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Toyota Recalls FJ Cruiser, Again

May 6, 2013

For the second time in as many months, Toyota Motor Corp. is issuing a recall of its FJ Cruiser sports utility vehicles (SUVs). The current recall involves blinding headlights. The March recall involved a seatbelt malfunction.

This new recall involves 11,489 FJ Cruisers, from the model years 2007 through 2013, the Los Angeles Times reported. The Cruisers’ headlights have a defect in terms of the lights’ wattage, which may blind oncoming drivers. The newly recalled Cruisers were manufactured from January 25, 2006, through February 23, 2013, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The headlights are equipped with Toyota’s "Auxiliary Driving Lamp Kits." These are mounted to the vehicles’ front bumpers, the Los Angeles Times explained. According to documents filed with the NHTSA, the lamp assemblies include 55-watt bulbs. The documents indicate that, "due to this wattage, the combination of the upper beam headlamps plus the auxiliary lamps are too bright and exceed the maximum light output allowed for an upper-beam headlamp."

The NHTSA says that the "excessively bright" lights "may temporarily blind oncoming drivers, increasing the risk of a crash," according to the Los Angeles Times. Toyota reported the problem to the administration on April 25, saying it would notify owners of the recalled Cruisers; dealers will replace the 55-watt bulbs with 35-watt bulbs at no cost to vehicle owners. The recall, said the Los Angeles Times, is scheduled for implementation in late May; Toyota may be reached, toll-free, at 1.800.331.4331.

The prior recall, according to Reuters, involved 310,000 of its FJ Cruisers worldwide due to a defective seatbelt anchor that could detach with wear, according to Toyota.

Most of the recalled Cruisers—two-thirds—involved U.S. vehicles,  model years 2007 through 2013, said Toyota. At the time of the recall, noted Reuters, no accidents or injuries were reported over the seatbelt defect.

"The seatbelt retractors for the driver and front passenger seat belts are mounted on the rear doors of the vehicles," Toyota said in a press statement. "Due to insufficient strength of the rear-door panel, cracks may develop over an extended period of time if the rear door is repeatedly and forcefully closed." The defect may cause the seatbelts to become unanchored, said Reuters. Toyota was planning on sending letters to FJ Cruiser owners once it determined a remedy to the defect, Reuters reported.

Earlier this year, Toyota announced a safety recall that included more than 750,000 Toyota Corolla and Corolla Matrix vehicles, model years 2003-2004, due to an air bag defect that could injure motorists. At that time, Toyota also issued a recall for more than a quarter-million 2006-2013 model year Lexus IS sport sedans due to a windshield wiper defect. In 2009, millions of Toyota vehicles were involved in a faulty accelerator debacle. Toyota long neglected to advise the public regarding potential dangers related to the sticky pedals, which were associated with cars speeding out of control. Toyota announced several recalls since on other vehicles.

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