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2012-2013 Toyota Avalon, Camry, Venza Recalled for Airbag Flaw; 803,000 Vehicles Affected

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It seems like just yesterday that Toyota was issuing recalls for the 2013 Camry and Avalon -- but in fact, it was Monday. How time flies.

Way back then, Toyota was concerned about problems with the vehicles' windshield wiper system. Today's recall concerns something arguably more serious: airbags.

The new recall includes 2012 and 2013 models of the Toyota Avalon, Avalon Hybrid, Camry, Camry Hybrid, and Venza. The company estimates that 803,000 vehicles in the U.S. are affected.

The problem with those vehicles stems from the condenser for the a/c system. According to Toyota, "water from the air conditioning condenser unit housing could leak onto the airbag control module and cause a short circuit, resulting in illumination of the airbag warning light".

But the problem is worse than a dodgy dashboard light. Toyota says that the short circuit could disable a vehicle's airbags completely. Then again, it might also cause the airbags to deploy at random. Neither of those is good for safety.

To top it off, Toyota says that in some cases, water from the condenser could damage a communication line tied to the vehicle's power steering assist. If that were to happen, the car could lose power steering functionality, becoming much more difficult to maneuver.

Toyota hasn't issued a timeline for the recall, but the company says that owners of affected vehicles will receive notices by mail. At that time, they'll be able to take their vehicles to a Toyota dealer, who'll apply sealant and a cover to the condenser unit, preventing any future problems.

If you have questions in the meantime, we recommend a visit to  Toyota.com/recall, or you can place a call to the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 800-331-4331. Now that the federal government is up and running again, you might also be able to get details from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888-327-4236 -- but don't count on it just yet.

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