TORRANCE, Calif. -- Toyota Motor Corp. plans to recall about 682,000 cars and trucks in the US to fix some stop lamp switches while remedying a separate problem with its pickups' steering wheel assemblies.
The news is the latest in a string of wide-ranging recalls over the past three years for the Japanese auto maker, which has struggled to regain its reputation for quality. The challenges prompted the company last year to launch an advertising campaign touting its safety values while offering two years of free dealer scheduled maintenance.
Toyota in November launched a separate safety recall involving about 283,200 Toyota and 137,000 Lexus vehicles to replace the crankshaft pulley on V6 engines.
On Wednesday, the auto maker disclosed an issue with about 495,000 Tacoma models ranging from 2005 to early 2009 that could prevent the trucks' driver-side airbags from inflating in a crash. Friction between the steering wheel's spiral cable and its assembly could cause it to lose connectivity to the driver's air bag module over time, the company said.
Toyota also plans to replace stop lamp switches on about 70,500 Camry vehicles and about 116,000 Venza vehicles after the company found silicon grease might have reached the inside of the switch during assembly in North America, causing an increase in electrical resistance. The flaw could cause the cars' warning lamps to light up, prevent the vehicles from starting or prevent shift levers from moving to the "park" position. Some of the vehicles' stop lamps might also stop working.
The recall covers some 2009 Camry models and certain Venzas ranging from 2009 to 2011. Owners of the vehicles will be notified by mail.
Toyota said it is still working to obtain replacement parts for the recalls. The company plans to notify owners of the affected Tacomas by mail in early April. Drivers can take the affected vehicles for repair free of charge when the parts become available.