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Big Surprise: Toyota Announces Yet Another Recall

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On: Wed, Jun 29, 2011 at 2:44PM | By: Andrew W Davis

Big Surprise: Toyota Announces Yet Another Recall

It’s over. Simple as that. Toyota’s reputation for being the go-to brand for thrifty reliability-seeking folks is over, opening the door for other makes to fill the gap.

This latest “voluntary safety recall” is on “certain 2006 and 2007 model year Highlander Hybrid and RX 400h vehicles” and involves 85,500 Toyota Highlander Hybrid and 36,700 Lexus RX 400h SUVs—45,500 in the U.S., Canada, Guam, and Puerto Rico, plus 15k in Europe and a little over 11k in Japan—being recalled “because some transistors were inadequately soldered.”

To see what that might mean for you, read on…

I find that when it comes to technical jargon, readers prefer that I paraphrase it. But the subject of this feature is serious enough that I’m going to give it to you straight from Toyota’s recall notice:

“The Intelligent Power Module (IPM) located inside the Hybrid System Inverter contains a control board with transistors. Certain transistors on the control boards in some of the subject vehicles were inadequately soldered and could be damaged from heat caused by a large current flow during high-load driving.

“If this were to occur, various warning lamps will illuminate on the instrument panel. In most cases the vehicle will enter a fail-safe driving mode, resulting in reduced power in which the vehicle can still be driven for short distances. In limited instances, the power supply circuit fuse could blow when the transistor is damaged. If the fuse blows, the hybrid system will stop and the vehicle will coast to a stop.”

An official at Toyota I spoke with said that in the worst-case scenario situation—the “blowing” of the hybrid system’s power supply circuit fuse—the vehicle loses all power (versus "limping home") as the gasoline engine cannot power the vehicle’s wheels on its own. Should the hybrid system fail completely it will render the vehicle dead in the water.

As for its plans to correct the problem, Toyota says that it’s “currently working on obtaining the necessary replacement parts. Once the replacement parts are available, we will notify owners. In the interim, owners of the involved vehicles will be notified of the recall by first class mail in mid-July, 2011.Once the replacement parts have been produced in sufficient quantities, Toyota will send a second owner notification by first class mail advising owners to make an appointment with an authorized Toyota dealer to have the IPM inspected and if necessary replaced at no charge.”

This is the second time in mere months that the Highlander Hybrid has been subject to recall, with “certain 2007 and 2008 model year” vehicles pulled for“potentially faulty Curtain Shield Airbag Sensor Assemblies” at the end of April.

Detailed information and answers to questions are available to customers at www.toyota.com/recall and the Toyota Customer Experience Center (800-331-4331) or www.lexus.com/recall and Lexus Customer Satisfaction (800-255-3987).

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