The AP reports, “Toyota recalled 1.33 million Corolla sedans and Matrix hatchbacks in the US and Canada Thursday because their engines may stall,” noting that this is one of the largest Toyota recalls since its safety crisis began last year. Meanwhile, GM “is recalling 200,000 Pontiac Vibes in North America due to the same problem, GM spokesman Alan Adler said. The Vibe is similar to the Matrix and was built under a joint venture between Toyota and GM at a now-closed factory in Fremont, Calif.” The AP adds that NHTSA “has been investigating the possibility of engine stalling in the Corolla and Matrix models since late November.”
Bloomberg News reports that NHTSA has said that the defect “could cause stalling ‘at any speed without warning.’” The recall covers model years 2005 to 2008, and follows “at least three reported accidents linked to the defect. The action adds to record recalls in the past year by Toyota City, Japan-based Toyota, including more than 8 million vehicles worldwide for flaws related to unintended acceleration.” Bloomberg notes that NHTSA “upgraded its investigation of the defect to an engineering analysis,” last week, “a step that can lead the agency to demand a recall. The regulator said cracks in engine control units could occur if improperly cured coating was applied to circuit boards.”
The New York Times notes that this is Toyota’s 15th recall this year, adding that NHTSA opened its investigation into the issue in December. “On Thursday, Toyota attributed the problem to improper manufacturing of the vehicles’ engine control modules, which allowed cracks to develop at certain solder points or in a protective coating on the circuit board. Dealers will replace the control modules, which were made by the Delphi Corporation, a process expected to take about 40 minutes for each vehicle, Toyota said.”
From the American Association for Justice news release.
(In an unrelated note, I read that in Afghanistan, 90% of all automobiles are Toyota Corollas! There is a long explanation having to do with a reluctance to be seen in U.S. or European vehicles, and with the endurance of Corollas. Whatever the reason, that’s an astonishingly high percentage for one model from one manufacturer.)