Page last updated at 10:13 GMT, Thursday, 18 February 2010

Q&A: Toyota recalls

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The recalls have hit Toyota's image

Toyota is in the process of recalling millions of cars in a number of recalls.

The latest recall involves hybrid cars - predominantly the latest generation Prius - and was prompted by concerns about the cars' braking systems.

Separately, Toyota is also recalling millions of vehicles owing to fears of a sticking accelerator pedal and floor mat.

The situation is complex as in some cases different countries are recalling different models.

Toyota is also facing a US investigation into complaints of steering problems in its 2009-2010 Corolla model. An estimated 500,000 vehicles are thought to be involved but a recall has not been announced for this particular issue.


What's the problem?

Prius owners have reported that brakes momentarily fail when driving in icy or slippery conditions, or over potholes.

Normally the anti-lock braking system (ABS) engages and disengages many times a second as the system reacts to the slipping tyres.

But - as Toyota puts it - some drivers have complained of "inconsistent brake feel" during slow and steady braking on some surfaces when ABS is activated.

The solution involves an upgrade of the software in the braking system, which should take less than an hour and will be carried out for free by official Toyota service centres.

Toyota stresses that the cars are still safe to drive and the brakes will stop the car.

US safety authorities, however, have said they have received reports of accidents, including a small number of reported injuries.

There have been no reports of accidents in Europe.

What should I do if I experience braking problems in my hybrid?

If you experience the "inconsistent" braking feeling, the advice is to press hard on the brake pedal. This should stop the vehicle safely.

Which models are being recalled?

Broadly the affected Prius models are those made after a software fix was introduced at the end of January.

US: 133,000 2010 Toyota Prius and 14,550 2010 Lexus HS 250h vehicles are being recalled.

Toyota will begin writing to affected Prius owners in the US in the week beginning 15 February.

The Lexus 250h is similar in design to the Prius but the software fix has not yet been finalised. Expect an announcement "very soon", Toyota says.

Separately, Toyota is recalling 7,300 "early production" 2010 4-cylinder engine Camrys.

It is concerned that a power steering hose may be in contact with a front brake tube. This could lead to a brake fluid leak and affect stopping distances, the carmaker said.

Camry owners will again be notified from the middle of February.

UK: 8,500 third-generation Priuses made before 27 January 2010 are being recalled.

Toyota will write to affected owners in the next few days.

Japan: Four models - 223,000 vehicles in total - are being recalled. They are the Prius, Prius Plug-in Hybrid, the Sai and the HS250h.

Owners will begin to be informed on 10 February, the company said.


What is the issue that has raised concerns?

The other problem that has affected Toyota is accelerator pedals that in some cases have become stuck. This is the result of the pedal becoming worn, the company says.

Graphic explaining pedal problem
1. Inside the defective pedals, excessive friction on contact points can cause them to stick - leaving the accelerator in a partially open position
2. To fix the problem, a steel reinforcement bar is being inserted in a gap in the mechanism
3. This will serve to reduce the play in the angle of the unit and therefore reduce the friction on the contact points
Source: Toyota

Separately in the US, there have been fears that accelerator pedals have been stuck in the floor mat.

Millions of vehicles have been recalled in the US, 1.8 million cars across Europe are involved in the recall including 180,865 vehicles in the UK, and others are being recalled in China.

Specifically which vehicles are being recalled?

For the floormat issue in the US, Toyota, Lexus and Pontiac vehicles affected are: 2007-2010 Camry, 2005-2010 Avalon, 2004-2009 Prius, 2005-2010 Tacoma, 2007-2010 Tundra, 2007-2010 ES 350, 2006-2010 IS 250 and IS350, 2008-2010 Highlander, 2009-2010 Corolla, 2009-2010 Venza, 2009-2010 Matrix, and the 2009-2010 Pontiac Vibe.

Those recalled for the sticking pedal in the US are 2007-2008 Tundra, 2008-2010 Sequoia, 2005-2010 Avalon, 2007-2010 Camry, 2009-2010 Corolla, 2009-2010 Matrix, 2009-2010 RAV4, 2010 Highlander, and the 2009-2010 Vibe.

In the UK, the affected models are February 2005 - August 2009 AYGO, November 2008 - November 2009 iQ, November 2005 - September 2009 Yaris, October 2006 - 5 January 2010 Auris, October 2006 - December 2009 Corolla, February 2009 - 5 Jan 2010 Verso, November 2008 - December 2009 Avensis.

Are any other brands involved?

Drivers of Peugeots and Citroens have contacted the BBC News website raising concerns. The Peugeot 107, Citroen C1 and the Toyota Aygo are essentially the same car with different styling and fittings and made at a Czech plant.

As a result, Peugeot Citroen, Europe's second-biggest carmaker, will be recalling "fewer than 100,000" cars made with Toyota in Europe.

Meanwhile, in an unrelated move, rival carmaker Honda is adding an extra 437,700 cars, mainly in North America, to its existing global safety recall over airbag inflation problems. It broadens a recall announced in late 2008 for less than 4,000 Accord and Civic sedans, which was then expanded in mid-2009 to cover another 510,000 vehicles.

Honda is also recalling 646,000 cars to fix a switch defect that could cause a fire.

What do I do if I get a "sticky accelerator" when driving?

Toyota says drivers will not suddenly find that they have a sticking accelerator. At first, it is likely to be heavier to press or shudder and at that point they should contact the company.

However, if the accelerator does stick when driving, the motorist should press firmly on the brake - instead of pumping it, put the car into neutral, and pull over when safe.

For more specific advice and information, see our feature.

What do I do next?

If you are in the US, you should contact your dealer.

For more information, consumers can contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Hotline at 888-327-4236 or the Toyota Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331 or the Lexus Customer Assistance Center at 1-800-255-3987.

Information from Toyota is also posted at the Toyota website or the Lexus website .

In the UK there is a hotline - 0800 1388 744 - and a dedicated website .

A website that would allow owners to check their vehicles registration number is also being developed.

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