Toyota has issued a number of recalls affecting vehicle owners in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. According to Detroit News, nearly 6.4 million vehicles are affected by the recalls, and at least 1.77 million of those are registered in the U.S.
To complicate matters, these millions of vehicles are being recalled for several different reasons. Toyota hasn't released complete details just yet, nor have there been any postings about the recalls from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But for U.S. vehicles, the recalls stem from two general problems.
AIRBAG SYSTEM FLAW
This is by far the bigger of the two problems plaguing Toyota's U.S. vehicles. According to the automaker, cables and electrical connections linked to the driver's side airbag system can become damaged when the steering wheel is turned. Should that happen, the airbag warning light will illuminate, and in some cases, the driver's airbag system may be deactivated, dramatically increasing the risk of injury during a collision.
Toyota says that the airbag flaw affects 1.3 million vehicles in the U.S., including:
Toyota says that only some of those models are affected by today's recall, but the automaker gives no indication what the criteria for inclusion might be.
Detroit News reports that the Pontiac Vibe is included in this recall, too, since Toyota created it as the same plant as General Motors created the Matrix, and the two are essentially identical. There's no mention of the Vibe in Toyota's release, however.
Toyota says it is working on a fix for the problem and will notify owners when the remedy is ready. If you own one of the affected (or possibly affected) vehicles and have questions in the meantime, you're encouraged to visit Toyota.com/recall or call 800-331-4331.
SEAT LOCK FLAW
Simultaneously, Toyota has recalled roughly 472,500 U.S.-registered vehicles for problems with the driver's seats (and some passenger's seats). The recall affects three Scion and Toyota models:
In the seat rail of the driver seat of the involved vehicles and also the front passenger seat of three-door models, the springs used for the mechanism which lock the seat rail in its adjusting positions could break. This can happen if the seat is adjusted forward and/or rearward with high frequency. If a seat rail spring breaks, the seat may not lock into the adjusted position. If the vehicle is operated with a broken seat rail spring, the seat could move in the event of a crash, increasing the risk of injury to the occupant.
The automaker says that there may be special cause for concern if owners notice that their seats will not lock in position, or, in some cases, can only move forward.
A remedy is in the works, but it's not ready yet. If you own one of the affected vehicles, you'll be notified when the recall begins in earnest. Should you have questions, check out Toyota.com/recall or call 800-331-4331.
It's important to note that Toyota knows of no accidents or injuries associated with the problems underlying these two recalls. Perhaps given the recent $1.2 billion fine levied against Toyota for its response to unintended acceleration claims, the company is being more proactive on the recall/repair front.