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Toyota to recall 6.4 million vehicles with defects

Toyota said it would service 1.3 million US vehicles to fix an air bag defect and 472,500 vehicles to fix a problem with seats.

ANDREW GOMBERT/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Toyota said it would service 1.3 million US vehicles to fix an air bag defect and 472,500 vehicles to fix a problem with seats.

TOKYO — Toyota, the world’s largest carmaker, called back more than 6 million vehicles to fix a range of safety defects in one of the biggest recall announcements in automotive history.

The company found five types of safety hazards in vehicles including such top sellers as the Camry sedan, RAV4 sport-utility vehicle, and Corolla compact car, according to a statement Wednesday. The carmaker is not aware of any injuries or fatalities linked to the defects, it said.

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The announcement, covering years as far back as 2006, is a sign of a more aggressive approach to recalls at Toyota, analysts said. Last month, the Justice Department ended a four-year investigation of the automaker, imposing a $1.2 billion criminal penalty after finding that the company concealed information about defects that caused sudden, unintended acceleration in several models. The penalty was the largest ever levied on an automaker.

“They’re making a very bold statement that they’re going to stay on top of those recalls, no matter what the impact,” said Alec Gutierrez, a senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book, an automotive research firm. “Toyota took this opportunity to say ‘We are going to go through the list of all the known problems, and issue as many recalls as necessary.’”

There was no indication that US safety regulators had opened any investigations.

The largest recall involves 3.5 million vehicles equipped with a spiral cable that can be damaged when the steering wheel turns. The frayed cable could cause a warning light to illuminate and could deactivate air bags.

Another recall is aimed at repairing seat rails containing springs that could break, particularly when seats are frequently adjusted. When the springs break, the seat will not lock in place and could move in a crash, increasing the risk of injury, the company said.

A third recall involves fixing steering column brackets installed in some European and Asian models that can become unstable when the steering wheel is repeatedly turned with maximum force.

The other recalls address problematic windshield-wiper motors and the possibility of fires in starter motors. Those problems are confined to models sold in Asia, Toyota has said.

Of the vehicles being recalled in the United States, Toyota said it would service 1.3 million to fix the air bag defect and 472,500 vehicles to fix their seats.

In its report to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Toyota said it began tracking the problem with air bags in 2011 because of an increase in customer complaints.

While the air bag wiring was used on many Toyota models, the company concluded in 2012 that certain characteristics of its Tacoma pickup made failures more likely. It recalled about 481,000 Tacomas in the United States later that year.

The automaker continued to track the issue, and this month concluded that a wider recall was necessary, according to its filing.

Material from The New York Times, Bloomberg News, and Washington Post was used in this report.
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