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Toyota mulling fix for possible engine defect

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Toyota mulling fix for possible engine defect

Automotive News Europe -- July 1, 2010 10:16 CET

TOKYO (Reuters) -- Toyota Motor Corp. said it is considering taking steps to eliminate possible engine failure in as many as 270,000 cars, as the world's largest automaker continues to ramp up its safety oversight following a string of recalls.

The company is considering "some kind of measure" that could be a recall -- depending on a decision from regulators -- on some of its eight high-end models, including Lexus and Crown sedans, with 4.6 liter and 3.6 liter engines, a Toyota spokeswoman said on Thursday.

Some of these vehicles could have a problem with the valve spring in their engines which may cause idling trouble that could lead to engine failure, though no accidents have been reported, she continued.

Investors would shrug off the news as the cost of any recall is expected to be limited and as recalls are not generally viewed negatively as long as they are carried out swiftly after problems emerge, said Yoshihiko Tabei, an analyst at Kazaka Securities in Tokyo.

"It's not as if there has been an accident caused by the possible defect. Investors are not worried as long as carmakers act quickly to address quality problems," he said, adding that focus in the auto sector is currently on labor disputes at parts suppliers in China.

Reliability jolted

Toyota has recalled more than 10 million vehicles worldwide since last September, most for the potential of unintended acceleration, jolting the firm known for its reliability.

Last Friday, Lexus told U.S. safety regulators it was halting sales and recalling about 17,000 Lexus HS250h gasoline-electric hybrid sedans due to a potential fuel leak.

Toyota acted following a U.S. government crash test that showed fuel leaking after the vehicle was struck from the rear by a car traveling about 50 miles per hour.

About 13,000 model year 2010 HS250h vehicles were sold in the United States, and about 17,000 have been built to sell in the U.S. market, Toyota told its U.S. Lexus dealers in a letter last Friday.

Toyota's own crash test did not show the fuel leak problem. The automaker, in the letter to U.S. Lexus dealers, said it was trying to understand why the government tests showed the fuel leakage problem while the company's own crash tests did not.

The automaker told dealers it has not received any reports of injuries or accidents linked to the potential problem with the HS250h sedan. The Nikkei business daily reported that Toyota said there were no reported accidents related to the 460LS issue, either.

Toyota is investigating the cause and would likely need to replace engine-related parts or upgrade control software, the daily said.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100701/COPY/307019969/1292#ixzz0sRi6iVzw

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