Toyota recall: Frozen steering wheel in nearly half-million Avalon, Lexus models

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The vast recall of cars and trucks manufactured by Toyota during the past months has increased again with the announcement Thursday the Japanese carmaker is recalling nearly another half-million vehicles with steering wheel problems.

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The recall affects 412,000 vehicles in the U.S. — 373,000 Avalon sedans and 39,000 Lexus LX 470 SUVs. The recall is Toyota’s largest since announcing last April it would fix 600,000 Sienna minivans because of rusting spare tire holders.

Toyota’s massive quality control problems began last October when it announced a recall of 5.3 million cars and trucks to fix floor mats that can trap pedals and cause unintended acceleration.

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Several additional recalls have followed — sticky gas pedals to braking problems with the Prius hybrid to rusting frames in the Tacoma pickup.

With the latest problem, Toyota has now recalled about 9.5 million cars and trucks in the U.S. since October. Some recalls have affected models as old as the 1998 model year.

According to statistics compiled by Wards AutoInfoBank and announced reported by the Associated Press about 39 percent of the 24.1 million Toyota vehicles sold in the U.S. since 1998 have been recalled.

The Avalons recalled in the U.S. range from the 2000 model year through to 2004 and have improper casting of the steering lock bar. It’s the component that locks the steering wheel when the vehicle is shut off. If faulty, a crack can form on surface and eventually make the steering wheel difficult to unlock when stationary.

Three unconfirmed accidents with no injuries have been reported because of the problem, Toyota said.

Toyota is recalling the 2003-2007 Lexus LX 470 models years to fix a different steering shaft problem, which could cause loss of steering control.

For both repairs, customers will begin receiving letters in August asking them to bring their cars to dealers.

The LX 470 problem also affects 9,670 vehicles in Japan, two Land Cruiser models. Toyota is recalling another 6,750 vehicles in Japan, a sedan called the Pronard, for a problem similar to that experienced by the Avalon.

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