Toyota is recalling 7.5 million cars globally, and 2.5 million in the U.S. The recall is over a failed master switch that could cause a fire in the driver’s side door.
Toyota recall largest since 2010
The massive recall is the automaker’s largest since those in 2009 and 2010 over unintended accelerations. And it could portend still more recalls from other automakers. Both General Motors and Subaru are being investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the same issue. The automakers may share a parts supplier.
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Faulty master switch
The problem stems from the master switch that controls the windows, located in the driver’s side door. The switches may not have been greased evenly during the supplier’s production process. The lack of grease could cause friction on the switch that could ignite. The automaker said that the switch may stick before it becomes problematic.
The recall was prompted by more than 160 reports of door fires. Eight injuries have occurred as a result of those fires.
One driver told the NHTSA that problem started with smoke:
“The smoke immediately turned into flames, which caused poor visibility and complete panic. The flames caught the left side of my arm and started to burn my coat … After exiting the vehicle, the flames quickly increased and began shooting into the air.”
Grease is the word
The automaker says it will notify affected owners later in the month. At that time, owners will be able to take their vehicles to a local dealership, such as Sandy Springs Toyota in Atlanta, Ga. There the master switch will be inspected and greased, if needed.
If grease is all the vehicles are lacking, some owners are no doubt wondering if they might be able to just add some lubricant to the switch and be good to go. However, Toyota says that could be problematic. It said that “commercially available lubricants” could cause the switch to melt and that may also cause a fire.
The problem arises just as Toyota is recovering trust from its massive recalls of 2009 and 2010. Jeffrey Anderson, a director at Experian Automotive, said:
“Toyota has done an outstanding job of regaining customer trust and getting repeat customers into its showrooms.”
Toyota will have to tread lightly, however. Some of the models on the recall list have also been previously recalled for unintended acceleration.
List of models
Below is the complete list of models and model years affected in the recall.
2007 to 2008 Yaris (approx. 110,300)
2007 to 2009 RAV4 (approx. 336,400)
2007 to 2009 Tundra (approx. 337,100)
2007 to 2009 Camry (approx. 938,100)
2007 to 2009 Camry Hybrid (approx. 116,800)
2008 to 2009 Scion xD (approx. 34,400)
2008 to 2009 Scion xB (approx. 77,500)
2008 to 2009 Sequoia (approx. 38,500)
2008 Highlander (approx. 135,400)
2008 Highlander Hybrid (approx. 23,200)
2009 Corolla (approx. 270,900)
2009 Matrix (approx. 53,800)