Toyota Takes Another Hit: Recalls 1.53 Million Vehicles

TOKYO – Toyota is recalling 1.53 million vehicles mostly in the U.S. and Japan, for brake fluid and fuel pump problems, the latest in a string of quality problems for the Japanese automaker.

Over the past year, Toyota has recalled more than 10 million cars and trucks worldwide for a variety of problems, including brake problems in its Prius hybrid. In August, Toyota called back 1.33 million Corollas and Matrix hatchbacks in the U.S. because their engines may stall.

The majority of vehicles this time around need to be fixed for a problem with the brake master cylinder, which could lead to weaker braking power, said spokesman Paul Nolasco in Tokyo.

Ryuichi Saito, auto analyst with Mizuho Investors Securities in Tokyo, said Toyota may have learned a lesson from earlier this year when it faced harsh criticism, particularly in the U.S., for acting slowly on safety problems and recalls. American regulators hit Toyota with a $16.4 million fine for failing to promptly tell the government about its car defects.

“Toyota’s image suffered because it was slow and so it is trying to be quick with its response,” Saito said.

The models affected by the latest recall in the U.S. include the 2005 and 2006 Avalon, 2004 through 2006 non-hybrid Highlander and Lexus RX330, and 2006 Lexus GS300, IS250, and IS350 vehicles, the company said in a release.

The release said a small amount of the brake fluid could slowly leak from the brake master cylinder, resulting in illumination of the brake warning lamp.

Toyota will notify owners around the world by mail to come for repairs at no charge, Nolasco said.

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