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Stability Problems Prompt Toyota to Recall Lexus GX 460

Apr 20, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP

Just a week after Consumer Reports deemed the Lexus GX 460 "unacceptable", Toyota has announced it is recalling the vehicle to fix a problem with its stability control system.

Last Tuesday, Consumer Reports said  its tests determined that the GX 460 SUV was prone to slide when driven in sweeping turns. According to the report, this could cause rollover accidents resulting in serious injury or death. The publication advised consumers not to buy the Lexus GX 460.

Hours after news of the Consumer Reports rating broke, Toyota announced it was suspending sales of the Lexus GX 460. Yesterday, the automaker said it was able to confirm the stability control issue raised by Consumer Reports.

According to Toyota, a software update for the GX 460 SUV will be available from Lexus dealers by the end of the month. The repair should take about an hour. Loaner cars are available for owners of Lexus GX 460 SUVs who don’t want to drive their vehicle while they wait for the fix.

The recall also includes the Land Cruiser Prado, which is sold overseas. A total of 34,000 vehicles are being recalled worldwide, 9,400 of which are in the U.S.

The recall could not come at a worse time for Toyota. Since last fall it has recalled more than 9 million cars worldwide because of faulty floor mats, sticking accelerator pedals, brake issues and other problems. Yesterday, the company also  agreed to pay a record $16.375 million fine levied by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for concealing information related to a January recall of 2.3 million vehicles for sticky accelerator pedals. In a statement, Toyota said it disagreed with the fine, but decided to pay it to avoid litigation with the government.

Automakers are required to inform U.S. safety regulators within five days if they determine a safety defect exists. However, according to an April 5 letter from the NHTSA to Toyota, documents obtained from Toyota show that the company knew of the sticky pedal defect since at least September 29, 2009.

The $16.375 million fine was the largest ever levied against an automaker by the U.S. government.

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