Toyota has decided to recall 681,500 vehicles in the US dealing a blow to its efforts to rebuild its image after a number of safety issues in recent years.
The company is recalling 70,500 Camry and 116,000 Venza cars to fix silicon grease leaks that may cause starting problems.
Another 495,000 Tacoma vehicles need repairs to faulty steering wheels that may deactivate the driver’s air bag.
Toyota is the world’s third-largest carmaker.
“Toyota is currently obtaining the necessary replacement parts. Once the replacement parts are available, we will notify owners,” the carmaker said in a statement.
The recall comes at a time when Toyota is not just seeking to rebuild its brand image but also trying to win back its market share that it lost to competitors after last year’s earthquake and tsunami.
Its image took a beating after the carmaker, once known for its quality and safety controls, recalled almost 12 million vehicles over the past two-and-a-half years for various reasons.
There were 14 separate recalls in 2010 alone.
Analysts said while the latest announcement will hurt the company, it will not derail its recovery process.
“It looks bad for Toyota especially after the recall problems it has had in the past,” said Hans Greimel of Automotive News.
“But it is a road bump in their path to recovery and not a major road block.”
Toyota’s sales numbers were dented after it had to curb or suspend production last year, not just at its Japanese plants but also at its North American facilities, due to a shortage of parts after the twin natural disasters.
However, Toyota has returned to normal production and seen a revival in its sales in the US, one of its biggest markets.
According to the latest data, Toyota’s sales in the US increased by 12% in February versus last year. Analysts said the upward trend was likely to continue in the coming months despite the latest recall.
“We will see a lot of new products coming out this year and next year. That will do a lot to invigorate the brand,” said Hans Greimel.