turn in the LS, the steering wheel may not return to its original position.

Though the stoppage won't mean much to Toyota in terms of the number of LS cars it sells — Lexus sold only about 4,000 in the first four months of the year — the move is another blow to its pride. The LS is the pinnacle of the Lexus brand, a big car with every feature that Toyota could dream up. The current version was the first with an eight-speed transmission and was first with a feature to parallel park itself. Prices range up to $108,800 for the hybrid version.

The recall notice issued Friday covered 3,800 LS models in the U.S. and a total of about 11,500 cars worldwide. The decision to stop selling the LS "is normal procedure if a (recall) remedy is not immediately available for a recall," Toyota spokesman Mike Michels said.

Last month, Toyota halted sales of another Lexus model, the GX 460, while a recall was underway to fix a defect that made it more susceptible to rollovers. In January, Toyota stopped selling eight models while it launched a giant recall to fix sticky gas pedals.

Added to Toyota's troubles, a Los Angeles Times story Sunday alleged that Toyota balked at repairing transmissions in 2002 to 2006 Lexus ES cars, a glitch that would result in hundreds of complaints and 49 injuries.

The car, the newspaper says in an investigative report, had a tendency to jerk forward.

In a statement, Toyota dismissed the findings of the Times story. It said that the issues involved customer preferences in terms of how the car drove, or "drivability," not safety issues.

Toyota recently paid a record $16.4 million fine for not being more aggressive in initiating a recall for sticky accelerator pedals.



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