Another Toyota recall adds Sequoia to a lengthy list

bumper to bumper traffic on Highway 101

The Toyota Sequoia recall is the latest known failure of SUV stability control and the latest addition to the growing Toyota recall list. Flickr photo.

Another Toyota recall has been issued. Wednesday, Toyota Motor Corp. announced a program to upgrade software to prevent a loss of control in turns for about 50,000 Toyota Sequoia SUVs made in early 2003. The Toyota Sequoia recall is yet another fire for Toyota’s public relations department to extinguish. The automaker has been hemorrhaging money and losing market share. The growing Toyota recall list adds insult to injury in an anemic market for new cars and trucks. Toyota Sequoia recall notices will start going out to affected owners next month.

Adding to the Toyota recall list

The Toyota Sequoia recall to fix the vehicles’ electronic stability control follows closely on the heels of a rare “don’t buy” rating for the Lexus GX 460 issued by Consumer Reports. Tests on the Lexus GX 460 performed by the magazine exposed defects in the electronic stability control that could cause a rollover of the SUV in everyday driving. After the Consumer Reports “don’t buy” rating, production of the Lexus GX 460 was suspended. Consumers are reluctant to get auto financing for Toyotas because of a parade of bad PR that started in 2009 with widespread reports of braking and unintended acceleration problems.

Reason for Toyota Sequoia recall

In the Toyota Sequoia recall announcement, Toyota said drivers in vehicles without the upgrade could experience the stability control system briefly activating at low speeds – less than 10 mph – as the Sequoia accelerates from a stop. This could prevent the vehicle from accelerating as fast as the driver expects. No injuries or accidents as a result of this condition have been reported so far. Electronic Stability Control is a computerized system that coordinates the brakes and accelerator to help maintain control in unexpected situations.

Toyota Sequoia recall now official

The Los Angeles Times reports that Toyota has known about the Sequoia  stability control problem for seven years. Toyota fixed the problem on later models financed with auto loans. Dealers have been taking care of individual owners of early 2003 Toyota Sequoias if they complained about the problem. An investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of electronic stability control malfunctions in Toyota Sequoias turned up 163 safety-related failure incidents in the last 18 months. The latest Toyota recall contributes to a total of about 10.5 million Toyota recall notices worldwide in the last seven months for problems ranging from unintended acceleration to braking and corrosion.

The Toyota recall list

A few weeks before the Toyota Sequoia recall announcement, the Consumer Reports warning not to get a car loan to buy a 2010 Lexus GX 460  led to a recall of 9,400  of the SUVs. Soon after, a Toyota recall, this time voluntary, was issued for about 600,000 Sienna minivans sold in the U.S. because of possible corrosion in the spare-tire carrier cable. But there’s more. Recently the federal government slapped Toyota with a record $16.4-million fine for failing to inform the public that gas pedals in eight models could stick and cause sudden acceleration. It was the largest fine on an automaker ever levied by the NHTSA.

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